by Scott Weinstein*
It started out on a hopeful note. To kick off their hearings on antisemitism, an Israeli flown to Ottawa stated absolutely that Canada is a “pioneer” of campus antisemitism. Faster than you can say “Mazel Tov!“, his statement made the press release headline from the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.
Jews are special – we get our own Parliamentary coalition (CPCCA) devoted to protecting us from Jew-haters lurking among Canadian liberals and leftists. Seriously. Lawrence Hart of the Canada-Israel Committee’s in 2003 wrote that we should identify “the forces of anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, anti-racism and pacifism as major facilitators of today’s anti-Semitism.” ((Lawrence Hart, “The global epidemic of Jew hatred,” November 27 2003, Canadian Jewish News. http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5049&Itemid=86))
The CPCCA, established by Conservative Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, is designed to combat the growing anti Semitic menace – especially in universities. They want to expand the definition of “the new antisemitism” to target any “unfair” criticism of Israel and Zionism. The headache for the CPCCA? Their handpicked witnesses are totally lame.
The CPCCA invited all the Canadian universities to send representatives. Sadly, only a few representatives showed up (it was snowing that day).
Dr. Fred Lowy, former president of the infamous Concordia University in Montreal that had a riot when Israel’s former president tried to speak there, ruined the vibe with this bummer of a statement: “By and large, Canadian campuses are safe and are not hotbeds of antisemitism of any kind.”
Undaunted, the CPCCA scheduled additional hearings and eight more universities testified. They too failed to illuminate us on the anti Semitic peril brewing under their noses. Dr. Jack Lightstone, Brock University President, Concordia U. veteran, and Judaism scholar had this frightening excuse, “Criticism of any government’s policies by anyone, must be acceptable, and in universities to be encouraged”. The CPCCA did not bother with a press release.
The Toronto Jewish community’s security chief Doron Horowitz, perked things up after listing his Israeli Defense Force anti-terrorism pedigree and how connected he is to the various police and intelligence agencies. He testified there is proof about the rise of anti Semitic incidents: Toronto’s February 2009 York University fracas between students representing Israel and the Palestinian rights movement.
Despite all news reporters, campus security and administrators present at the event failing to document any anti Semitic insults, threats or actions — our Israel lobby showed chutzpa by entering uncorroborated incidents from that day in Toronto into the history of anti Semitic acts.
Voila, York University becomes is the current official hotbed of Canadian antisemitism.
Then the CPCCA had Canadian police chiefs testify. They all reassured us how closely they work with major Jewish organizations. But what did they say about the hotbed of Canadian antisemitism menace? Well, nothing indicating that Jews face exceptional threats from hate crimes. (Their suspicious downplaying of the danger could prove how vast this anti Semitic conspiracy really is).
The Toronto Police reported that while Jews do report a large amount of hate crime directed against them in the form of mischief, like graffiti — it is lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people who suffer the most assaults and physical threats from all hate crimes. The CPCCA didn’t waste time on them.
Fortunately, our politicians are here to save the day for the Israeli government. They are voluntarily targeting Canadian public activities critical of Israeli policies and Zionism.
Provincial and federal politicians are denouncing the “anti-Jewish hate fests” of Israeli Apartheid Week taking place on campuses. Schools are pressured by the Israel lobby to ban the “anti Semitic” event. A “biased” photo exhibit of Israeli soldiers and Palestinians is hastily removed from a library by the mayor. An academic science organization is threatened by the science minister for holding an “anti-Jewish” conference on the “one vs. two state solution” for Israel/Palestine. The government is showing it has “Zero tolerance” for “antisemitism” and “Palestinian terror” by de-funding or seizing human rights organizations that endorse the Israel “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” campaign.
The problem is, like the CPCCA, these trash-talking wanna-be’s crying “wolf” show no proof.
Israel is desperate to improve its sullied image while muzzling its critics. The latest ‘Re-brand Israel’ tourism effort is the “Size Doesn’t Matter” campaign. It was introduced by a video parodying the double-meaning of “exotic” Israel’s small size and an Israeli man’s penis. Did Howard Stern design the campaign? That video got axed after men from the Israel lobby complained. You can almost hear them screaming “Schmucks!”
More bad news for Israel: a Parliamentary motion to denounce Israel Apartheid Week was defeated, and the Bloc Quebecois just quit the CPCCA, declaring it “biased” in favor of Israel and against the Palestinians. Will the NDP stay in, or will they too wilt under pressure from Canadians opposed to the new Jewish censorship and attacks on civil rights?
Antisemitism is real and it is always wrong, but the Israel lobby is doing us Canadians no favors by hysterically hurling accusations of “Antisemitism” at Palestinian rights supporters and inventing anti Semitic incidents.
From overcoming vicious crimes against my people, the fight against antisemitism has been hijacked to protect Israel from actions to end its illegal occupation and the expulsion of Palestinians. It’s cynical and it’s become a joke.
*member of the Independent Jewish Voices Canada