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From the Six-Day War to Canada backing North Korea’s anti-Israel UN resolution: A look back at the past 50 years

Condemnation of Canada’s decision was fulsome and incredulous, from “Faustian Bargain” to “slighting” US President Donald Trump.
Jason Unrau Montreal, QC

In 1967 Israel quickly defeated the fused military forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in what’s known as the Six Day War, and in the process captured Jerusalem and Samaria and the Judea highlands, or in United Nations parlance the “Occupied Palestinian Territory (of West Bank), including East Jerusalem.”

After a half-century’s worth of conflict that has marred the region–punctuated by “two-state solution” peace accords and roadmaps that achieved little–enter North Korea’s UN Resolution that demands Israel return to a time before the Six Day War, and end its “occupation” forthwith.

This ahistorical insult over territory Israel considers disputed, and tabled by one of the worst regimes on Earth, still earned Canada’s vote, along with nearly every single UN member apart from Australia which abstained.

Newly minted Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said Canada’s support “was clearly explained to our allies” and “was a principled position.”

No further explanation was provided to the public–nevertheless, Canadian Jews still see Canada as an ally, claims Champagne.
 
“I think people in the Jewish community in Canada and around the world can see Canada as an ally. We will continue to do so, but there are times like those where I think we must express Canada’s position as we did at the United Nations yesterday.”

Suffice it to say, condemnation of Canada’s decision was as fulsome as it was incredulous. Hillel Neuer, human rights lawyer and executive director of UN Human Rights Watch, called it a “Faustian bargain”.

Conservatives ethics critic Peter Kent, former foreign correspondent and television journalist, accused Canada of ulterior motives with its UN decision:

And United States was pretty much alone in its opposition to Kim Jong Un’s winning UN resolution gambit, backed by Egypt, Nicaragua and the “State of Palestine”.

“Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” reads the resolution.

North Korea’s “joint” UN resolution also describes construction of a border wall along the flanks of the so-called occupied territory, as “severely imped(ing) the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”.

Israel has several, similar border walls that the UN doesn’t abide, such as the one running the eastern flank of Gaza; a barrier that has done remarkably well in mitigating Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli citizens.

But back in May of 1967, long before Palestinian Liberation Organization hijackings and bombings exacted against Israel, United Nations simply acquiesced to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s request to pull peacekeepers from the Sinai peninsula to make a land assault against Israel easier.

Sinai was already “disputed territory” back then, after France and the UK helped Israel push all the way to the Suez Canal in 1956.

While France might have abandoned Israel in 1967, it didn’t really matter much anymore for an emboldened and better trained Israeli military, even if Nasser closed the Strait of Tiran, cutting off the Israeli port of Eilat.

And as history would have it, Nasser’s Sinai strategy and its UN backing was rendered moot after Israel destroyed the Egyptian airforce in a June 5 surprise attack.  The brief, springtime war is said to have displaced some 300,000 Palestinians.

But in this never-ending Arab-Israeli saga, Arabs would get their revenge in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, when Egypt vanquished their Israeli foes in Sinai.

As the late Times of London war correspondent Patrick Brogran describes it in his book “The Fighting Never Stopped”, the 1973 conflict “demonstrated that Israel was not invincible, and it restored Arab pride.”

And lest we forget, this conflict continues to be a Cold War leftover since the U.S. Administration of John F. Kennedy formed the US-Israeli military alliance in 1961.

Previous to that, American support for Israel was first political in nature; the U.S. was the first to acknowledge Israel’s provisional government back in 1948, six months after United Nations “partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state.”

The British barely had time to vacate the region when Arabs attacked the nascent Jewish state later that same year, kicking off the first Arab-Israeli war.

And U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower would side with Egypt during the Suez Canal crisis, and along with the Soviet Union would force the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli forces who occupied western Sinai.

The turning point for unwavering American support for Israel would come with the advent of the Six Day War. The Cold War implications that have continued ever since are that United States and then-Soviet Union were always at risk of being drawn into an expanding conflict.

As the United States continues to back Israel and Saudi Arabia in the region, the Russians have not tired of their alliances with Baathists in Syria or the mullahs in Iran; either Islamic country still openly hostile towards Israel.

That significant amounts of proverbial water have passed under the bridge in the interim would be an understatement.

While the United States has attempted to broker peace between Palestinians and Israelis, perhaps most notably President Bill Clinton’s failed Camp David summit in 2000 between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli president Ehud Barak, a “two state solution” remains elusive.

Keep in mind that barely six years before Camp David, Arafat, PLO’s leader and terrorist mastermind, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for quitting his habit of orchestrating hijackings and terror bombings against Israel.

Returning to the here and now, this latest bit of anti-Israel politicking at the United Nations comes after current U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that America would cease to consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

The decision is a significant break from U.S. policy on the region–going forward Pompeo said America would defer to Israeli courts rather than international tribunals.

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace… and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” Pompeo said.

Two years ago in 2017, United States President Donald Trump caused similar UN consternation with his decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem–Israel’s state capital–riling enough nations for the tabling of a UN resolution rejecting it.

At the time Canada was neck-deep in free trade renegotiations with the United States and then-Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada would abstain from that vote.

Canada’s UN ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard said he was “disappointed” in the UN resolution rejecting the U.S. embassy”s move to Jerusalem, describing it as “one sided” because it “did not advance to prospects for peace.”

On Saturday, Blanchard appears to have made a complete reversal, re-Tweeting a La Press op-ed titled “Canada regains its voice at the UN”, which suggested the previous Canadian abstention on the embassy vote lacked courage.

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