The Israel lobby is rallying around Annamie Paul and Noah Zatzman. Must be their reward for doing battle with the internationalists and human-rights-for-all (including Palestinians)-supporters in the Green Party, but at least in Zatzman’s case it damages Israel’s cause.
Tonight (November 30) former Green Party leader Annamie Paul will be speaking at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee event. CJPAC trains pro-Israel activists and, in conjunction with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), organizes an annual “Israeli Wine and Canadian Cheese party” on Parliament Hill to “celebrate the strength of the Canada-Israel relationship.” The event with Paul is billed as her “first appearance since resigning from the Green Party.”
As I reported earlier, Zatzman was recently made co-chair of United Jewish Appeal Toronto’s new LGBTQ+ Division and a principal at Aurora Strategy Group. Like Zatzman, the president of Aurora Strategy Group, Marcel Wieder, has a background with pro-Israel groups. He worked for Hillel and B’nai B’rith in the late 1980s and in 2016 participated in an Ontario government delegation to Israel that Zatzman helped coordinate when he worked for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Recently, Aurora Strategy Group began a partnership with Israel-based Beyad Halashon Advocacy & Communications, which is led by CIJA’s Israel office director. David M. Weinberg is also vice president of the neo-con Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a former senior advisor to deputy Israeli prime minister Natan Sharansky.
In a recent Jewish Insider story titled “Is the Green Party over?” Zatzman discusses attending a Jewish day school, his close family ties to Paul and anti-Palestinian activism as a university student. He boasts that he “led four Birthright trips to Israel” and pushed Ontario’s legislature to reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2016. (When I wrote about Zatzman participating in Birthright and attending a private high school that organizes “IDF Days” Canadian Press reporter Christopher Reynolds emailed, “Noah Zatzman has said that some of your posts carry antisemitic undertones, including this one noting Zatzman’s educational background. I’m wondering how you’d respond to such accusations.”)
In a recent interview with Canada Talks host Dahlia Kurtz, who participated in a CIJA-sponsored media trip to Israel, Zatzman claimed his experience with the Green Party felt like a “6-month pogrom”. Zatzman also told the SiriusXM radio program the Green Party was “over”.
Zatzman boasted to Jewish Insider that he “actively worked and organized to defeat” progressive Green MP Paul Manly in the recent election. A September 20 Jewish Independent article headlined “Annamie Paul puts it all on the line” described how “a loose coalition of Jewish groups and pro-Israel political consultants is now working behind the scenes to prevent candidates who have harshly criticized Israel from being elected this cycle, according to a source familiar with the effort who spoke with JI but asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter.” Manly and Elizabeth May were listed as targets.
Zatzman’s contract with Aurora Strategy Group is in part a reward for his attacks against the Green Party. The Israel lobby has had the Greens in their crosshairs since members passed a resolution supportive of Palestinian rights in 2016 and began attracting NDPers disgruntled with that party’s anti-Palestinian politics.
But Zatzman’s crass and self-serving actions are also a liability to Israel’s cause. When he wrote that Jagmeet Singh, Liberal MPs, Green MPs and others engaged in “appalling anti-Semitism” Zatzman did more to discredit a regular Israel lobby smear than he did to intimidate anyone. Similarly, Zatzman damaged his cause by releasing a private message in which David Suzuki told him to take a hike. In a bid to frame himself as a martyr to the pro-Israel Jewish Insider audience, Zatzman suggested Suzuki was among the leftist pro-Palestinian hordes hounding him. But only extreme Zionists or rightists would consider the well-known environmentalist’s hostility to be a good thing.
Zatzman also embarrassed Elizabeth May to the Jewish Insider. Zatzman revealed that a week after he threatened to defeat Green MPs the former leader ended a message to him with “Xo [hugs and kisses]”.
Zatzman’s public interventions weaken May and other elements of the party who rallied behind Paul. They also harm Israel’s cause within the Greens’. At this point Zatzman is an albatross around the Israel lobby’s neck they can’t let go of. United Jewish Appeal and Aurora Strategy Group gave Zatzman a position at least in part to ensure that a pro-Israel activist of his renown isn’t seen to face significant career consequences for their anti-Palestinian activity. (That’s reserved for those challenging apartheid.) But, for Israel’s sake it would be better if he disappeared from public view.
The same can’t be said for Annamie Paul. Expect her to be trotted out in the coming months to attack those supporting Palestinians in the Green Party. And would anyone be surprised if the Conservative Party offered her a safe seat in the next election?
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