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The Diplomacy of Impartiality

Canada and Israel, 1958-1968


Publication Year: 2010

The University of Winnipeg Politics Department presents a talk by WLUPress author Zachariah Kay entitled Canada and the Middle East: Mileposts on the Diplomatic Highways and Biways of Impartiality on Thursday, March 10, 2011, 2:30 to 4:00 pm, 202 St. John’s College, University of Winnipeg. Everyone is welcome. The lecture will be based on Kay’s book The Diplomacy of Impartiality: Canada and Israel 1958צ1968.

The Diplomacy of Impartiality is an analysis of a major decade in Canadian–Israeli relations, dealing with significant events that led to the Six-Day War of 1967 and its aftermath. Using primary documentation from the National Archives of Canada and the Israeli State Archives, Zachariah Kay shows that although Canada was committed to Israel’s existence, its foreign policy was governed by the scrupulous impartiality that had become a principle guideline when dealing with Israel and the Middle East.

The first section of the book deals with the Progressive Conservative government headed by John Diefenbaker in the first part of the decade and his Israeli counterpart, David Ben Gurion. The second section considers the latter part of the decade, with reference to Lester Pearson’s Liberal government and the Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol. The book shows that in spite of political differences between the leaders and their parties, the Canadian bureaucracy maintained a policy of impartiality, following the lines of non-commitment and prudence practiced prior to the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in Palestine with the State of Israel. Issues such as the Arab–Israeli conflict, nuclear power, governments and parliaments, and the pre- and post-Six-Day War are dealt with in detail. The assessed evidence proves that impartiality as a quasi-bureaucratic ordinance kept Canada on the path it maintained in subsequent decades into the twenty-first century.

The Diplomacy of Impartiality provides an essential understanding of events surrounding today’s Canadian relationship with Israel and the Arab–Israeli conflict.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

This volume is the last in my trilogy on the history of Canada- Israel diplomatic relations. The first, Canada and Palestine: The Politics of Non-Commitment (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press), covered the period leading up to...

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Note on Sources

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pp. x

This work is based on primary sources from the files of the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa (NA), the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem (ISA), official publications of the Canadian and Israeli governments, and the House of...

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pp. 1-6

Canada has a quasi-respectable status in the international arena that is in itself something of an achievement given the atmosphere within the realm of international relations during the twentieth and into the twenty-first century...


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1 Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

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pp. 9-19

The Sinai-Suez war of October-November 1956 can be viewed as the swan song of the imperial powers of the previous century. The conflict ended the Victorian mindset of "send a gunboat" to quell the natives and sedate their...

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2 Diefenbaker's Helmsmanship

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pp. 21-35

The events that occurred in 1958 did not affect the basic policy tenets of impartiality vis-a-vis the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. At the beginning of 1959,Walter Eytan, director-general of Israel's Foreign Office, visited...

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3 Caution in a Nuclear Minefield

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pp. 37-42

Israel's need to advance to the forefront of science and technology for its economic and military survival in a hostile Levant was taken to be axiomatic. This push necessitated canvassing Western powers regarded as advanced, especially in nuclear...


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4 The Pearson Primeministership

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pp. 45-54

A fortnight after the election of 8 April 1963 that formally ended the Diefenbaker reign, Lester B. Pearson was sworn in as Liberal prime minister. This event heralded an era in which bilingualism and biculturalism were highlighted...

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5 Commons and Crisis: A Case Study

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pp. 55-67

The extent to which a crisis envelops a country and its national legislature is contingent on that country's degree of concern and involvement. In the late spring of 1967, the crisis and pending outbreak of hostilities in the third explosive round...

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6 War and a Wary Ottawa

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pp. 69-79

The year 1967 had prospects of hope and fulfillment for Canadians as the dominion entered its second century enveloped with promising kismet; the northern titan was the world's second largest territorial sovereign entity...

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7 Post Conflict and Compromise

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pp. 81-86

The Six Day War formally ended on 11 June, following Syria's acceptance of the UN Security Council's ceasefire, in the wake of the UAR (Egypt) and Jordan's acceptance of the Security Council's call. Their forces were severely defeated...

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8 Closing the Pearson Era

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pp. 87-97

"I wish to inform you of my decision, taken after lengthy and serious consideration, to resign from the Leadership of our Party. I feel that this is the appropriate time for me to take this step." 1 Thus began the concluding chapter in the career...

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Summary and Conclusions

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pp. 99-106

The second decade in Canadian- Israeli relations was characterized by a greater degree of caution and impartiality in the decision-making process than in the previous decade. The period was almost evenly divided between a Progressive...

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pp. 107-109

The foregoing study and its predecessors serve as a historical study of a microcosm of Canadian foreign policy. From the first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, through Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Robert L. Borden, Canadian...


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pp. 111-119


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pp. 121-127

E-ISBN-13: 9781554582020
E-ISBN-10: 1554582830
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554581870
Print-ISBN-10: 1554581877

Page Count: 138
Publication Year: 2010