TORONTO (Dec. 2)
The Canada-Israel Committee indicated here that it was not alarmed by the findings of a survey conducted at the request of the External Affairs Department which found that only about 10 percent of those polled want Canada to support Israel in the Middle East conflict.
The results of the survey were obtained by the Toronto Star through the Access of Information Act, and published recently. The poll was conducted by an independent firm at the request of the government.
According to the survey’s results, a large majority — 83 percent of those polled — said Canada should remain neutral in the Arab-Israel conflict. While ten percent suggested Canada should side with Israel, only 5 percent said the government should back the “moderate” Arab states.
Shira Herzog Bessin, national executive director of the Canada-Israel Committee, told the Canadian Jewish News that her group was not surprised at the poll’s findings, which she said was very similar to one conducted by the committee two years ago.
In that poll, some 70 percent of those surveyed said Canada should stay neutral in the Mideast conflict; 20 percent said Canada should be more supportive of Israel and six percent said Canada should back the Arab states. A total of 63 percent said they were “somewhat satisfied” with Canada’s Mideast policy, according to the committee’s poll.
In the survey conducted for the Canadian government, some 63 percent of those polled said it is important for Canada to take an interest in the Middle East situation. However, 80 percent said Canada should be more concerned with Central America. It was also noted by a committee spokesperson that the ten percent support for Israel indicated in the poll exceeded Canada’s proportionate population of Jews — about one percent of the total population.
Bill Attewell, an M.P. who heads the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Israel, was skeptical about the poll’s findings. He said he suspected stronger support for Israel among Canadians.