Canada’s minister of foreign affairs has confirmed that the government “rejects” the findings of human rights groups which describe Israel as practising apartheid against the Palestinians. Mélanie Joly made her comments during a debate by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The debate has exposed once again the challenge that pro-Israel Western governments face in trying to respond to the consensus among leading international human rights group about Israeli apartheid.
Not a single pro-Israel government has been able to provide a convincing explanation for rejecting the details of reports published by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem which have exposed the state’s apartheid regime. Officials have generally dodged questions on the reports, remarking tersely that they did not agree with the findings but failing to provide any reasonable explanation for opposing the same human rights groups that are cited regularly and relied upon by the West when they condemn countries other than Israel.
“I know you will be aware of a report that Amnesty International brought forward recently on the state of the situation in Israel and Palestine,” said Heather McPherson MP when addressing Joly in the debate. “I’m wondering whether or not you will be responding officially to that report and whether or not you will be commenting on it or meeting with Amnesty to discuss it.”
Joly replied by saying that she is very much aware of the report. “Obviously I’m meeting with many NGOs, definitely including Amnesty International, and my team has done so. You know that the position of our government has always been that we are a friend and steadfast ally to Israel and a friend to the Palestinian people. At the same time, this report stated that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid. We reject that view.”
When asked by McPherson if the minister would provide a rationale for why she rejected what the Amnesty report claims, Joly shot back, “I look forward to talking with Heather and her colleagues about this even more, and obviously talking with the different communities involved across the country.” She pointedly did not answer the question.
The White House responded in a similar fashion when asked about the report. “[We] reject the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid,” said State Department spokesperson, Ned Price. Instead of explaining why the US rejected the report, Price suggested that the preservation of a self-declared Jewish state was a greater priority that trumped all other considerations, including, we must presume, whatever crimes are being carried out in order to maintain that state.
“We think that it is important, as the world’s only Jewish state, that the Jewish people must not be denied their right to self-determination, and we must ensure there isn’t a double standard being applied,” said Price as he basically defended by default Israel’s right to preserve a system of racist domination and control over its non-Jewish population.
Apartheid is a crime under international law akin to a crime against humanity.