Harper et la criminalisation de la critique « excessive » d’Israël

Il est déjà trop tard, les langues sont déliées, et malheureusement pour eux, une fois que la crème est sortie on ne peut plus la rentrer dans le tube…

D’autant plus que s’ils se mettent à trop s’agiter et à criminaliser la critique « excessive » d’Israël, les gens vont soupçonner qu’ils ont peut-être quelque chose à cacher.

Will Harper criminalize criticism of Israel?

Murray Dobbin
Sun, 06 Dec 2009 17:13 EST

Ever since the Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip last December the global debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has intensified with both sides upping the ante, and the stakes of the framing battle increasing almost daily.

One of the most recent – but almost totally unreported – developments in Canada is something called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). It is not an official parliamentary body but is a multi-party, voluntary association of 13 MPs. It is currently holding an inquiry into anti-semitism because, it says, « The extent and severity of anti-semitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War. »

In fact, anti-semitic attitudes in the U.S. – Canada will hardly be any different – are at an all-time low according to Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, whose mandate is to monitor and expose anti-semitism. Statistics Canada reports number of hate crimes against Jews has been dropping since 2001-2002. But of course, it all depends on how you define anti-Semitism. Jewish organizations from the Canadian Jewish Congress and Hillel to B’nai Brith have all been vigorously redefining this scourge to capture many more alleged perpetrators in its net of enemies. One of their targets is the handful of Canadian universities where pro-Palestinian activity has been intense.

But it goes far beyond just the universities. For the first time in decades the unquestioned dominance of Israel’s public relations machine and lobbying juggernaut is being seriously challenged. The characterization of Israel as an Apartheid state is gaining much more credibility than Israel’s supporters had ever anticipated. So is the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. These are very serious threats to Israel’s credibility as « the only democratic state in the Middle East » – one of its most powerful claims.

Last December’s brutal assault on Gaza by the Israeli army and air force – and the deliberate targeting of civilians (as publicly confessed by the soldiers who did it) – was a tipping point for many who had preferred to sit on the fence or to decline to form a hard opinion. Those hard opinions are forming everywhere and the current government of Israel, led by the hard-line Benjamin Netanyahu, is only making things worse.

There have been two responses. The newest is what the Israeli government has referred to as « re-branding » and in part it involves « soft » stories about Israel – like one I saw on the CBC shot from a beach in Israel where bathers had claimed they saw a mermaid. The most prominent example was the celebration of Tel Aviv’s centennial by the Toronto Film Festival. Scores of prominent Jews (and thousands of others) protested.

The other response is conventional. It is the simple rule of all pro-Israeli organizations and activists: either declare outright or hint at the possibility that any individual criticizing Israel is anti-semitic. Jewish critics – whose numbers are increasing dramatically – are branded as « Jew-hating » Jews. The strategy has been extremely effective at intimidating potential critics into silence.

Which gets us back to the CPCCA. The 13-member group is co-chaired by Liberals Scott Reid and Mario Silva and also boasts Winnipeg NDP MPs Pat Martin and Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Conservatives Jason Kenney and Peter Kent. Bob Rae and Ken Dryden are members and the Bloc is also represented. But it is effectively run by Kenney and the other ex-officio member, Liberal Irwin Cotler. Both Kenney and Cotler were in London, U.K. last February for the first meeting of European parliamentarians that lead to the « London Declaration » of which the CPCCA is the follow-up initiative.

The core message of the coalition is that criticism of Israel itself is now a new form of anti-Semitism. The group’s web site asks « What is the « new anti-semitism? » and answers:

« Anti-semitism is an age-old phenomenon, yet it is always re-invented and manifested in different ways. For example, while accusations of blood libel are still being made against the Jewish people, instead they are being directed against the State of Israel, such that anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for anti-semitism. »

There is no evidence or links to any evidence to support the claim.

In its FAQ section the coalition answers the question of whether or not its inquiry is « …really about limiting legitimate criticism of the State of Israel? » No, says the web site: « …dissent and opposition to individual actions of the Israeli government are both permitted and encouraged in and outside of Israel… »

But not, apparently, inside the inquiry. The coalition formally invited written submissions and stated that « Based on these submissions, the committee will invite witnesses to testify at a series of public hearings. » There was virtually no general publicity about the inquiry but when word did get out, numerous submissions were made arguing against the coalition’s concept of a « new anti-semitism. » Yet not a single organization or individual known for criticism of Israel has been scheduled to make a presentation to the inquiry (it is holding eight meetings on Parliament Hill from Nov. 2 to Dec. 8).

It seems the fix is in: the conclusion of the inquiry has been pre-ordained. If you are a critic of Israel you are already, by definition, anti-semitic and obviously not welcome.

The CPCCA’s inquiry begs a lot of questions – not the least of which is where do they get their funding? The coalition says it does not receive any funding from the government, NGOs or Jewish Community Organizations. Their budget is considerable, judging by the fact that eight of the 20 odd witnesses so far scheduled to appear at the inquiry are being flown in from the U.K., the U.S., Germany and Israel. While the web site promises to reveal funding sources, none are so far listed.

More to the point, just what do the coalition’s members hope will result from their proceedings? The CPCCA will make a report to the government and « …anticipates that the Government will respond to it by the spring of 2010. » That seems pretty specific, especially for a government that is not known for responding readily to outside groups. Has the government already agreed to respond to the report? Will its recommendations find their way into the criminal code?

There is good reason to fear such an eventuality. Jason Kenney – the powerful Conservative ex-officio member of the Coalition – is the point man for Stephen Harper on issues involving Israel and as Minister of Immigration he personally blocked British MP George Galloway from speaking in Canada. He also eliminated the half million dollars in funding the Canadian Arab Federation used for settlement programs for new immigrants (and not just Muslims). He refused to provide any evidence justifying the move. Kenney told a Toronto audience to « …be wary of the rise of a new form of anti-semitism cloaked in debates about Israel’s actions in the Middle East. »

It remains to be seen what the recommendations of the coalition will be, but its conclusions regarding a sweeping redefinition of anti-semitism have already been drawn and incorporated into their inquiry process – mortally damaging its credibility. The likelihood that the Harper government is working in lock-step with the coalition is high and the CPCCA’s purpose may well be to prepare the ground for criminalizing criticism of Israel.

The only remaining question is whether Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe will allow this abomination to be reflected in any new legislation.


Canadian government cuts off funds for church group it calls anti-Semitic

The Canadian government only listens to one voice when it comes to foreign policy, and it is not the Christians. Thanks to Bruce for bringing this to light.

Note: Article below is written by J-ws, who take the opportunity to malign Dr David Duke as a ‘Vicious anti-semite’. Aren’t false accusations like this exactly what the article is speaking out against? When will even progressive J-ws find the common sense to realize that what is opportunistically referred to as ‘antisemitism’ don’t just spontaneously pop up, but is a reaction to J-wish Zionist behaviour?

A lot of us have read David Dukes’ work, and despite decades of conditioning from the media that he is an evil ex-KKK goon, find that in fact his articles and books are scholarly and valuable against the Zionist takeover.

Why are these progressive J-ws -and ‘progressives’ in general- STILL not getting it? J-ws like Dan Freeman-Maloy, who wrote a great piece on the Isr-el Lobby in Canada, yet feels compelled to call the material on this website ‘disgusting’?

Whether it is Isr-el’s part in 9/11 and other acts of terror, the long term damage created by genital mutilation of baby boys, the holocaust and other lies of WWII, the gatekeepers are there to try to direct the flow of the information. Too bad, the gate is already broken and too much has gotten through for them to get away with consciously or unconsciously perpetuating the lies that have taken us to this point in time.


$7 million muzzling shocker- Canadian government cuts off funds for church group it calls anti-Semitic

by Cecilie Surasky
Despite a 35-year collaboration, the Canadian church group KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, “one of Canada’s most respected and important charitable organizations,” was stunned when their likely routine 7 million dollar request for the human rights program was denied by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). But they were even more surprised when they discovered why: although the group’s board had made public their opposition to sanctions and boycotts against Israel 2 years earlier, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a speech he gave this week in Israel charged the group with being anti-Semitic for “taking a leadership role in the boycott.” Kenney, speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, said they were “defunding” groups as part of their new “zero-tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism. (Read the full text of his speech here. )

In his speech, Kenney included in a list of acts of anti-Semitism, like the spray-painting of swastikas on a Canadian Holocaust memorial, the spray-painting of the phrase “Stop the Israeli genocide in Gaza”.

Anti-human rights/Israel lobby group NGO Monitor built an extensive dossier on KAIROS– which represents Canada’s Mennonites, the Anglican, United and Catholic Churches and does work in some of the poorest regions of the world.

Kairos came under fire for co-sponsoring, along with 50 other groups, an international Sabeel conference in 2005 on morally responsible investment. (Sabeel is “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians,” and Jewish Voice for Peace frequently co-sponsors Sabeel conferences here in the United States.)

In this comprehensive and thoughtful 2008 strategy paper on using “economic advocacy measures… to advance peace between Palestinians and Israelis, ” KAIROS said:

KAIROS affirms the desire of the Israeli people for a secure homeland, recognizing the long, terrible and continuing history of anti-Semitism, and the vital role of Israel to Jewish people around the world. KAIROS also recognizes the great suffering of the Palestinian people, many of whom live as refugees in surrounding countries, and others who have lived under Occupation for 40 years, and affirms their right to a secure and viable homeland. KAIROS calls for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories and for two secure states based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

They also explicitly rejected “sanctions against Israel” and “a boycott of products from Israel.” But in line with the universal recognition of the illegality of settlements, they did also advocate for things like:

limiting the geographical applicability of Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to within the 1967 borders of the State of Israel; and

enforcing a certification of origin for goods coming from settlements in the Occupied Palestinians Territories;

and, almost identical to the Presbyterian Church USA’s strategy:

That where KAIROS members opt to pursue shareholder action respecting Canadian companies doing business in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (that are contributing directly or indirectly to violence, occupation or other human rights abuses in the region), shareholder action shall move through several stages, from dialogue with senior company management to filing shareholder proposals and, as a last resort, divestment.

So, after so much thoughtful and sensitive delving into ways to responsibly use economic pressure and investment, what did they get for their troubles? Charges of anti-Semitism.
(At Jewish Voice for Peace, where we have devised a similarly nuanced approach to economic pressure that works for us, choosing to focus on companies that profit from the occupation, or groups that fund settlements, we’ve seen from day one how pro-occupation groups purposefully and immediately ignore the facts, and raise the urgent flag of anti-Semitism as a strategy to kill virtually any resistance activity that goes beyond nicely asking the Israeli government to stop violating international law. Ironically, as they deny more and more people the right to boycott settlement goods only, they leave them with no choice but to boycott all Israeli products. )

A KAIROS official responded in The Star:

“It’s a horrible charge to make, and to do it with so little thought cheapens the reality of anti-Semitism in the world and diminishes the very careful attention that it deserves,” said United Church spokesperson Bruce Gregersen. “We’re quite disappointed in the government on this.

“The policies of KAIROS have all been approved by the collective board of KAIROS, so in a sense what Mr. Kenney is doing is accusing Canadian churches of being anti-Semitic and I think that’s really unfortunate,”

KAIROS director Mary Corkery told the Anglican Journal

“We do criticize actions of the Israeli government and we do support an independent, viable Palestinian state, so we have criticized the settlements, the barrier wall, the occupation of the West Bank, yes, but that can not be associated with anti-Semitism.”

Corkery said that Kairos had also heard from a number of Jewish people who objected to Kenney’s association of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel. “They may not agree with us, but they don’t want that. That doesn’t honour anybody,” said Corkery.

KAIROS claims they were confused with a document that was recently released by Christian Palestinian leaders called Kairos Palestine, 2009: A Moment of Truth, which states “We see boycott and disinvestment as tools of justice, peace and security,” endorsing BDS as a form of solidarity for international faith-based organizations. Canada’s KAIROS has nothing to do with this statement.

The Liberal party believes KAIROS “was censured for joining seven religious denominations in speaking out against Conservative policies on climate change, overseas mining operations, aboriginal rights, immigration and international trade.”

We’ll give KAIROS the last word from their December 18 press statement:

Minister Kenney’s charge against KAIROS is false. KAIROS did not lead this campaign. In 2007, KAIROS took a public position opposing sanctions and a boycott of Israel.

A recently released document, Kairos Palestine, 2009: A Moment of Truth, is not a document of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. Kairos is a Greek word meaning “God’s time” and is commonly used by Christian groups.

A Minister of the Crown says that his government decided, for what is a highly political reason, to cut funds for a proposal developed in consultation with and approved by CIDA.

Canadians need the truth.

Two points must be made: criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism; and CIDA was developed to fund international aid and not to serve political agendas.

Minister Kenney’s statement, in a highly charged environment, raises very disturbing questions about the integrity of Canadian development aid decisions. If aid decisions are based on political rumour rather than on due diligence, development criteria and CIDA’s own evaluation process then this is a matter of grave concern for the entire international development sector — and for the Canadian people who pay for this aid.

Many non-governmental organizations have proposals before CIDA that have been on Minister Oda’s desk for months. Others are about to apply for funding. How can they possibly trust this decision-making process in the future?

In the past two weeks, Canadians from across the country have called for the restoration of CIDA funding to KAIROS.

People working for human rights are the true victims of the funding cut to KAIROS. This decision cuts funding for a new legal clinic in the Congo to help women who have been raped in the brutal conflict there. The 5,000 members of the Women’s Popular Organization in Colombia will lose funding for life-saving protection against rampant human rights abuses in their country.

To label KAIROS criticism of Israeli government actions as “anti-Semitic” silences dissent and honours no one. KAIROS has a clear position of support for the legitimate right of the Israeli people to a safe and secure state.

Actually, KAIROS, a third point needs to be made. It is true that there will always be some who harbor anti-Jewish hatred, like the vicious anti-Semite David Duke, who opportunistically join the Palestinian liberation movement and who should be opposed at every turn. (I’d argue that the entire Christian Zionist right is built on an anti-Semitic doctrine which wants to see Jews either incinerated or converted.)

But the fact remains that there is absolutely nothing inherently anti-Semitic about BDS ( boycotts, divestment and sanctions.) As Israeli professor Neve Gordon said, he supports it as a way to save Israel from itself. Further, it follows in a long and extraordinary tradition of nonviolent resistance to injustice, no matter where it occurs.

KAIROS has posted this list of seven ways you can help. Read it and act.


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