Home Media Action Alerts2013 HRC Contends Qatari Bid to Relocate ICAO a "Smokescreen"

HRC Contends Qatari Bid to Relocate ICAO a "Smokescreen"

by Mike Fegelman

In a letter published today in the Globe and Mail, HRC Executive Director Mike Fegelman explains that the Globe jumped to conclusions in a May 2 article claiming that Qatar’s efforts to lure the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) away from Montreal to Doha were due strictly to Canada’s support for Israel.

The Globe’s front-page report offered no on-the-record sources, except one unnamed source and it altogether failed to consider how Qatar and other Arab nations may be using Palestinian grievances as a smokescreen to advance their own interests and how other factors, not just Canada’s support for Israel, may have precipitated such action.

Writing in Le Journal de Montréal, Lisa Ravary described the Globe’s report as bad journalism and in the National Post over the weekend, commentator David Frum quipped that Qatar’s bid to relocate the civil-aviation headquarters is a story that should never have taken flight. After referring to this Globe report, Frum observed:

“Any stick will do to beat a dog. Likewise, if you have to accept a ridiculous story about Qatar in order to criticize the Harper government’s Israel policies — well, there will be no shortage of people willing to do so.

From Liberal and NDP benches in Parliament, you hear this kind of criticism often. It goes like this: We have no problem with your support of Israel. We support Israel just as much as you do. We love Israel! But there are those … other people over there. They don’t love Israel. And we are oh so concerned that your support for Israel will hurt Canada by provoking those other people over there to move the ICAO / deny Canada a seat on the UN Security Council / cut off Middle East trade / invent your own possibility here.

It’s important to understand what you are hearing when you hear assertions about the damage supposedly done to Canada’s world standing by the Harper government’s strong pro-Israel stance. You are hearing the speaker’s own anti-Israel wishful thinking, masquerading as dispassionate analysis.

It’s equally wishful whether whispered by academics, shouted by politicians — or credulously reported in the pages of a newspaper”.”

Ironically, this conflagration occurs almost at the same time that Qatar is reported to be trying to normalize its relations with Israel. Qatari Emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, the Wall Street Journal reports, is said to want to visit the Jewish state to woo Israeli businesses, though it must be noted that the Qatari Emir also recently visited Gaza pledging $400 Million to Hamas.

Oil rich Qatar, run by a ruthless dictatorship that sponsors terrorism and are serial human rights violators, may have been motivated by a potential economic gain and for wanting a prestigious organization like ICAO to be housed in Doha to put Qatar on the map. The Gulf nation, it’s reported, may have also been unable to cope with harsh Canadian winters, taxes, and bureaucracy rather than being frustrated with a coffee date that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had with his Israeli counterpart in east Jerusalem.

Read our full letter online by clicking here or as appended below:




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Anonymous May 7, 2013 - 6:31 am

I don’t agree. It is more likely because of Canada’s defence and support of Israel.

Cold in Montreal? Too hot in Qatar. Montreal in summer is nice and warm. Pleasant.

Difficult to get into Canada? So? Same applies to the USA and most Western nations. Imagine an Israeli not being excluded from a Qatar based ICAO.

Far from Europe and Asia? In Qatar it would be far from North America.

For over sixty years everyone was happy with ICAO in Montreal (the past forty years opposite McGill University). The 119 million that comes with ICAO is peanuts to the economy of Qatar. They spent something like that building an indoor skiing run (talk about too cold in Montreal).

There has been talk about Qatar and backdoor talks with other Arab and Muslim states to get this – the only – UN office out of Canada. The likelihood is that Canada supports Israel and must be punished.

MontrealExpat May 8, 2013 - 1:57 pm

The assertion of a “ruthless dictatorship that sponsors terrorism and are serial human rights violators” seems to run a little contradictory to what I have read, and know of people who live and have lived in Qatar. Comments? Am I completely ignorant?


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