Showing posts with label anti-Semitism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-Semitism. Show all posts

Friday, 19 February 2010

Gerry Caplan satirises the Rights & Democracy affair

Gerry Caplan's column in the Globe and Mail has taken on the Harper government's patronizing attempt to pander to the Jewish community for several months now.

Stephen Harper and the Jewish question published in December examined the irony of Jewish neoconservatives cozying up to evangelical anti-Semites, the Tory 10%ers accusing opposition parties of anti-Semitism and the cancellation of Kairos' grant.

His followup, Is the Harper government playing the anti-Semitic card? hammered the point home:

Real enemies of anti-Semitism do not throw the term around recklessly.

In the United States, the leading Jewish neoconservatives made an unholy alliance with evangelical Protestants whose ultimate vision was a Jew-free world–-Hitler's demented goal finally realized. What they had in common was support for the state of Israel–at least for the moment.

Are Canadian Jews now going to be seduced by a government that uses anti-Semitism for political reasons? That maliciously accuses decent men and women of being anti-Semitic? That identifies legitimate, democratic criticism of Israeli governments with anti-Semitism?
Caplan's latest piece, What every office needs to succeed in Harper's Canada is a biting satirical look at the attack on Rights & Democracy "because it thought Palestinians should have the same rights as all other people" and the bizarre inquisition by Haperite appointee Jacques Gauthier into the religious proclivities of R&D staff.

In a confidential evaluation of the organization's late executive director, Mr. Gauthier pointedly noted the perhaps telltale absence of Jews on staff, apparently a serious dereliction of duty.


How Mr. Gauthier learned that no Jew was employed by R & D is not yet clear. Suspiciously enough, R & D does not ask the religion of its employees. Often in the past Jewishness has been established by what's discreetly called the urinal test, although this technique doesn't really apply to women while also failing to distinguish telltale characteristics among Muslims, Jews and certain African ethnic groups. Mr. Gauthier brought a private investigator into the R & D office last year, although he was introduced as "a business associate" and his function wasn't explained. Bitter R & D staff, believe the stranger was expected to lead the urinal patrol in order to determine Jewishness. Isn't that what a private eye is for?

Businesses, NGOs and other institutions that are now frantically beating the bushes for unemployed Jews have a major challenge ahead of them. The first problem is that the Jewish employment rate is notoriously high. Many complain that you can never find a Jew when you need one. Then there's the vexing question of whether one is enough, a question that has befuddled Canadians for many decades.

It is understood that the Harper government is about to set up a special Number of Jews Bureau, to be known as the NUJ. It will report to Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for smearing anyone who disagrees with his cheerleading support of the Israeli government. The new bureau will be tasked with devising a formula to determine the necessary number of Jews each group needs on staff to meet the new criteria, and will house the inspectors who will be going from organization to organization across the land counting the number of Jewish employees. It is anticipated that synagogues will be exempt from inspection.

Among the trickier issue the NUJ must quickly deal with is whether the Jewish quota applies to the government. Believe it or not, it seems that no one knows for certain how many Jews sit in the government caucus or the cabinet, and there are too few urinals to do a test.

Mr. Kenney is not only responsible for the electoral seduction of Canada's credulous Jews. He is also Mr. Harper's main weapon in the wooing of Hindus, Sikhs, Persians, Koreans, Eastern Orthodox Christians, carefully selected Muslims, and countless other minorities. Here is where the new system faces certain tricky issues. How many Jews must your average mosque or Hindu temple or church employ to meet the government's new Jewish criteria?

And what will Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims think if they must hire Jews but other organizations need not hire, say, Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims? After all, they might reasonably ask, how many Punjabis etc. etc. etc. does the B’nai Brith, for example, employ? Mr. Harper's entire ethnic strategy might be jeopardized if this sensitive issue is not handled delicately.

The obvious answer, of course, is perfectly consonant with one of Canada's great conceits – our multicultural character. Yet in truth, outside public transportation and some malls, our many communities remain substantially segregated. Here is the means to make mythology reality. Every Canadian organization would have to have at least a certain number of employees from each of our ethnic/racial/religious/cultural groups. It's a magical solution for Canada's serious unemployment problem, since a good number of the unemployed happen to be members of these groups.

One downside of this solution is that Jewish organizations are expected to complain bitterly that the government has begun listening to other interests. Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenney are expected to discuss this conundrum later this week.
Recommend this Post

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Anti-Semitism in Venezuela? Not so much. (But who will tell Irwin Cotler?)

In January of this year, the anti-Chavez crowd was breathlessly claiming that the vandalisation of a synagogue in Caracas was evidence of a wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela and despite the lack of any evidence linking the crime to the government, it was widely implied that the attack was a result of official anti-Semitism in the upper ranks of Venezuela's socialist government.

While the attempt to link the government to the attack was facile and opportunistic the simple fact that a synagogue was firebombed was a legitimately worrisome development.

The attack has reached mythic proportions here. Despite the fact that the burglars were busted in February after one of them confessed, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler rose in the House of Commons on April Fool's Day to table a petition decrying the "the escalating state-backed anti-Semitism in Venezuela" with what he called the "firebombing" of the synagogue as exhibit number 1. This despite the fact that not only was the synagogue not firebombed but, as you are about to learn, it had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, let alone "state-backed anti-Semitism".

The original act received a lot of media attention in North America (and some exaggeration with Irwin Cotler claiming the temple was firebombed). What has received far less notice is the denouement - it seems that the incident was not motivated by anti-Semitism but by greed and a personal dispute.

The robbery was in fact planned by the Rabbi's bodyguard after his employer had denied his request for a loan. The accompanying vandalism was an attempt by the robbers to cover their tracks and misdirect investigators.

Incidentally, as has been pointed out by a correspondent on Norman Finkelstein's blog, Caracas' biggest mosque was robbed last month. Curiously, neither the North American media nor Mr. Cotler have suggested that this act was a result of state-sponsored Islamophobia.
Recommend this Post

Monday, 16 March 2009

Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of Israel

PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR BLOG - FIGHT THE MYTH THAT THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IS A MONOLITH
This statement was rejected by both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail (as an op-ed). Please help this important statement get into broad circulation - pass it on to your networks (faculty, community, MPs, university presidents, unions etc.). You may also wish to write to the Star and Globe and express your dismay that they have chosen not to publish it.

Over 150 Jewish Canadians signed a statement expressing their concerns about the campaign to suppress criticism of Israel that is being carried on within Canada. The signatories include many prominent Canadians, including Ursula Franklin O.C., Anton Kuerti O.C., Naomi Klein, Dr. Gabor Mate, and professors Meyer Brownstone (recipient of Pearson Peace Medal), Natalie Zemon Davis, Michael Neumann, and Judy Rebick. *

The signatories are particularly concerned that unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism deflect attention from Israel’s accountability for what many have called war crimes in Gaza. They state that B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have led campaigns to silence criticism of Israel on university campuses, in labor unions and in other groups. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff unquestioningly echo the views of these particular Jewish organizations.

They strongly state that they are against all expressions of racism. While firmly committed to resisting any form of prejudice against Jewish people, their statement explicitly states that these spurious allegations of anti-Semitism bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind.


The statement underlines the immeasurable suffering and injustice to the
Palestinian people due to the severe poverty, daily humiliations, and military invasions inflicted by the State of Israel.

James Deutsch, M.D., Ph.D.

Judith Deutsch, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Miriam Garfinkle, M.D.

Statement: Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of
Israel

We are Jewish Canadians concerned about all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and social injustice. We believe that the Holocaust legacy "Never again" means never again for all peoples. It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, with its ideals of democracy and its dream of being a safe haven for Jewish people, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people.

We are appalled by recent attempts of prominent Jewish organizations and leading Canadian politicians to silence protest against the State of Israel. We are alarmed by the escalation of fear tactics. Charges that those organizing Israel Apartheid Week or supporting an academic boycott of Israel are anti-Semites promoting hatred bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. We believe this serves to deflect attention from Israel’s flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have pressured university presidents and administrations to silence debate and discussion specifically regarding Palestine/Israel. In a full-page ad in a national newspaper, B’nai Brith urged donors to withhold funds from universities because "anti-Semitic hate fests" were being allowed on campuses. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have echoed these arguments. While university administrators have resisted demands to shut down Israel Apartheid week, some Ontario university presidents have bowed to this disinformation campaign by suspending and fining students, confiscating posters, and infringing on free speech.

We do not believe that Israel acts in self-defense. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving $3 million/day. It has the fourth strongest army in the world. Before the invasion of Gaza on 27 December 2008, Israel’s siege had already created a humanitarian catastrophe there,
with severe impoverishment, malnutrition, and destroyed infrastructure. It is crucial that forums for discussion of Israel’s accountability to the international community for what many have called war crimes be allowed to proceed unrestricted by specious claims of anti-Semitism.

We recognize that anti-Semitism is a reality in Canada as elsewhere, and we are fully committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, we condemn false charges of anti-Semitism against student organizations, unions, and other groups and people exercising their
democratic right to freedom of speech and association regarding legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.

Signatories:

Abigail Bakan, Adam Balsam, Sharon Baltman, Julia Barnett, Lainie Basman, Jody Berland, Sam Blatt, Geri Blinik, Anita Block, Elizabeth Block, Sheila Block, Hannah Briemberg, Mark Brill, Stephen Brot, Meyer Brownstone, Eliza Burroughs, Smadar Carmon, Gyda Chud, Charles P. Cohen, Nathalie Cohen, David Copeland, Natalie Zemon Davis, Eliza Deutsch, James Deutsch, Judith Deutsch, Abbe Edelson, Jack Etkin, Elle Flanders, Danielle Frank, Ursula Franklin, Dan Freeman-Maloy, Miriam Garfinkle, Alisa Gayle, Jack Gegenberg, Mark Golden, Brenda Goldstein, Sue Goldstein, Cy Gonick, Marnina Gonick, Rachel Gotthilf, Amy Gottleib, Kevin A. Gould, Daina Green, Lisa Frances Greenspoon, Ricardo Grinspun, Cathy Gulkin, Rachel Gurofsky, Deboran Guterman, Yesse Gutman, Freda Guttman, Judy Haiven, Michael Hanna-Fein, Jean Hanson, Jan Heynen, Maria Heynen, Adam Hofmann, Jake Javanshir, Jeannie Kamins, Marylin Kanee, Howard S. Kaplan, Gilda Katz. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta, Mira Khazzam, Bonnie Sher Klein, Mark Klein, Martin Klein, Naomi Klein, Joshua Katz-Rosene, Ryan Katz-Rosene, Judy Koch, Anton Kuerti, Jason Kunin, Aaron Lakoff, Michael Lambek, Natalie LaRoche, Richard Borshay Lee, Andy Lehrer, Gabriel Levin, Gabriel Levine, Joel Lexchin, Kim Linekin, Abby Lippman, Lee Lorch, Martin Lukacs, Audrey Macklin, Elise Maltin, Richard Marcuse, Wayne Mark, Gabor Mate, Arthur Milner, Anna Miransky, Dorit Naaman, Joanne Naiman, Neil Naiman, Michael Neumann, David-Marc Newman, David Noble, Clare O’Connor, Robin Ostow, Andre W. Payant, Jenny Peto, Simone Powell, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Fabienne Presentey, Yacov Rabkin, Diana Ralph, Naomi Rankin, Judy Rebick, Ester Reiter, Jillian Rogin, Richard Roman, Joseph Rosen, Herman Rosenfeld, Martha Roth, Marty Roth, Ruben Roth, E.Natalie Rothman, B. Sack, Ben Saifer, Miriam Sampaio, Jacob Scheir, Fred Schloessinger, Alan Sears, Shlomit Segal, Edward H. Shaffer, Noa Shaindlinger, Ray Shankman, Eva Sharell, Elliot Shek, Sid Shniad, Max Silverman, Samuel Singer, Elizabeth Solloway, Susan Starkman, Greg Starr, Jonathan Sterne, Jeremy Stolow, Rhonda Sussman, Vera Szoke, Joe Tannenbaum, Howard Tessler, Marion Traub-Werner, Ceyda Turan, Sandra Tychsen, Cheryl Wagner, Jon McPhedran Waitzer, David Wall, Naomi Binder Wall, Kathy Wazana, Karen Weisberg, Barry Weisleder, Paul Weinberg, Judith Weisman, Suzanne Weiss, Abraham Weizfeld, Ernie Yacub, B.H. Yael, Yedida Zalik, Melvin Zimmerman
Recommend this Post

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Jason Cherniak's anti-Semitism

In the comments section of my previous post cuddly ex-blogger Jason Cherniak wrongly claims that the political cartoon I posted is anti-Semitic. His argument is premised on the blood libel, an ancient anti-Semitic canard in which local Jews would be falsely accused of the ritual murder of Christians (usually children) in order to use human blood for the baking of matzos or as part of a religious ceremony. The blood libel was patently absurd since there is an abhorrence of blood in the Jewish religion - the reason for instance why in order to make meat kosher a butcher has to use salt to purge every last drop of blood from it. Thus the suggestion that Jews would actually use blood as part of a recipe for unleavened bread and consume it is literally anathema to actual Jewish dietary laws. Worse, these false claims were often pretexts to pogroms or other violent and often murderous attacks on Jews.

Ok, so now you know what blood libel is. Below is the cartoon in question:



Jason Cherniak responds to this cartoon by saying "What a picture. Glad to know that the blood libel still lives strong in your warped mind."

The cartoon is an artist's comment on Israeli military aggression against the people of Gaza. I posted it in response to the current air bombardment which has claimed over 370 lives. This brutality is being inflicted after a year and a half long blockade of the Gaza Strip. There are no religious connotations, whatsoever, in the cartoon, not even a Star of David. The soldiers are not depicted as having any of the stereotypically Jewish features one would see in anti-Semitic cartoons. If it weren't for the words "Israeli occupiers" and "Gaza" the soldiers could be Russian, British, French, American or any other attacking army in the world. There is no suggestion of religious ritual, no Jewish religious garments be they kippot or prayer shawls or tzitzi'ot. No matzot, no menorahs, nothing, in other words, to suggest that what is being depicted is a ritualized religious murder or anything that would be the basis of a blood libel.

Depicting an army or military leader as butchers or dripping with blood is a standard image in any political cartoonists library. Change the labels and this could be a cartoon criticizing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, the American invasion of Iraq or Cambodia, the Chinese attack on Tiananmen Square or, indeed, it could be a critical depiction of Hamas:



Cherniak and I had the following exchange by email:

Firebrand: You're kidding me. The editorial cartoon isn't even remotely anti-Semitic.

But yes, as a Jew the memory of the blood libel does live strongly in my mind - my family fled Russian pogroms and ended up in Romania which was one of the most anti-Semitic nations in Europe between the wars (before the rise of Nazi Germany) so yes Jason, I know what the blood libel is and this isn't it.

Please don't debase the concept of anti-Semitism by applying it so casually to legitimate criticism of Israel.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Jason Cherniak:
Being Jewish doesn’t allow you to ignore basic facts. You posted a picture of Jewish butchers with Palestinian blood on their knives. Do you really not see how that is similar to suggesting that Jews drink the blood of children?

FB: The soldiers are not identifiably Jewish - there are no stereotypical signifiers nor any use of Jewish symbolism such as the magen david.

Implying that soldiers engaging in a massacre (such as the killing of over 370 people) are butchers is a standard device when criticising any military operation. The soldiers in the cartoon could be Russians, Americans, French.

You are suggesting that a massacre carried out by Israelis should be treated differently than one carried out by any other military. I, for one, do not think Israel should be treated differently.

By casually throwing out accusations of antisemitism you are denuding the concept and making it easier for actual anti-semites to get away with it.

I can see why the Liberals don't want you to blog on their behalf and why partisans of other parties were sorry to see you go. You're an embarrassment to whatever side you argue for and as a Jew I find you as embarrassing as Liberals must have.

Please resume your policy of being 'off politics'.

JC:
It was my choice to stop blogging. Nobody asked me to, smartass.

As for the picture, did you miss the word "Israeli" on their clothing? What are you smoking?


FB: the point is there is no stereotypical or symbolic invocation of Judaism.

as you should know the blood libel was the false accusation that Jews kidnapped and killed non-Jewish children and killed them for ritualistic reasons to use their blood to make matzah or for some religious ritual.

There is no such connotation in the cartoon.

You are distorting and reducing the blood libel to argue that any reference to blood is antisemitic and completely disregarding the fact that references to blood and butchery are de riguer in artistic criticisms of military conflict. How do you suggest that an artist criticise the Gaza invasion without reference to blood, murder and death.

All you've shown is that you are unable to refute Barghouti's essay and prefer instead to avoid the subject by engaging in slander.

As for your blog - it may have been for a decision but I know for a fact that senior Liberals have thought it an embarrassment for years.

The 911 blowback that ended up in Dion being embarrassed and having to axe his own candidate was just the last straw. That "own goal" of yours will be with you for a long time

JC: Butcher's knives are used in kitchens where people make food for humans, goddmanit. Use your head.

Again, lol on the blog thing. You're a fool.


FB: again - it's standard to use that analogy when criticising military action. As for the blog - fine if I'm wrong restart it and see what... sorry phone trouble. if i'm wrong restart it and see what happens to
your 'career' in the Liberal party.

and if i'm wrong about your motives for ignoring the article to attack the cartoon then go ahead and refute Barghouti

JC: It's pretty clear I'm not going to convince you, so I'm not going to bother

FB: Considering that you have been unable to refute one argument I've made regarding what blood libel is or what war criticism is I'm not surprised. i have a cartoon somewhere of Brezhnev as butcher in regards to the soviet invasion of afghanistan. doubtless that's antisemitic too?

btw, do you mind if I publish this correspondence?

JC: Only if it is unedited.


Unfortunately, it's become more common for pro-Israel polemicists to deliberately conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in an attempt to delegitimize said criticism and defame the critics. This tactic can only give comfort to actual anti-Semites as by overextending the concept of anti-Semitism these polemicists are effectively making the concept of anti-Semtism meaningless and making it easier for actual bigots and racists to practice their craft.

As British philosopher Brian Klug, a founding member of the group Independent Jewish Voices, wrote in his seminal essay, The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism "when anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing--the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance."

In response to an essay by the American Jewish Committee accusing Jewish critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic, the New York Times interviewed British historian Tony Judt, one of the essay's targets. According to the Times: "The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,' [Tony Judt] said, adding that he fears 'the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world' that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as 'just a political defense of Israeli policy.'"

It is important to be clear about what anti-Semtism is and what it is not. When the Jason Cherniaks of the world refuse to make the distinction because it is convenient to use anti-Semitism as a pretext to dismiss all and any criticism of the Israeli government then they demean the memory of those who have died or suffered under the heel of anti-Semitism over the centuries and give comfort to Jew-haters everywhere. To the extent that Israeli politicians encourage this deliberate conflation of anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, they put themselves in opposition to the interests of the Jewish people throughout the world by sacrificing their safety and security in the interests of short term polemical gain.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 360 and Cherniak would have you believe that this can't be referred to as butchery or bloodletting.
Recommend this Post