If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. – Desmond Tutu
On December 21, 2017, an historic vote took place in the United Nations General Assembly, in which a resounding majority (128 votes in favour, nine against, 35 abstaining) supported a Resolution condemning Trump’s attempt to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Sadly for Canadians, Canada, represented by Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, chose to abstain.
Trump’s plan would have contradicted the UN Partition Plan for Palestine of 1947, which classified Jerusalem as an international city. The Trump administration’s attempt to overturn the international community’s wishes, if it had succeeded, would have conferred a false legitimacy on Israel’s illegal activities in East Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territory.
On December 21, CUSJ was one of many organizations that signed on to a letter urging the Canadian government to stand up to the United States government on this issue.
United Nations Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, including SCR 252 (1968), SCR 267 (1969), SCR 465, SCRs 476 and 478 (1980), and SCR 2334 (2016) and the principles of international law, ban the establishment of diplomatic missions, the transfer of embassies or the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Attempting to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying power is something only a bully would do. Many would have considered this a provocation aimed at the Palestinian people, at Muslims and Christians who are spiritually attached to the city, and indeed, at peace-loving peoples the world over.
The NDP was quick to register its disappointment. The Green Party, too, had previously written a letter calling on the Canadian government to use diplomacy to formally condemn the US’s move. Certainly the Canadian government is coming across as something of an outlier in all this. It appears to be the only G7 country (except, of course, the US) that didn’t vote Yes to the resolution. What would Desmond Tutu say?