Middle East


Canada-Iran Tensions: Why Israel Is So Happy

A banner during a protest on March 11 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: arindambanerjee, Shutterstock.com)

On Sept. 7, the Canadian government suspended all its diplomatic ties with Iran, closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered the Iranian diplomats to leave Canadian soil in five days.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird made an offensive statement, calling Iran "the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today." He cited such reasons as the 2011 attack of Iranian students on the British embassy in Tehran, Iran's support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its alleged nuclear ambitions.

One thing Baird would be unable to cite is an aggressive action by Iran against another nation in the past century. In the contemporary era, Iran has never invaded nor attacked another country; on the contrary, it has been the subject of unjust and imposed wars by imperial powers. In 1941, Soviet, British and Commonwealth armed forces invaded Iran in an attempt to undermine growing German influence in Iran and maintain dominance over Iran's vast oil reserves. Some four decades later, under pressure from the United States and its European allies, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and killed more than 500,000 Iranians with the objective of nipping the newborn Iranian Revolution in the bud. Although both wars failed to realize their objectives, they made the Iranian people feel the bitter taste of subjugation and suppression.

With the Canadian government's suspension of diplomatic ties with Tehran, nobody is now happier than the Israeli regime's officials. "I deeply appreciate the position and conviction that was taken by Prime Minister Harper and the government of Canada," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with CBC Radio. "I think everyone in Israel appreciates its forthright stand against a regime that brutalizes its own people, that colludes in the murder of tens of thousands in Syria, that denies the Holocaust and calls for the eradication of the state of Israel while pursuing an illicit program for developing nuclear weapons," he added.

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a statement, "Canada has proven once again that morals come before pragmatism; Canada has demonstrated that policy must reflect principles and values." He thanked Canada for "taking a stance based on the highest morals" and expressed "hope that other nations will see Canada as a moral role model."

Iranian officials said the Canadian government's decision pointed to pressure from the Israeli lobby, branding it servitude to the Zionists who want to divert international attention from the crimes they're committing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

"The current government of Canada under the leadership of Mr. Stephen Harper is known for extreme policies in the domain of foreign policy," said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. "The hostile behavior of the current racist government in Canada in reality follows the policies dictated by the Zionists and the British."

Perhaps the inextricable relationship between Israel and Canada is best described by Yves Engler in his 2010 book "Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid," which portrays how the Canadian government helped with the formation of the Israeli state in 1948 and the enormous support Canada has offered to Israel over the past 64 years.

Several Israeli and Jewish organizations operate in Canada, working to secure Israel's interests in the Canadian government's foreign policy decisions. One of these organizations was the Canada-Israel Committee, funded by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), the advocacy arm of United Israel Appeal Canada. The group was dissolved in 2011, but its responsibilities were assumed by its parent organization, CIJA. According to the Jewish Federations of Canada website, some $4 million is annually allocated to the Israeli advocacy organizations in Canada. However, Peyton V. Lyon, professor emeritus of political science at the Carleton University, revealed that Canada-Israel Committee's budget prior to its extinction was about $11 million.

The Jewish Federations of Canada encompasses several subsidiary organizations, each of which works to promote Israeli values in Canadian society; strengthen diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel; and empower the Jewish community of Canada, especially by taking over newspapers, TV and radio stations in the country. Some of these organizations include Canada Israel Experience, Regional Jewish Communities of Ontario, Bequest and Endowment Fund, and Canadian Jewish Congress. Zalman Amit, professor emeritus of psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, says Canadian Jewish communities donate some $75 million to Israel annually.

Canadian officials have never been embarrassed to show their unconditional support for Israel. On the 61st anniversary of the creation of Israel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "We count ourselves among Israel's closest partners. Since its founding in 1948, Canada has supported Israel and its right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. We value this relationship and look forward to continued friendship and collaboration."

Israel is now thrilled that Canada has suspended its diplomatic ties with Iran. It sees this move in the context of a broader plan to isolate Iran internationally, and one can hardly doubt that Israel was involved in the decision that the Canadian government made, seemingly out of the blue. However, these attempts to isolate Iran are not without opposition. On Aug. 31, 120 countries at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran threw weight behind Iran's nuclear program and expressed their opposition to the unilateral sanctions of the United States and its European allies against Iran.

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent who writes for Tehran Times, Iran Review, Press TV, Global Research and International Policy Digest from Iran.