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If Israel is the ‘collective Jew’… uh-oh

Israel/Palestine
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Canadian solidarity activist Joanne Naiman takes on the new Canadian Parliamentary coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, and unmasks its agenda:

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.”

…To give you a true sense of the Kafka-esque nature of this committee, one of the first speakers to be called was Irwin Cotler, [a member of the Coalition’s steering comittee and head of a Canadian Jewish congress too]… 

It’s not hard to see that if one accepts Cotler’s premise that Israel is what he calls “the collective Jew,” then any criticism of the State of Israel is, de facto, anti-Semitic. There can be little doubt, therefore, that this Coalition will soon be putting forward recommendations to the government that certain criticisms of the State of Israel within Canadian universities and in the media should be defined as a form of antisemitism, and therefore an incitement to hatred. Thus, in the strange Alice-in-Wonderland world we’re now in, those who stand up and charge Israel (correctly) with gross violations of both the Geneva Conventions and of international humanitarian law may soon find themselves charged under section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code and section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, or else silenced by judicial warrants of seizure issued under section 320 of the Criminal Code. We can assume that this would include calls for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, as well as using the term “apartheid” to describe the actions of the Israeli state….

Without a doubt, the main purpose of this redefinition of antisemitism is to create a serious chill on university campuses and in the media. Teachers will be afraid to discuss Israeli policies in their classrooms, while Israeli Apartheid Weeks will be prohibited by administrations on campuses across the country for fear of being charged with inciting hate crimes. Likewise, articles critical of Israeli government policies or actions (as rare as they are) will likely disappear from the print and electronic media. It is possible that websites could be shut down. Organizations critical of Israel will be unable to rent public venues for meetings. Already, I’ve heard that some Palestinian support groups fear they may be charged under hate laws. In other words, what we will be seeing, in fact are already seeing, is a new form of McCarthyism. For me, as a Jew, one of the worst ironies here is that ­ should such legislation actually come to pass, as seems likely ­ antisemitism will actually increase. As Bahija Reghai has noted, by equating Jews with Israel and Zionism, the CPCCA reinforces “the reductionist and false notion that all Jews are responsible for the acts of the state of Israel.” It is worth noting that this past Wednesday (January 27), speaking at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to himself as “leader of the Jewish people."…

As I noted at the outset, the term “solidarity” is not just about pity and charitable handouts. What is happening to the Palestinian people today will likely have serious consequences for us here in Canada tomorrow. However, history has shown that the degree to which governments, all governments, take away peoples’ democratic rights and freedoms to serve their own ends always depends on the degree to which we allow them to get away with it. Together, let’s insure that the current government doesn’t take away our right to free speech.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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