Canada’s Misguided ‘Islamophobia’ Fixation | Bercovici

Former Harper government appointed ambassador to Israel Bercovici follows Conservative line on M-103, and assumes Trudeau government as tightly scripted as the Harper government was.

And of course, no consideration that “fair-minded” means condemnation of Islamophobia (“hate is hate”) along with antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate:

Regrettably, the government appears to be exploiting the tragic murder of six men, in prayer, at a Quebec City mosque in late January, to stifle legitimate political discussion.

“The recent killings of Muslims praying in the mosque in Quebec City is not an accident,” Liberal MP Chandra Arya stated in Parliament in mid-February. “This is the direct result of dog-whistle politics – the politics of fear and division.”

As with everything in parliament, such comments are carefully scripted by the prime minister’s office. Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly, also chimed in, accusing the opposition Conservatives of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment for political gain.

To be clear: Ms. Khalid’s motion was introduced to parliament in December, long before the murders. If anything, the attention drawn to anti-Muslim hostility by that crime ensured that the issue was even more carefully considered by the public and legislators.

Canadians are famously fair-minded, which is precisely why they are concerned with the apparent exceptionalism being accorded Muslims. The public supports fair and non-discriminatory treatment for all and opposes special treatment being accorded to any particular group.

Even the newly retired Liberal MP, former minister of justice and international human rights legal expert Irwin Cotler said that the motion’s wording should be modified so that it does not refer to “Islamophobia.”

Official Ottawa is either tone deaf or determined to follow its exceptionalist path, a pox on the facts.

Source: Canada’s Misguided ‘Islamophobia’ Fixation | commentary

The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

Good column by Peter Beinart:

But it now appears that Trump may have been, partially, right. On Thursday, Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli American teenager for leveling some of the bomb threats. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged Juan Thompson, an African American who had previously worked at a left-leaning publication, with some of the others. There’s no evidence that either suspect tried to frame Trump supporters or white supremacists. And it’s still possible that right-wingers called in other bomb threats, or committed some of the other anti-Semitic incidents that have erupted since Trump’s election. Still, if two of the primary perpetrators of the JCC bomb scares turn out to be a Jewish Israeli and a left-leaning African American, that will, indeed, turn out to be “the reverse” of what Trump’s critics expected.

Trump’s critics—and I’m one of them—should learn from that.

Many critics have a narrative in their heads: That Trump and his supporters think and do bigoted things. It did not come out of nowhere. Trump really did say that “Islam hates us” and that a judge could not be impartial because he was Mexican American. He really did run a closing campaign ad that featured three Jews alongside language about “special interests” and a “global power structure” that has “trillions of dollars at stake in this election.” Most of his supporters really do dislike Muslims, according to polls. And some of them assaulted African Americans who protested Trump’s rallies.

Still, narratives can explain too much. Trump is like the kid in class who perpetually misbehaves. Liberals—especially Jewish liberals—risk becoming the teacher who sees graffiti written on a locker and sends him to the principal without carefully checking the handwriting.It’s not just the JCC bomb scares. It’s become commonplace to hear Jewish liberals claim that, in the words of former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Trump has given “license and permission to anti-Semites” and thus “opened the floodgates” for anti-Semitic attacks.

But have the floodgates really opened? According to the FBI, anti-Semitic incidents did rise 9 percent between 2014 and 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy. And New York City has announced that there were substantially more anti-Semitic incidents during the first two months of 2017 than during the equivalent period in 2016. But neither the FBI nor the Anti-Defamation League has yet reported national data for 2016. And defining what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident is tricky. If the JCC bomb threats—many of which appear to have been carried out by an Israeli Jew—boost the numbers, does that really show that anti-Semitism is rising in Trump’s America?

If data on rising anti-Semitism is thin, data on rising anti-Semitism by Trump supporters is even thinner. The ADL did find last year that many of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish journalists came from pro-Trump accounts. Still, there’s no evidence that Trump supporters are behind the recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, if there even is a real spike. And a February Pew Research Center poll found that Republicans and evangelical Christians—two core Trump constituencies—feel even more favorably towards Jews than Democrats do. Since Trump’s takeover of the GOP, Republican fondness for Jews has actually increased.

If liberals have been too quick to blame Trump supporters for anti-Semitism, they’ve also been too quick to blame Trump’s advisors. Liberals frequently hurl the charge at Steve Bannon or his old publication, Breitbart. But the two Breitbart articles critics most commonly call anti-Semitic—an attack on the Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol that called him a “renegade Jew” and an attack on the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum that called her “a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned”—were both written by Jews. And even the former Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro, who calls Bannon “one of the most vicious people in politics,” doesn’t think he’s an anti-Semite. Jewish liberals often accuse Sebastian Gorka of anti-Semitism too because of his associations with far-right groups in Hungary. Yet they’ve never produced a single anti-Semitic thing he’s said.

The problem is this. Trump really is fomenting hate against certain groups. He’s called Islam America’s enemy. Gorka won’t even acknowledge that Islam is a religion. Bannon has proposed closing “seditious” mosques. Breitbart hypes every act of violence by a Muslim or an undocumented Mexican against a white person. What’s happening to Jews, by contrast, is far less severe. Yes, Trump was slow to condemn anti-Semitic attacks. Yes, his presidency pleases alt-right white nationalists like Richard Spencer. But unlike Muslims and immigrant Mexicans, Jews wield influence in the Trump White House. They’re mostly white. They’re highly assimilated. And Republicans like them. There’s a reason that, according to Pew, Republicans are almost thirty points more likely to feel warmly towards Jews than towards Muslims. Republicans consider Jews part of the West.

For Jews, this is strange. When they see their government foment hyper-nationalist bigotry, their historical memory inclines them to see themselves as its target. But for the most part, they’re not. As opportunists usually do, Trump and his advisors are going after weaker prey: less assimilated minorities who Fox News has already been demonizing for a decade or more. Anti-Semitism isn’t central to this spasm of American nativism in the way it was a century ago. There’s nothing wrong with being vigilant about anti-Semitism so long as it doesn’t blind you to reality. Strange though Jews may find it, this time they aren’t the main show.

Source: The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

Holocaust Organizations, Scholars Slam Possible Defunding of Anti-Semitism Office

Will be surprising if the Trump administration pursues defunding as they should have learned from previous mistakes (i.e., not mentioning Jewish victims of the Holocaust, delayed condemnation of antisemitic acts and hate crimes). But who knows:

As President Donald Trump prepared to enter the White House, reports began to circulate about what his first budget proposal would look like. The day before his inauguration, The Hill reported on plans of the incoming administration to make drastic cuts in government spending, including the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and reductions in funding and program eliminations within the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Justice and State.

Within this last department, Bloomberg reported late last month, the administration was considering whether to eliminate several special envoys, including one on anti-Semitism. On Monday, more than 100 Holocaust organizations, educators and scholars released a statement in response, following similar efforts by the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.). William L. Shulman, president of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, tells Newsweek it took the intervening time to put together the statement, edit it and circulate it for signatures.

“We are alarmed by reports that the President plans to defund the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, an office that tracks and counteracts anti-Semitism abroad,” the Association of Holocaust Organizations wrote. “We urge the U.S. government to maintain and strengthen the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and to create a new office to address this urgent issue domestically.

The office in question was created via the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, which expressed “the sense of Congress [that] the United States should continue to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism worldwide through bilateral relationships and interaction with international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)” and that “the Department of State should thoroughly document acts of anti-Semitism that occur around the world.” The act directed the Secretary of State to establish an Office to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism, which would be headed by a special envoy, to take on the role of tracking, reporting on and combating anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem,” Ira Forman, who served as the most recent Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism under former President Barack Obama, is quoted as saying in the release. “Jew-hatred—like other forms of religious and ethnic prejudice—is a threat to the very foundations of liberal democracies.” Speaking to Jewish Insider about the possible defunding, Forman said, “I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense than to realize that this is a disaster…. This is as bipartisan an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their senses.”

Source: Holocaust Organizations, Scholars Slam Possible Defunding of Anti-Semitism Office

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Thought provoking piece by James Carroll:

The Latest Trend In Zionism? AntiSemitism. – Forward.com

Interesting commentary by Matthew Gindin of Vancouver:

When Rabbi Matt Rosenberg courageously confronted Richard Spencer, the white nationalist and alt-right pseudo-hipster wunderkind, asking to study a Torah of love with him, of “radical inclusion,” Spencer cynically and brutally shut him down: “Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel?” Spencer responded as Rosenberg said nothing. “Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate to the Gentiles… I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.”

What I wish Rosenberg, thoroughly a diaspora Jew, had said, was something like this: “Israel is a tiny state with a landmass equal more or less to the state of New Jersey which accommodates a multi-ethnic society of Jews as a place of refuge for them from a world which has repeatedly tried to persecute or destroy them. Israel grants religious freedom to its citizens and has a 20% Arab population, as well as a robust Christian and Muslim population, all after only 70 years of existence governed by groups of quarreling refugee Jews speaking different languages who came from all over the world. Israel imperfectly attempts to defend itself from terrorism and conflict, sometimes upholding it’s best ideals and sometimes failing miserably. I support an Israel which welcomes the stranger and defends the rights of all of its citizens while maintaining its fundamental character as a Jewish homeland. My Israel has nothing in common with your ethnically cleansed white winter wonderland.”

The Trump administration, and it’s alt-right homeboys, combine seemingly authentic sympathy for militant ethnic nationalism with sincere hostility to Muslims (perceived by them as the common enemy that makes Israel a friend) together with an antipathy to non-white, non-Christian minorities at home and to “progressive elites”, a double identification that potentially renders diaspora Jews twice damned. That is their Zionist anti-Semitism: affection for a cartoon understanding of Zionist Israel paired with hostility to a cartoon understanding of the diaspora Jew.

Now to our horror, we have an Israeli Prime Minister who seems to be siding with the Zionist Jew against the Diaspora Jew, choosing to advance the strong-arm answer to Israeli problems pushed by the Israeli right-wing while dismissing the fears and ethical concerns of the diaspora Jew (as he does to the Israeli left-wing at home). Choosing might and security over Jewish values- choosing Zionist strength over the Jewish soul- Bibi too appears to be joining the ranks of the Zionist anti-Semites, a deal with the devil which may haunt us for years to come.

Source: The Latest Trend In Zionism? Anti-Semitism. – Scribe – Forward.com

Is anti-Semitism truly on the rise in the U.S.? It’s not so clear. – The Washington Post

Marc Oppenheimer on the more important issue than the numbers:

Overall, however, we won’t know for many more months, when the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League have better data to work with, if Nov. 9, 2016, was the start of something new or just a continuation of a regrettable but enduring legacy. My best guess is that we are facing a continued march of the low-level, but ineradicable, Jew hatred that we always live with.

But for now, we Jews should worry less about whether attacks against us are “on the rise,” because it’s not clear whether they are. That’s not the most important question, because to any student of history it’s no comfort if anti-Semitic attacks aren’t on the rise. In many times and places, Jews have been the canary in the coal mine; when racist authoritarianism arrives, we Jews are among the first to sniff it in the air. But that’s not true in this time and place. This isn’t Germany in 1933. In the United States in 2017, the first to be targeted are Muslims or Mexicans — after which they will probably come for Jews, gays, blacks and all the other apparent undesirables who irk Trump’s angriest followers. The real question a reporter who cares about Jewish safety should ask Trump is about the health and safety of other minority groups.

Consider the right-wing parties in Poland, Hungary, Russia, France and elsewhere in Europe: None of them takes anti-Semitism as its central organizing principle. They all have other boogeymen, in many cases Muslims. But Hungary’s Jobbik, the third-largest party in the country, is clearly anti-Semitic, and Poland’s nationalist government, with its revisionist World War II history, is worrisome. All of them attract the support of anti-Semites, and all of them could be expected, like Francisco Franco during World War II, to comfortably make common cause with anti-Semites.

Right-wing and nativist violence does not always begin with Jews. But by fixating on attacks against Jews, we are forgetting the cardinal rule of Jewish self-survival: It may not start with us, but it always ends with us.

Source: Is anti-Semitism truly on the rise in the U.S.? It’s not so clear. – The Washington Post

Supporters rally behind McGill student rep who called for Zionists to be punched

McGill’s SSMU really needs to crack down on this kind of hate speech and encouragement of violence, and those who tolerate and accept it should be ashamed:

In this age of trigger warnings and micro-aggressions, a university campus is not where you would expect people to rally behind someone who called for physical violence.

But after McGill University student politician Igor Sadikov last week used Twitter to encourage people to “punch a Zionist,” supporters have defended him while targeting Jewish students who support Israel.

On Monday, the board of directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), on which Sadikov represents Arts students, rejected by a vote of 5-4 a motion calling for his removal from the board.

Students attending an SSMU legislative council meeting last Thursday reported that elected representatives declined to denounce Sadikov but stood by as a Jewish member of the council was singled out for her support of Zionism.

Twitter

Twitter

Jasmine Segal, who represents social work students on the council, said she came under attack for qualifying Sadikov’s tweet as hateful.

“Instead of dealing with this important and distasteful issue, supporters from the gallery for (Sadikov) turned the meeting to attack me and request that I be removed as a representative of SSMU due to my faith,” Segal wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“I was left isolated and alone to respond. My fellow representatives sat in silence and permitted this malicious, prejudicial, and unjustified attack to continue.”

The McGill Daily, a student newspaper that has a policy of not publishing Zionist viewpoints, reported that a pro-Palestinian activist complained at the meeting about the presence of Zionists on council.

“Since SSMU has a social justice mandate, why does it allow Zionist councillors on council, when Zionist ideology is inherently (linked to) ethnically cleansing Palestinians?” the activist asked. Instead of addressing Sadikov’s tweet, the question period became a “heated debate over how exactly to define Zionism, and over who had experienced violence,” the newspaper reported.

Molly Harris, a third-year Arts student who attended the meeting, said she felt targeted as a Jew and a Zionist.

“This tweet and the discourse that followed on Thursday have unleashed a wave of condemnation of Zionists and Jews at McGill and have normalized inciting violence against students who identify as such,” she said by email. “If anything, I feel more unsafe and more singled out now than I did last week because of the campus groups who have used Sadikov’s tweet as an opportunity to express their anti-Zionist, and often anti-Semitic views.”

She criticized the SSMU for failing to act promptly against Sadikov. In a statement on Saturday, the SSMU executive said it condemns violence and apologized “if the abilities of any councillor were questioned on the basis of their personal identity” during Thursday’s council meeting.

“The SSMU recognizes that this is an emotional and contentious issue revolving around differing interpretations of historical and cultural contexts,” it said.

McGill’s administration said last week that its disciplinary procedures are confidential but it is “taking action as required” with respect to Sadikov’s tweet. In a statement Monday addressed to “the McGill community” and sent to alumni, Suzanne Fortier, the principal, said she was “shocked” by the offensive tweet. She said McGill “condemns all expressions of hatred and attempts to incite violence,” but she said the administration does not have the power to intervene in the internal affairs of the SSMU.

Sadikov did not respond to messages seeking comment. On Friday, he wrote on Facebook that he had recently been reminded of tweets he wrote between 2009 and 2012, before he entered university. They contained “violent slurs and discriminatory remarks targeting racialized people, women, queer people, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness,” he wrote. He said he no longer holds those biases and regrets having written the tweets, which have now been deleted along with the rest of his Twitter account.

Source: Supporters rally behind McGill student rep who called for Zionists to be punched | National Post

Shouldn’t Israel Care About Anti-Semitism? – The New York Times

This piece by Shmuel Rosner worth noting post-Trump International Holocaust Remembrance Day deliberately not mentioning Jewish victims:

Occasionally, there is even a temptation for Israel to benefit from anti-Semitism. In recent years, rather than focus on the need to fight anti-Semitism in France, Israel called on French Jews to come live in Israel.

Of course, when Israel encounters a clear-cut case of Holocaust denial, or of persecution of Jews, it does not shy away from making its voice heard. Two years ago, the Israeli foreign minister warned European far-right parties that they must shun neo-Nazis and described Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn as “illegitimate.”

But most of the time, Israel attempts to delicately balance its wish to delegitimize anti-Semitism and its need to maintain foreign relations that advance its causes. Sometimes this means using attacks on Jews to attract Jewish immigration to Israel. Sometimes this means turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism in exchange for political support. Sometimes this means ignoring the trivialization of Jewish deaths in the Holocaust.

This is as unavoidable as it is troubling, even painful. Israel is a state with interests and priorities among which censuring anti-Semitism is one, but not the only one.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, understood this when he agreed to accept reparations from Germany, less than a decade after the Holocaust. Mr. Ben-Gurion’s opponents had a strong moral case against accepting money from the country that had just orchestrated the murder of millions of Jews, but the prime minister thought that his duty as the man in charge of building and defending a new state trumped such considerations. Then, as now, Israel sometimes agreed to help other countries and parties whitewash their images. It’s often a trade: We, Israel, will get what we need in the form of money or arms or political support. You will get the right to showcase Israel as proof that you aren’t an anti-Semite.

This could become much more uncomfortable when the country in question is the United States and when the person accused of tolerating anti-Semitism is the American president. Israel depends on the United States more than it does on any other country for aid, security and diplomatic support. And the American Jewish community is the other main pillar of world Jewry, alongside Israel. More than 80 percent of Jews live and thrive either in Israel or in the United States. This makes the United States the place in which official anti-Semitism cannot be overlooked — and the place where it must be overlooked.

That could result in an irreparable split between Jews. The statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day — provoking Jewish outcry in the United States, while provoking nothing from Israel — just proved it.

Rogers TV Drops Arabic-Language Show Following Complaint of Antisemitism

B’nai Brith report, not yet seen on mainstream media (saw this on right-wing Canada Free Press site):

Rogers TV, which runs community programming throughout Canada, has pulled the plug on an Arabic-language show called AskMirna after B’nai Brith Canada drew its attention to antisemitic messages promoted in the program.

AskMirna, which describes itself as “presenting an accurate, positive, inspiring and entertaining image of the Arab-Canadian community,” dedicated an entire episode to “Nakba Day,” in which Palestinians annually mourn the establishment of the State of Israel and call for its destruction. This included an interview with Nazih Khatatba, who described Jewish suffering as “fairy tales” and engaged in Holocaust denial

 

Khatatba, a leader of Palestine House in Mississauga, Ont. has a history of inciting violence against Jews. In December, 2014, he lauded the terrorists behind the Har Nof synagogue massacre in Jerusalem that left six dead in his al-Meshwarnewspaper. The incident was later investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

In other episodes of AskMirna, Palestinian-Canadian children are shown dancing to songs that praise terrorism against Israel, which is labelled “the rapist entity.”

“Antisemitic propaganda delivered through music and television is rampant in the Middle East, and constitutes a significant barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We cannot allow such hatred to be imported into this country, potentially radicalizing Canadian youth.”

Colette Watson, Senior Vice-President of Television and Broadcast Operations for Rogers Communications, told B’nai Brith that “…there is no room on Rogers TV, community television or anywhere in Canadian media for hate of any kind.”

ICYMI: Will Britain’s new definition of antisemitism help Jewish people? I’m sceptical | David Feldman

David Feldman on the risks of the expanded IHRA definition (the examples section) and its lack of recognition of the linkages to other forms of prejudice, discrimination and hate:

The text also carries dangers. It trails a list of 11 examples. Seven deal with criticism of Israel. Some of the points are sensible, some are not. Crucially, there is a danger that the overall effect will place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not antisemitic. The home affairs committee advised that the definition required qualification “to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse on Israel and Palestine”. It was ignored.

The IHRA definition has been circulating for over a decade and has already been buried once. It is almost identical to the European Union monitoring commission’s working definition, formulated in 2005 as part of the global response to the second intifada in the early 2000s. The definition was never accorded any official status by the EUMC and was finally dropped by its successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency.

The definition has been resurrected just as we are moving to new times. David Friedman, who will soon become President Trump’s ambassador to Israel, has denounced the “two-state” solution. The prospect of continued Israeli dominion over disenfranchised Palestinians, supported by a US president whose noisome electoral campaign was sustained by nods and winks to anti-Jewish prejudice, is changing the dynamic of Jewish politics in Israel and across the world.

In this new context, the greatest flaw of the IHRA definition is its failure to make any ethical and political connections between the struggle against antisemitism and other sorts of prejudice. On behalf of Jews it dares to spurn solidarity with other groups who are the targets of bigotry and hatred. In the face of resurgent intolerance in the UK, in Europe, the United States and in Israel, this is a luxury none of us can afford.

Source: Will Britain’s new definition of antisemitism help Jewish people? I’m sceptical | David Feldman | Opinion | The Guardian