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Diplomacy of Prudence

Diplomacy of Prudence: Canada and Israel, 1948-1958

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 152
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    Diplomacy of Prudence
    Book Description:

    Using a case study approach, Kay explores Canada's response to key issues such as the recognition of the new state of Israel, the status of Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem, arms sales to Israel, particularly the sale of F-86s in 1956, and the Suez war. He also provides a thorough account of domestic politics in Canada that influenced foreign policy and the effectiveness of pro-Israeli lobby groups in influencing policy decisions. Kay concludes that although Canada was a major middle power in terms of its policy towards Israel, the government tended to defer to the policy positions of greater powers, such as the United States and Britain, but maintained an independent mediatory role that was instrumental in quelling a prospective global conflagration, as witnessed during the Sinai-Suez crisis and its aftermath. The Diplomacy of Prudence brings new insights to the study of Canadian foreign policy during Canada's coming of age as an international force.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6619-4
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Sources (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction (pp. xiii-2)

    Canada’s development from colony to Dominion and quasi-sovereignty by the conclusion of the Second World War was accompanied by gradual evolution to measured self-reliant decision making in foreign policy. From Confederation until 1946, almost eight full decades, there was no separate External Affairs minister: from the department’s founding in 1909 the prime minister always retained the portfolio. Between 1946 and 1948 the new, separate minister - and presumed successor to the long-time Liberal prime minister - remained very much under Mackenzie King’s sway. Nonetheless External Affairs personnel were already asserting themselves and becoming quite active in the post-war international arenas....

  6. 1 From Recognition to Full Diplomacy (pp. 3-13)

    More than seven months were to pass after the proclamation of the State of Israel on the Sabbath eve of 14 May 1948 before the Canadian government grantedde factorecognition. During that period Canada reached a watershed in the course of its foreign policy in general and on the Middle East in particular. The significance lies in the changes in leadership at the apex of the Canadian federal polity. A civil servant had risen through the ranks to become External Affairs minister with a substantial control of his portfolio, unimpeded by a prime minister chary - as his predecessor...

  7. 2 The Non-internationalization of Jerusalem (pp. 14-23)

    Jerusalem, hallowed by the world’s three major monotheistic religions, again survived an alien conqueror when the British withdrew on 14 May 1948. In accordance with the United Nations partition resolution, the city and its environs was to be administered as a demilitarized and neutral zone under UN auspices. An international political entity was envisaged within the partition plan’s economic union for the separate Arab and Jewish states. The designated administrator was to be a United Nations governor operating under a special statute drafted by and responsible to the Trusteeship Council. The council’s April 1948 draft statute for Jerusalem turned out...

  8. 3 Aiding the Palestinian Refugee (pp. 24-28)

    Israel’s war of independence also resulted in the displacement of Arabs and Jews from sovereign and non-sovereign Arab lands extending from the Maghreb of North Africa in the west to the Persian Gulf in the east. A resolution has yet to be found for the claims of Jews from Arab countries and the Arab-Palestinians for compensation, and in the latter case for resettlement. While Israel absorbed the bulk of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, the Arab-Palestinians posed an ongoing and seemingly intractable problem. Whatever the political vicissitudes, Canada and other United Nations members only concerned themselves with the Palestinians....

  9. 4 Arms and the Reluctant Middleman (pp. 29-42)

    Reluctance to supply armaments to Israel was a hallmark of Canadian policy in this first decade. Officially, the government maintained an embargo on arms supply to the Middle East, abiding by United Nations resolutions on the issue. On 24 January 1949, however, permission to export thirty-six chipmunk trainer aircraft to Egypt and ten link trainers to Palestine by the Zionist Organization of Canada along with 2,210 storage batteries for motor vehicles was granted with the proviso that the shipment not affect the truce.¹ In the wake of the armistice agreements between Israel and her neighbours in 1949, the Security Council,...

  10. 5 Bureaucratic Dispositions (pp. 43-50)

    Political events and bureaucratic activity were leading to the fateful year of 1956. Joint submissions to the government by the Canadian Jewish Congress and the United Zionist Council of Canada stressed Israel’s position on Arab arms acquisitions as well as other matters related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including Iraqi Jews and German reparations.¹ Israeli confrontation with Syria over Lake Hulah and El Hama as well as Israel’s right of free passage through the Suez Canal were causing concern.

    Canadian political and civil servants retained their cautious approach during 1952, as Israel continued to seek support for direct negotiations with the...

  11. 6 The Saga of the Unsheathed Sabres (pp. 51-79)

    A strictly neutral state need not face a dilemma in supplying arms to states at war or in conflict. Others, however, might face a quandary when asked for arms by warring states with whom they have normal relations. Such a state may be guided by the principle of selling weapons only for defensive purposes and supplying them in moderation after meticulous bureaucratic, executive, and legislative consideration, enabling it to maintain a kind of equilibrium with the conflicting states. Trying to maintain a balance between the antagonists is onerous, especially when an external factor - in this case an unfriendly superpower...

  12. 7 In the Aftermath of Sinai-Suez (pp. 80-99)

    “Suez was the unanticipated war; Sinai was not.”¹ Thirty years after Sinai-Suez Israel’s president Chaim Herzog described it as a watershed in Israel’s history.² It was also a watershed in Canada’s role as a prominent ad hoc innovator or perhaps an international fire-fighter and pacific settler of disputes. It did result in a Nobel Peace Prize for Lester Pearson’s part and again highlighted Canada’s principal role in the international diplomatic arena.

    The conflict “resulted in Israel’s military victory and Egypt’s political triumph, with the British and French emerging as the politically subdued losers. The United States effectively ended Britain and...

  13. 8 Summary and Conclusions (pp. 100-108)

    In today’s diplomatic world, there is less of a cautious delay between recognition of a nation and its acceptance into the comity of nations through membership in the United Nations, often just a few days between declarations and hoisting of the flag at United Nations headquarters. Israel was not that fortunate, and it took a year before it acquired full UN membership. Moreover, it was more than seven months after Israel’s declaration of independence that Canada accorded evende factorecognition and a further four and a half months beforedejurerecognition was acknowledged. Some states in the international community...

  14. 9 Epilogue (pp. 109-110)

    Canada’s overly cautious noncommitted prudence toward Mandated Palestine and the modern Jewish state’s first decade set a pattern for the relationship in succeeding decades. The difference in Pearson’s restrained sympathy and Diefenbaker’s outspoken partisan support for Israel undoubtedly reflected the former’s bureaucratic background in contrast with the latter’s Prairie political grassroots. The two men dominated Canada’s tenth decade and a quieter relationship with Israel in its second decade.

    Canadian response to the Six Day War of June 1967 was indicative the greater caution of Pearson as prime minister and External Affairs Minister Paul Martin. Prudence in the subsequent Pierre Trudeau...

  15. Notes (pp. 111-128)
  16. Index (pp. 129-135)