Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Canadian Jewish Congress and the National Post's double standard on Independent Jewish Voices

Last week, the National Post published a screed yet again attacking Independent Jewish Voices and its former chair, Diana Ralph. Several years ago, prior to joining Independent Jewish Voices, Ralph wrote a chapter for a book called Hidden History of 9-11 in which her thesis was that the Bush Administration was using 9-11 as a pretext for an imperialist adventure in the Middle East and for Islamophobic measures at home. Unfortunately, Ralph also made a few statements in passing that seemed to lend credibility to 9-11 conspiracy theories. The Post and the CJC have deliberately overstated this element of her writings in order to imply that Ralph herself is a conspiracy theorist and then tar Independent Jewish Voices by association despite the fact that IJV has never issued a single statement on 9-11 and despite the fact that an IJV spokesperson clearly told the Post that “The positions of Diana Ralph stated in those articles do not represent the positions of the IJV.”

By challenging the monopoly uncritically Zionist groups such as the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada have claimed over Jewish opinion in this country IJV has undermined both the myth that Canadian Jews are of one voice when it comes to Israel and challenged the slur that criticism of Israel is tantamount to anti-Semitism. As a result, the CJC in particular has pulled out the stops in its attempt to isolate, vilify and marginalize IJV and harass any organization, such as the United Church of Canada, that has dealings with the organization.

The National Post, accordingly, when referring to IJV makes sure to also refer to it as having been "recently chaired by 9/11 conspiracy theorist Diana Ralph." The Post also takes issue with the fact that as past-co-chair, Ralph remains on IJV's executive.

There is a searing double standard here. The co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 2007 to 2009 was a man named Reuven Bulka. He remains a member of the CJC's Board of Directors as "immediate past president." Now, prior to becoming co-president of the CJC, Bulka wrote a book called One Man, One Woman, One Lifetime in which he described homosexuality as "abnormal" and called on lesbian and gay Jews to seek "the help of mental health professionals and spiritual advisors". Not only that but Bulka served for years on the "scientific advisory committee" of a group called the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality which views homosexuality as a "psychological condition" and "developmental disorder" and offers "conversion therapy" which it claims will "cure" homosexuality. Despite Bulka's clear and longstanding association with a crackpot, pseudoscientific homophobic organization the good people of the National Post never follow references to the Canadian Jewish Congress with a statement such as "recently led by homophobic pseudoscience advocate Reuven Bulka" or write anything that implies that the CJC shares Bulka's views.

Of course, the reason for the Post's inconsistent treatment of two Jewish groups has everything with ideology and nothing to do with journalistic ethics. Jonathan Kay has gone to great lengths sifting through the writings of IJV's former leader in hopes of finding something he can trump up into scandal but he's never given Rabbi Bulka's writings a second glance. If the Post had decided it's worthwhile to put so much effort into excavating the past writings of IJV's former leader why does it not expend the same effort in regards to the CJC and Reuven Bulka's controversial views?
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