Some of those overseeing Montréal’s Anarchist Bookfair have lost the plot. They have banned the city’s only English language anarchist publisher from participating on the grounds they’ve published my recent books.
On Friday Black Rose Books informed me that they have been blocked from tabling at Montréal’s Anarchist Bookfair on Sunday because of their association with me. The reason given for Black Rose’s exclusion is because of my supposed anti-Semitism. I presume there is more to this story — maybe someone running the bookfair doesn’t like Black Rose or myself? — but they have refused to provide any further information to Black Rose, which has been publishing books since before I was born.
The allegations against me are, of course, spurious. I condemn all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Not only do I verbally condemn it, I have spent my entire adult life as an active participant in anti-racism struggles, as a writer, public commentator and activist.
Unfortunately, because of my support for Palestinians and writing against Israeli racism and the anti-Palestinian lobby in Canada, some have accused me of anti-Semitism. This is a common slur leveled against pro-Palestinian activists.
It is also increasingly a way to divide and undermine the left more generally. Jeremy Corbin’s bid to push the British Labour Party to the left was undone partly because of a campaign of spurious accusations of anti-Semitism. In France leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been targeted with similar allegations of anti-Semitism. In Canada left-wing NDP MP Niki Ashton has been attacked in a similar way as has the left within the Green Party. In the Campaign Against Me well-known leftist folk singer David Rovics has written about a campaign to cancel his public presence by some anarchists in Portland and elsewhere labeling him an “anti-Semite”.
It is troubling that a few on ‘the left’ have joined the Israel lobby’s defamation against me. Have I ever not explained myself perfectly? Yes. But to take a sentence or comment out of context from an interview five years ago and make the leap to labelling me an anti-Semite who must be ‘de-platformed’ is not only ridiculous, it is libellous, and ignores my decades of work against all forms of racism. For those not yet convinced I repeat, anti-Semitism is a problem confronting our society and I condemn it.
I will continue my work to expose racism, militarism and imperialism in Canadian foreign policy, which understandably makes me a target for supporters of the existing system who would prefer no voices of dissent. But from those on the left who share my belief that we can make a better world? Please, if you disagree with something I write or say, let’s debate it in the spirit of building a movement of internationalism and solidarity.
In the spirit of dialogue and challenging illegitimate authority, I will be bringing some of my books to the book fair at Parc La Fontaine on September 12 (3819 Calixa-Lavallée Ave). If you are in Montréal drop by my table from 2 to 5 PM, and get a discounted copy of my just released Stand on Guard for Whom? — A People’s History of the Canadian Military (you can also support Black Rose by ordering it online).