Should anti-racists collaborate with leading promoters of apartheid?
An absurd question? Unfortunately, not.
Recently Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) researchers Dan Collen and Étienne Quintal helped United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Toronto create Hatepedia. Collen and Quintal also work for the UJA-run Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.
But UJA organizes Canada’s largest annual apartheid celebration (Walk with Israel) and it sponsors Canada’s most influential apartheid lobby group (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs). Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al Haq, B’tselem and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinians have all concluded Israel is committing the crime of apartheid.
CIJA has also stigmatized marginalized Canadians by hyping “Islamic terror” and targeting Arab and Muslim community representatives, papers, organizations, etc. CIJA aligned itself with the backlash against the term “Islamophobia” in bill M-103, which called for collecting data on hate crimes and studying the issue of “eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” CEO Shimon Fogel said the “wording of M-103 is flawed. Specifically, we are concerned with the word ‘Islamophobia’ because it is misleading, ambiguous, and politically charged.”
Hatepedia reflects UJA/CAHN politics. Funded partly through the Trudeau government’s Anti-Racism Action Program, the database of hate symbols and terminology avoids anything related to Israel. Canada’s best organized far right group over the past decade, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) is ignored. Similarly, Israeli military shirts and other violence-promoting paraphernalia common at apartheid celebrations in Canada aren’t listed by Hatepedia.
CAHN generally ignores Zionist racism and hate. After Toronto activist Ron Banerjee called for murdering Muslims last month CAHN released a backgrounder on the Hindu supremacist, which ignored Banerjee’s close ties to the JDL and allied apartheid lobby groups.
CAHN was also silent about hate recently spewed against identifiably Jewish individuals opposing apartheid at UJA’s Walk for Israel. On May 29 a Zionist repeatedly told a group of Hasidim with a Palestinian flag “Hitler made a big mistake, you should have been in the gas chambers.”
Collen recently smeared me as an “antisemitic writer” for pushing back against anti-Palestinianism in Canada. In “Nazis in Ukraine’s Military May be Fringe: That Doesn’t Mean They Should Be Ignored” Collen weaved me into his commentary writing, “for a Canadian audience, RT News also platformed antisemitic writer Yves Engler in stories that described the invasion of Ukraine as a ‘military conflict’. Engler has been scrutinized for allegedly promoting antisemitic tropes.” The main article of mine Collen quoted was a six-year-old text challenging the Canadian Jewish News’ overt racism.
The founder and chair of CAHN is Bernie Farber, who ran for the Liberal party. During nearly three decades at the Canadian Jewish Congress the organization’s former head was among Canada’s leading anti-Palestinian hate mongers. Farber’s apologized for the worst of his Islamophobia but not his anti-Palestinianism. In fact, Farber continues to promote the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism and contributed to the Zionist lobby’s remarkable 2020 campaign to shut down a small left-wing sandwich shop, Foodbenders, after they posted an “I love Gaza” sign in their window and posted to Instagram: “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [fuck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome”. (They claimed the #ZionistsNotWelcome hashtag was discriminatory.)
Alongside its support for Canadians promoting legalized discrimination in Israel, CAHN is indifferent towards Canada’s most overt white supremacy. They ignore Canada’s central role in the ‘Core Group’ of white ambassadorswho largely determine the political fate of 11 million Black Haitians. The same thing can be said for Ottawa’s role in the European settler Five Eyes (US, UK, Australia and New Zealand) alliance, which University of Victoria professor John Price has called “a race-based spy network.”
Despite all these contradictions CAHN is well funded. Why?
Because CAHN’s form of antiracism is acceptable to the Trudeau government and corporate Canada. Its site notes, “our work is made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Anti-Racism Action Program.” Last month Ottawa gave CAHN $270,000 for its Confronting and Preventing Hate in Canadian Schools toolkit and Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen participated in the launch of the initiative. The government release said the school kit “provides a comprehensive anti-racism education program.” But there’s nothing in it about the Jewish National Fund, which is the only explicitly racist institution sanctioned by the Canadian state to give tax credits.
Beyond the funds put up by the Trudeau government, CAHN is backed by corporate Canada. In 2020 it received a three-way share of a $1 million Bank of Montréal donation.
Many leftists correctly consider CAHN an ally in pushing back against the far right. But where does ignoring its racism lead? To protecting Israel of course, but also to legitimization of it as a tool against the left. For example, Farber participated in the antisemitism onslaught against internationalist and eco-socialist minded British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The Trudeau government and banks don’t underwrite politics that threaten Canada’s power structure. And real anti-racists don’t remain silent about proponents of apartheid, just because they do some good work.