01.20.2014 08:05 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: if you agree with this opinion column, you are apparently an anti-Semite

When you go there, the first thing you notice about Israel is how strikingly different it is from Canada’s Jewish leadership, and Canada’s governing Conservatives.

Israel is, of course, quite beautiful. But Israel is also multicultural and diverse. It is progressive and modern. And it is far, far more secular than you’ve been led to think.

“Progressive and modern” – and “secular” – are not the sorts of things one associates with the worldview of Stephen Harper, or many within the huge entourage travelling with the Canadian Prime Minister this week to Israel. Nor would anyone ever associate many of them with multiculturalism or diversity (one man revealed to be with Harper by Sun Media has ties to Britain’s racist English Defence League).

They are monochrome, they are sectarian, and they resolutely conservative. (And Conservative.)

Israel, when you see it up-close, isn’t like that at all. But that doesn’t deter Harper or his retinue of lobbyists and hardliners: they favour an approach that has isolated Israel (and Canada) globally, and which has reduced Canada’s Jewish leadership to a Conservative Party echo chamber. To them, you’re either in favour of Israeli settlements – which are illegal, and which Harper has refused to denounce while in Israel – or you’re the enemy. There is no in-between, for them.

We Irish are familiar with the species. Conservative evangelical Christians, and Canada’s Jewish leadership, are engaged in what is called “trying to out-Irish the Irish.” They’re hardcore. They’re hardliners. And they could not be more unlike most Israelis, who seek peace – not war – with surrounding Arab nations. (Who Harper, last month, actually called “a region of darkness.”)

Jewish leaders in the United States are wholly unlike Canada’s. There, the Jewish vote skews Democratic. For decades, U.S. Jews have been at the forefront of the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and efforts to maintain a dichotomy between church and state. Unlike recent Canadian Jewish leaders, they have shrewdly maintained cordial relationships with all sides of the political establishment. So that, whoever is in power, they will always have someone to call.

Not in Canada. Here, progressive Jewish leaders – like the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Bernie Farber, or B’nai Brith’s Karen Mock, or Parliamentary giants like Irwin Cotler – have been shunned and reviled for favouring moderation and accommodation. Here, those who have traditionally regarded themselves as Zionists – like, for example, this writer – have been driven out for the temerity to oppose Israel junkets being offered to Muslim-hating white supremacists.

What has all of this ideological cleansing gotten Canada, and those in Canada who support the Jewish state? Not much. It cost Canada a seat on the U.N. Security Council, and has greatly reduced our voice internationally. It has left Canada’s Jewish leaders aligned with cartoonish Christian zealots who want to convert Jews in the end-times. Most ominously, it has reduced the number of friends Israel has within the Liberal and New Democratic parties, both of whom periodically win power.

A fair question to ask in conclusion: if Harper and his massive entourage are so pro-Israel, why are they so unlike so many Israelis?

Simple: Stephen Harper, and those with him, actually aren’t pro-Israel. They are pro-Likud Party. They, like Likud, are conservative, bellicose, and insular.

Likud isn’t Israel. Israel – multicultural, diverse, progressive, modern and secular Israel – is much more than that. And the sooner Harper and his factionalists accept that, the better off Canada will be.

Israel, too.

17 Comments

  1. Mark Surchin says:

    Assuming you’re correct–and people can debate that–I’d suggest to you that the difference between the US and Canada is that here, unlike there, the “Israel is an apartheid state” theme has become a central wedge issue for many on the left. Israel Apartheid Week started here, not there. Bob Rae was subject to an attack on his leadership aspirations for being a “Zionist” which would be unthinkable in a Democratic primary. Likewise a central line of attack on Candidate Mulcair in his leadership campaign was that he was too pro-Israel. Seems to be these are the distinguishing features. Simply put, it isn’t so easy to be a progressive who is a Zionist even if one opposes Likud policies.

  2. SD says:

    From some prime minister of Israel:

    “No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

    But our support does mean at least three things.

    First, Israel finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Canada.

    Our view on Canadal’s right to exist as a white Christian state is absolute and non-negotiable.

    Second, Israel believes that Canada should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

    For this reason, Israel has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Canada’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

    And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Canada’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

    Third, we refuse to single out Canada for criticism on the international stage.

    Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, white Christian state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Canada.

    But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

    Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

    And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

    And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Canadism and the emergence of a new strain.

    We all know about the old anti-Canadism.

    It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the ***** camps.

    Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

    But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

    People who would never say they hate and blame the white Christians for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Canada and blame the only white Christian state for the problems of the North America.

    As once white Christian businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Canada.

    On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Canadian policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Canadian academics and the harassment of white Christian students.

    Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Canada an apartheid state.

    Think about that.

    Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so white Christians can flourish, as white Christians, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

    It is nothing short of sickening.

    But this is the face of the new anti-Canadism.

    It targets the white Christian people by targeting Canada and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

    Of course, criticism of Canadian government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Canadic.

    But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the white Christian state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

    What else can we call it when, Canada is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Canada remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?”

  3. smelter rat says:

    Very good column, Warren. Thx.

    • Tired of it All says:

      I, too, agree. Good Sir Rat. Nothing more need be said, I’d just continue to repeat this narrative over and over. Nicely done, Warren.

  4. Nic Coivert says:

    This is brilliant.

  5. Kaplan says:

    Excellent piece, Warren. Reminds me of the old saying, ‘There’s no zealot like a convert.” And that’s precisely what Harper and Christian conservatives represent when it comes to painting Israel and her neighbors with the brush that they do.

    They’re Manichean hardliners – a truly scary thing to be in that part of the world, where an honest appraisal of history, nuance and engagement are often the only things that keep the extremists on both sides from going nuclear.

  6. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Just listened to it in its entirety.

    That was gutsiest speech I have heard from a Canadian leader in the international forum in my lifetime! No question that he meant every word of it.

    I have no idea what Akin is talking about.

    At all.

  7. Northern says:

    It is incorrect to state that Harper is not “multicultural” when he supports Jews – a far cry from the “Jesus killers” libel often heard from Christians in the past.
    I am Christian too but do NOT want Jews to convert at end of times and only want Israel to be able to live in peace. Giving land to Arabs won’t help. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 unilaterally and received a rain of rockets in thanks. I have lived in Israel and spent a lot of time with both Jews and Arabs. The Arabs there don’t want a bit more land – they want ALL of it – ‘Palestine” to them includes Beersheba, Haifa and Tel Aviv. Those who think the “settlements” are the problem are spouting nonsense. There were no Jews in the WBank at all in May ’67 yet the Arabs attacked Israel (again) and tried to wipe them out.

  8. Richard Besserer says:

    Mr. Harper has a point. Some people have called Israel an apartheid state.

    One of them–possibly the first, actually—was Hendrik Verwoerd, of all people.

    After a vote condemning apartheid at the UN which Israel supported, Verwoerd commented:

    “Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude… they took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

    That was in 1961. By the late Seventies Israel was sharing nuclear technology with South Africa in return for South African yellowcake. You don’t actually have to believe that Israel is an apartheid state to the extent South Africa was (and I don’t) to wonder what went so badly wrong in the interim that Israel would be working so closely on WMDs with a pariah state run by a white supremacist party, many of whose older guard had supported Germany during the war. The Israeli nuclear program long pre-dated any known collaboration with South Africa.

  9. mrzee says:

    “multicultural, diverse, progressive, modern and secular” is a pretty accurate description of the Likud party.

  10. Richard Besserer says:

    I also see your point about plastic Paddies. The Troubles would have ended decades earlier without them.

    I mentioned in another related thread about how the Harper delegation counts among its number a JDL member from North York, Julius Suraski. No word on whether the Israelis were informed that the Canadian prime minister invited a member of a Kahanist group to join him in Israel (the JDL’s sister groups in Israel, Kach and Kahane Chai, remain banned by the Israeli government).

  11. Ted says:

    http://www.israpundit.com/archives/38882

    Canadian Jews are different. More of them have visited Israel, more feel Zionist and less afraid to express it. Part of the Canadian cultural mosaic vs. American melting pot

  12. Dennis MacKay says:

    Well done !

  13. Milton says:

    Your article in Tuesday’s Sun was brilliant.

    From the perspective of a son of holocaust survivors want to disagree with you but I know first hand how correct you are.

    By agreeing with you I am must be vilified and labelled an Anti-Semite as well, but since that does fly in my case my Jewish brothers and Sisters will have to settle by dismissing me as a ” meshugeh self hating Jew” in spite of my religious education, unwavering love for Eretz Yisroel and being able to speak Yiddish and Hebrew like I just got off the boat.

    That’s how we roll in Canada.

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