Now that the Queen's approval is being sought for the acceptance of Mr. Michael Comay as Israel's first Minister to Canada it may be useful to consider at least two questions which are likely to be involved for Canada when Mr. Comay arrives.
2. The first is that Mr. Comay will be taking up his duties at a time when a certain amount of special pleading is to be expected for the support of Israeli policies which may or may not be to the advantage of NATO countries. Mr. Comay possesses gifts of persuasion and the able diplomat's capacity for presenting controversial issues in a non-controversial light. We should undoubtedly be in a better position to deal with suggestions he may make to the Government of Canada if there were Canadian missions in Tel Aviv and a suitable Arab capital which could serve as independent sources of information on the implications of the policies proposed.
3. The second consideration is one to which some prominence has been given by the President of Israel in his introduction to the Government Year Book, 5713 (1952), in which he said:
- "But there is no mistaking the portentousness of the fact that only in countries of democratic freedom and freedom of the press is Israel able to be in reciprocal touch with both Government and people. The importance of this is two-fold: only in those countries have we uninhibited access to their Jews, and only there can we explain to public opinion at large the position of Israel, its needs, its undertakings and its aspirations.... The State (of Israel) cannot interfere in the domestic affairs of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, cannot give them instructions or make demands of them ... It is just there that the Zionist Organization, founded upon free-will association and voluntary effort, has the occasion and ability to do what the State is neither able nor authorized to do. That is ... why the establishment of the State did not bring the era of the (Zionist) Organization to a close, but rather has enhanced its responsibility and mission beyond measure."
4. Arabs have long been aware of the freedom with which Zionist Organizations in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and other democratic countries were able to disseminate the views of the Jewish Agency in Palestine before 1948. Considerable publicity has also attended Zionist efforts to support the policies of the Government of Israel since the creation of the Jewish state in that year. On the announcement of Mr. Comay's appointment we shall undoubtedly be reminded that our sources of information about the Arab world have been far from disinterested in the past, that the opening of an Israeli diplomatic mission in Ottawa now will accentuate the one-sided character of our impressions of Middle Eastern problems and that if we wish Canadian policies to be based on a sound understanding of a part of the world whose history and current needs are different from our own we should think seriously of arranging for an early exchange of diplomatic representatives with at least one of the leading Arab states.
5. The European Division has for some years felt the need of Canadian missions both in Tel Aviv and in Cairo or Beirut, to which specific requests for information, comments and other forms of assistance might be addressed. The Canadian Permanent Delegate to the United Nations has twice mentioned in official reports on the work of sessions of the General Assembly the hampering effects of the lack of Canadian representation in the Middle East. Our delegations to the General Assembly have been obliged to take decisions and cast frequent votes relating to the Arab states and Israel without benefit of comments and recommendations from trained Canadian diplomatic observers serving in the area affected by United Nations resolutions.
6. The handicap has arisen, of course, from the fact that the Canadian diplomatic service has been going through a period of abnormal expansion and neither financial appropriations nor personnel have been available for all the areas in which we have felt the need of representation. Priorities in the establishment of diplomatic missions elsewhere have now been met, however. Since 1949, when the question of Canadian representation in the Middle East was first discussed in the Department, decisions have been taken to establish diplomatic posts in Austria, Ceylon, Finland, Indonesia, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. This being the case, it is hoped in this Division that the opening of Canadian missions in Israel and one of the Arab states may now have become a practical possibility.