Source: Justin Trudeau/X

Canadian workers have had their eyes glued to the untold levels of destruction being perpetrated in Gaza for nearly two months. The numbers are hard to fathom: 15,000 dead, including 6,000 children. Images from Gaza show burned remains of children, babies buried in rubble, and craters where hospitals used to be.

While this suffering has horrified workers and youth across the world, Israel has retained the firm support of the Canadian and US governments. The US has recently increased funding to Israel for weapons by $14.3 billion and made previously restricted weapons available. The ties between the killings and American imperialism are clear. Not for nothing have pro-Palestine protestors given Joe Biden the nickname “Genocide Joe.”

Canada, on the other hand, has been comparatively quieter about its support for Israel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating before Oct. 7 was at an all-time low and his party will likely be pummeled in the next election. The genocide in Gaza has not helped. Trudeau, like capitalist leaders around the world, is being exposed for his support for a horrific siege, which millions of ordinary people oppose. 

Since Oct. 7, Trudeau has maintained that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” As the body count has mounted, Trudeau has tried to save face. Trudeau has tried to politely “urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint,” and avoid the “killing of women, of children, of babies.” But, in practice, Canada’s support for Israel has not wavered. Alongside millions in arms exports to Israel and complete diplomatic support, Canada has also sent 300 special forces soldiers to Israel to liaise with the IDF. 

Despite Trudeau’s crocodile tears, the IDF and the Israeli state as we know it would not exist without more than 100 years of Canadian imperialism behind it. 

‘It’s hard to find a country friendlier to Israel than Canada’

Support for Israel has typically been worn as a badge of honour by Canadian diplomats. In July 2009, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said:

It’s hard to find a country friendlier to Israel than Canada these days. Members both of the coalition and the opposition are loyal friends to us, both with regard to their worldview and their estimation of the situation in everything related to the Middle East, North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Somalia. No other country in the world has demonstrated such full understanding of us.

A recent National Post article also noted that, for 75 years, the relationship between Israel and Canada has largely “been a warm one. Israeli diplomats have compared it to an old married couple—the two nations get along, but have the occasional disagreement.”

This is a nice way of saying Canada has spent 75 years covering for Israel and arming it to the teeth with drones, bombs and fighter jets. 

Canada’s complicity in the first Nakba

The creation of Israel was a crime perpetrated by British and French imperialism. They became interested in the Zionist project as a tool to repress Arab nationalism and secure their economic interests in the region, after the toppling of the Ottoman Empire.

The earliest Zionists themselves were loyal allies of imperialism. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the most honest of the early Zionists, recognized that Israel would not be created by a voluntary arrangement—the Palestinian people had to be forced into submission with an “iron wall of Jewish bayonets” and “British bayonets.” 

As a loyal ally of Britain, Canada’s war-time Prime Ministers strongly supported British rule in Palestine and the early Zionist settlements.

In 1947 the UN took over Palestine, to partition it according to plans set out by British imperialism—again, with Canada’s full support. Not only did Canada vote for the partition at the UN, Canadian diplomats, like future Prime Minister Lester Pearson were key to negotiating the partition. David Horowitz, the first director general of Israel’s ministry of finance, wrote “It may be said that Canada more than any other country played a decisive part in all stages of the UNO [United Nations Organization] discussions of Palestine.”

When the Zionist militias declared the state of Israel, with a campaign of ethnic cleansing and looting across Palestine, Canadian military personnel were there to assist too. Although Canada outlawed enlistment to foreign militaries during the Spanish revolution, the federal government looked the other way when dozens of CAF tank commanders, fighter pilots, artillery men, and infantry joined groups of Zionist militias to slaughter thousands of Palestinians. All told, the 1948 Nakba killed 10,000, forcibly displaced 750,000, and destroyed 500 towns and settlements.

Canada and Israel: Imperialist allies

In the decades that followed, Canadian imperialism and US imperialism have grown close to Israel as a bulwark of reaction in the region. Alongside billions in bilateral trade between Canada and Israel, this is clearly evident in Canada’s effusive support for Israel’s bloodiest imperialist adventures. 

Canada armed Israel heavily from 1950 to 1956, including selling Israel some of its first fighter jets. 

After Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, without compensating its British or French financiers, Israel joined the latter in a retaliatory invasion. Once again, Israel had Canada’s staunch support. At the time of the invasion, one Liberal MP expressed Canada’s position with stark clarity: “Israel could be an outpost and source of security for the Western world in the Middle East . . . [now that] the Egyptians have driven the British out of the Suez . . . Israel could constitute an arsenal for the democracies of the free world in the Middle East.”

In the 1967 “Six-Day War,” Israel killed 20,000 people, illegally seized the Golan Heights, Gaza, and the West Bank, and created hundreds of thousands of new refugees, launching another round of expulsions. And, since 1967, Canada has been complicit in Israel’s illegal occupations. 

In the United Nations, only the US and Canada abstained from a Security Council vote in 1968 against the annexation of West Jerusalem. More recently, in 2008, even when the US opposed the construction of new Israeli settlements at Har Homa, Canada supported them.

Part of this annexed land on the West Bank now makes up the 7 square kilometer “Canada Park,” named in recognition of the Canadian Jews who helped kill Palestinians. It sits atop the ruins of not one but three destroyed Palestinian villages which were crushed in 1948. The road leading to the park is named after John Diefenbaker, Canada’s Prime Minister from 1957–63. 

To this day, Canada continues to train and assist the Israeli military. Across the country, there are more than 140 Canadian weapons firms that manufacture and supply arms to Israel, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. These include everything from highly advanced satellite imaging to guidance systems, drones, and bullets, all used to kill, imprison, and spy on millions of Palestinians. In fact, through every single year of Trudeau’s tenure, Canada has increased its Military exports to Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force and infantry train regularly on Canadian soil, including 10 Israeli F16s and 150 soldiers in its 2005 NATO war games (Israel is not a member) in Cold Lake, Alberta. 

Change from the norm or business as usual?

According to former Canadian diplomat Jon Allen, the reason Canada supports Israel is because of trends set in motion by previous prime ministers, the influence of “powerful lobbyists,” and Canada’s tendency to follow the United States’ lead. 

All of these patterns may exist. But they fail to explain why Canada devotes its resources to supporting one of the most racist and bloodthirsty states on the planet. 

At bottom, trends in international relations do not fall from the sky. They do not exist outside of the material relations which condition all other developments in society. Capitalist states have capitalist policies and capitalist foreign policies and this is what conditions all world relations.

Israel is located in a key point between the Middle East and North Africa. And the people of these regions have the misfortune of living on top of and around some of the world’s most lucrative trade routes, oil reserves, and mineral deposits. Accordingly, the people of these regions have been the victims of hundreds of years of colonial and imperialist intrigues, from Britain, France, the United States, and their allies, including Canada.

As US President Joe Biden put it back in 1986, “were there not an Israel, the United States would have to invent one,” to “protect her interests in the region.”

Canada’s imperialist interests in the region are clear. Canada, like the US, benefits from having a reactionary fortress near the world’s key oil and mining deposits.

As Lenin said in the Preface to Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism:

Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of “advanced” countries. And this “booty” is shared between two or three powerful world plunderers armed to the teeth (America, Great Britain, Japan), who are drawing the whole world into their war over the division of their booty.

Every Canadian Prime Minister has been complicit in wars of plunder across Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. No matter how unpopular and destructive these wars are, the needs of imperialism (Canada’s “interests”) condition the foreign policy of every imperialist state.

Fight imperialism 

The lies and hypocrisy issued by the ruling class to cover for Canadian imperialism, its crimes, and the crimes of its allies have not been able to stop a mass movement of millions of radicalized youth across Canada. Across the country, ordinary people are taking to the streets to fight for the liberation of Palestine. This is a hugely important development and it must be crystallized into a movement against imperialism. 

But the fact that Canada is an imperialist country means workers at home can play an outsized role in ending the suffering once and for all. 

Workers in Canada have immense power. They can stop the manufacture, maintenance, and shipment of armaments, from one of the countries which does the most to arm Israel. And they can topple the Canadian state, one of Israel’s key funders, supporters, and allies. But this power will only be realized if and when the organized working class makes use of it. So far the labour movement has either been completely silent, or in the case of the NDP, humiliatingly supportive of imperialism. 

Unions in Barcelona and Italy and parts of the US have already shown the way forward, mobilizing their ranks in opposition to Israel’s siege. It’s up to the workers’ movement across Canada to follow suit.

To free Palestine, all the efforts of the working class and youth must be coordinated, not to bring pressure to bear on the imperialist powers or to ask them to be nicer, but to sweep imperialism away with revolution.

The Trudeaus, Bidens, Netanyahus and Sunaks of this world are dripping head to toe in Palestinian blood. They must be brought down along with the capitalist class they represent.

The fight the imperialists at home! 

Intifada until victory!

For a worker’s boycott of arms to Israel!