Although European reaction to Turkish president Erdogan’s racist comments that Zionism is a “crime against humanity” was decidedly tepid (perhaps because it was unrelated to Jews building homes), Canadian foreign minister John Baird continues to display moral leadership. In an exclusive interview with the Jerusalem Post this past Sunday, Baird made the following remarks:
- “These remarks, we deplore them, and they’re incredibly unhelpful to the situation in the region… “How many Islamic states are there? There’s only one Jewish state,” Baird said.
- “I think events in the middle of the last century compel humanity to make sure there is a Jewish homeland, a sanctuary, and today a country with peace and security.”
Baird also warned that the Palestinian Authority would stand to lose a significant amount of aid from Canada should Fatah join Hamas in a national unity government as is currently being discussed.
- “If Hamas were to come into a government of the Palestinian authority, that is a red line for us,” Baird said.
- “We’re not going to be partnering with and funding an international terrorism group. It’s a non-starter.”
His comments come after Israel’s Ambassador the US Michael Oren told AIPAC’s opening conference panel Sunday morning urged the Palestinians not to take such a step.
Baird has also been campaigning amongst his European counterparts to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which would also have consequences for the Lebanese militant group’s funding.
- “When terrorist incidents can happen right inside the European Union by Hezbollah, that compels civilized people everywhere to act,” Baird said, referencing the killing of several Israeli tourists in a bombing in Bulgaria this summer that the local authorities have blamed on the Lebanese group.
- “We’ve got to call it for what it is. No moral relativism,” he declared. “No saying well the left hand gives out social services and the right hand is an international terrorist organization. It’s all attached to the same body and the same head.”
Canada, he noted, had recently designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and taken other strong actions against Tehran, which is suspected of working on a nuclear weapons program.
Earlier this week, six world powers known as the P5+1 offered Iran some sanctions relief in exchange for certain concessions on its uranium enrichment efforts.
- “Would I say I was optimistic on the P5+1? No,” Baird said. “But I think it is well worth continuing to take every diplomatic measure possible.”
Baird, in addition to stressing the importance of continuing with diplomacy, seemed to warn against the consequences of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
- “Obviously we don’t want to see Israel have to do that,” he said. “There are real concerns: On one night with one strike could you accomplish it, and then what would happen the next morning?”
Baird assessed that Canadian-Israeli relations were “by a factor of 10, at a high water mark.”
Making a joking reference to the push-back Canada has received from some quarters for its unequivocal support for Israel at the UN, “some people think they’re too good.”