Why Should we be ‘Balanced’ in Our Opinion of the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority?: Robert Fulford, National Post, July 22, 2016— When Ottawa announced that Vivian Bercovici will no longer be ambassador to Israel, The Globe and Mail elicited a few happy remarks from Ferry de Kerckhove, a former diplomat who has served as Canadian ambassador to Egypt and Pakistan.
Is Antisemitism the New ‘Normal’ in Europe?: Judith Bergman, Algemeiner, June 21, 2016 — In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, Submission (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists…
The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate: Jamie Palmer, The Tower, April 2016— Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, resigned on February 17, citing widespread anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews among its members.
The Green Party’s Anti-Israel Agitators: Josh Cooper, National Post, July26, 2016— Among the various reasons I won’t be addressing the Green Party of Canada’s upcoming convention is the fact that I was invited by the party to do so on a Saturday — a surprising (and some would say insensitive) invitation for a Jewish organization.
Middle East Studies Implicated in AMCHA's Campus Anti-Semitism Report: Cinnamon Stillwell, Campus Watch, July 28, 2016
On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity: Carla Brewington, Algemeiner, July 20, 2016
Can a Hobbled EU Live up to its Vow to Combat Anti-Semitism and Racism?: JTA, July 21, 2016
In History's Court: Michael M. Rosen, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2016
National Post, July 22, 2016
When Ottawa announced that Vivian Bercovici will no longer be ambassador to Israel, The Globe and Mail elicited a few happy remarks from Ferry de Kerckhove, a former diplomat who has served as Canadian ambassador to Egypt and Pakistan. De Kerckhove said the gang at Global Affairs would be feeling “total, total elation” over the news of Bercovici’s dismissal. Since her appointment in 2014, he said, she had become the mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “She showed no balance at all,” he said.
“Balance” is what a veteran diplomat like de Kerckhove sees as the key to a successful career in his business. No one will argue that Bercovici was a model of balance. But it was de Kerckhove’s implicit endorsement of this principle that jumped out of the news story. “Balance” implies that the opinions of two antagonists should be regarded as morally equivalent. It would mean that our ambassador would consider that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are similar entities, with similar goals and similar methods, to be taken seriously in a similar way. But how could an ambassador manage that? How could Canada do that? Would we want to?
In many ways Israel lives by the same principles as Canada. It is a democracy, with rival political parties. Its government lives under constant scrutiny, as governments should. It has independent judges, a free marketplace, freedom of speech and media. It has academic freedom. In all these ways, Israel is unique in the Middle East. These are the bones of Israel’s public life, as they are of Canada’s. They form the basis of our national identities. But the Palestinian Authority has none of those attributes.
It has no articulate political parties, no sign of an independent judiciary, nothing in the way of self-criticism in its education system. Instead, it holds itself together through a pervasive sense of resentment — and through violence. It cherishes its wounds and soothes itself by wounding Israel. Since the 1940s, the Palestinians have been effectively at war with Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas talks peace when he talks at all with Israel, but his quasi-nation is still conducting a particularly vicious kind of warfare, which Abbas approves of or ignores.
It is an unpredictable, as well as underhanded conflict, a violent attack on the nervous system of Israel. It breaks out, undeclared, when a bus suddenly blows up or a bomb consumes a restaurant and its patrons — or when one individual Palestinian suddenly draws out a knife and kills a stranger who is identified as a Jewish citizen of Israel. And it is almost always a war against civilians, children and women as well as men.
I was in Israel during the Second Intifada in 2002, and I was astonished by the fact that the Israelis were so calm. They had more than the usual amount of security, but otherwise they went about their business. They weren’t particularly interested in discussing the terror. They were excited, in normal ways, about sports, politics, TV and (a special interest of many Israelis) archeology. They were not letting fanatics from the West Bank interfere with real life. They were acting as citizens of a democracy should act. “Intifada” means “shaking,” but the Israelis chose not to be shaken.
The random murders committed by Palestinian terrorists are not treated, back home, as a necessary evil. The terrorists are greeted with exuberant gratitude and their families accept congratulations even if their son or brother died while killing others. And if an anti-Israel atrocity occurred three or four decades earlier, the murderer can still be treated as a hero. Last Sunday, for example, the Palestinian Authority installed a monument to Ahmed Jabara, who killed 15 people and injured 60 in 1976 by leaving a refrigerator packed with explosives in Zion Square in West Jerusalem. An Arab-American, Jabara was sentenced to life in prison for murder. After 27 years, he was released by the Israeli government as a peace gesture to the Palestine Liberation Organization. He died of a heart attack at age 78 in 2013.
Now he’s treated as an example for all time. A bust of him in white marble sits in a square in Ramallah, in the West Bank, looking suitably noble. It’s labelled “Monument for the heroic martyr prisoner Ahmad Jabarah.” At the unveiling, a Palestinian official declared that the purpose of the monument is “to implant in the minds of our sons and daughters that we are continuing to be loyal to the path of the martyrs.” Should a Canadian treat with balance a community that teaches young people to revere terrorist martyrs? Sympathy, perhaps, or some level of understanding. But balance? No.
Algemeiner, June 21, 2016
In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, Submission (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists, the non-Jewish protagonist, a professor at the Sorbonne, tells his Jewish student, who is escaping to Israel with her family, that there can be “no Israel for me.” This is one of the most poignant observations in the book.
Another is the protagonist’s reflection that the increasing violence, even the gunshots in the streets of Paris as a civil war threatens to explode during the run-up to the elections, has become the new normal: something that everyone is resigned to as an inevitable fact, barely reported in the media and treated as unremarkable by his fellow lecturers. Even after the Muslim Brotherhood wins the elections, and the Sorbonne is turned into an Islamic university, with all that this entails, his colleagues treat this development as nothing out of the ordinary. Houllebecq’s indictment against the silence and complicity of his fellow intellectuals in the face of the Islamist encroachments on French society is scathing. As a matter of course, in the new France, where freedom of speech comes at a prohibitive price, Houllebecq now has to live under 24-hour police protection. Submission, by the way, was published on the day of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.
The resignation and the precarious pretense that everything is normal in the face of rapidly deteriorating circumstances, is a predictable human reaction, testimony to the sometimes practical but lamentable human capacity for adaptation to most circumstances, whatever they may be. Historically, Jews have excelled in this discipline, simply because they had no choice. Just like Houllebecq’s protagonist, they had nowhere else to go. However, whereas there “can be no Israel” for the lost professor, today, unlike the last time Jews were threatened on a large scale in Europe, there is an Israel for the Jews. Uniquely among all the peoples of Europe, the Jews have a welcoming place to go. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Western European Jews choose to stay put in Europe.
In 2015, 30,000 Jews made aliyah from all over the world. Almost 22,000 of these arrivals were from France, Russia and Ukraine, and approximately 3,700 new immigrants made aliyah from the United States and Canada. Other countries included Argentina and Venezuela, but Western Europe, outside of France, only accounted for the tiniest contribution to these figures. From the Netherlands, home to an estimated 50,000 Jews, only 96 Jews made aliyah in 2015, still the highest figure recorded in a decade. In Belgium, which saw an Islamic terrorist attack on the Jewish museum in 2014, only 287 Jews made aliyah last year out of an estimated Jewish population of 40,000. Aliyah from the Scandinavian countries was equally negligible in 2015, despite a terrorist attack on the synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015 and a growing anti-circumcision lobby in all the Scandinavian countries, threatening to literally make a continued Jewish presence in those countries untenable. In 2014, kosher slaughter was made illegal in Denmark. In Sweden and Norway it was already outlawed.
In the Netherlands, the beginning of 2016 saw an extraordinarily savage antisemitic attack on a Jewish octogenarian couple in Amsterdam, who were robbed and beaten nearly to death while the Muslims who perpetrated the attack called them “dirty Jews.” The couple had to be confined to an old-age home, having sustained permanent injuries. Incredibly, the Dutch media, aided by the prosecution, upon reporting the crime, chose not to mention the strong antisemitic element of the hate crime. Antisemitism was also reported to be on the rise in Dutch schools, a dire foreboding for the future.
The situation all over the European continent is depressingly similar with the occasional fluctuations in the rise and fall of antisemitic incidents, but with a clear and persistent anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment that makes itself felt in everyday life. Recently, the president of the Jewish society at the London School of Oriental and African Studies explained that “we are too scared to go anywhere so we walk in a group to the station. People come up to me and say, ‘I heard you hate Palestinians.'”
Jews are particularly at risk from the rise of jihad on the continent, but they are also existentially threatened by the antisemitic campaigns against circumcision and kosher slaughter, which often have a broad popular base that defies any categorization of left and right. The Social Democratic government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt brought about the prohibition against kosher slaughter in Denmark in 2014...
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The Tower, April 2016
Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, resigned on February 17, citing widespread anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews among its members. His statement and a subsequent press release by the Oxford University Jewish Society make for sobering reading, not least because this is not an isolated case.
In early March, the British Labour Party was forced to explain why it allowed Gerry Downing, who had written about the need to “address the Jewish Question,” and Vicki Kirby, who once tweeted that Adolf Hitler might be the “Zionist God,” to be readmitted to the party following their suspension for anti-Semitism. Kirby had been nothing less than a parliamentary candidate, and upon her return was appointed vice-chair of her local party executive committee. Over the past few years, a palpable sense of alarm has been quietly growing amongst Jews on the European Left. At the heart of an often-fraught relationship lies the following dilemma: The vast majority of Jews are Zionist, and the vast majority of Left-wing opinion is not.
But the problem goes beyond the question of Israel itself. It also involves a general sense that the Left is unconcerned with Jewish interests and unwilling to take the matter of rising anti-Semitism seriously, preferring instead to dismiss it as a consequence of Israeli policies or a censorious attempt to close down discussion of the same. The horror with which many Jews greeted the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party was outstripped only by the realization that his supporters felt that his fondness for the company of anti-Semites was unworthy of their concern.
This is a complex subject, with roots that stretch back to the beginning of the last century. I have attempted to outline in necessarily broad fashion some of the trends of thought that have informed the relationship between Jews and the Left, as well as the shifting attitudes towards Israel in particular. In doing so, I hope to shed some light on their implications. The key question facing the European Left is whether or not it can change in such a way that Jews can once again feel part of the Left’s political family. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future the answer to that question appears to be no.
Jews and Europeans drew different lessons about nationalism from the experience of World War II. On a continent disfigured by the mayhem of conquest, occupation, collaboration, and genocide, Nazism and fascism were perceived to have been nationalism’s logical endgame. As chauvinism and self-glorification gave way to introspection and self-doubt, a new universalism and internationalism emerged from the rubble—the establishment of the United Nations, the adoption by its General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a rise in anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist feeling that eventually led Western democracies to dismantle their empires.
But for European Jews, nationalism, in this case Zionism, was now a matter of liberation and a guarantor of survival. So they moved in the opposite direction. Before the war, the Zionist question had been controversial. Disproportionately radical, many Jews preferred to commit themselves to the international struggle for world socialism. Many more preferred to assimilate as loyal members of their societies. The war changed all that. Jewish communists had already been betrayed by the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which created the temporary alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The pact required bewildered communists to defend an agreement with genocidal anti-Semites. Neutral countries blocked Jewish immigration and turned away refugees. Neither the capitalist West nor the Soviet Union took steps to target the infrastructure of the Final Solution once word of it reached them. And when the war ended, the proletariat failed to rise up and Sovietize Western Europe as Stalin had foretold. Instead, a wave of pogroms swept the occupied East. Concluding that neither Western assimilation nor Soviet utopianism offered much in the way of security or salvation, Europe’s forsaken threw in their lot with Zionism.
In spite of the horrors of the Shoah, the Zionist question divided the post-war British Left. Unlike the Nazi-occupied countries on the European continent, Britain did not have a legacy of collaboration to contend with. As the ruler of Mandatory Palestine, however, Britain was responsible for the 1939 White Paper that restricted Jewish immigration at the behest of the Arab nationalist leadership, thus consigning countless Jews to deaths they might otherwise have escaped. The leadership of the post-war Labour government—prime minister Clement Attlee and foreign secretary Ernest Bevin, in particular—were unenthused by the prospect of a Jewish state in Palestine. Bevin went so far as to deport Jewish immigrants from Palestine, many of them survivors of the Holocaust, and sought to sabotage the creation of a Jewish state at the UN. But in response to public and party pressure and the escalating violence in Palestine, the government finally opted to turn the mess over to the UN.
While the Labour Party sought to separate anti-Semitism from the question of Palestine for reasons of politics, European communist parties did the same for reasons of ideology, despite anguished protests from their Jewish members. In April 1947, the Communist Party of Great Britain’s theorist Rajani Palme Dutt published a statement entitled Declaration on Palestine in which he wrote, “We warn all Jewish people that Zionism, which seeks to make Palestine or part of Palestine a Jewish state as an ally of the imperialist powers and their base in the Middle East, diverts Jewish people from the real solution of the problem of anti-Semitism, which is along the lines of democratic development and full equality of rights within the countries where they live”…
In response to sentiments such as these, Moshe Sneh, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Communist Party, later reflected, “Every Jew who remained alive knows and feels that he is alive only by chance – either because he was outside the Third Reich or because there wasn’t enough time to put him into a gas chamber and furnace.…To come to this people now and advise them: “Assimilate please, forget that you are Jews, free yourself from your Jewishness so that you will be free”—can anything more cynical and cruel be imagined?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
National Post, July 26, 2016
Among the various reasons I won’t be addressing the Green Party of Canada’s upcoming convention is the fact that I was invited by the party to do so on a Saturday — a surprising (and some would say insensitive) invitation for a Jewish organization. As the chief executive officer of Jewish National Fund (JNF) Canada, a charity that has worked on environmental preservation for more than a century, I am deeply disturbed by what is transpiring within the Green party. Among the various resolutions set to be debated at the convention, only two pertain to foreign policy and both target Israel.
The first calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israelis, a modern-day blacklist that is discriminatory and counterproductive to peace. The second calls for revoking the charitable status of JNF Canada, an organization that has been supported by Canadians for generations. JNF has been a symbol of the global Jewish community, highlighting the importance of Israel and the environment to our people for over a century. JNF was green long before the modern environmental movement existed. Today, we are at the forefront of protecting the natural environment in Israel for the benefit of all residents. The JNF builds and manages water reservoirs, parks and green spaces; we pioneer research in green technology; and we plant millions of trees and combat desertification in a region plagued by ecological and political challenges.
It is for these reasons that I am so disappointed that the Green party, which I would hope would be our ally in the environmental movement, would even consider these resolutions. Worse, this entire process is based on falsehoods, contained in the text and backgrounder of the resolution, about our practices. Despite having sponsored it herself, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has openly admitted that this resolution contains false allegations. This is why she is now committed to opposing it at the convention and, if it passes, holding an emergency debate to annul it.
She is right to do so. Contrary to the resolution, every JNF project is open and accessible to people of all backgrounds — whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Many of our initiatives are designed to benefit Arab and Bedouin communities. Sadly, these are the very people who would be harmed by efforts to eliminate our charitable status, in addition to the hundreds of workers our projects employ from economically challenged communities. It is not uncommon for the JNF, and other organizations affiliated with Israel and the Jewish community, to be the target of malicious and false accusations. What is shocking, is the fact that the Green party would give credence to these voices. Delegates must be aware that those pushing for these resolutions include individuals and organizations dedicated to boycotting all Israelis (including athletes, academics and artists) and demonizing the broader Jewish community.
One can only conclude that the Green party’s democratic processes and openness to a diversity of viewpoints are being manipulated by a small fringe that is intent on advancing an extreme, anti-Israel agenda, at the expense of the party’s future success. Passing these resolutions would hand over the keys to those intent on driving the party to the far margins of Canadian discourse. The party’s drift on this issue has already pushed Jewish Greens out of the tent and alienated the broader Jewish community. Two years ago, party president Paul Estrin, a member of the Jewish community, was forced to resign his position and faced an onslaught of hateful accusations, simply for expressing sympathy for Israelis during the Israel-Hamas war. In the past few weeks, the party was forced to distance itself from former candidate Monika Schaefer, who recently declared that the Holocaust is “the biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history … there were no gas chambers.”
It is impossible to view the resolutions targeting Israel and JNF in a vacuum. If passed, these resolutions will confirm that the Green party is not a serious, inclusive political party, but is instead a marginal activist group. Worse, they risk turning the party into a home for anyone with a toxic cause, no matter how detrimental it is to the Greens’ worthy environmental agenda. While the impact is immediately felt by the Jewish community, what’s ultimately at stake is the Green party’s future in Canadian politics. Will the Greens reclaim their party from fringe anti-Israel ideologues and conspiracy theorists? Or will they placate an extreme agenda at the cost of their own ability to connect with mainstream Canadians?
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Middle East Studies Implicated in AMCHA's Campus Anti-Semitism Report: Cinnamon Stillwell, Campus Watch, July 28, 2016—The AMCHA Initiative's recently released "Report on Antisemitic Activity During the First Half of 2016 At U.S. Colleges and Universities With the Largest Jewish Undergraduate Populations" exposes the bias and politicization afflicting the field of Middle East studies.
On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity: Carla Brewington, Algemeiner, July 27, 2016 — In the 1930s in Germany, many caved to the dangerous political agenda of the time. They wanted power, peace, and prosperity, to reclaim their country from the ravages of World War I.
Can a Hobbled EU Live up to its Vow to Combat Anti-Semitism and Racism?: JTA, July 21, 2016 —When the late Austro-Hungarian aristocrat Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi attended church on Good Friday, his father would famously cause a scene, storming out when the liturgy came to the anti-Semitic exhortation “Let us also pray for the faithless Jews.”
In History's Court: Michael M. Rosen, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2016 —The death this month of Elie Wiesel left a gaping moral and historical void that widens daily as the ranks of the generation of Holocaust survivors continues to thin. But in The Nazi Hunters, Andrew Nagorski fills that void, blending key documentary evidence with over 50 interviews of central figures in a comprehensive treatment of the dogged men and women whose heroic efforts restored a measure of justice to millions of murdered souls.