Why are the indigenous advocate, philosopher, human rights lawyer, former senator and former NDP leader supporting the anti-Palestinian lobby’s bid to crush a small left-wing Toronto restaurant?
Why have they offered their names to a ‘human rights’ organization run by a vicious anti-Palestinian who aggressively criticizes ‘enemy’ states while largely ignoring rights violations committed by Canada and the US?
Dershowitz, Blackstock, Eliadis, etc. are all “senior fellows” of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. When appointing Dershowitz, Blackstock, Eliadis, Taylor, Sinclair and others as senior fellows in 2017 Irwin Cotler told the press they were “chosen for their singular contributions to the struggle for peace and justice in our time.”
Recently, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre partnered with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre in requesting to intervene in a case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against Foodbenders. Since the left-wing Toronto restaurant painted “I love Gaza” in its window on Bloor street in late 2019 the Israel lobby has targeted the small restaurant. Last summer they saw a chance to deliver a blow to a precarious cafe that strongly advocated for Black Lives Matter and Indigenous rights, when owner Kimberly Hawkins posted to Instagram: “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [fuck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome”. In response the anti-Palestinian lobby claimed the #ZionistsNotWelcome hashtag discriminated against Jews and now the Raoul Wallenberg Centre is joining in the multifaceted effort to punish Hawkins.
Irwin Cotler founded and chairs the Raoul Wallenberg Centre. His daughter Gila is its CEO.
Regularly lauded in the dominant media, Cotler is highly selective about his human rights outlook. The former Liberal justice minister promotes an organization that engages in a form of legalistic racism outlawed in this country 70 years ago. As he’s done on numerous occasions, Cotler attended the May 2019 Jewish National Fund (JNF) fundraising Gala in Montréal. The explicitly racist JNF excludes the 20% of non-Jewish Israelis from its vast landholdings mostly stolen from Palestinians in 1948. The US State Department, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Israeli Supreme Court have all described the discriminatory policies of the JNF.
Last year Cotler delivered a letter to the International Criminal Court calling on the court to ignore Israeli war crimes. Cotler supports following Donald Trump’s move in relocating Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem. He also defended Israel’s shooting of ‘march of return’ protesters in Gaza as well as the 2014 and 2009 attacks on Gaza that left nearly 4000 dead. Just after Israel killed 1,200 Lebanese in the summer of 2006 Cotler spoke to a conference of top Israeli military officials on the importance of managing the message in modern war.
Along with close friend Dershowitz, Cotler has enabled the violent, cult like, Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). In 2012 the Jewish Telegraphic Agency cited Cotler, Dershowitz and other prominent pro-Israel activists who worked with Iranians dissidents to convince the State Department to remove the MEK from the US terrorism list, which paved the way for Ottawa to follow suit. In 2014 Cotler invited MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi, to speak at Iran Accountability Week on Parliament Hill. In “We asked Canadian politicians why they engaged with a ‘cult’-like group from Iran”, Shenaz Kermalli points out that Cotler regularly attends events organized by the MEK-aligned Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran and National Council of Resistance of Iran. The MEK backed Iraq in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and, according to US government sources, teamed up with Israel to assassinate Iranian scientists more recently. It is thought to be funded by Saudi Arabia.
Cotler has aligned himself with Africa’s most bloodstained leader Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. He has also promotedWilliam Browder. A US capitalist who got rich in Russia during the privatization frenzy of the 1990s, Browder repackaged himself as a human rights activist to avoid being extradited to Russia on tax fraud charges.
Cotler aggressively criticizes “enemy” states while largely ignoring rights violations committed by Canada and the US. Looking through months of Cotler’s Twitter he writes overwhelmingly about Iran, Russia, Venezuela and China, but says little about Canadian mining companies’ international abuses, repression by the Canadian-backed President of Haiti, violence in Colombia, etc.
One has to be extremely naïve to think that Cotler’s interest in Muslim Uighur rights in China is disconnected from Washington’s campaign against China. Similarly, Cotler’s support for far right-wing Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez is tied to Washington and Ottawa’s hostility to the government there.
But if Blackstock, Taylor, Eliadis, Mulcair, Sinclair etc. aren’t made uncomfortable by human rights activism at the service of Western power, they may want to consider the Raoul Wallenberg Centre’s association with Dershowitz. An important figure in the Jeffrey Epstein pedophilia/rape scandal, Dershowitz negotiated (partly through intimidation) the scandalous “non-prosecution agreement” under which Epstein served 13 months in a Florida jail, which was largely spent on “work release”. Court documents released in the case of alleged Epstein madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, claim “Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement with a provision that provided protection for himself against criminal prosecution in Florida for sexually abusing [Virginia Roberts Giuffre].”
A close friend of Epstein, Dershowitz is accused of raping two of Epstein’s sex slaves. In a court filing Roberts said, “Dershowitz was so comfortable with the sex that was going on that he would even come and chat with Epstein while I was giving oral sex to Epstein.” Roberts added that she had sex with Dershowitz “at least six times”. According to a British Daily Mail story based on released court documents, ‘Jane Doe 3’ says Epstein required her “to have sex with Dershowitz on numerous occasions when she was a minor, not only in Florida but on private planes, in New York, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” In the 2015 article “Israel defender Alan Dershowitz has long history of attacking sex abuse victims” Rania Khalek details his aggressive anti-woman positions. In 1997 Dershowitz argued that “puberty is arriving earlier, particularly among some ethnic groups.” As such, the eminent lawyer called for — a position repeated more recently — the age of consent to be lowered (if a child reaches puberty at ten should they be legitimate targets for sexual predators?).
Perhaps Cindy Blackstock, Charles Taylor, Pearl Eliadis, Murray Sinclair and Thomas Mulcair should reconsider if they want to be associated with Dershowitz, Cotler and an institute that’s part of the anti-Palestinian lobby’s witch hunt against a small restaurant.
On Friday, May 21 at 7pm Yves Engler will be speaking at a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute event on “The Innumerable Ways Canada Supports Israeli Apartheid”