Category Archives: Israel Lobby

The smear campaign at the centre of Green debacle

 

Last week Annamie Paul added a new chapter to her deception in service of Israeli colonialism and fidelity to Noah Zatzman. On Tuesday the Green party leader told the Globe and Mail that the federal council of the party no longer required her to repudiate Zatzman’s anti-Palestinian smears and threats against Green MPs (as well as other politicians).

In commenting to the Globe Paul was probably seeking to portray herself as the victor in the internal party dispute in the hope the council will drop talk of a leadership review. Paul understands that the federal council is in a bind since discussing the ouster of the leader weeks before a probable election is damaging. Paul has the media megaphone and has made it clear she is willing to say anything to take total control of the party. Finally, getting 75% of council members — the threshold required to bring the question to the membership — to vote to remove Paul is extremely difficult, especially since a handful of council members (short-sightedly) resigned recently to protest Paul’s actions.

But Paul’s bid to strong arm the council into accepting the conflict was resolved on her terms backfired. The next day the head of the federal council Liana Cusmano told the Canadian Press the vote of nonconfidence in the leader was moving forward and they organized a member’s townhall to discuss the situation. Cusmano said the party’s federal council was moving to sanction Paul for “failing to openly condemn the actions of Noah Zatzman.”

In response Zatzman confirmed the importance of Paul repudiating her former (and current?) senior adviser. Zatzman sent a statement to the media calling the Green council’s action “further evidence of an organization whose leadership fosters a culture of systemic anti-Semitism and discrimination.” If that wasn’t bad enough, Zatzman subsequently threatened to sue. “If the party does not immediately retract this attached statement that was just read out publicly, I will begin legal action,” he wrote in an email to council president Cusmano and interim executive director Dana Taylor, which was copied to numerous others. Zatzman added, “Liana [Cusmano], your conduct is truly appalling, your statement contains alternative facts, and you should be ashamed of yourself for these Soviet-style tactics. This is Canada — a free and open democracy — your actions are autocratic, borderline Orwellian, and wrong; and have caused me great harm.”

This is but the latest of Zatzman’s threats and smears. In his infamous May 14 Facebook post, Zatzman denounced“appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behavior” by a slew of politicians who he threatened to “defeat”.On Twitter and in media interviews he has smeared others who disagree with his anti-Palestinian outlook. He called on “all progressives” to “stay away” from the 2,300-member Green Party of Canada Supporters Facebook group. “They are not climate activists and I doubt they are even members of the Green Party of Canada”, he wrote. “It is a group of 150 of the country’s worst anti-Semitic actors … including a few neo-Nazis. They have been digitally harassing me and many others because we are Jewish in recent days, weeks and months. We must all come together to defeat anti-Semitism!!!!”

As he’s threatened and smeared Greens who criticize his beloved Israel, Zatzman has presented himself as the victim. He repeatedly claimed those criticizing his outrageous May 14 statement were anti-Semitic. He told a CBC reporter that his parents had to delist their home address (how do you delist an address?), presumably fearing Green activists.

This from a supporter of Israel, who I can find no record of ever criticizing Honest Reporting Canada and other similar pro-Israel organizations who have repeatedly intimidated journalists, academics and others. Does he really believe it is acceptable for supporters of Israel to “cancel” people’s jobs and ruin their careers for defending Palestinians but “outrageous anti-Semitism” for Green Party members to be offended and want him fired when their party dues and donations are going to fund someone who says he will work to defeat two-thirds of the party’s federal caucus?

Given his background of working in public relations for the Ontario premier and a large insurance company perhaps he thinks he can “spin” anything. But few people are buying what he’s selling.

Incredibly, throughout the seven-week Green party saga Paul has effectively stood beside Zatzman, refusing to criticize his anti-Palestinian attacks. She kept him on as a “volunteer” adviser after the executive council terminated Zatzman’s contract and Paul defended Zatzman to the council. Presumably, Zatzman is still aiding Paul behind-the-scenes and his recent attacks against the federal council were carried out with Paul’s approval. While slightly less crass, Paul has generally echoed Zatzman’s positions. In a number of recent interviews, for instance, she strongly implied that journalists asking her to criticize Zatzman’s threat to “defeat” Green MPs were doing so because she’s Jewish. She’s repeatedly accused her critics of anti-Semitism. In a hit piece titled “On eve of leadership choice, Canada’s Greens confront anti-Semitism in their ranks”, she bemoaned to Global News in October about “the level of vitriol” against her. “Most of the attacks, most of the online hate that I’ve received has really been targeted at my Jewish identity”, claimed Paul in an interview where she said her main competitor for the party leadership, Dimitri Lascaris, shouldn’t have been allowed to run. In that story the vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Richard Marceau said, “radical far-left activists are trying to take control of the Green Party, hijack the Green Party.”

During and just after the leadership race Paul was also quoted in the Times of Israel, Ha’aretz, Jewish Independent, Canadian Jewish Record and elsewhere attacking Green Party members as anti-Semitic. In a July 2020 Canadian Jewish Record commentary she wrote, “My loyalty to Canada has also been called into question, and I have been accused of taking bribes from Israel, leading a Zionist take-over of the Green Party of Canada and of spreading hasbarah.

To get her way Paul has had her underlings accuse others of anti-Semitism and racism. As part of a battle with the Green council over paying her the salary of an MP ($185,000) and plowing significant resources into her (longshot) Toronto riding Paul’s campaign manager, Sean Yo, suggested the council was anti-Black and anti-Jewish in an April story the Toronto Star headlined “Senior Green officials are sabotaging the first Black woman to lead a Canadian political party, ‘disgusted’ insiders say”.

Still, Paul will most likely survive the nonconfidence vote on July 20. But it’s important for anyone concerned about democracy in a supposedly progressive party to not let Paul simply move on from this dispute. Standing up to Paul’s bullying is a matter of principle.

A similar dynamic is at play for those who believe Palestinians are human beings. It’s important that Paul pays a price for her flagrant anti-Palestinian behavior. But on the Palestinian question there is more of an upside since Zatzman’s blatantly crass bullying and avoidance of the real issue (a party adviser publicly revealing he is working to defeat Green MPs) has only served to discredit the Israel lobby.

While many progressives remain unwilling to confront the subject, the attacks against leftist British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn highlight the importance of calling out “anti-Semitic” smears. Palestine solidarity and the left more generally are confronted with history’s greatest ever ‘identity politics’ smear campaign. In navigating this predicament, it is preferable to do battle with an adversary who lacks subtlety and nuance. Zatzman fits the bill and the more attention we can draw to his ridiculousness the better.

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Filed under Green Party, Israel Lobby

NDP defence critic ignores party policy

Why does the NDP defence critic promote militarism and anti-Palestinian racism? Shouldn’t all critics promote their party’s policies? And if they don’t, what should the party leader do?

Randall Garrison complained to the Hill Times that the government’s recent budget didn’t devote enough to the military. In “Opposition MPs say they’re worried about lack of defence spending in budget, as experts to future of NORAD” he’s quoted saying: “Defence doesn’t change just because there’s a pandemic. … We spent a decade not providing the military with an adequate operating budget to do the work we already asked them to do. It’s time to fix that.”

Garrison has repeatedly demanded more resources for the military, which has more than 10 times the budget of Environment and Climate Change Canada. When the Liberals announced a 70 per cent increase in military spending in 2017 Garrison criticized the announcement for not putting up more money immediately, bemoaning (incorrectly) that “the money you’re proposing will not keep pace with the rate of inflation.”

Garrison supports spending $19 billion — $77 billion over their lifecycle — on 88 new aggressive, climate destroying, fighter jets. Garrison’s most egregious position concerns the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) procurement, which could cost $286 billion over their lifecycle. He stayed silent on the issue after the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated in February that the cost of acquiring 15 highly armed CSCs at over $77 billion, five times the initial estimate. And $77 billion is just the sticker price. Former Assistant Deputy Minister of Materiel at DND and Assistant Deputy Minister, Supply Operations Service in Public Works and Government Services Canada, Alan Williams, suggests the full life-cycle cost of the CSC will be an eye popping $286 billion.

Garrison has also ignored media reports about extreme secrecy in the CSC procurement process. Nor has he commented on its radar tying the vessels into US Ballistic Missile Defense or arming the frigates with Tomahawk missiles that travel 1,700 kilometers.

None of this aligns with the views of most NDP members.

In mid-April 85% of NDP convention delegates voted for the Palestine Resolution. It calls for “Ending all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine” and “Suspending the bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are upheld.”

In response to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque and violence in Gaza, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called for an arms embargo on Israel and the party promoted a petition making this demand, which most MPs shared.

Garrison stayed quiet on the arms embargo and convention resolution. He also failed to criticize Israel’s violence and ethnic cleansing. Instead, he signed a statement at the end of May designed to shield Israel from criticism, which was promoted by anti-Palestinian lobby group Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). The statement Garrison signed was connected to his position on an unofficial task force lobbying social media firms to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) anti-Palestinian working definition of anti-Semitism.

Garrison is also vice-chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CIIG). Three years ago 200 well-known musicians, academics, trade unionists and NDP members called on NDP MPs to withdraw from CIIG. Most ultimately did so. Garrison has refused to leave a group that promotes “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the Canadian and Israeli parliaments. As I detailed, CIIG has organized events with other pro-Israel lobby organizations and the co-chairs of its Israeli counterpart — the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group — have been stridently anti-Palestinian. Garrison’s ties to anti-Palestinian lobbying groups go beyond his role as vice-chair of CIIG. Garrison has participated in initiatives with the staunchly anti-Palestinian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and CIJA. He has also repeatedly promoted the notion that pro-Palestinian activism is anti-Jewish. Last summer Garrison was one of two NDP MPs who refused to sign Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East’s pledge to oppose Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank.

Garrison is clearly out of step with NDP members on Palestinian rights. His militarism is also not shared by most in the party.

It’s time Jagmeet Singh removed Garrison as defence critic.

 

Please take one minute to send a letter to the NDP leadership calling for Garrison’s removal as defence critic.

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Filed under Israel Lobby, Military, NDP

Annamie Paul’s failure to confront international racism

 

Annamie Paul

Annamie Paul and her supporters are right to cite racism as a driving factor in her leadership crisis. But the Green leader’s supporters have misplaced the source of responsibility. It is Paul’s inability to view colonized peoples, notably Palestinians, as deserving of equal rights that is the source of her current troubles.

As the first Black woman federal party leader with MPs in the House of Commons, Paul has undoubtedly faced discrimination during her eight-month tenure. But Paul’s leadership of the Greens is in crisis due to her anti-Palestinian racism amidst a rebellion against Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence.

As Israel bombed Gaza last month Paul released a horribly anti-Palestinian statement. It ran counter to the party’s democratically decided policy, which “supports only non-violent responses to violence and oppression, including economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes” to force Israel to comply with international law.

Unlike Paul all three Green MPs echoed the explosion of righteous outrage, criticizing Israeli “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”. Then Green MP Jenica Atwin also explicitly disagreed with Paul’s statement. Subsequently, Paul’s senior adviser Noah Zatzman publicly denounced “appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behavior” by Green MPs and other politicians. “We will not accept an apology after you realize what you’ve done,” he posted to Facebook. “We will work to defeat you.”

In subsequent interviews and posts Zatzman doubled down on his smears and threats against Green MPs and activists. As her senior adviser attacked much of the party, Paul remained mum regarding Zatzman’s statements. In fact, she responded to questions related to the divisions in the party by talking about anti-Semitism and despite the issue playing itself out in front of millions she has yet to distance herself from Zatzman’s wild statements.

Paul’s anti-Palestinianism is not new. When Independent Jewish Voices and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East surveyed the nine Green leadership candidates on their Middle East policy Paul received bottom marks.

And Palestinians aren’t the only colonized and racialized people that she has had a hard time seeing as deserving of equal rights. Paul backed the wealthy, Christian extremist and white supremacist coup against Bolivia’s first everindigenous President Evo Morales. As the Green’s International Affairs Critic, Paul released a statement that began by noting “a post-election audit conducted by the Organisation of American States (OAS) Electoral Observer Mission concluded that those elections were marred by serious irregularities and that the results should be annulled. Evo Morales has announced his resignation as President of Bolivia.” But Morales was forced out by soldiers and the OAS’ claims have been exposed as fraudulent.

Months later Paul stuck to her position by stating that her husband worked for the first indigenous Vice President of Bolivia, Victor Hugo Cárdenas, who became a controversial minister in the unelected post-Morales coup government. Paul’s husband, Mark Freeman, helped establish the New York based liberal imperialist International Center for Transitional Justice, which is largely funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Swedish government and UN.

As leader of the Greens Paul has stoked Sinophobia as well. In February she called on Ottawa to push to move the 2022 Olympics from China and instead hold the games in the US and Canada (on unceded Indigenous lands in BC). She also called for sanctions against China.

As Green MP Paul Manly, environmentalist David Suzuki and other prominent individuals signed a statement critical of Canadian policy in Haiti, Paul has stayed quiet about Canadian imperialism in a country that delivered a major blow to racial slavery. Nor has she spoken out about Canadian mining companies pillaging African resources.

Paul previously worked as an advisor in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. She worked at the ICC at a time when the court was widely derided by Africans for only pursuing individuals from that continent, prompting stories like “Is the International Criminal Court Racist?” and “The ICC’s problem is not overt racism, it is Eurocentricism”.

Paul was posted to the ICC as part of her work for Canada’s lead purveyor of racist imperialism. She joined Global Affairs Canada out of university, working for years in Canada’s Mission to the European Union.

Her resume demonstrates rock solid support for the status quo in Canada and around the world. The problem is most Green Party members do not want the status quo. There are enough political parties working to maintain the privileges of the few against the needs of the many. Most Green Party members want serious change, not only to combat various ecological crisis, but also to create a more just world, where everyone everywhere has equal rights.

Yes, Paul should confront all forms of racism as Green party leader, including racism against Palestinians. But so far she has failed miserably on that important issue.

 

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Filed under Green Party, Israel Lobby

Cotler led Anti-Semitism Summit seeks to deflect criticism of Israeli apartheid

Last week the Trudeau government announced it would hold an emergency National Summit on Anti-Semitism. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and B’nai B’rith (BB) were delighted as they’ve campaigned for the summit since the upsurge of pro-Palestinian activism last month. That the objective of the summit all along was to discredit antiracist and anticolonial Palestine solidarity activism was confirmed when Irwin Cotler was appointed to lead it.

Speaking from his apartment in Jerusalem, Cotler was the keynote speaker at a May 13 online rally in support of Israeli violence in which the moderator lauded Montrealers’ fighting in the Israeli military. On June 30 Cotler is scheduled to speak at a B’nai B’rith conference on “Current Issues in Jewish and Pro-Israel Advocacy” while on May 27 he published a column in the Times of Israel celebrating Israel’s violence. In it he wrote, “while the deliberate and indiscriminate bombardment of Israeli civilians — underpinned by genocidal antisemitism and incitement — have been the trigger for this latest war, there is a longer and underlying proximate cause: the Hamas Terrorist War of Attrition against Israel since 2000.”

Cotler backed attacks that left nearly 4,000 dead in Gazza in 2014 and 2009 as well as its war on Lebanon in 2006. He has sought to pressure the International Criminal Court against investigating Israeli war crimes, supports moving Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem and attends fundraisers for the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund.

The Cotler-led anti-Semitism summit is a transparent effort to deflect criticism from Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence, as well as an encouragement to those promoting that violence and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians. It is also (less directly) an encouragement of Islamophobia, which lead to an entire family being killed recently in London, Ontario.

The anti-Semitism summit is the outgrowth of weeks of disingenuous claims from the Israel lobby that are often in and of themselves racist. Under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism B’nai B’rith has relentlessly linked Arabs to terrorism in recent weeks. “For the third week in a row, antisemitism and support for terrorism were on display Saturday at a massive protest in downtown Toronto”, they tweeted. In a statement to the Winnipeg Sun BB CEO Michael Mostynsaid, “it is unacceptable that anti-Jewish taunts and support for a banned terrorist group be expressed outside the Manitoba legislature.”

B’nai B’rith has also pushed the argument that anti-Semitism is being “imported” to Canada, which is a coded reference to Arab and Muslim immigrants. Hours before the murder of the Afzaal family in London came to light, they tweeted “we cannot import the conflict to Canada. … and [must stay] united in our stand against antisemitism.” In a National Post opinion article three weeks ago Mostyn wrote:

Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Jews have fled France due to out-of-control anti-Zionism and society’s reluctance to address it. Some of those French Jews thought they had found refuge in Canada, particularly in Quebec — but what are they to think given what they are now seeing? The anti-Semitic murders of French Jews such as Ilan Halimi and Sarah Halimi (no relation), the terror attacks on Jewish schools and stores in France — none of this emerged from a vacuum, but was rather the inevitable result of a culture of hate and impunity that was allowed to fester.”

Anti-Muslim bigotry from B’nai B’rith and CIJA isn’t new. In a bid to deter organizations from associating with the Palestinian cause or opposing Israeli belligerence in the Middle East, CIJA and BB regularly target Arab and Muslim community representatives, papers, organizations, etc.

They did so again when Imam Munir El-Kassem innocuously stated at the end of Tuesday’s vigil for the Muslim family killed in London that “you all said everything that needs to be said except one angle I would like to share with our officials. Now there’s a reason why they say the world is a small village. Every country has a foreign policy. I just want to say whatever is happening in Jerusalem and Gaza, is related to whatever happened in London, Ontario.” BB tweeted or re-tweeted a dozen messages condemning what Mostyn described as El-Kassem’s “inflammatory remarks”. The other messages called El-Kassem’s comment “disgusting”, “contemporary bloodlibel”, “vile hatred”, “the vigil for the victims was used as an opportunity to vent Jew-hatred”, etc.

CIJA and BB regularly hype “Islamic terror” and openly aligned with the xenophobic 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.” In a 2017 BuzzFeed article titled “Zionist Groups in Canada Are Jumping On The ‘Creeping Sharia’ Bandwagon” Steven Zhou detailed CIJA, B’nai Brith and other pro-Israel groups backlash to M-103 and “how Muslim Canadians define Islamophobia.”

A “summit” about anti-Semitism led by Irwin Cotler will have a pre-determined outcome. It will conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. It will encourage those promoting ethnic cleansing and violence against Palestinians. It will be used by the Israel lobby to stoke even more Islamophobia.

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Filed under Israel Lobby, Justin Trudeau

Green Party debacle may be win for Palestine

Jenica Atwin

Score an own goal for Green Party pro-Israel extremists Noah Zatzman and Annamie Paul. Not only are they responsible for the Liberals adding an MP to their caucus, one of their own they slandered as “anti-Semitic” for labeling Israel an “apartheid” state, but also saw to it that millions of Canadians heard mention of Israeli apartheid and now understand that Israel advocates brazenly and unjustly smear those they disagree with.

On Thursday MP Jenica Atwin left the Green party to join the Liberals. She was driven out by party leader Paul and senior adviser Zatzman whose anti-Palestinian animus blinded them to political reality and the scope of support for Palestinians among Greens.

On May 11 Atwin labeled as “totally inadequate” a statement from Paul whitewashing Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence. On Twitter Atwin added, “Forced Evictions must end! I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable air strikes in Gaza. End Apartheid! #SaveSheikhJarrah.”

In response to Atwin, a statement from Green MPs Paul Manly and Elizabeth May, as well as others, Zatzman accuseda slew of political leaders, including “Green MPs”, of “appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behaviour”. He also said “we” would work to defeat them.

It was extremely stupid and should have led to Zatzman’s immediate removal. Instead, Paul sought to ride out the kerfuffle. But Green activists refused to let the smear and threat slide. They mobilized online and my article “Crazed anti-Palestinian Green adviser must be removed” was widely read and shared. Two weeks after Zatzman’s post the CBC finally reported on the matter. Incredibly, Zatzman doubled down in his attacks on Atwin and Manly in his interview with CBC and elsewhere. With Paul’s apparent support, he told La Presse that he didn’t regret his Facebook statement and that “these two MPs [Atwin and Manly] have propagated what I consider to be anti-Semitic remarks.” He added, “I’m not trying to rule out Jenica or Paul [Manly], but the Green Party wants to become a ‘mainstream’ party and make gains and if that means it has to lose Jenica along the way for that, well, too bad.”

Immediately, more than 150 Green party members signed a public letter calling for Zatzman’s removal. Simultaneously,1,400 individuals emailed Green leaders calling on them to “remove Noah Zatzman as senior adviser”.

On Tuesday the head of the Green Party Fund, Doug Tingey, emailed some members saying that Zatzman’s contract had been terminated a few days earlier. But Zatzman denied he was removed. A Canadian Press investigation found that he was staying on as a “volunteer” adviser to Paul. In other words, the Green executive council voted to end Zatzman’s contract, but Paul effectively flouted their decision.

This is the backdrop to Atwin joining the Liberals. In a press conference alongside New Brunswick cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc, the Liberals brought a new MP into the fold who recently called Israel an “apartheid” state for which she was labeled anti-Semitic. As the Centre for Israel Jewish Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’nai Brith and other Israel lobbyists began complaining about the Liberals embrace of Atwin, her messages critical of Israel were being reported to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Canadians. On Thursday Atwin told the media she stands by her previous criticism of Israel.

At a hastily organized Thursday press conference Paul was grilled for 40 minutes on Atwin’s defection. A half dozen of the country’s leading reporters discussed Zatzman’s charges of anti-Semitism in an incredulous tone and mentioned Israeli apartheid. Paul refused to answer when directly asked whether she “condones or condemns” Zatzman’s statement.

Throughout the press conference and subsequent interviews Paul repeatedly denied that Zatzman’s comments played any role in Atwin leaving the party. But Atwin suggested differently and Elizabeth May and Paul Manly made it clear that Zatzman was responsible. The two Green MPs released a joint statement Thursday afternoon noting, “unfortunately, the attack against Ms. Atwin by the Green Party leader’s chief spokesperson on May 14 created the conditions that led to this crisis. We have no intention of leaving the Green Party.”

Of course, the move by the Liberals to welcome Atwin into the fold was cynically electoral, but fascinating nonetheless. Generally, the Liberals govern from the right and run their election campaigns from the left, so it is smart strategy to embrace an MP identified with fighting for indigenous rights and the climate just prior to a probable election. In his statement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “with her tireless and effective advocacy on priorities like climate action, mental health, reconciliation, and making life more affordable for families, Jenica Atwin is respected by her constituents and all of her colleagues as a champion for real change.” What’s more interesting is the Liberals’ calculation regarding Atwin’s position on Palestine. Does the party believe it serves their short-term electoral strategy to bring into caucus someone now identified with the Palestinian cause? Is it possible Trudeau’s people are calculating that after the massive outpouring of pro-Palestinian sympathy in recent weeks and the prime minister’s staunch pro-Israel positions it’s good to appear open to pro-Palestinian voices (particularly after the horrific recent anti-Muslim motivated murder in London Ontario)? If that’s the case the Liberals may actually welcome the criticism of Atwin leveled by CIJA, FSWC and other Israel lobbyists.

How will the rest of this game play out? Will there be more own goals by Paul and other fanatic supporters of Israel?

Stay tuned. This saga certainly does not seem finished.

 

Please ask the Green Federal Council to hold a Non-Confidence vote through this action alert.

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Filed under Green Party, Israel Lobby

Anti-Palestinian bigotry overshadowed by anti-Semitism uproar

Greg Nisan, a member of JDL aligned motorcycle club

In response to the recent upsurge in pro-Palestinian activism basically every major Canadian media outlet has published stories about rising anti-Semitism. Many politicians have made statements on the matter and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has called on “our federal government to convene an emergency summit to address growing antisemitism.” B’nai B’rith claims there were more violent anti-Semitic incidents in May than all of last year.

But comparatively little attention has been devoted to anti-Palestinian bigotry despite the publicly verifiable evidence that suggests Palestinian Canadians or those identified with them have faced greater discrimination and violence. And once again, CIJA and B’nai B’rith muddy the waters of understanding racism by conflating criticism and actions against Israel with anti-Semitism.

Let’s take a look at the record over the past few weeks:

  • On May 13 a group of Israeli flag waving individuals in Thornhill are on video trying to fight and threatening to “run over” a small group of Palestinian activists. At one-point police pull their guns apparently fearing an Israel supporter was going to hit them with his vehicle in a bid to reach the Palestinians.
  • On May 15 a Jewish Defence League (JDL) supporter interviewed prior to the pro-Palestinian rally said he was looking to brawl. He then tells a passerby, “I used to rape guys like you in prison, bro.” Subsequently, a pro-Israel individual is caught on camera swinging a stick wildly at someone. At another point an older JDL-aligned individual is caught on camera with a knife and bat.
  • On May 16 a Zionist was photographed with a hammer in his hand at a protest in Montréal. At the same pro-Israel rally an individual rips a Palestinian flag from the man’s hand and the crowd cheers.
  • A Palestinian family in Hamilton that put up a sign on their lawn with a Palestinian flag saying: “We support human rights. #FreePalestine #OngoingNakba” had it stolen on May 24 and a note was left saying: “KEEPYOUR POLITICS AND ANTI-SEMITIC RACISM OUT OF MY COUNTRY AND MY NEIGHBOUR-HOOD. IF YOU DON’T LIKE MY COUNTRY, GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!” The theft was not caught on camera but there is a photo of the note and stolen sign.
  • On May 25 a recent immigrant from Gaza in Calgary with a Palestinian flag in his rear window films his car being cut off and stopped by a pickup truck. The motorist slams on his window, demanding to fight as he yells “terrorist fuck”, “terrorist ass” and “I have a picture of Mohammed in my car Alah”. He then laughs manically as he rips off the Palestinian Canadian’s windshield wiper.

These instances don’t count individuals — such as a social justice teacher in Toronto put on home assignment, McGill students on a blacklist, a doctor in Toronto smeared and threatened with being fired — for standing up for Palestinian rights. Nor do the above-mentioned examples count anti-Palestinian police racism. In Halifax, Windsor, Calgary, Hamilton and possibly elsewhere the police ticketed dozens of individuals simply for attending Palestine solidarity protests. A report from Windsor suggests — though I have no recorded proof — that cars playing Arabic music were specifically targeted by the police. There’s also a report from Hamilton suggesting that women with Hijabs received eight of 12 tickets given out at a rally.

Before detailing/evaluating the main purported incidents of anti-Semitism it’s important to mention both the discrepancy of resources the two “sides” have to document abuses and their impulse to do so. B’nai B’rith, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, CIJA and the Jewish Federations’ operate hotlines to tabulate incidents of anti-Jewishness and have significant capacity to communicate perceived acts of discrimination. They send individuals to video and photograph pro-Palestinian protests with the express purpose of discovering “proof” of anti-Jewish acts.

Not only does the official Israel lobby have greater resources to document perceived abuses and promote them through the media, it has a greater interest in focusing the discussion this way. As Israeli oppression of Palestinians has become ever more difficult to defend, the lobby’s emphasis on driving the discussion towards anti-Semitism has grown. For its part, the pro-Palestinian movement is more focused on discussing the violence meted out against Palestinians.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most high-profile incidents of “anti-Semitism” cited by supporters of Israel:

  • After massive Palestine solidarity demonstrations on May 15, a knife and bat wielding JDL aligned individual was beaten up after apparently picking a fight (his photo was actually on the cover — subsequently removed — of a May 16 press release titled “CIJA Concerned by wave of violence and antisemitism connected to conflict in the Middle East”). But, even if CIJA’s showcased victim had not been associated with the violent JDL, swung a bat or held a knife would his beating have been an act of bigotry? When a counter protester fights with someone on the other side is that a political disagreement that elevates to violence or an act of bigotry? (During protests against Israel’s brutal 2014 assault on Gaza that left over 2,100 Palestinians dead, I was shoved, spat on, had my bike damaged and lock stolen by members of the JDL in Toronto. Were those acts of bigotry or would it only have been an act of bigotry if I had punched or spat back?)
  • On May 26 Global did a two-minute video report and accompanying article on a Vancouver restaurant owner who claimed to have been a victim of discrimination. Israeli immigrant Ofra Sixto took to Facebook and the nightly news to cry discrimination, but according to credible accounts she was the racist. When a Palestinian solidarity car caravan happened to pass her Denman street restaurant, she yelled some variation of “this is how they are in their countries”, which was heard by a white male, sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, walking past and another woman sitting with her family at a cafe next door heard. They objected. The man later left a negative review of Ofra’s Kitchen online saying that the owner was racist. There’s a variety of screenshots and corroborating evidence suggesting the owner instigated the racism while Sixto hasn’t provided any external evidence, screenshots or other proof of her claims. (And it’s also not exactly clear how anyone was supposed to know the restaurant was Jewish owned).
  • On May 16 — a day after thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took over downtown Montréal — a small pro-Israel rally was held downtown. Pro-Palestinian counter protesters reportedly threw objects (rocks according to some) at the pro-Israel group. I could not find video of objects being thrown but there is video of minor scuffles between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian individuals and, as I mentioned above, a photo of a Zionist with a hammer and an individual snagging a Palestinian flag. There is also a great deal of video of the Montréal riot squad trying to disburse Palestine solidarity protesters, which suggests they were treated as the aggressors.
  • On May 18 the Montréal municipality of Côte-Saint-Luc, which is heavily Jewish, robocalled all residents to tell them not to be worried about an upsurge of anti-Jewishness (In other words, they frightened people by telling them not to be worried!) Aside from the massive pro-Palestinian demonstration on May 15 and clashes at the May 16 rally, the reason for the robocall was that two men allegedly drove through the municipality yelling anti-Jewish slurs and an Israeli flag flying on a municipal building was removed. I could not find any video evidence of the vehicle though the police detained two individuals.
  • In Edmonton Adam Zepp told Global News he was walking out of his parents’ driveway at 9 p.m. on May 16 when a car drove by with young men yelling “Free Palestine”. Forced to loopback due to the neighborhood layout, Zepp says the men subsequently said, “are there any Jews here? Any Jews live here? Where do the Jews live?” There’s no indication Zepp took down the car’s license plate or recorded the incident. In an interview a representative of Edmonton’s Jewish Federation claimed rather vaguely that others also saw a car passing by.
  • Another widely cited act of discrimination is a TikTok video of two young Arab women, reportedly students at Laurier University, dancing as they burn an Israeli flag, flush it down the toilet, puke over it and fake stab it. Purported outrage over these students “promoting violence” is extremely cynical. The groups calling this “anti-Semitism” frequently justify Israeli violence and often promote the Israeli military in Canada.
  • Many of the lesser incidents presented are placards that in one way or another link Israel to the Nazis. (Of course Nazi comparisons are generally in poor taste, but the Israel lobby regularly invokes the Nazi Holocaust so it’s hypocritical of them to complain about that.)

While all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, must be condemned, readers can judge for themselves who are the primary victims of hatred and discrimination in Israel, as well as here in Canada.

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Green division over Palestine could net NDP 2 MPs

Annamie Paul

Green party leader Annamie Paul is a competent, well spoken, social democratic politician. She’s also fanatically anti-Palestinian. In her devotion to the apartheid state, Paul is giving two thirds of the Green party’s parliamentary caucus every reason to join the NDP.

On May 14 Paul’s senior adviser Noah Zatzman posted a message to Facebook stating: “Shabbat shalom. I have never experienced more anti-Semitism and Jew hatred from people I thought I knew well, then I did this week. (This includes being on campus at York and Carleton in 2002-7 — not a walk in the park). The progressive and climate communities have displayed, at some points this week, overt and virulent anti-Jewish behavior.

“Appalling anti-Semitism and discrimination from a range of political actors beginning with Jagmeet Singh and Dimitri Lascaris and many Liberal, NDP and sadly Green MPs.

“We will not accept an apology after you realize what you’ve done. We will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro-LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!! Am Israel chai [The people of Israel live].”

In recent interviews with CBC, Canadian Press, iPolitics and La Presse Zatzman effectively doubled down on his smears and threats. The former adviser to Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne told La Presse that he doesn’t regret his Facebook statement and that “these two deputies have propagated what I consider to be anti-Semitic remarks.” He added, “I’m not trying to rule out [Green MPs] Jenica [Atwin] or Paul [Manly], but the Green Party wants to become a ‘mainstream’ party and make gains and if that means it has to lose Jenica along the way for that, well, too bad.”

As he’s threatened and slandered innumerable individuals, Zatzman has presented himself as the victim. Zatzman told the media that those criticizing his outrageous Facebook statement were anti-Semitic and that his parents had to delist their home address (presumably fearing Green activists).

In another attack against party members Zatzman called on “all progressives” to “stay away” from the 2,300-member Green Party of Canada Supporters Facebook group. “They are not climate activists and I doubt they are even members of the Green Party of Canada”, he wrote. “It is a group of 150 of the country’s worst anti-Semitic actors … including a few neo-Nazis. They have been digitally harassing me and many others because we are Jewish in recent days, weeks and months. We must all come together to defeat anti-Semitism!!!!”

As her senior adviser smears the party’s activists and MPs, Annamie Paul has remained mum regarding Zatzman. In fact, she’s responded to questions related to the divisions in the party by talking about anti-Semitism.

Considering the circumstances, who could begrudge Manly or Atwin for changing parties? The NDP rank and file recently adopted a decent Palestine Resolution and Jagmeet Singh has called for an arms embargo on Israel. Could the division in the Green Party net the NDP two MPs? Incredibly, that may be where things are headed.

Manly’s father was an NDP MP and he was blocked from running for that party under former pro-Israel leader Tom Mulcair due to comments Manly made when Israel detained his father as part of an effort to breach Israel’s siege of Gaza. Manly would likely gain more votes running as an NDP candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

The electoral calculation may be less favourable for Atwin since the NDP hasn’t traditionally been strong in New Brunswick. But the Greens hadn’t won a seat there before Atwin’s 2019 victory.

It will be interesting to see if Manly or Atwin join the NDP in coming weeks. If they do it would have significant positive effect on Palestinian solidarity in Canada.

 

Please ask the Green leadership to remove Noah Zatzman as senior adviser through this action alert.

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Why do politicians align with extremist JDL?

Was he a victim of an anti-Semitic attack or a violent, racist, right-wing provocateur?

On Saturday evening some 5,000 international justice minded individuals packed Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. Dozens, maybe hundreds, within the pro-Palestinian crowd were Jewish.

At the same time a counterprotest was held by Canada’s most influential and best organized fascistic group. About 100 Jewish Defence League members and supporters rallied in the hope of provoking or instigating a conflict. They succeeded and by the next morning the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and B’nai B’rith were claiming a 55-year old Jewish man was beaten by pro-Palestinian protesters. By Sunday evening Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario premier Doug Ford, Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had all tweeted out about anti-Semitism at protests.

There is, of course, more to this story. Footage has emerged of the main “victim” – who is actually on the cover of a press release titled “CIJA Concerned by wave of violence and antisemitism connected to conflict in the Middle East” — wielding a knife and swinging a bat. Another video shows a JDL member swinging a stick wildly at another individual.

It is altogether unsurprising that the JDL would instigate a confrontation and then other Israel lobby groups would claim Jews were being attacked. A variation of this has taken place on numerous occasions. What was different on this occasion is that the JDL thugs appear to have bit off a bit more than they could chew and ended up running away.

With the tacit support of the Jewish establishment, the JDL have been a thuggish, racist, force in Toronto for half a century. During a stint living in Toronto in 2014 I was shocked to see the JDL in action and it altered my perspective on what drives Canadian policy on Israel. Amidst Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza that left over 2,100 Palestinians dead that year, I was shoved, had my bike damaged and lock stolen by members of the JDL at a protest on the grounds of the Ontario legislature. The following day at Queen’s Park, a JDL member who worked with children at the Schwartz/Reisman Jewish Community Centre and was on a B’nai Brith softball team, Isaac Ezra Nacson, knocked a pro-Palestinian counter demonstrator to the ground and kicked him in the face. Half an hour after Nacson’s attack, a JDL member walked some 50 metres around a barricade to where I was standing alone chanting at the pro-war rally and spat on me three times. Both incidents were caught on tape by major media outlets, but little was done.

Since that time the JDL has engaged in numerous violent acts and deepened its ties to the racist, far right. In the highest profile incident, a mob organized by JDL Toronto attacked counter-protesters at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, DC. They burned a Quran and tore a Palestinian flag. In the worst incident, a 55 year-old Palestinian-American teacher was punched, kicked and hit with flagpoles. Bruised across his body, Kamal Nayfeh needed 18 stitches around his eye. Thornhill JDL member Yosef Steynovitz was charged with assault causing significant injury and a hate crime.

Last summer JDL supporter Tamara Foster vandalized Foodbenders, a sandwich shop with “I Love Gaza” painted on its window. Similar to what Jewish supremacist settlers do to Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, Foster painted the Star of David onto the restaurant window. Soon after Foster’s vandalism, the JDL held a rally in front of the restaurant and during their hate fest they scrubbed off “Palestinian Lives Matter” and “Free Palestine” markings while making racist remarks.

As part of preparing a defamation lawsuit against the JDL on behalf of Foodbenders, lawyer Stephen Ellis has dug into the organization and its long-time leader, Meir Weinstein’s, history of violence and racism:

  • In 1976 JDL members were arrested for setting off a bomb at the Toronto home of anti-Jewish mayoral candidate Don Andrews.
  • Five years later the JDL announced its members were arming themselves and engaging in target practice in farms around Toronto, reported the Globe and Mail in a story titled “Leader of JDL says members arming selves”.
  • In 1983 twenty JDL members “shouted, kicked doors and cut a television cable at the Willowdale home of Nicaragua’s Consul-General”, reported the Globe and Mail. They claimed the leftist Sandinista government was anti-Jewish.
  • In 1986 JDL members attempted to assault anti-Semitic activist Terry Long.
  • In 2001 JDL was thought to be responsible for death threats leveled against the pro-Palestinian Concordia Student Union.
  • In 2007 two JDL activists were arrested for assaulting anti-Jewish activist Paul Fromm.
  • In 2011 the RCMP launched an investigation against at least nine members of the JDL who were thought to be plotting to bomb Palestine House in Mississauga. On July 3, 2014 the JDL sparked a violent confrontation at Palestine House.
  • Three years later, a JDL member assaulted journalist Kevin Metcalf and another made death threats against him as he was photographing a demonstration at Nathan Philipps Square.
  • In the lead up to the 2019 Walk for Israel Weinstein publicly threatened to “break the legs” of anyone counterprotesting.
  • Later in 2019 Weinstein shoved a demonstrator at York University and another JDL sympathizer threatened another student “if you do that, I’ll fucking step on your face”.
  • JDL Canada maintains direct ties to extremist Jewish supremacists in Israel who have been attacking Palestinian citizens of Israel and chanting “death to the Arabs” in recent days. On a recent trip there JDL Canada’s number two, Zaza Vili, took pictures with supporters of the outlawed Kahane Chai party. For his part, Weinstein has repeatedly met Baruch Ben Yosef (Andy Green), who was jailed for plotting to blow up the Dome of the Rock in 1980 and is suspected in the 1985 murder of Palestinian American anti-discrimination activist Alex Odeh.
  • During a 2015 meeting in Montréal Weinstein rejected a question about disassociating from the organization’s violent past by comparing himself and the JDL to Menachem Begin and the Irgun, an extremist Zionist group that launched numerous deadly terrorist attacks in the 1940s. On another occasion Weinstein responded to a question about whether it was a violent organization by comparing the JDL to a martial arts club.
  • Group members are openly racist. In 2009 Weinstein joined and participated in a Facebook group called “Death to Arabs” and four years later he wrote on Facebook that violence is “in the Arabs DNA”. In 2010 Weinstein said, “if the Arabs won’t acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, then they will have to go.” (Imagine someone saying, “if First Nations won’t recognize Canada as a white, Christian state, they will have to go.”) During a 2017 meeting Weinstein referred to Syrian refugees and other Arabs as “snakes” while a participant led the crowd in a chant of “No Arabs, No Terror” and “They Must Go, They Must Go.” At a counter protest to the 2017 Al Quds event in Toronto Weinstein claimed “these people [largely Muslim marchers] want us dead” to which someone among the JDL crowd yelled “we want them dead too.”
  • The JDL has repeatedly disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement. In February 2020 Weinstein announced that the group would travel to New York City to confront black leaders who he claimed were “anti-Semitic”.
  • Over the past decade the JDL has hosted numerous racist, far right, speakers. In 2011 they organized a support rally for the anti-Muslim English Defence League featuring known racist Tommy Robinson via Skype. JDL Canada has also hosted high-profile anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, as well as Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom. In 2014 they hosted Moshe Feiglin who previously called Arabs “a gang of bandits that never produced anything and never wanted to produce anything” and whom the UK Home Secretary refused entry to Britain on the grounds he would likely “foment or justify terrorist violence”.
  • In 2015 the JDL organized a meeting with a leader of the anti-Muslim group PEGIDA UK, Paul Weston, and in 2017 they hosted the National Citizens Alliance’s Stephen Garvey who told the crowd that “[Muslims] will never be Canadians.”
  • To oppose the construction of a mosque in Newmarket, the JDL organized a town hall in the Toronto suburb in 2007. A decade later they held a demonstration against Motion 103, which they claimed was an effort by the Justin Trudeau government to introduce Islamic superiority. In 2018 the group organized an anti-Muslim rally after a mass shooting on the Danforth by a mentally unstable individual born to parents of Pakistani origin.
  • In recent years the JDL has coordinated with various racist, far right organizations and individuals on different initiatives. In 2012 they allied with Mark Vandermas and Gary McHale who actively opposed justice for the Mohawks of Six Nations of the Grand River during the high-profile land dispute in Caledonia. They’ve worked closely with anti-Muslim activist, Sandra Solomon, and allied with the white supremacist Soldiers of Odin for a 2018 rally at Nathan Philips Square. During the 2018 Toronto mayoral election the JDL endorsed racist candidate Faith Goldy and made several appearances for her.

JDL Canada’s sister organizations in the US and Israel have been responsible for even more serious violence and hate crimes. In 2001 the FBI labeled the JDL a “right-wing terrorist group” after its members were convicted in a series of acts of terror, including the killing of the regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and a plot to assassinate a congressman. A member of the JDL’s sister organization in Israel, Kach, killed 29 PalestinianMuslim worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre in 1994. Kach was set up by Meir Kahane who also co-founded the JDL in the US.

In 1984 Weinstein tried to help Kahane enter Canada illegally after the federal government rejected the American’s admission to this country. At the end of the 1980s Weinstein sought to formally establish a Kach party in Canada.

In discussing Palestinian citizens of Israel, Kahane told a TV interviewer in 1990: “The only answer is OUT. I want them OUT. I want them out ALIVE and if not ALIVE, DEAD. But I want them out. Better a dead Arab than a dead Jew.”

After Kach member and former US JDLer, Baruch Goldstein, murdered 29 Palestinians JDL Canada refused to condemn the 1994 Hebron mosque massacre. Weinstein said, “our organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers.”

Despite all this racism and violence, the JDL is tacitly or actively supported by much of the Canadian Jewish establishment and other powerful institutions. They have co-sponsored demonstrations with B’nai B’rith and provided “security” for pro-Israel rallies. The JDL participates in the annual Walk for Israel organized by United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto. In a bid to get the Toronto city council to block Al Quds Day in 2019, Weinstein coordinated with B’nai B’rith leader Michael Mostyn, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Vice President Noah Shack and city councillor James Pasternak, as highlighted in a photo of the four together at the city’s executive committee.

JDL has been allowed to recruit in Jewish schools and for many years the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, gave the group political cover. The same can be said for former Canada-Israel Committee board member Warren Kinsella, who spoke at a JDL meeting in 2009. These prominent liberals were fine with the JDL intimidating Palestinian solidarity activists but oppose its alliance with other racist, far right, groups.

Canadian Jewish News coverage of the group has often been sympathetic, including publishing video of a speech by Weinstein. In 2015 Barbara Kay penned a National Post column titled “In defence of the Jewish Defence League” and Honest Reporting Canada defended the group when the CBC’s coverage of them was critical. In 2017 the Toronto Sun published an article headlined “Jewish Defence League alleges hate crime” and after they stoked violence at York in November 2019 B’nai B’rith, CIJA and much of the rest of the Israel lobby accused pro-Palestinian activists of anti-Semitism. Despite much of it being caught on camera, JDL violence and racism was ignored.

In a similar vein, CIJA couldn’t bring itself to criticize the JDL thugs who beat a 55-year-old Palestinian professor and a younger Jewish activist outside AIPAC’s conference in 2017. Despite film of the attacks, CIJA spokesperson Martin Sampson responded to a National Post inquiry by simply stating, “the approach adopted by the JDL is not reflective of the mainstream Canadian Jewish community.”

The JDL has support at the highest levels of the Conservative party. During a 2015 meeting in Montréal JDL representative Julius Suraski claimed four Conservative MPs had recently attended a Passover dinner at his home. In 2014 former Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought Suraski on his official delegation when he traveled to Israel.

Considering their influence and racist, violent, ways there’s been far too little critical scrutiny or push back against the JDL. Yes, they have been banned from Facebook and Twitter on a number of occasions and York banned Weinstein from its campus. But the police have turned a blind eye to a number of their criminal acts and major media outlets and antiracist groups have generally ignored the JDL.

It’s time for this to change. The Jewish Defence League is a violent, racist, thuggish group that deserves to be treated like the dangerous, fascistic organization it is.

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”

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The innumerable ways Canada supports Israeli apartheid

 

At the start of the year Israel’s leading human rights group B’Tselem released “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid”. Two weeks ago Human Rights Watch published a long report saying Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “amounted to the crimes of apartheid”. Since then, Israel has ramped up its efforts to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem, attacked the Al-Aqsa mosque, targeted its Arab citizens, killed 11 Palestinians in the West Bank and begun once again to “mow the lawn” in Gaza, which has left 126, including 31 children, dead.

No matter what government officials say, Canada has enthusiastically supported Israel’s dispossession. Canadian backing of Israel includes arms sales, a free-trade agreement, security forces’ collaboration, diplomatic visits and comments as well as various other forms of common diplomatic/economic/security relations. It also includes numerous unconventional forms of backing for the apartheid regime.

To placate Israel and its supporters the “anti-racist” Trudeau government withdrew Canada from a major United Nations forum on combating racism last week. In November it appointed a vicious anti-Palestinian to a newly created “special envoy” position largely set up to justify Israeli apartheid and two years ago it adopted a description of a form of xenophobia created to shield Israel from criticism. To protect Israel’s regime of Jewish supremacy, Justin Trudeau has repeatedly condemned social justice activists on university campuses.

The current government expanded a trade agreement that applies Israel’s customs laws in the occupied West Bank and Ottawa has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop Canadian consumers from knowing where two wines are produced to obscure illegal Israeli land theft. Isolating itself against the vast majority of the world, the Trudeau government has defended Israel against criticism at the UN more than 50 times.

In a deepening of the criminalization of Palestinian political life, Trudeau added an eighth Palestinian organization to Canada’s terrorist list. It also maintained the listing of the first ever Canadian-based group designated a terrorist organization, which was anointed as such because it engaged in the ghastly act of supporting orphans and a hospital in Gaza through official (Hamas controlled) channels.

Even the “aid” Canada has given to Palestinians is designed to advance Israel’s control. In a unique historical dynamic, Canadian aid and military trainers have supported the creation of a Palestinian security force explicitly to enforce Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

In what could be considered an act of treason, Canada’s top diplomat in Israel organized a pizza party in January 2020 for Canadians fighting in that country’s military. Government officials have also ignored illegal recruitment for the Israeli military in Canada.

But, these examples are less important than another form of Canadian support for Israel. Though it receives little attention, tax deductible charitable donations are the most consequential and politically unjustifiable Canadian contribution to a state/movement seeking to eliminate Palestinians.

In 2018 registered Canadian charities raised over a quarter billion dollars for Israel-focused projects. Since the federal government introduced deductions for charities in 1967 billions of dollars in subsidized donations have gone to Israel. In 1991 the Ottawa Citizen estimated that Canadian Jews sent more than $100 million a year to Israel and possibly as much as $200 million. Assuming $100 million has been sent to Israel yearly since 1967 and with approximately 30% of the $5.4 billion total subsidized by the taxpayer that’s around $1.7 billion in Canadian public support.

But there’s little discussion of the public funds that have gone to Israel through charitable donations. With the exception of the campaign to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, which won a partial victory recently, there’s been almost no activism targeting Canadian charitable support for Israel. This despite some of these donations violating Canadian charity law. Funds supporting West Bank settlements, explicitly racist institutions and the Israeli military probably contravene Canada Revenue Agency regulations.

While not against current Canada Revenue Agency regulations, there’s a strong argument to be made against Canadian taxpayers subsidizing donations to hospitals, universities, etc. in “Israel proper”. Is it right for all Canadians to pay a share of some individuals’ donations to a country with a GDP equal to Canada’s? How many Canadian charities funnel money to Sweden or Japan? Is the Israeli government subsidizing Canadian orchestras, museums, guide dog centres, nature conservatory, universities, hospitals, etc? (Canadian Friends of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, Canadian Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Canadian Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Canadian Association For Labour Israel and Canadian Friends of the Israel Museum are among the many registered charities that raised over a quarter billion dollars for Israel-focused projects in 2018.)

The Canadian government offers innumerable forms of support to the racist, violent, regime. Canadians of conscience must register their opposition and work to end this country’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

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”

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Dershowitz, Cotler and ‘progressive’ anti-Palestinian enablers

Why are Cindy Blackstock, Charles Taylor, Pearl Eliadis, Murray Sinclair and Thomas Mulcair publicly associating themselves with alleged pedophile Alan Dershowitz?

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”

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