December 13, 2016
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has been outraged by the support given to Donald Trump by Jewish establishment organizations in the US and Canada, and the complete silence towards— or defense of—Trump’s openly racist appointments by leading Jewish figures in the US. Now over a month after Trump’s victory, we are strongly concerned by what has largely been a deafening silence from organizations purporting to represent the broader Canadian Jewish community.
In order to understand this, we cannot ignore the fact that Trump and his team are celebrated in Jewish establishment circles as being far more “pro-Israel” than any previous U.S. administration. Trump has promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and has emboldened the Zionist right to push forward with plans to annex occupied Palestinian land. Trump’s Republican Party’s policy also recognizes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a form of “warfare”.
Leading members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet could barely contain their excitement about Trump’s victory, having to be instructed by Netanyahu to bite their tongues. Nonetheless, Netanyahu recently offered his strong support for Trump. B’nai Brith, whose Canadian branch considers itself the “grassroots voice of the Jewish Community,” congratulated Trump on his victory, while remaining conspicuously mum on his strong alliance with the bigoted, misogynistic and antisemitic alt-Right movement.
Canada’s leading Israel lobby organization, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)—which claims to represent the vast majority of Jewish Canadians— has been completely silent on Trump’s victory, his selection of Stephen Bannon as his Chief Strategist, and his expected nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Even in the aftermath of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and anti-Black hate crimes in Ottawa, CIJA’s director of communications was the lone voice amongst minority communities, arguing that Trump’s victory played no role.
Earlier this year, in response to concerns about a growing hatred of Jews stemming from white supremacists, CIJA’s deputy director of communications and public affairs said: “I think that the bigger challenge really is … that anti-Zionism has become the new acceptable form of antisemitism in certain left wing and academic circles. So I don’t see the classic white supremacist antisemitism as in any way rising in North America.” (21:23)
CIJA is laser-focused on silencing criticism of Israel and equating such criticism with antisemitism. The lobby group recently attempted to stifle non-violent tactics in support of Palestinian human rights through a defamatory motion they pushed for in the Ontario Legislature. The motion mentions nothing of the rise in antisemitism and other forms of racism emanating from the far right, focusing its attention instead on the movement for Palestinian human rights– with MPP Gila Martow comparing the movement to the Ku Klux Klan. This effort to silence Israel’s critics through governmental decree is being replicated elsewhere.
It is worth noting that Stephen Bannon’s alt-Right movement supports Israel as a Jewish-dominated state, despite holding racist attitudes towards Jews. Prominent alt-Right leader Richard Spencer recently praised Israel for its ethnically exclusivist ideology, citing Israel as an inspiration for his white supremacist goals. Spencer also proclaimed “Hail Trump” at a recent alt-Right conference, which was met with Nazi salutes. Jewish establishment organizations, however, refuse to acknowledge the immense support for Israel from the far right—not only in the US, but globally.
IJV considers it extremely important, particularly at this moment, for Jewish Canadians and the Canadian Jewish establishment to stand in solidarity with Muslims, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour, all of whom will likely face the brunt of a Trump presidency. IJV has made public our solidarity with these communities.
IJV believes that a Jewish establishment that seems willing to do everything in its power to defend and protect the Netanyhau regime and its racist ideology is actually undermining the broader battle against genuine antisemitism and others forms of racism. IJV will continue to stand in solidarity with oppressed people from Turtle Island (North America) to Palestine/Israel. We encourage all Canadians to join us.
IJV’s statement on antisemitism: http://ijvcanada.org/2016/independent-jewish-voices-canadas-statement-on-antisemitism/
IJV’s immediate reaction to Trump’s victory: https://madmimi.com/p/274409/
IJV’s statement opposing Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as his Chief Strategist: http://ijvcanada.org/2016/ijv-is-appalled-by-trump-naming-racist-as-chief-strategist/