Human rights reputation obscures the real Irwin Cotler
Alberta Arab News
February 5, 2004

As we saw last time, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler’s history as a propagandist for Israel calls into question his ability to represent Canada’s interests in Cabinet.

Most Canadians aren’t aware of this side of Cotler because it is obscured by his reputation as a human-rights lawyer. According to his website, he worked on behalf of former prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union (Andrei Sakharov), South Africa (Nelson Mandela), Latin America (Jacobo Timmerman), and Asia (Muchtar Pakpahan).

His reputation gained new strength because of his work with Maher Arar, the Canadian who was imprisoned and tortured after the U.S. “deported” him to his native Syria. After being appointed to cabinet, though, Cotler removed himself from any further involvement in the case, citing the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, Cotler’s passion for justice and regard for legal appearances do not apply where Israel and the rights of Arabs are concerned. Conspicuously absent from the website is the fact that he is responsible for obtaining the 1986 release from prison of the odious Anatoly Sharansky.

Now known as Natan Sharansky, this former Jewish-Russian dissident and “champion of human rights” is now a politician and is largely responsible for the proliferation of Jewish “settlements.” In fact, Sharansky founded the Yisrael b’Aliyah (Israel Immigrants) party in 1995 to hasten the importation of Jewish Slavs into the Occupied Territories to displace the local inhabitants.

According to Article 7.1 (d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, such deportation or forcible transfer of population is defined as a crime against humanity.1 Moreover, Israel’s overall treatment of Palestinians satisfies the statute’s definition of genocide.2

Regarding Sharansky’s criminality, Cotler has had nothing to say.

Adding further doubt about Canada’s new moral posture is its decision to join 32 other countries to protest the ICC’s right to rule on the legality of Israel’s Wall. The argument is that the Wall is not a judicial matter but a political matter to be decided between Palestinians and Israelis. This is nothing more than standard zionist propaganda to trick the world community into abandoning the Palestinians to their fate under occupation. This issue, though, is very much a judicial matter.

The Wall, which cuts deep into Palestinian land beyond the 1967 Green Line is an instrument of genocide as defined by the Court. Whole Arab villages have been destroyed, and tens of thousands of Palestinians now find themselves living east of the fence and cut off from their land on the west.

In November 1967 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, condemning acquisition of territory by force and compelling Israel to vacate all of Occupied Palestine unconditionally. Respect for Resolution 242 is a pillar of Canada’s foreign policy, as is support for international organizations like the ICC.

So the question is: How can Canada claim to abide by Res. 242, international law and international standards of human rights, yet oppose an inquiry into a blatant violation of these bedrock ideals? The short answer is, it can’t. Canada’s behaviour is an inexcusable hypocrisy. For the long answer, inquiries should be directed to the foreign minister’s special advisor on the International Criminal Court—Irwin Cotler (613-992-4621).

A third example of Cotler’s questionable reputation is his connection to Alan Dershowitz— renowned appellate lawyer, Harvard law professor, and now one of the U.S.’s most infamous plagiarists. His book The Case for Israel is pseudo-historical claptrap designed to justify the zionist entity against its critics, and is based heavily upon whole passages lifted from an another discredited book, Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial.3

Dershowitz praises Cotler as his “mirror-image in Canada and in his book, endorses Cotler’s nine canons of the “new anti-Semitism.” Such esteemed company!

Two years ago, Dershowitz advocated that Israel destroy whole Palestinian villages as punishment for “terrorist attacks.”4 This tactic, also practised by the Nazis against Jews, is called collective punishment and is expressly prohibited by international law. Dershowitz also declared that Western countries should employ non-lethal torture and murder against terrorist suspects. [read: “Arabs,” or “Muslims”]. This, too, is prohibited.

Within three weeks of Dershowitz uttering this statement, Cotler praised him as a man of insight and moral courage: “Would that there could be just a minyan [quorum of 10] of Alan Dershowitzes today, we could transform the universe. Thank God there is one Alan Dershowitz today.”5

Now, Canadians have a clear picture of their justice minister: a human rights lawyer who contributes to the misery of Palestinians; a Cabinet minister who debases Canada’s principles to serve Israel; and a personal admirer of a plagiarist and advocate of zionist terror.

Sometime soon the prime minister will call a spring election. Cotler’s understanding of justice must be made an issue.

1. “ ‘Deportation or forcible transfer of population’ means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law.” Article 7.2 (d) (

2. Article 6: “For the purpose of this Statute, ‘genocide’ means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a). killing members of the group;
(b). causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c). deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d). imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e). forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (Ibid)

3. The literature on Dershowitz’s plagiarism is substantial. See Scholar Norman Finkelstein Calls Professor Alan Dershowitz’s New Book On Israel a ‘Hoax’ and Alexander Cockburn, Alan Dershowitz, Plagiarist. For a review of Peters’s book see “Yehoshua Porath, Mrs. Peters’s Palestine” New York Review of Books, Jan. 16, 1986.

4. Alan M. Dershowitz, “New response to Palestinian terrorism,” Jerusalem Post, March 11, 2002.

5. Shoshana Kordova, “The case for Dershowitz,” Ha’aretz, Dec. 26, 2003.