“It’s a trick we always play. In Europe, when someone criticizes Israeli policies, we bring in Holocaust – and when someone in this country (US) criticizes Israeli policies, we bring in anti-Semitism…..” – former Israeli cabinet minister Shulamit Aloni told Amy Goodman in her interview on ‘Democracy Now’. Watch video below.
It’s hillarious to read that Harper’s government in Ottawa which has for years claimed that “criticism of Israel amounts to old-fashined anti-Semitism” – and which banned British MP George Galloway, American Jewish academic Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Muslim scholar from India Dr. Zakir Naik and many others to speak at Canadian Campuses – is claiming that Canada is facing “unprecedented increase in anti-Semitic incidents especially on University Campuses.
The 22 pro-Israel Canadian MPs from four political parties, known as ‘Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA)‘, is chaired by gay former MP Mario Silva. In its latest report, CPCCA recommends the training of police forces across Canada in how better to deal with anti-Semitic sponsorship of conferences at universities, such as “Israeli Apartheid Week,” and the adoption of a clear and concise definition of what anti-Semiticism entails.
Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, charges that the coalition shuts out voices of those who disagree with the premise that anti-Semitism is on the rise.
The 7th ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ was held in March 2011 in 40 cities across Globe. In Canada it was held in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Edmonton.
“We’ve been struggling with the definition because ant-Semitism now goes hand-in-hand often with anti-Zionist behaviour or anti-Israel behaviour. Where one exists the other seems to follow,” Anita Bromberg, B’nai Brith’s national director of legal affairs told the Toronto Star.
Earlier, Statistics Canada released a study documenting a 42 per cent increase in religious hate crimes in 2009 compared to 2008.
Joanne Naiman, writing in Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) had exposed the CPCCA as Israeli Hasbara tool to combat freedom of speech in Canada.
“In the case of the CPCCA, however, this procedure was totally circumvented, and despite its name, this entity has no authority from parliament as a whole, despite being made up of 22 MPs from all four parties currently sitting in the House of Commons. The two key players in setting up the CPCCA (and who are ex-officio members of its Steering Committee) are Irwin Cotler—a lawyer, past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and former Liberal Justice Minister—and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism.
In March of 2009, Kenney—who has been described by Murray Dobbin as “point man for Stephen Harper on issues involving Israel”— banned British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, almost certainly because he’d just led a humanitarian relief convoy to Gaza. He also recently reallocated funding away from the United Nations Relief Agency (UNWRA) because of its assistance to Palestinian refugees. At a recent conference in Jerusalem, Kenny boasted of his government’s “zero tolerance approach to antisemitism.” As examples of this he noted the following actions taken by his government: 1) the elimination of funding to the Canadian Arab Federation (whose leadership he described as anti-Semitic and apologists for terrorism); 2) ending contact with “like minded organizations”[to the Canadian Arab Federation] such as the Canadian Islamic Congress; and 3) the de-funding of KAIROS, a church-led NGO agency, which Kenney (incorrectly) described as “taking a leadership role in the [Israeli] boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.” To further quote Kenny, “The existential threat faced by Israel on a daily basis is ultimately a threat to the broader Western civilization.” In other words, Kenney endorses an “us” vs “them” view of the world, a “clash of civilizations” that pits the Christian “west” against the Moslem “east.”
The other half of this duo, Irwin Cotler, is considered an expert on international law and human rights law. He has served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and its sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development, as well as on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In 2000, he was appointed special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court. However, despite this background, he has a long record of supporting Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and breaches of international law. Cotler strongly opposed the Goldstone report, and concluded, “if there had been no Hamas war crimes, there would have been no need for an Israeli response.”3 Cotler’s wife, Ariela, is a native of Jerusalem and has a longstanding connection to the right-wing Likud party in Israel, and two daughters have been in the Israeli military. Cotler’s views on antisemitism are clear: “Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new antisemitism] …attacks primarily the collective Jews, the State of Israel. …In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, ‘free of Jews’. Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state’..”4
The CPCCA emerged from the experience of a delegation of eleven MPs, led by Kenny and Cotler, at the London Conference to Combat Antisemitism in Feb 2009. The London Conference was itself an off-shoot of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). Working backward, the ICCA was originally co-founded in 2002 by none other than Irwin Cotler, with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior and former Deputy prime Minister of Sweden Per Ahlmark. However, this committee apparently was thought to be too closely tied to the State of Israel to be effective, and didn’t move forward. Its second incarnation—now distanced from direct Israeli involvement—met in London in February 2009, with funding from the UK government and a British charitable organization.5 The underlying assumption and key premise of the CPCCA, even prior to hearing any witnesses (in line with both the ICCA & the London Conference), is clear from its website: that we are witnessing an expansion of antisemitism both in Canada and internationally, and its form is being referred to as the “new antisemitism.”6 All three of these groups express an urgent need to combat this new antisemitism, especially in the media and in academia.
Is antisemitism in fact growing in Canada? I am a sociologist, and in the submission I made to the CPCCA in the summer of 2009, I made clear that all the traditional data used to assess the level of prejudice and discrimination towards groups—such as income, discrimination in hiring & housing, educational level, hate crimes etc.—do not indicate that this is the case. Does antisemitism in all its odious forms exist in Canada? Certainly. Is it expanding and intensifying? No. Nonetheless, and without any supportive evidence, the CPCCA website states that “the extent & severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the second World War” and “recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally,” says Naiman.
Tim King, former Marine of 20 years and Exec. News Editor at Salem News wrote on January 22, 2011 ‘Why We Criticize Israel’:
“Israeli Defence Forces treat civilians with indifference and prejudice; they violate international law and use a censored media to shield the information from the eyes of Israeli viewers. American and English press follow suit, so does Canada.
The only appropriate answer is a call for fullresistance to Israel’s occupation- worldwide; and for the total restoration of the human rights Palestine’s people which are routinely denied, as well as the restoration of the 1967 borders.
We are tired of the bloodshed and the United States’ constant dismissal of war crimes against Israel by the use of special veto power in the United Nations,” wrote King.