03.23.2013 08:41 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: what happens when you make Kathy Shaidle your friend

Watching Barack Obama’s first trip to Israel was revealing – but probably more for what it said about his hosts than it said about him.
 
The U.S. president’s two-day journey to the Holy Land looked forced.  Obama was finally spending a couple days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he detests.  Netanyahu, meanwhile, was obliged to appear chummy with Obama – after he had made unprecedented interventions in the U.S. election campaign, and all but openly endorsed the Republican’s Mitt Romney.
 
The state visit had the feel of a strained family get-together, one that neither side particularly wanted, but which both sides felt compelled to do.
 
Being all about symbolism, then, Obama’s trek was rich in optics.  There were the obligatory dark mutterings about Iran’s nuclear program, and the requisite visits to Yad Vashem and Bethlehem.  There were also treks to the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, and a look at the Dead Sea Scrolls.  But little else.
 
Even when standing beside Israeli President Shimon Peres at an event on Wednesday in Jerusalem – a legendary practitioner of statecraft, whose progressive roots should have put Obama at ease – the U.S. president looked like he was waiting for a bus that was late.  On that occasion, and throughout Obama’s Israeli jaunt, he appeared decidedly wary.  His smiles, affected.
 
Kremlinology is an inexact science, and nowhere more so than in the Middle East.  But there can be no doubt that progressives like Obama feel frustrated by leaders like Netanyahu, or the leaders of the North American Jewish Diaspora.  Jewish leadership, which has traditionally (and shrewdly) cultivated support on all sides of the ideological spectrum, has lately pursued a self-defeating political strategy.
 
They have rashly thrown their lot in with conservative causes, evangelical Christians, and far-right conservative nutbars.  Alienating, in the process, the likes of Obama – and progressives in both Canada and the United States.
 
Historically, Canada’s Jewish community’s lobby efforts were always smart.  The Canadian Jewish Congress on the centre-left, the B’nai Brith on the centre-right, and the Canada Israel Committee (CIC) handling “international” issues.  Then, in 2011, these organizations were effectively destroyed to create something called the Council for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).  CIJA then promptly transformed itself into a propaganda arm of the Conservative Party of Canada.
 
Full disclosure: I was proudly on the board of the CIC for a while, but became incensed when I learned that far-right Muslim-haters were being feted in Israel, and travelling there with CIC leadership.  My experience was not unique.  Many progressives have watched, in despair, as Jewish leaders have moved ever farther to the right.
 
There are myriad reasons why they should not do so.  The Christian right seeks to create Christian nations, and see the conversion of Jews as a scriptural pre-condition for the Messiah’s return.  Jews have always been at the forefront of trade unionism, as well as the women’s and civil rights movements.
 
Finally, as American Jewish sociographer Milton Himmelfarb once memorably said, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” That is as true in the United States as it is in Canada (except Episcopalians are called Anglicans up here). In the US, three out of every four Jews vote Democratic.

In Canada, it has been even more. The combined Jewish left-wing vote – that is, Jewish votes going Liberal or NDP – has been at about 85 per cent in past years.  Why would Jewish leaders turn their backs on a political formula that has been a winner?
 
Warily surveying his hosts this past week, Barack Obama should be forgiven for wondering the same thing.  In an era where most North Americans align themselves with Obama’s progressive politics, Jewish leaders have been running, full-bore, in the opposite direction.
 
Like we say: Obama’s visit to Israel was revealing.  And, for those of us who love Israel, what it revealed was anything but comforting.
 

42 Comments


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    David I. says:

    Shame the Jewish vote was hijacked by lies, robocalls and a bad foreign policy bought by the likes of Robert Lantos and Heather Reisman.


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    Mark says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my ally.”

    A truly bone-headed statement, to be sure; but for many, a powerful argument.

    Even among progressive (or progressive-leaning) Jews, there is widespread ethnic hatred of Muslims. Had you not noticed this yourself, in your time with the CIC?


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    KP says:

    I was expecting a few – well-written, factual and not libelous, unlike her own writing – slams on Kathy Shaidle. I did not receive any.


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    Chris says:

    Call me a bumpkin, but I need somebody to explain to my why Israel is such an important topic to Warren. I’m not pro or anti, I just simply don’t understand (I’m not trying to be clever here, coming from rural Ontario I simply don’t have the background to get it)

    What is it about Israel that causes you to write so passionately about it so often? Is support of Israel as big a thing in Canada as it is in the US? You’re not Jewish, I don’t think, so what is it that brings you back to the topic (relatively) frequently?

    I’d welcome anyone else to chip in with insight or historical background.


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      Philippe says:

      It isn’t just Warren Chris – “peace in the Middle-East” has be a worldly subject of interest for decades. Whether Israel’s strategy (and the local Jewish lobbies) are successful at winning public opinion is an interesting political subject to most.


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    Heric Holmes says:

    Zionism.
    Progressives are turning their back on the Zionist movement and many zionists are looking for protection from the fallout of the decay of the movement in North America.

    We have seen this issue rip apart liberal conventions like 2006 and has been an issue in church doctrine for the united church.

    Many zionists wonder what the end result of the unionist vote that equate Zionism with appartied or even worse will lead.

    It’s misleading to say evangelicals are trying to convert Jews on mass. Most evangelicals want a stable holy land and see Zionism and as end to that means.


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    Dr David says:

    “To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted” – Orwell, Note on Nationalism

    I would have thought, as a part-time National Socialist hunter, you would be attuned to the terribly harmful concept of “the Jew” and its derivatives – maybe Jewish people born in this country or America don’t feel any less Canadian or American than anyone else and don’t see themselves as part of a unique “diaspora.” Further, not all “Jews” self-identify as “Zionists” – to make that connection, however subtly, is the exact same tactic as those that speak of a “Zionist Occupation Government” that “shrewdly” infiltrates each and every political party and transforms into a “propaganda arm” (one recalls the National Socialist posters with “the Jew” as an octopus).

    Further, the colonization of the “New World” caused the deaths of about 90-95% of the Aboriginal population – while two wrongs never make a right, is this not hypocrisy at the highest level to single out Jews for their settler mentalite – in a land we have occupied for at least three thousand years? When did your people arrive in North America?

    To use the phrase Kremlinology in relation to Israelis is highly offensive; the Refusnik movement is well documented as are Stalin’s persecution of “Jews” in the “Doctor’s Plot” – Stalin’s paranoia led him to believe, “every Jew is a potential spy.” The Soviet’s main contribution was the PLO through which the Soviets envisioned a proxy war against America.

    Libby Davies reveals the attitude of the NDP towards Israel – that self-defense is wrong. Alexandre Trudeau reveals the attitude of the core of the Liberal Party – “dark mutterings” about Iran’s persecuted status. Use Rushdie as an organizing metaphor for Iran. Frankly, where else would you expect supporters of Israel to go? With friend like those, who needs enemies?

    In terms of Obama, don’t forget that this was the guy who attended the Rev. Wright’s firey sermons for years and years – the “chickens coming home to roost” – a down-home way of saying America is getting what it deserves. If a man is not fully committed to his own country, why would care about anyone else’s?

    The continuing existence of Israel is increasingly politically incorrect. Do your own poll of the one billion Muslims on the planet; you will find that routinely above 90% believe the Nation of Israel should be liquidated and all lands turned over to Arabs. It is obvious that the “Left” is playing a numbers game; sacrifice six million to appease a billion; or in the Canadian context, sacrifice .5% of the population to appease those tender hearted socialists intent on attaching the national prefix.

    I fear dark forces are in the air and in your heart. I hope I will not see the dark night when the great Irish masterwork Ulysses with its Jewish themes is tossed into the pagan bonfires along with “Web of Hate” and anything else that offends fascist sentiments.


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      The Forgotten Man says:

      “sacrifice six million to appease a billion,” “Reverend Wright”? Are you kidding me, DrDavid? Your comment is just one bit of propaganda after another. Recent surveys show Israelis hate Muslims in similar numbers to what you posted. Paranoid? Whew. You are one angry, defensive winger.

      “I fear dark forces are in the air and in your heart. I hope I will not see the dark night when the great Irish masterwork Ulysses with its Jewish themes is tossed into the pagan bonfires along with “Web of Hate” and anything else that offends fascist sentiments.”

      Armageddon Time!


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        Dr David says:

        Please understand:

        Against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the refusal of the UK and many other nations to grant asylum during WWII, the Stalinist pogroms and purges, the Six Day War, Carlos the Jackal style attacks throughout the world in the 70s and 80s, and now the worldwide resurgence of Islamofascism, what you call “paranoia” is actually simply being awake, having one’s eyes open.

        And yes, we are “defensive” – something which can’t be said of the Arab world, or from the above examples, the European and Slavic world – repeated acts of genocidal aggression.

        And yes, if Iran, or Al Qaeda, releases a dirty bomb or a biological agent in Toronto, it is Armageddon time. I will file you in the Joseph Chamberlain folder – that forgotten man of history – problem? What problem?


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          Jason King says:

          This was the same speech Davros used to convince his fellow scientists to create the Daleks. Space and time haven’t been the same since


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    Jason King says:

    I prefer the Web of Fear. It has yeti.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Web_of_Fear


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      Jon Adams says:

      Web of (Hate) Fear about neonazis, Armageddon Factor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Armageddon_Factor) about Canadian Evangelicals… Maybe my upcoming (i.e., never going to get around to writing) book about terrible neocon radio talk shows should be called “Spearhead From Space.”

      Or if I want to be obvious, “Invasion of the Dinosaurs.”


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    Anne Peterson says:

    How very foolish of the Jewish community to trust the Harper cons. Scratch any of them and I wonder what you would find. The enemy of your enemy is a pretty chancy bet.


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    Anne Peterson says:

    No matter who I was I would put my fate in the hands of Libby Davies before I would put it in the hands of Stephen Harper and Co.


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      Lance says:

      Oh really? What if you were a conservative?


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        Jason King says:

        I live in Vancouver East and Libby hasn’t burnt any Tories at the stake. You should be fine


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      JamesHalifax says:

      Be careful, Anne….

      If Libby Davies got her hands on you, she’d probably take a bite.

      No salt of course.


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        Jason King says:

        C’mon James you can do better than weight jokes


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          JamesHalifax says:

          I can….

          but if I wrote what I originally wanted to write…..Warren would ban me again.


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            Jason King says:

            Fair dinkum


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    Philippe says:

    The first Canadian leader to come out with “pro-Arab” views will win a shitload of votes. There’s a constant pandering to the Jewish lobby, but the irony is that the votes (in pure numbers) are on the Palestinian-sympathizer side. I’m not advocating this divide or conquer strat, but someone like Mulclair may smell political opportunity and act on it.


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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    The state of Israel is no ordinary nation — in fact one could argue that it is the ultimate manifestation of God’s wish for his chosen people. The Jewish people have endured incredible suffering throughout history. That in and of itself is reason enough for a secure homeland in the Holy Land.

    That being said, everyone knows that the (contiguous) two-state solution is the only reasonable path for at least a cold peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Naturally, I hope for more with time and genuine goodwill on both sides.

    Where it all goes wrong, in my humble estimation, is when leaders choose to put their own political prospects ahead of the best interests of their nation and people. Sound familiar? It becomes all about winning elections and keeping power. If that means going to bed with the right, so be it. Conversely, if a cosmetic change in government is required to stay in office, just chuck your former best friends and reliable coalition partners to the wind and make nice with the left — for as long as it serves your political interests…

    Peace is always achieved through internal unity and strength. The process must be a reflection of a national resolve to make peace. Sadly, on both sides of the divide, unity is lacking and so is the matter of fundamental and essential concessions that have to be made to achieve peace. The existence of Israel is a given and will remain so for the rest of time. Until all elements on the other side recognize that as fact, peace will never come to the Middle East.


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      wsam says:

      Peace is often achieved by defeating one’s enemies.

      True fact.


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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        wsam,

        Agreed but I wouldn’t call what they’ve got in Israel today true peace. But to each, his own interpretation.


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    Anne Peterson says:

    What if I was a conservative? I would perhaps have noticed that Stephen Harper will throw anyone under the bus who interferes with his hanging onto power. And conservatives don’t seem to be an exception.


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      JamesHalifax says:

      No one will ever accuse you of being a conservative, Anne,

      Conservatives tend to be rational….and earn their own way.


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        Jason King says:

        Those that can’t earn their own way are appointed as Tory senators


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          JamesHalifax says:

          I actually agree to a point.

          I would like to see the Senate dumped.

          You are wrong though on one major point. Those who can’t earn their way, and are NOT appointed to the Senate….vote for the Party of Libby Davies.


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            Jason King says:

            Ha ha. I live on the edge of Libby’s riding. While not my choice, she’s a lot better then my old mp Jim Gouk was. I do have a career that more than covers my way incidentally


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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            James,

            You see what an incredible mess we get to watch in action south of the 49th parallel…in my book, that’s reason enough to keep the Senate. Both the United States Senate and House of Representatives are almost as powerful as our House of Commons. I’m no fan of omnipotent legislative bodies. Majority governments are fine but you need some kind of a natural check otherwise it simply is not healthy for minority democratic rights. In this country, our Senate serves that purpose, even when chock full of government appointees. Better an ability to put on a bit of a brake than giving in to the dictactorial whims of a totally unrestrained House of Commons.


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            JamesHalifax says:

            Good point, Ronald,

            I had considered that, but as we’ve seen by the folks who inhabit the senate…..it’s still just a bunch of partisan shills.

            Now, if the Senate were a group of non-affiliated folks who truly believed in public service….I may change my mind.

            To be honest, the idea of the NDP in power, with NO senate to keep them in check is just spooky, because frankly, I think the NDP mindset would see the use of the Notwithstanding clause for any policy the courts shot down. Because of all the parties in Canada, only the NDP is absolutely convinced of its own moral superiority. (ends justify the means)

            I’ll change my original post.

            I wish “THIS” senate could be dumped.


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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            James,

            Sort of reminds me of when Leona Aglukkaq was first named Health Minister. Much was made by some observers (even some in cabinet) that because she came from a non-partisan legislature that she would possibly not be able to cut it. Of course, they were wrong. She adapted to the poison, partisan swamp that is Ottawa and has done a good job in her portfolio.

            (Those of us who like to move the ball forward on major national issues see her in another portfolio when Harper finally shuffles cabinet but I digress.)


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        Ted H says:

        I suppose that is how it appears in the alternative universe that Conservatives inhabit, but not in the world most of us live in.


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    Ted H says:

    What is Israel? The biblical land promised to the Jews by the Lord, the haven for persucuted Jews after WWII, a democratic outpost in a tough despotic neighbourhood, a small middle eastern country where some Jews and Palestinians on the ground have found the capability to respect each other, or a right wing regime run by ex-military men and ultra orthodox crack pots who brutally oppress and humiliate Palestinians daily? The first four are worthy of respect, but F**K the last one.


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    Anne Peterson says:

    No, no one will ever accuse me of being a conservative. And I have always earned my own way and a little more besides for someone else who needs it. As in paying into EI forever and not using it but counting on it being there for those who do. We now know that that isn’t conservative behaviour, don’t we.


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      JamesHalifax says:

      Anne….

      Conservative behaviour, usually involves NOT collecting pogey, though we do pay for it through the nose.

      As for not accusing you of being Conservative……never fear. See my first point about being rational.


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        Jason King says:

        Getting and holding a job isn’t exclusively conservative James. I for one love what I do and would far rather do it than collect pogey and watch Maury


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    Chris Shrive says:

    Best I’ve read on this subject in a while – someone forward to Heather and Gerry, I’m not in the heirarchy to have their email addresses.

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