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Weekend Assignment Desk

Posted by padams under Election 2008, Election 2008 Media commentary

Paul Adams

Reporters: Ever have a weekend assignment editor who wanted you to abandon the news and do a story on some hobby-horse of his? Of course you have. But if not, I offer my services free of charge (and free of obligation).

Here’s the hook: Tzipi Livni was just elected head of Israel’s Kadima faction and will now try to negotiate a coalition to install her as the next prime minister.

Here’s the background: For the last decade, starting with Stockwell Day, followed by Paul Martin, and carrying through to Stephen Harper, Canadian political leaders have been falling over each other trying to prove they are not only supporters of Israel but more or less uncritical supporters of its government. Conservative ministers have even started saying we are Israel’s “allies”; not just friends or supporters, but allies — with its hint of military cooperation. Like maybe the Israelis can help patrol the arctic, and we can reciprocate if things get sticky with Iran.

Here’s your assignment editor’s hobby-horse: To the extent that most Canadians think of the Middle East there is a degree of consensus (not unanimity, for sure) on several things. Consensus that may or may not be founded in sound understanding, admittedly.

  • Israel has a right to exist as a predominantly Jewish state within peaceful, defensible borders
  • As a general rule, little Israeli and Palestinian children shouldn’t be blown to smithereens, no matter how important the point you are trying to make or the military objective you are trying to achieve
  • Strenuous, sincere efforts at negotiation should always take precedence over the use of force.
  • Canadians probably shouldn’t get too deeply involved in this sticky mess, on one side or the other.

Here’s the Big Question: Why does Canadian policy seem to coincide with public opinion only on the first point, and increasingly diverge on the others?  Maybe its all political puffin poop, but then that’s the story!

Assignment: Big thumbsucker for Sunday’s paper — unless there’s news.

Paul Adams is a former political reporter with the CBC and the Globe and Mail, and is now a member of Carleton’s journalism faculty, and executive director of EKOS Research Associates.