The jury is in. According to a new survey, the vast majority of Canadians do not consider criticism of the government of Israel to be necessarily "anti-Semitic." This finding contradicts those who have been warning of a "new anti-Semitism" in Canada, where criticism of Israel is a veiled form of this despicable historic ideology.
There are good reasons for Palestinians and many others to be frustrated with international mechanisms for social justice. But what the world witnessed at the UNSC on Friday may be a case of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s observation that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Under Justin Trudeau, "Canada is back" to isolating itself from world opinion on Palestinian rights. On Monday, Canada joined the U.S., Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau in opposing a UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee resolution in support of Palestinian self-determination.
Canadians might find it disquieting to have members of parliament cry, "Shame!" when the government announces $20 million in aid for education and health. Yet this is exactly what happened when the Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced the restoration of Canadian humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees.
This is a bit like commenting on a married couple who have severe marital problems, complete with shouting matches and physical abuse. While all their friends may agree that the marriage is in trouble and that the couple should get counselling, no true friend would allow the husband to repeatedly beat his wife as they wait for counselling. But Canadian political leaders seem perfectly willing to allow the "beating" to continue as they await the ever elusive negotiated solution ("counselling") between Israel and Palestine.
It may be that Mohammad El Halabi has committed misdeeds -- time will tell -- but why should that derail all of World Vision's operations in Gaza? Before the end of August, World Vision had been forced to lay off all 120 staff in Gaza after the organization's bank accounts in Jerusalem had been frozen by Israel. The organization was simply no longer able to transfer money to Gaza.
In overwhelmingly condemning BDS in the House of Commons recently, Canadian parliamentarians have greatly advanced the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The BDS movement singles out Israel for exclusive censure encouraging boycotts of Israeli goods, which produces an outcome that also harms Palestinians, as their economy is closely intertwined with Israel's.
We ask you to resist the false alarm that your Zionist friends sound when they cry "anti-Semitism!" as the proverbial boy might cry "wolf!" For those who do so are robbing a horrendous historic episode of its gravity, confusing legitimate dissent with genocide. Criticism is not Kristallnacht; challenges to the occupation are not the gas chambers. The distinction is crucial.
Should York University accept funding that is contingent upon agreeing to remove a controversial piece of art? Without the ability to explore and express ideas that are troubling and even transgressive, universities would become mills that deliver pre-approved doses of information in community sanctioned packets.
Twenty years ago, an Israeli extremist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. The assassin intended to quash the Oslo Accords Rabin signed with the hope of leading Israelis and Palestinians to peace. Rabin's historic bid was a watershed moment that continues to have an indelible impact on Israelis -- and shed much-needed light on the obstacles to peace today.
In the past two weeks, Israel has borne the brunt of hundreds of terror attacks. Terror doesn't occur in a vacuum and terrorists are born from nurture, not nature. Fanning the flames and provoking this recent terror war is a sustained campaign of incitement to violence, indoctrination of hate and justification of terror.
My first conflict zone gave me reoccurring nightmares that I can't seem to forget. In 2002, I planned my documentary thesis for my Master's in Journalism -- I wanted to show the sacrifice of war correspondents who put their lives in peril in the name of communicating news during conflict. It was the height of the second intifada -- The same week I smelled bomb for the first time.
Anti-Semitism is what many Canadian Jews experienced who faced quotas when applying for professional degrees, or who were barred from joining certain golf clubs. Anti-Semitism is what my ancestors experienced in Eastern Europe with pogroms, frequent assaults and massacres in Jewish communities. Anti-Semitism is the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. How can it be in any way appropriate to use this term to describe individuals who criticize a modern political entity -- the state of Israel -- which systematically violates the rights of Palestinians?
The human rights-interfaith dialogue rhetoric employed by President Obama on May 22, 2015 at the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington DC was wonderful and made people feel warm inside. But this type of rhetoric is, in fact, messianic -- it is for tomorrow, for a time when there is no more war. That day has not yet come, I am afraid. And to speak as if it has is very dangerous.