Israel’s sole Canadian-born member of the Knesset says Israel should stay in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international body composed of parliamentarians from 176 countries, despite its recent animus toward the Jewish state.
The five-member Israeli delegation, which included Likud MK Sharren Haskel, walked out of the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in St. Petersburg, Russia, in October, after the Israelis were subjected to a barrage of insults and their speaking time was cut short.
Following statements from the Palestinian Authority and several Arab and Muslim states that condemned Israel, Haskel’s response, which representatives attempted to drown out by pounding on their desks, was cut short by the president of the assembly, even though Haskel still had two minutes left to speak.
A video circulated on social media showed the speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, shouting at the Israeli MKs that they were child killers who should “grab your bags and leave this hall.”
“Leave now if you have one ounce of dignity, you occupier, you murderer of children,” Al-Ghanim was heard shouting.
The Jordanian delegate said terrorism “is perpetrated by Israel all day and night in Palestine,” while the Pakistani, Palestinian and Syrian envoys condemned Israel.
The Israelis said they left the conference because of anti-Israel resolutions that were authorized by the IPU, including calls to release Palestinian terrorists Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat from an Israeli prison.
The meeting was “an absolutely ridiculous charade,” Haskel, 33, told The CJN after she wrapped up a meeting of the Fourth IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians in Ottawa.
The conference brought more than 130 young members of various parliaments from around the world on Nov. 17 and 18, to discuss democratic, economic and social divides, and to devise more inclusive policies.
Despite the bile exhibited at the parley in Russia, Israel should remain in the IPU, said Haskel, who was born in Toronto and taken to Israel when she was an infant. She became a Likud MK in 2015.
While Israel recently quit the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over its anti-Israel bias and leaving the IPU was floated, “at the moment, we are not going to leave the IPU,” Haskel said. “But hopefully at the next session, we’ll have a few steps to rebuild trust with this organization.”
She said there are “a lot of good things we can do through this organization – collaborating, creating different projects.” Israel, she said, has a few joint projects on the go with Arab countries.
‘Israel is not the problem in the Middle East.’
As for getting help from friendly countries, Haskel said Canada was absent from that session. She said she was later told by the head of Canada’s IPU delegation, Liberal MP David McGuinty, that Canada would have come to Israel’s defence.
At the IPU’s Ottawa meeting for young MPs, Haskel said the Jordanian representative claimed that the main problem in the Middle East is the Israel-Palestine conflict.
To Haskel, that is “absolutely ridiculous. We see the murderous and violent fights and wars we have all around us. The Israel-Palestine conflict is important, but it’s not the cause of all these conflicts in the Middle East.”
She said she believes “more and more (that) the world really understands that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East. Israel is actually bringing a solution to the Middle East by bringing values of democracy, liberty and equality to that region.”
While in Ottawa, Haskel said she was briefed by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs on a number of issues, including an update on the labelling of wine from the West Bank. The matter is now before the Federal Court, which is considering a judicial review of a ruling by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that allowed the labelling of wines from the West Bank as “made in Israel.”