This Analysis of a recent survey by Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), prepared by Dogan Akman, an independent scholar reveals the flaws in the research and bias of the sponsoring organizations. The article is the sole work of the author.
By Doğan D. Akman*
This paper assesses the relative merits and overall worth of
First, the telephone survey of a sample of 1009 persons (“respondents”) sponsored by the Independent Jewish Voices, Canada (IJV) together with two other organisations i.e. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East(CJPME ) and United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel(UNJPPI) (“the sponsors”) and conducted by EKOS Research Associates (“EKOS”) between June 5-10, 2020 titled EKOS Survey of Attitudes in Canada on Israel, the Palestinians and related topics.
The authors state that while the margin of error associated with the sample is plus or minus three (3) percentage points 19 times out of 20 and that the margin increases when the results are divided.
Second, the two- part report that analyses and interprets the survey data was published on June 17 and September 16, 2020 respectively and comprises a large number of tables that summarise the survey data.
The first part of the report is titled: Out of Touch: Canada’s Foreign Policy Disconnected from Canadians, https://unjppi.org/uploads/3/4/3/8/34381416/survey-2020_israel-palestine_-_2020-06-16-final.pdf.
The title of the second part is: No Double Standards: Canadians Expect Greater Impartiality vis-a-vis Israel. https://www.ijvcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Survey-2020-Release-two-%E2%80%93-Final-1.pdf
In addition to the personnel of EKOS, the project was handled by six investigators and authors, all members of the sponsors with respect to whom the report, in addition to their names, provides the following information:
Three executives of the CJPME the first of whom has a Ph.D. in an unspecified field; the second has an MPA (Master’s degree in Public Administration) and one is referred to as “Senior Analyst”.
Two members of IJV have a Ph.D. and a Master’s Degree (M.A.) respectively in unspecified disciplines.
One member of UNJPPI whose academic credentials are not provided.
Topics addressed by the survey and analysed in the report
This paper focuses on the following six (6) topics concerning Israel and Palestinians addressed in the report:
The announcement of the Israeli government’s intention to “incorporate” Palestinian territory into her own.
The legal power and authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression committed anywhere in the world and by Israeli officials.
The role and position of Canada with respect to the alleged human rights violations/abuses committed by Canada’s allies and by Israel.
(in the context of the nature and scope of Canada’s alignment with the international community) The adequacy of the degree of support Canada provides for Palestinian Human Rights.
The status of Jerusalem.
Canada’s failure to treat Israel impartially.
Considering the title of the survey, the curious thing about both the survey and the report is that among the survey questions that relate to these topics only one refers to the Palestinian territory (Topic1), one refers to Palestinian human rights in the context of Canada’s support of these rights (Topic 4) and one refers to Palestinians (Topic 5).
In a conflict such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “the conflict”) between two parties, as the expression goes” it takes two to tango”. In the premises, the failure to ask the respondents questions about the behaviour of Palestinians that include the Palestinian terrorists and the Palestinian Authority (“P.A”) is simply bizarre.
Instead, the authors chose to take the lazy short cut to use the answers to impugn by implication Israel’s conduct vis a vis the Palestinians and to criticise Canada’s failure to treat Israel “impartially”.
About EKOS Research Associates
The authors describe EKOS as an “experienced public opinion firm” and “one of the leading suppliers of evaluation and public opinion research for the government of Canada”. Further, they “acknowledge and gratefully appreciate Earl A Washburn, Senior Analyst at EKOS for his skill, support and patient guidance in designing and analyzing [the] survey.”
Based on my analysis of the survey questions and of the report, I have serious doubts, not to say more, that the sponsors bought into Mr. Washburn’s patient guidance.
The topics of the report concerning Israel and the related survey questions
First topic: The intention of the Israeli government to formally incorporate into her present territory, portions of what the authors assert to be Palestinian territory. (Part 1 of the report).
The survey question reads: “The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July 2020. For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people have its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. Of the following options, how do you believe the Government of Canada should react to Israel's plan? ● Support Israel’s plan ● Do nothing ● Express opposition to Israel’s plan, but take no other action ● Impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions on Israel ● Don’t know/No response.
N.B. 1.The preamble to this question was set up as a split sample, randomising the order of the two sentences in the preamble: ●Half the respondents answered the question with the preamble: The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July, 2020. For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people have its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. ●The other half of the respondents had the preamble: “For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people have its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July 2020.
N.B. 2. According to the authors, the survey used this technique throughout in order, as the authors’ phrased to minimise the possibility of influencing the respondents into answering the question in way that does not really represent their true thoughts on the matters addressed by the questions.
I question the validity of the authors’ explanation but I do not propose to address it in this paper.
Second topic: The jurisdiction, power and authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC). (Part 2 of the report)
The authors state: “With two of the survey questions, [the sponsors] wanted to explore Canadians’ views on the ICC, especially as it relates to the Court’s potential investigation of Israeli officials. Notably, the authors state that the sponsors sought to answer what they characterised to be “two high-level” questions”; namely,
1. Do Canadians want the ICC to be entirely impartial in its application of international law around the world, even if that means that Israeli officials could be prosecuted by the Court?
2.1 Do Canadians want the Canadian government to respect [ICC] even if it means that the perceived interests of the government could be threatened?
2.2. And, should this respect for the independence of the Court be maintained, even if the Court decided to investigate Israeli officials?
The two survey questions on the subject read:
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague investigates individuals accused of serious crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Do you think that the International Criminal Court should investigate alleged war crimes, a. wherever they may occur? b. committed by Israeli officials? AND
“[When a country is accused of / Given that Israel has recently been accused of serious human rights abuses, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague is asked to carry out an investigation, do you think the government of Canada should consider stepping in if it is opposed to the investigation?”
N.B.1.The two scenarios in Question 1 were asked as a split sample, so that with respect to the first question half of respondents were asked the question that addressed (a) while the other half were asked the question that addressed;(b) while with respect to the second question, half of the respondents were asked their opinions about the possibility of Canadian intervention with an ICC investigation in the abstract, while the other half were asked about the possibility of a Canadian intervention in an ICC investigation of Israeli officials.
N.B.2 The two scenarios in Question 2 were asked as split samples where one half of respondents were asked generally about the conduct of the ICC, while the other half were asked their view about an ICC investigation focused on Israeli officials. The splits were identical for each question, so half of the respondents received back-to-back questions relating to the ICC generally, while the other half received back-to-back questions relating to the ICC and the case of Israeli officials.
Third topic: Whether or not Canada should overlook the alleged human rights violations/abuses committed by Canada’s allies / by Israel (Part 2 of the report)
The survey question reads: “How much do you agree or disagree with the following  statements about Canada’s relationship [with its allies/with Israel]?” Each question is related to one of five scenarios, namely; where the country is ● an ally ● a partner in the fight against terrorism; ● considered by many to have shared values in Canada; ● under threat; ●passes laws that discriminate against minority groups.
N.B. Again, the question to one half of the split sample referred to one of the five types of partners while the question to the other half of the split sample specifically named Israel. By way of illustration one set of split questions read: Split 1:Canada should overlook a country’s alleged human rights violations if it is a partner in the fight against terrorism Split 2:Canada should overlook Israel’s alleged human rights violations since it is a partner in the fight against terrorism.
Fourth topic: Canada’s support for Palestinian human rights (Part 1 of the report)
The survey question pertinent to this paper reads: “Canada is competing for a seat on the United Nations Security Council this year. According to some experts, Canada’s candidacy may be influenced, positively or negatively, by the key factors mentioned below [These are identified above under the heading “Topics addressed by the survey and analysed in the report” and specifically refer to items 3 and 4]. Using a five-point scale, how much would you agree or disagree with the following statement(s): Canada should [increase/decrease] its support for Palestinian human rights”
N.B. This question also used a split sample approach, with half the respondents being asked to what degree they agreed with an increase in Canada’s support for an issue, while the other half of the respondents were asked to what degree they agreed with a decrease in Canada’s support.
Fifth topic: The status of Jerusalem: Whether it ought to be exclusively Israel’s capital city of Israel or city shared with the Palestinians. (Part 2 of the report)
The survey question reads: “Since the 1940s, the international community - including Canada - has envisioned Jerusalem as a city to be shared between Israel and the Palestinians. Whereas the US has recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Canada's current policy does not.
Which of the following statements most closely matches your own opinion?
a) Canada should maintain its current policy, and continue to call for Jerusalem to be shared; OR
b) Canada should change its current policy and recognize Jerusalem as exclusively Israel's capital.
N.B. The order of the response bullets was randomized for each respondent.
At this point, it needs to be pointed out that, these are not the only choices. There are other alternatives, as is presently the case where the sacred Muslim religious sites are placed in a Waqf (Trust) exclusively administered by Jordan.
Sixth topic: Whether Canada’s foreign policy is partial to Israel?
The focus of this paper.
My analysis and assessment of the data and report focuses on critical features of the survey questions and of the replies by way of the opinions of the respondents. More specifically, the focus is on
the substance of the survey questions;
the absence of critically important survey questions and other questions highly relevant to the personal and professional characteristics of the respondents;
the manner in which i. the survey questions are framed as illustrated by the comments that accompany the questions concerning Topics 1, 2, 3 and 4 ii. the survey data is organised; iii. the manner in which the authors present and interpret this data;
the juridical problems raised by the questions ; the respondents’ opinions and of the authors’ reliance on these opinions, and
the tenor of the report.
Based on this analysis, the overall objectives pursued by the sponsors and the authors in this project may be fairly described as follows:
First, certainly insofar as IJV(with whose work I am more familiar compared to that of the two other organisations involved in the project) and judging from the manner in which the other two organisations worked with IJV on all aspects of the project, clearly the overriding objective of the enterprise is to carry on with its consistent and continuous gratuitous and unfounded criticisms of and attacks on the manner in which Israel is dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict , in this instance, in the context of the six topics.
Second, to score against Canada’s alleged foreign policy concerning Israel and more specifically, to demonstrate that
a) Canada’s treatment of Israel is not impartial, and
b) Canada’s policy in this regard is disconnected from the views of the majority of Canadians who want Canada to adopt a more “impartial” policy.
Finally, as a political bonus of sorts, to criticise, by implication, the policy positions and the related actions taken and gestures made towards Israel by the leaders of the Conservative Party; presumably, starting with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper; carried on by former leader Andrew Sheer, and seemingly expected to be carried under the recently elected leader of the party Erin O’Toole, by pointing out that in this regard these are not only at odds with those of the supporters of the other federal parties represented in Parliament but also, and more importantly, at odds with those of their own supporters.
The overall assessment of the survey and of the report
Both the survey and the report are fundamentally and fatally flawed on the following grounds:
The survey failed to secure critically important sets of facts concerning the respondents that would have enormously assisted in the assessment of their opinions expressed in reply to the survey questions, as well as some helpful questions concerning the respondents themselves.
The survey failed to ask the respondents appropriate questions in order to assess their sincerity and whether the questions were answered in good faith.
The authors’ construction and statements of law is guided by partisanship and willful ignorance of the law while the opinions of the respondents with respect to the questions that raise legal issues are worthless.
The authors’ assertions that a. the manner in which Canada treats Israel as preferential and lacks impartiality, and b. Canada’s foreign policies concerning Israel and the treatment of Palestinian human rights are at odds with the opinions of the Canadians are purely speculative.
The formulation of the survey questions breaches at least one fundamental rule governing the formulation of survey questions.
The opinions expressed by the respondents with respect to a. questions that raise or address legal issues, and b. matters where there is no evidence that the respondents are reasonably knowledgeable about the matter
The absence of First, information concerning the specific ways in which EKOS participated in the survey and minimally, the degree to which EKOS was allowed to exercise its own judgment in the formulation of the questions and answers; Second, a separate report or a section of the final report drafted by drafted by EKOS that addresses methodological matters such as the formulation of the survey questions and of the framing of the set of “prescriptive” answers provided to the respondents their assessment of the manner in which the respondents handled the interview and particular questions, it is fair to draw an adverse inference about the manner in which the sponsors carried out the project and the authors wrote the report.
The ultimate problem with the survey and the report: IJV and its two confederates.
In a number of instances, the following submissions address more than one criticism of the authors’ positions, opinions and conclusions as the case may be.
Submissions concerning the design of the survey
First problem: The report does not state precisely what the interviewers told the respondents at the outset of the interview before proceeding to ask the survey questions. At all events, with the very first question on Topic 1, a respondent with an average intelligence would have been inclined to believe, guessed or at least suspected, that the survey was about Israel in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Second problem: The facts of the matter are that, first, the rates of antisemitism and of the various types of antisemitic hatred have been rising rapidly in the United States ("U.S"), in a large number of European countries, and in Canada and, second, the subject keeps making headlines in the American and European mass media, on TV news, multitude of websites, in the social media that feed into Canada mostly from the United States.
The antisemitism also manifests itself under many guises.
In the circumstances, the average Canadian cannot help but witness this state of affairs and be influenced in their thinking and opinions concerning the subject of antisemitism on its own and in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not necessarily in this order.
On the subject of antisemitism, Canada has adopted, as did over 30 other countries, the non-binding definition of the term formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (“IHRA”) both on the domestic front and in foreign relations.
IJV Canada having categorically rejected the validity of the IHRA definition has been fighting tooth and nail against its adoption, among others, by provinces and municipalities. One might surmise that IJV is doing that fearing that the application of the definition to the nature of IJV’s activities related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the objectives of these activities might lead one to the conclusion that it is an antisemitic organisation.
At all events, despite the self-evident fact that the responses to such questions would have enormously assisted in the proper assessment of the respondents’ opinions both by the authors and readers of the report, the sponsors deliberately ignored the matter.
Nevertheless, the survey fails to ask the appropriate questions to elicit the following critically important facts:
First, whether or not the respondents have established negative or positive opinions about
Arabs; Muslims; the groups of Palestinians identified above as Palestinians; the P.A, Hamas the political leaders of the Authority, and Hamas,
Jews; the Jewish people; Israelis; Israel, and its political leaders;
Second, in the context of the “the conflict”, the side and the specific issues with respect to which the respondent’s favour
- Palestinians in the groups identified above;
- the P.A;
Third, how often the respondent thinks about the conflict
-all the time;
-from time to time;
-this is the first time.
Fourth, determining the specific sources of information that the respondent thinks are trustworthy on which s/he regularly relies to inform him/herself about the conflict.
Third problem: The survey describes the respondents by their age; level of education; religious belief; the political party which they support; the region which they inhabit.
Noteworthy among these variable is the fact that 45 % of the respondents have a level of education less than College, CEGEP or other non-university certification or diploma, and when the latter category is added, 66% of the sample has less than a university degree, hardly a level of education commensurate with the complexity of the issues by the questions with respect to which their opinions are sought.
At all events, the query stumbles on the question of their cultural identity which need be considered a relevant variable. More specifically, the respondents are asked: “Other than Canadian, to which ethnic or cultural groups do you, considers yourself to belong to?” Besides, the Jewish group, the question provides a series of choices each of which comprise a variety of Canadian distinct indigenous cultures, and list of geographical regions of the world each comprising a mishmash of countries, as for example “Southern European (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish ,Greek, Yugoslav etc.)”.Surely, each of these countries has its own distinct culture, and furthermore within each of these countries there are a number of different subcultures and histories in their dealings with their respective Jewish populations.
Since cultural identity is a matter of personal self-identity, it would have been most appropriate to simply let the respondents state their own identity or identities.
Fourth problem-Part I: The survey provides predetermined sets of possible answers to each question from which the respondent is required to choose the one that best reflects his/her opinion on the subject matter of the question. One of these possible answers is: “Don’t know/No response“.
The answers that fit into this category are referred to as “the residuals”.
The authors do not define the meaning of “No Response”. It could mean any number of things such as those instances where a member of the sample group
was not available to take the call;
for some reason or another chose not to take the call, or
for example, confronted with a particular question in the survey instead of saying “I don’t know” chose to make no response by remaining silent instead of admitting, for example, that s/he did not know the answer, or that the question, as framed was bothersome or objectionable and the respondent did not care to answer it.
the answer “Don’t know” is as valid and meaningful as any of the pre-set answers provided to the respondent. Therefore this answer ought to have been treated the same way as the other answers;
combining these two types of answers, each of which describes a different reality, makes absolutely no sense because it muddles the picture, and
in order to assess the data properly, the reader is entitled to know the percentage of the respondents who answered “Don’t know” and the instances where “no response” is indicated.
Yet the authors chose to
exclude the residuals in the computation of the percentages of the respondents’ answers and worse,
relied on the percentages derived in this manner.
For example, on the Topic 1, concerning the extension of Israeli sovereignty to lands alleged to belong to the Palestinians, Table 6 shows that the residuals amount to a sizeable 14% of the total number of answers. Yet, in Table 7, the authors by excluding the residuals claim that 42% of the respondents chose the answer “Canada should impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions on Israel if she proceeded with the annexation”.
However, when the residuals are included in the computations (Table 7), the percentage of the respondents who chose to give this answer is reduced to 36% and the percentage of the respondents who answered “express opposition to Israel’s plan but take no action” declined from 32% to 28%.
Consequently, while the authors argue that “an overwhelming 74% (32%+ 42% in Table 6) of Canadians indicated that ‘Canada should oppose annexation through words or action,’” had the residuals been included in the computation, the overwhelming 74% would turn out to be a not so overwhelming 64 %.( Table 7).
In the circumstances, short of going table by table and comparing the percentages, by separately keeping in the categories “Don’t Know’ and “No response”, something which is impossible to do in this project and re-computing all the percentages, the reader is left in the dark as to the true facts that should actually be generated by the data.
Again, the authors insisted in using the percentages generated by the tables where the residuals are eliminated.
This problem becomes particularly acute in the light of the facts that
on questions that focus on Israelis, the percentage of answers in the residuals reach as high as 20% as illustrated in Tables 3 and 5, and
while the margins of error associated with the sample is plus or minus three (3) percentage points 19 times out of 20 that margin increases when the results are divided.
Furthermore, in those instances where the respondents choose the reply “Don’t know” unaccompanied by an explanation as to why the respondent is saying that, surely the reply is not very informative and consequently not as useful as it could be.
In the premises, the respondents ought to have been given an opportunity to state his/her reasons for their apparent lack of knowledge on the matter addressed by the question as for example: lack of knowledge of the pertinent facts and/or knowledge of the law applicable to or governing the matter addressed by the question, and/or others such as dislike of and/or emotional discomfort with the subject.
Finally, in the event an answer/opinion is not based on a particular body of knowledge, the respondent ought to have been asked whether his or her answer is based on moral values or considerations such as sincere belief or simply represents an attempt to give a logical or a fair -minded answer based on what makes sense to the respondent.
Fourth problem-Part II: A situation similar to collapsing different categories of answers arises when the authors interpret the data by collapsing two distinct types of answers into one. This is illustrated in the type of table shown as Table 1. More specifically, in at least one instance where the Table presents the tabulation of the responses to the question “Canada should increase its support for Palestinian human rights”, where the authors proceeded to examine the answers, “Somewhat agree” and “Strongly agree” as one. Surely such a step is not justifiable having regard to the fact that there is a strong qualitative difference between a somewhat reluctant partial agreement, where the nature and substance of the “somewhat” is unknown, and a strong agreement.
Fifth problem: The survey failed to ask the respondents comparative contextual questions in order to enable the readers to assess the sincerity and logic of their answers.
For example, it would have been most enlightening and helpful in the interpretation of the data, to obtain the opinions of the respondents with respect to topics 2, 3 and 4 by reframing the questions and substituting “Canada” for Israel and “Canadian Officials” for the Israeli ones as those who are alleged to have a) perpetrated the crimes described in the questions concerning the ICC, and b) violated and/or abused the human rights of its citizens and of members of their minority groups.
Such questions would have been most appropriate and timely having regard to the facts that from the Prime Minister down, members of the federal cabinet; the directing minds of organisations such as the RCMP among others; a good number of social reform organisations; some major corporations such as Telus and large law firms and their members; a lot of citizens at large admit, concede and accuse Canada of being a racist society where the racism is “systemic” and that consequently the country discriminates and breaches the human rights of racial minorities such as those who are black, members of the Indigenous communities, and some “racialised” groups.
Would the respondents agree that Canada’s allies or countries of the types described in the survey dealing with Topic 3 should not overlook the publicly admitted and confessed breaches of the human and civil rights of the foregoing groups by both the federal and the provincial governments and a number of their respective creations?
More specifically, should anyone or more of the countries that are
allies of Canada
Canada’s partners in the fight against terrorism;
have shared values with Canada,
overlook Canada’s abuse/violations of the human rights of its minority members even if Canada is under threat and/or enacted discriminatory legislation?
Better still, with respect to Topic 5 concerning the status of Jerusalem, would the respondent
a) abide by the international community; including Israel, that Canada must legally share the City of Ottawa with the Algonquin First Nation because the city including the Parliament Hill lies on lands to which the Algonquin hold an unextinguished the aboriginal title?
The pre- set of answers to the foregoing two questions would be those framed in the survey: 1.Disagree; 2.Strongly disagree; 3.Somewhat agree; 4.Strongly Agree; 5.I don’t know, and 6.No response.
Sixth problem: The authors’ formulation of one of the questions is quite sloppy and as a result of which it became a leading question.
The question is found in Topic 2 which addresses issues concerning The International Criminal Court (ICC).
The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague investigates individuals accused of serious crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Do you think that the International Criminal Court should investigate alleged war crimes?
wherever they may occur?
committed by Israeli officials?
The question relating to Israeli officials is a mere allegation. Since Israel has not been shown to have committed any of the kinds of crimes described in the question of human rights, and second, nor had she been duly convicted by a Court governed by the rule of law, surely there is no reason to omit the qualifier “alleged“. Such is the nature of the anti-Israel bias that flavours the survey data and animates the report.
In the meantime, it is not unreasonable to believe that the form of the question may well lead the respondents to answer this question in the belief that Israeli officials have actually committed such offences.
Seventh problem: The preceding problem brings me to the present one, namely, breach of the rules governing the proper formulation of survey questions. By way of illustration, I propose to deal with just one of them namely: the prohibition to ask leading questions to one’s own witness and in the premises to the respondents of a survey assembled by the sponsors.
A leading question is one framed in such a way as to lead, influence, require, induce, cause or force the respondent to answer the question in the manner desired and hoped for by the sponsors of the survey. In the case at hand, the respondents were asked leading questions on the topics of annexation; the ICC; the support of Palestinian human rights, and the status of Jerusalem.
More specifically, the sponsors sought to lead the respondents as follows:
In Topic 1 concerning the alleged Palestinian territory, the question refers to Canada’s position which by the way, is not relevant to the legal merits of the issue at hand, making the implicit suggestion that the annexation may well or would defeat Canada’s sensible and fair position, when the fact of the matter is that Canada’s position has been that the delineation of the final borders is a matter best determined through negotiations between the parties; although more recently based on the public comments of the newly minted Minister of Global |Affairs there seems to be a drift towards the position that pending the outcome of negotiations, Israel ought not to add any of the disputed territory to current one..
In Topic 2 concerning the ICC the leading component of the question is the preamble. The question is formulated to lead the respondents to think along the lines that, if the ICC is set up to do that, then surely the reply to the first question has got to be in the affirmative and why should Israel be treated differently?
Needless to say, the respondents were not informed that under The Rome Statute of the International Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute),
the ICC does not have exclusive universal jurisdiction to handle all cases dealing with the kinds of crimes in issue;
the Rome Statute affords the states in which the crimes have been allegedly committed, such as Israel, to prosecute alleged offenders on her territory, and that
he ICC steps in where the states cannot comply with the reasonable provisions of the statute. Cf. Articles 17 and 18.
In Topic 4 which deals with the level of support afforded or to be afforded by Canada to Palestinian human rights, the respondents are being led with the preamble to the question which states that Canada is competing for a seat in the U.N. Security Council in the hope of generating answers like: “Hey listen, if this is what it takes for Canada to get or help to get the seat, then of course, Canada should do that”.
In Topic 5 dealing with the status of Jerusalem, the preamble to the question is the means by which the respondents are sought to be led to provide the desired answer.
In this instance the respondents are not informed that the Palestinian Authority has, and continues to demand that Jerusalem as a whole must be exclusively the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Failure to address properly factual issues: Topic 6-Canada’s treatment of Israel
The survey does not require the respondents to answer directly and separately questions designed to elucidate specifically the manner in which Canada treats Israel compared to the manner she treats the Palestinians and the P.A. (Note there is no such country as Palestine but the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are governed by the Palestinian Authority and those in Gaza are under the rule of Hamas, a listed terrorist organization.)
Instead, the authors assert à priori that
Canada exhibits the frequent tendency of giving Israel a pass which according to the authors is allegedly also known as “Israeli exceptionalism”;
Canada’s has “a “long-time” pattern of diplomatic actions that seek to shield Israel from accountability over its violations of human rights and international law;
Canada is using double standards in dealing with Israel, and by implication, if Canada’s foreign policy is partial to Israel, it must be indifferent or, more plausibly, unjust in its treatment of the Palestinians and the P.A.
The authors then erroneously assert that the answers to the survey questions with respect to Topics 1 to 3 inclusive substantiate the foregoing propositions and conclude that Canada’s foreign policy concerning Israel is out of touch, disconnected from the views of the majority of Canadians.
The foregoing assertions are unfounded. Based on empirical evidence, the incontrovertible facts of the matter are that
Canada does not treat Israel better than it treats the P.A;
Quite to the contrary Canada treats the P.A better than Israel, and
On the subject of alleged human rights violations /abuses, Canada treats the P.A far better than it treats Israel
Cf. Prime Minister Trudeau: Is Canada a fake ally and fair-weather friend of Israel? Parts I to IV, May 19-25/2018. blogs.TimesofIsrael.com/Dogan Akman
By way of further illustration, when did Canada last criticise, let alone both criticise and sanction the P.A., among other things, for
refusing to consider and respond peace proposals;
doing things that are inimical to promoting peace by i. continuously providing school students with books and materials that contain hateful treatment of Jews, Israelis and Israel, and incite the students to engage in terrorism certainly by the time they reach the age of majority; ii. naming schools and public buildings after terrorists; iii. praising Hitler’s treatment of the Jews; iv. encouraging Palestinians to become martyrs by getting killed by the Israeli police or IDF in the process of attacking, maiming or killing Israelis or destroying Israeli property; v. speaking of terrorists as martyrs in glorious term; vi. financing terrorism through the “pay for slay” program;
breaching the democratic rights of the Palestinians living on lands governed by the P.A by i. being an illicit/illegitimate government, and ii. refusing to call general elections in the past 14 years;
breaching their citizenship rights by i. appointing acolytes to the public service; ii. depriving the opponents of the regime of their entitlements to certain social and civil benefits; iii. depriving the inhabitants of the full benefits of the financial assistance provided by the member countries of the E.U. and others by converting large portions of this aid to their personal use and benefit.
breaching their human rights by such things as failing to afford due process in criminal proceedings by making arbitrary arrests;
treating the public service employees arbitrarily by cutting the wages to which they are entitled in order to insure that the benefits of the pay for slay program has sufficient funds to pay fully the ever increasing benefits to which terrorists’ or their survivors are entitled.
I venture to state that the parties that commits serious as well as the frequent breaches of the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs are not Israelis but the P.A. and Hamas.
In the premises, if Canada wishes to focus properly on and increase its assistance to protect and support the human rights of Palestinians she ought to focus on the Palestinians living under the P.A. and Hamas regimes, rather than the Israeli Arabs who live in Israel and exercise their civil and citizenship rights.
In substantiation is needed, all one has to do is to compare the annual number of Israeli Arab who wish to move to Gaza or to P.A. land with the corresponding number of residents of these territories who want to move to Israel, move legally or illegally and are anxious to remain in Israel.
Failure to address properly the legal and related issues
The respondents’ opinions in response to questions that raise legal issues are simply worthless
A group of lay persons’ opinions on legal issues may be peddled in the public arena, for electoral purposes and for specific political purposes between elections to advocate for and militate in support of various causes.
However, it is self-evident that the opinions expressed by the respondents in response to questions that raise or address legal questions are worthless. This is so, because there is no survey evidence that respondents are trained and qualified as lawyers, let alone specialised in the areas of the law relevant to the questions they were asked to answer.
In the circumstances, there is no point asking respondents’ opinions on legal matters about which they are not qualified to answer.
Consequently, both the respondents’ answers and the conclusions of the authors based on these answers are worthless on the legal merits of the matter(s) in issue.
Illustration of the foregoing submissions
First illustration: The authors’ treatment of Topic 1 concerning the intent of the Israeli government to incorporate some of the territory located in Judea and Samaria
Considering the fact that the organisations involved in this project have been fighting against Israel for quite some time, the authors’ feigned ignorance of the facts and law pertinent to this topic is inexcusable.
For ease of reference I repeat the survey question on this topic. It reads: “The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July 2020. For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people have its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. Of the following options, how do you believe the Government of Canada should react to Israel's plan? ● Support Israel’s plan ● Do nothing ● Express opposition to Israel’s plan, but take no other action● Impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions on Israel ● Don’t know/No response.
The survey data shows that those who chose answers 3 and 4 formed the majority of the respondents.
The authors outline their position on this matter as follows:
Unilateral annexation is blatantly illegal according to international law. The UN Charter forbids territorial conquest, and dozens of UN resolutions have repeatedly confirmed the international community’s opposition to Israel’s acquisition of territory by force.2 Moreover, the land slated to be annexed by Israel is considered to be reserved for a future Palestinian state, undermining the possibility of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Annexation would therefore “be a severe body blow to the rules-based international order," says UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, and “would crystalize a 21st century apartheid, leaving in its wake the demise of the Palestinians' right to self-determination. Legally, morally, politically, this is entirely unacceptable."
The authors’ position may be best described as G-d’s revenge on facts, law and logic on the following grounds:
The Palestinians do not have legal title under international law to the territory misnamed as the West Bank, sometime around or after the war of 1973 in an attempt to disassociate Israel from her legal rights to the territory.
It is an historical fact, self- evident during the history of the British Mandate and readily conceded by a number of Arab writers that before, during the period1920 - 1949 and thereafter there has never been an “Arab Palestinian people” or any other “Palestinian people”. This designation was contrived and came into use sometime after the war of 1967 in order to promote the notion of a state for Palestinians.
The intention of Israel is not to annex the territory in question out of territorial greediness but to extend Israel’s sovereignty over part of the territory reserved under international law for the establishment of a Jewish homeland which in 1948 became the State of Israel.
Israel did not acquire the territory by force: she recovered it in a defensive war as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War commenced by some Arab states including Jordan.
The British, contrary to the terms and objectives of its Mandate (1920-1948) stood in the way of the establishment of the Jewish homeland as a Jewish state.
At all events, Israel’s entitlement to the territory under the Mandate is protected under the United Nations Charter Article 80(1), which reads : “ 1. Except as may be agreed upon in individual trusteeship agreements, made under Articles 77, 79, and 81, placing each territory under the trusteeship system, and until such agreements have been concluded, nothing in this Chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.
In order to put a formal end to the War of Independence, Israel signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Under international law , the lines that separate Israel from her neighbours and from the so-called West Bank are not borders but merely armistice lines between the Israeli forces and those of the other countries
At the conclusion of the and as a result of the Armistice Agreements in 1949 Jordan illegally occupied some of the lands set aside for the establishment of the Jewish homeland.
These lines held until 1967 when a number of Arab States, including Jordan once again declared war on Israel and were once again defeated. As a result of the war, Israel recovered the lands illegally occupied by Jordan.
Subsequently, in the context of the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel, Jordan abandoned any and all claims to the lands recovered by Israel.
By so doing, Jordan abandoned her loyal subjects living on the lands in issue without providing them with a land base of their own within the territory of Jordan.
The opinion of the leading foreign countries such as France, Germany, and United Kingdom and others that the territory in issue should be reserved for a future Palestinian state is just that, a political one that runs against the rights of Israel under international law.
In the premises, Israel did not engage in territorial conquest or otherwise acquire the territory in issue by force. Hence, the international community’s opposition to Israel’s acquisition of land by force and the relevant provisions of international law on this topic have no legal bearing on this matter.
U.N. resolutions are the product of international geopolitical games designed to protect and the political, financial and other interests of the members sponsoring these resolutions. At all events such resolutions are not legal instruments and have no legal effect.
To date, the conflict has been on for 71 years. Yet, during all this time, the members of the international community and in particular the United States and the E.U have yet to convince the P.A to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel. Instead it has chosen to decline peace plans formulated by the U.S. before the arrival of President Trump and did not respond to, among others offers, the two Israeli foolish peace proposals offered in 2001 and 2008 respectively that offered the P.A. quasi-totality of the West Bank.
By now, the incontrovertible fact of the matter is that, the sole objective of both the P.A and Hamas is to get rid of the State of Israel and take over its territory.
In the circumstances, it has been and continues to be the case that, Israel would never be able to co-exist with a Palestinian state in peace and security.
And in so far Israel’s security is concerned, the 1949 armistice lines could hardly be said to provide for Israel’s security in the central, north and north east of her territory. And the proposed expansion of sovereignty over the lands in issue, address this among other problems.
Finally, in so far as Mr. Michael Lynk’s jeremiads are concerned, First, his hysterical historical predictions are consistent with his pro-Palestinian and anti- Israeli position. Worse they are nonsensical. Second, as a matter of fact, if he had waited a tad before making them, he would have learned that an unknown number Palestinians who dare speak publicly against the P.A welcomed the intention of the Israeli government and pleasure at the prospect of being able to live in Israel in preference to living under the authority of the P.A, and so did other Palestinians while keeping their heads and voices down. Needless to say, the vocal ones got promptly arrested. Third, when President Trump announced his famous “Deal of the century” peace plan, the first and immediate objections to it were loudly voiced Israeli-Arab women living in Israel on their understanding that as a result of the plan they, along with their communities, will relocated to the territory of the Palestinian State.
In the premises, if anything is legally and morally “entirely unacceptable” that has got to be the authors’ treatment of the subject.
As to political acceptability, surely this is a matter to be ultimately decided solely by the sovereign State of Israel. See also: The Inanity of Canada’s Jewish Progressives published on May 24, 2020 that responds to the public position and intervention with the government, like IJV, of another so-called progressive Canadian Jewish organisation JSpaceCanada blogs.TimesofIsrael.com/Dogan Akman
Second illustration: The authors’ treatment of Topic 2 concerning the ICC.
The two questions which the respondents were asked on this topic read:
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague investigates individuals accused of serious crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Do you think that the International Criminal Court should investigate alleged war crimes?
wherever they may occur?
committed by Israeli officials?
“When a country is accused of / Given that Israel has recently been accused of serious rights abuses, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague is asked to carry out an investigation, do you think the government of Canada should consider stepping in if it is opposed to the investigation?”
These questions were inserted in the light of the matter of the P.A’s complaints against Israeli officials brought before the ICC and Canada’s decision to intervene in the proceedings on the grounds that the ICC did not have the requisite jurisdiction to deal with the complaints of the P.A.
The authors and their respective organisations profess to have been shocked by Canada’s decision to intervene, as they see it on the side of Israel, which of course is nonsense.
The authors write:
“With two of the survey questions (supra.), [the sponsors] wanted to explore Canadians’ views on the ICC, especially as it relates to the Court’s potential investigation of Israeli officials. Notably, the authors state that the sponsors sought to answer what they characterised to be ‘two high-level’ questions’; namely,
Do Canadians want the ICC to be entirely impartial in its application of international law around the world, even if that means that Israeli officials could be prosecuted by the Court?,[and]
Do Canadians want the Canadian government to respect the independence of the ICC even if it means that the perceived interests of the government could be threatened? [and] b1. Should this respect for the independence of the Court be maintained, even if the Court decided to investigate Israeli officials?
And of all people the sponsors sought the opinions of people who are not trained in law, probably are not aware of the statute that governs the ICC.
The authors summarised the respondents’ opinions to these questions as follows:
First, “ICC must be entirely impartial in its application of international law around the world, even if that means that Israeli officials could be prosecuted by the Court”;
Second, “the government of Canada must
respect the independence of the ICC, by not intervening in its proceedings, even where these proceedings could be seen as threatening the government’s perceived interests;
maintain this respect for the independence of the Court, even if the Court decides to investigate Israeli officials, and
not object to the proceedings because such objections interfere with the impartiality of the Court.”
On the basis of the foregoing opinions, the authors then proceed to conclude that “Canadians do not support Canada’s way of treating Israel [among others] on the grounds that the government’s handling of matters concerning Israel in the context of proceedings before the ICC is inappropriate because Canadians adopt the positions set out in the immediately preceding First point
These are gratuitous assertions and inferences because again
neither the way the questions are framed nor the replies to them directly relate to the foregoing conclusions;
before tendering their opinions the respondents were not informed that i. the questions in effect concern the recent complaints filed with the ICC by the P.A. alleging that Israeli officials committed crimes covered in the mandate of the ICC; ii. Canada did intervene before the ICC to object to the ICC investigating the complaint on the sole ground that as a matter of law, the ICC does not have the requisite jurisdiction to investigate the P.A.’s charges, and
nor were they informed that as a matter of fact Canada has an outstanding record as an exemplary member of the ICC that has always respected the independence and the impartiality of the Court, regardless of the identity of the person(s) being accused and of the country to which s/he belongs.
Obviously, both the respondents and the authors are ignorant of the legal fact that under the provisions of the Rome Statute, the Court may not have the requisite jurisdiction to deal with the P.A’s complaint. Section 19 of the Statute titled “Challenges to the jurisdiction of the Court or the admissibility of a case” specifically provides member and other states with the right to proceed with the challenge on such issues. Surely, in the circumstances Canada’s intervention in the proceedings does not show lack of respect of the Court, nor imperil its independence and impartiality.
The very notion that the Court’s jurisdiction must not be challenged is the surest way to cause international anarchy and conflict in those instances where the Court is unaccountable to any country takes on any and all cases it fancies and for whatever reason it fancies them.
At all events, Canada is not, by any means, the only country that filed objections to ICC’s involvement in this complaint. Besides Canada, Israel as well as a number of other European countries have filed or planning to file the same objections as Canada.
As a matter of fact and interestingly enough Germany has already filed the same objection despite the facts that in addition to being the most generous of the European countries to provide financial assistance to the P.A, she promotes the P.A.’s case in the E.U. and at the U.N where more often than not she votes for anti-Israel motions concerning the conflict.
Surely, both the designers of the survey questions and the authors could have spared the reader being subjected to all the foregoing nonsense first by reading the material provisions of the Statute of Rome and then, in the unlikely event there was anything left to ask, ask the respondents questions that are directly on point.
Further illustrations of this type of failure are readily found with respect to all the topics where the authors analyse the survey data based on the worthless legal opinions of the respondents given in response to the questions relating to each topic.
First: Concerning the nature of the respondents’ answers
As I pointed out above, the survey did not ask the respondents any questions that would give the reader of the report an insight into the way and the basis on which the individual respondents formulated their opinions.
Borrowing the words of Harry G. Frankfurt, renowned moral philosopher and Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University, where the respondent did not have the requisite knowledge to give an informed opinion, were the answers based on moral values or considerations such as sincere belief or simply giving a fair or logical answer based on what makes sense to him or her.
To put it bluntly, can it be said that all things considered, the respondents’ answers are bullshit?
On this question, I defer to and adopt the thinking of Professor Frankfurt on the matter. He wrote: “Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some Topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled-whether by their own propensities or by the demand of others – to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. Closely related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least everything that pertains to the conduct of his country’s affairs. The lack of any significant connection between a person’s opinions and his apprehension of reality will be even more severe, needless to say, for someone who believes it his responsibility, as a conscious moral agent, to evaluate events and conditions in all parts of the world.” Frankfurt, Harry G., On Bullshit ,Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford,2005 at pp.63 and 64, see also: pp. 64- 67; for the nature of bullshit and the difference between lies and bullshit, see pp.40 and seq. Readers who are interest on this subject may also wish to read Frankfurt, Harry G., On Truth, Alfred A. Knopf ,New York,2012
In the premises, it is fair to question
the legitimacy of this project in in the light of the number and percentage of answers that qualify as bullshit ; and
the legitimacy of a report based on an unquantifiable number of bullshit answers.
Second: The nature and the extent of the involvement of EKOS
In the ordinary course of events, the report on the design of the research such as the framing of the questions; the methodology used in carrying out the survey, the categorisation of the possible answers and the first cut of the quantitative analysis of the data generated by the research, would have been prepared by EKOS at arm’s length from the sponsors.
In this particular case, I find it rather curious that given the praiseworthy status of EKOS asserted by the authors and the qualifications of its Senior Analyst, Mr. Washburn that EKOS was not assigned this task.
Having regard to the serious shortcomings of the survey and of the report identified above, had EKOS written up such a report for the benefit of the reader, I suspect that the three sponsors would have had no choice but to abort the writing of their report.
Third: The ultimate problem with the project and report: IJV Canada and its two confederates
The IJV claims to be a [progressive] “grassroots organisation ‘grounded in Jewish tradition’ that opposes all forms of racism and advocates for justice and peace for all in ‘Israel-Palestine’”.
There exists no Judaic tradition or for that matter Jewish tradition that demands or requires Jews and Jewish organisations to engage in repeatedly and consistently bad mouthing Israel, the Israeli government, its various emanations and by implication, the Israelis by
turning aside from the truth or right;
resorting to obscurantist nonsense such as the term “Israel-Palestine” as Israel refers to a country and the term “Palestine”, which is the historical name assigned by the Romans to the Jewish lands under its sovereignty as well as some or all of the lands set aside for the Jewish homeland, and
using every opportunity to do so, and when the opportunity is not present when needed, to invent one.
Clearly, since the representatives of the other two sponsors of the survey participated in the writing of the report and approved the published version of the report, their thinking on the foregoing questions must be in sweet accord with that of IJV and vice versa.
At the end of the day
The sponsors and the authors remind me of the three monkeys who refuse to see, hear, and speak anything other than the things they imagine, want to see and believe they see; hear anything that does not jive with what they think they hear and want to hear, and speak anything other than that which they wish to speak about.
Insofar as there are serious shortcomings of the project which I have identified, I can already hear the argument that the sponsors did not have the necessary financial resources to widen and deepen the scope of the project in the manner I outlined.
If that is the case, I suggest that it is better to do nothing than to frame a survey and publish a report that are intellectually shabby, lack candor and fail to speak to the truth.
Regrettably, the paramount objectives of this project are; to vilify Israel once more and to criticise the Canadian government’s handling of its relations with Israel in the context of the Palestinian-Israel conflict and more specifically its refusal to vilify Israel
.Based on the foregoing facts and analysis, clearly, the sponsors failed abysmally.
All of which brings me back to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Under the guise of free speech and legitimate criticism of the policies and actions of the Government of Israel, the organisations and the authors are applying double standards by treating Israel in a manner in which they would not treat any other such nation.
Doğan D. Akman is an independent researcher and commentator .He holds a B.Sc. in sociology, an M.A. in sociology/criminology and an LL.B in law. He held academic appointments in sociology, criminology and social policy; served as a Judge of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and occupied the positions of Crown Counsel in criminal prosecutions and in civil litigation at the Federal Department of Justice. His academic work is published in peer-reviewed professional journals, while his opinion pieces are to be found in various publications and in blogs.