Friday, June 11, 2010

Is It Antisemtic To Feel Sympathy For Palestinians?

The face of the new antisemitism?

The Canadian Jewish Establishment has been quite successful in its recent campaign to tar any criticism of Israel as hateful and antisemitic. Examples abound, including:
  • The Canadian Parliamentary Commission to Combat Antisemitism which is busy investigating the "New Antisemitism" which apparently involves anyone who vocally criticizes Israel. (Never mind that 5 University presidents, called to testify about antisemitism on their campuses, denied that there was any serious problem.)
  • The unanimous resolution in the Ontario Legislature condemning the phrase "Israel Apartheid". (Actually on 31 of 105 members where present, but nevertheless.) Similar measures where introduced at the federal level and in the Manitoba legislature, but failed to get unanimous approval.
  • The Toronto District School Boards banning of anti Israel Apartheid groups from the schools.
  • The Toronto Pride Parade Committee's decision to ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from this years Pride Parade after the City of Toronto threatened to cut of funding if the city's anti-discrimination policy was violated. (How QuAIA disciminates was never made clear. They were, after all, protesting Israeli discrimination against Arabs.)
  • Endless attempts - some successful, some not - to get "pro-Palestinian" books removed from the reading list at various Ontario school boards.
I find this attempt to stifle all public criticism of Israel, as if it where ipso facto antisemitism - to be troubling and dangerous. And it upsets me that the Jewish Establishment has been so successful in getting the secular institutions of the state to go along with them.

But now, they have stepped it up a notch. Now they are claiming that just expressing human sympathy for Palestinians is biased, hateful, dangerous and possibly antisemitic.

I came across this story at the JTA.
A question on a provincial exam for 12th-graders in Manitoba will promote anti-Israel sentiment, B'nai Brith Canada says.

The question -- "Explain whether or not you think people in the entertainment industry have a responsibility for making the world a better place?" -- was in response to an article written by Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk in which she deplored the suffering of children in several armed conflicts, including those killed and maimed in the Gaza Strip by an artillery shell.

B'nai Brith Canada alleged that the question will promote anti-Israel feelings, the Winnipeg Free Press reported, and wants the Department of Education to check every student's paper and count the anti-Israel comments..

Winnipeg-based B'nai Brith Midwest region director Alan Yusim told the newspaper that most students would not have the knowledge to conclude anything other than that Israel victimized children.

"I don't see which other conclusion you could reach," Yusim said.

Manitoba Education Minister Nancy Allan said she shares the Jewish organization's concern, and has told department officials to find out how the question got on the exam and how "to make sure this doesn't happen again. We're taking this very seriously."
The National Post further elaborated:
B'nai Brith midwest region director Alan Yusim said Ms. Kreviazuk's description of injured children will promote anti-Israel hatred among some of the students who wrote the test.

Most students assessing that reading would not have the knowledge or the information before them to conclude anything other than that Israel victimized children, Mr. Yusim said. "I don't see which other conclusion you could reach.

"How many said Iran, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority" were responsible for the events that led to the children's injuries, Mr. Yusim asked, adding he doubted whether many students would reach that conclusion.

Ms. Allan said: "The moment I found out about this, I started working with [B'nai Brith]. We're taking this very seriously.

"This is the very first time we have ever had concerns about test material, and we are evaluating the process."


"The article is out of a book of essays written by high-profile women, Dropped Threads," said Ms. Allan.

She said one student -- whom the province is not identifying -- became upset by the question while writing the exam, and will be evaluated on the rest of the test, with that question omitted.

B'nai Brith says the Department of Education should check every student's paper, and count the anti-Israel comments.

"Pull aside each one in which the student mentioned Israel as a victimizer," said Mr. Yusim.

And do what? Send them for re-education?

And what is the hateful article that is causing the ruckus? What is it that must be censored because it is so dangerous? The article, is by Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk who is active in the charity Warchild Canada, which provides aid to children in war zones. It tell what motivates her to be involved. Here is the last two thirds of the article where she mentions an incident in Gaza that particularly touched her. Judge for yourself if this is hateful, biased, anti-Israel or antisemitic, and needs to be banned from our schools. Is empathy now a hate crime?

(I has only able to capture images of this article, which I have included below. It appears in full in the book Dropped Threads III.)

issues stopped, I


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would imagine that 100% of Anti-Semites criticize Israel so the thinking becomes if one criticizes Israel then one must be an Anti-Semite. A = B so therefore B must always equal A. This is faulty algebraic thinking that we covered in high school math class. When a gentile who has respect for Israel's right to exist and defend itself, a genuine interest in bringing peace to the region, and a desire to create a prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians is labeled an "anti-Semite" simply for reasonably criticizing the policies of the Israeli government and army a much larger problem is created. This gentile is disgruntled and it is his resentment that threatens to actually CREATE anti-semitism that was not even there in the first place.

I heard the journalist Lawrence Wright interviewed on the radio show "Fresh Air" last night. He spent a lot of time in the region talking a lot to both Palestinians and Israelis. The radio program was really interesting and was based on an article he recently wrote in The New Yorker. I haven't read it yet but a friend did and he said it was really enlightening. Here is a link to it.

1:18 pm  

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