The Ontario anti-BDS motion: MPP Tim Hudak answers my open letter

 

This is an excerpt from a serious answer to my letter sent to Ontario MPP Tim Hudak regarding his motion opposing the movement to boycott Israel. To see his full letter and my response to it, read more…

A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to Ontario MPP’s Tim Hudak (Cons.) and Mike Colle (Lib.) who had entered a motion in the legislature opposing the world wide movement to boycott Israel known as the BDS movement.

In that letter, I pointed out that both the title of the bill, (An act to fight antisemitism in Ontario) and the rationale given for it, were highly misleading and based on erroneous information.

Mr. Hudak subsequently responded to me in a personal email which I reprint below. In his response he explains in detail his reasons for proposing and supporting the legislation. (Ed. note – I received his letter a few hours after the motion had failed to pass in the Ontario legislature as all NDP and all Liberals but one in the house voted against it.)

Here is the full text of Mr. Hudak’s letter. I think it is worth reading because I assume  Mr. Hudak will have used these same arguments in discussion with his legislative colleagues and concerned constituents. Following his letter is my further response to him.

___________________________________________

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your email about Bill 202, the “Standing Up Against Anti-Antisemitism in Ontario Act”. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to convey your thoughts to me.

The primary goal of this Bill co-sponsored with me by respected, veteran Liberal MPP Mike Colle, was to address the true face of the BDS Movement. “BDS” stands for the Boycott of, Divestment from, and Sanctions against Israeli academics and students, corporations and businesses, and cultural institutions.

This Movement’s objective is to promote the de-legitimization of the state of Israel.  It fosters hatred and animosity against those of the Jewish faith and supporters of Israel.

As As’ad Abukhalil, a leading BDS activist said in 2012, “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel … that should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

With anti-Antisemitism on the rise both here in Canada and abroad, it was critical to confront this hatred and send a strong message that Ontario will stand against discrimination. I appreciated the thoughtful tone of your correspondence. However, yours is among exceptions.

Whether you agree with this characterization of the goals of the BDS Movement or not, the vitriolic, hateful and anti-Semitic emails, calls and messages I have received have reinforced my view.

BDS campaigns have a clear history of violating the principle of academic freedom and promoting a climate of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment leading to intimidation on university and college campuses. I have attached some of the research of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies that document this sad reality.

Ontarians have a history of promoting the right to study or to work in safe and inclusive environments while standing against hateful divisions, intolerance, exclusions and hostility based on ethnicity, national origin and religion.

That is why Mr. Colle and I brought forward Bill 202 – to reinforce Ontario’s long standing values.

We did our homework.  Fortunately, support for legislative tools to combat the consequences of the BDS Movement is widespread and growing.  As you may know, American President Barak Obama recently signed legislation to combat BDS and British Prime Minister David Cameron has enacted similar tools to prosecute municipalities and public institutions that boycott Israel.  France and Scotland have also enacted strong measures.  Twenty-two American states representing well over half the population have either passed or are considering measures similar to those in Bill 202.

So we had a lot of examples from which to choose best practices.  I have attached a partial list of those jurisdictions for your interest.  If you have other suggestions of those similar laws or a legislative tool I overlooked, kindly let me know.

The goal is clear.  People and business owners should be able to hold whatever views they like.  The Bill simply sought to ensure the Province of Ontario will not support businesses that participate in campaigns fueled by intolerance and anti-Semitism. We made a clear statement that Ontario stands with Israel and Jewish-Ontarians and any effort to economically undermine the legitimacy of one of our strongest allies will not be subsidized by Ontario taxpayers.

The Bill did not infringe on free speech.  Those who would rather engage in propaganda rather than debating the facts will claim this to try to distort the issues.  But they didn’t write Bill 202. We did.

The Bill actually contained the following provisions:

  • The Government will not be able to enter into contracts with businesses that support or participate in BDS.
  • Provincial pension funds will not invest in businesses that boycott Israel.
  • No college or university shall support or participate in the BDS movement.

Our message was that if you try to cut off doing business with Israel in an attempt to promote intolerance, then we will cut off doing business with you.

While disappointing to lose a vote, I remain proud that we held a principled position on what was clearly the right thing to do. I look forward to further opportunities to achieve the purpose of fighting discrimination, intolerance and hostility on Ontario’s campuses.

Thanks,

Tim Hudak, MPP

Niagara West – Glanbrook

__________________________________________

MY RESPONSE TO HIS LETTER

Dear Mr. Hudak,

Re: Bill 202 is based on mistaken information

Thank you for taking the time to answer my letter to you and your colleague Mr. Colle. I appreciate the seriousness with which you dealt with my criticisms of your proposed bill.

I am very unhappy to hear that you have received “vitriolic and hateful anti-Semitic emails”. That is totally inappropriate and I unreservedly condemn such actions both in language and content.

However, I am confident that you have not received any such emails from anyone who speaks officially on behalf of the BDS movement. The BDS movement is resolutely opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

The BDS movement is an official movement which has official spokespersons and an official website. 

Dr. As’ad Abukhalil, whom you cite in your letter as a “leading BDS activist” is not a spokesperson for the BDS movement. (His wikipedia entry indicates that he has a number of controversial views.) But a quick check with the BDS national coordinating committee would have confirmed for you, as it did for me, that Dr. Abukhaliils views are his own, not those of the BDS movement.

Mr. Hudak, as the former leader of the Ontario Conservative party, I am sure you know that sometimes party adherents may express views that the party does not support or endorse. (Some Ontario Tories may even have anti-Semitic views, but I would not think it appropriate to use their statements as a way to condemn your party.)

Secondly, the BDS movement and its supporters do not target Jewish Canadians or Jewish-owned businesses. It may be of interest to you that I am a happy member of the Solway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, I buy great eggbread from the Jewish-owned Rideau Bakery in Ottawa and my excellent dentist is an orthodox Jew who wears a kippah.

The BDS movement is a peaceful, non violent movement that seeks to apply pressure on a state – the State of Israel. Its three very specific demands (ending the occupation, equality for non-Jews living in Israel and a just solution for the Palestinian refugees) are consistent with fairness, international law and official Canadian government policy.

Mr. Hudak, if you would like to know more about the BDS movement, you might want to consider calling expert witnesses to appear before a legislative committee to discuss the matter in depth. I could suggest a number of excellent, knowledgeable organizations including secular ones like Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) or faith-based ones like the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), or Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV). I am sure that their testimony would reassure you and your colleagues that the BDS movement is in no way either anti-Semitic or organized to oppose Jewish Canadians or their businesses.

Finally, Mr. Hudak, I thank you for writing. Please do not hesitate to call on me if I can be of any further help in this matter.

Yours

Peter Larson

  • cc. Premier Kathleen Wynne
  • Andrea Horvath, leader of the NDP 
  • all MPP’s

__________________________________________

Comments? Anything else I should have said to Mr. Hudak? Or perhaps you disagree with me? Any comments, respectfully made, are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

44 comments

  1. Very good, Peter.

    I have some of the literature put out by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. I will bring it Thursday evening. If there is anyone who is promoting hatred, it is that centre!

    Heather

  2. One of Hudak argument is:
    ” This Movement’s objective is to promote the de-legitimization of the state of Israel. It fosters hatred and animosity against those of the Jewish faith and supporters of Israel”.

    There are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Israel who support BDS, even in recent vote in the Israeli parliament, many supported BDS.
    Also there are hundreds of thousands of Jews outside of Israel, who support BDS, like me.
    What about all these Jews, are we all against the Jewish faith and wanting the destruction of Israel.
    Did Hudak said the same when BDS of South Africa, that people are against the faith of South Africans and seeking destruction of the country?

    Thank you Peter for well written letter.

  3. Peter, excellent. It is obvious that most of Hudak’s letter to you is a stock form, with a couple of additions directly pertinent to your open letter, most of which he ignored. I particularly appreciated your comment about Dr Abukhalil, about whom I knew nothing. Carry on bravely!

  4. Thank you so very much, Peter, for your thoughtful, informative and steadfast work. It is great that you wrote to Mr. Hudak and then responded to his reply to you and shared it all with us. I assume that Mr. Hudak is being completely honest and sincere in everything he wrote to you. So, as easieryoke wrote above, now the real work can begin.

    I was going to write only to thank you for your writing, but then saw that you asked us to tell you if there is anything else you should have said in your letter to him. I think it would have been good to have included at least a sentence or two about the reasons for BDS, i.e. real oppression Israel inflicts on them in so many ways and has for nearly 70 years, the total failure of any approach to negotiations to relieve that oppression, the growing intransigence of the Israeli government and settler supporters, the calls from Israelis beside Palestinians for support for a just and peaceful solution from people outside of their own governments and, frankly, the near total lack of any other reasonable approach to making progress. I imagine that Mr. Hudak is unaware of these things and is informed exclusively by the likes of the Simon Weisenthal, CIJA and similar groups. It might be good for you to send a follow up letter with some of the reasons for BDS focusing on the daily reality of Palestinian life.

    I am very grateful to you for all you do,

    David

  5. @Peter —

    I think you are going to have a tough time convincing a knowledgeable MP that BDS policy and Canadian policy are the same.

    For example on refugees Canada recognizes the Jews expelled from North Africa and Arab countries in 1948 (I’m not agreeing with this dating just citing it) and considers that any part of a refugee settlement must take these into account. BDS firmly rejects that position. Canadian official position holds that refugees should be a part of a comprehensive regional settlement, BDS asserts an individual right of return at the individual level for all descendants of the Palestinians. BDS recognizes the green line as absolute, Canada mostly holds to the Israeli position that those territories are disputed and subject to negotiations and thus rejects unilateralism from both sides. Etc…

    But most importantly Canada recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and doesn’t believe that being a Jewish state and being a democracy are incompatible: “Canada recognizes the Jewish State of Israel, based and built on the foundation of a shared commitment to a common set of core values, principles and interests such as democracy, free markets, security, peace, justice, human rights and freedom, which have guided the development of their full, mutually beneficial and supportive relationship”

    While one can agree or disagree with Canadian policy it is not BDS policy.

    1. Hey CD host. I am not aware of the fact that Canadian policy is to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. (In fact, I don’t think any state does.) I think I remember that Harper said it should be so, but I don’t know of any official Canadian policy to this effect. What are you quoting?

  6. Thank you Peter, your response was excellent. I think David has raised a good point about including the reasons for BDS. The accusations of anti-semitism routinely detract attention from the fact of the brutally discriminatory treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

  7. Hey CD-Host,
    Where I got hundreds of thousands of Jews, is very simple.
    I lived in Israel for 20 years and have most of my family there. From all I know and the news which I get daily, it is obvious that there are many many unsatisfied Israelis with the successive regimes, and they support BDS. At times doing it silently, due to intimidation by the government and fear of being shunned by family or loosing jobs.
    So are thousands of Jews in many countries, who are vocal and many thousands silent ones, but no doubt do support BDS. Multiply these by just Jews in 50 countries and see what you get. I know that there are thousands in Canada.

    In regard to Jews being expelled from Arab countries, that’s another myth invented by Israel and the Jewish lobby.
    Almost all Jews emigrated to Israel, due to the Zionist propaganda in the Arab countries. My family among them.
    In Iraq for example the Zionists in order to expedite the emigration of the Jews, hired and brain washed young Jews to throw bombs in places where Jews gathered and through the media blamed the Iraqi government.
    Read the book by Naem Giladi: Ben Gurion Scandals. He was one of the recruits. (it’s in the library).
    Yes there was a bit of backlash against Jews in some countries, but they started in 1948, due to the atrocities which the Zionists did. Otherwise prior to 1948 the Jews lived very comfortably and amicably among the Muslims and Christians.

    1. @Jake

      There aren’t meaningful supplies of Jews anymore in 50 countries. Jews were never quite that dispersed and certainly aren’t today. About 1/2 the Jews live in Israel and about 1/2 everywhere else with 3/4s being the USA. Your math doesn’t work for your estimate. I should say in the Israel case, there is also a huge difference between disliking your government and wanting to see your society destroyed. For example about 7-9% of Americans want a new government (i.e. something other than the democratic options) I’ve never met 1 American that wants a foreign invasion and the population of America replaced by say Chinese which is essentially what BDS calls for.

      As for your example regarding history it isn’t consistent with the known facts. For example Algerian Jews have two major waves of emigration: early Vichy and after the revolution in 1962. Neither one is particularly correlated with any Zionist activity. Similarly in Egypt the mass exodus is 1956 during Suez. If we talk about 1948 the biggest migration is from Morocco are you claiming the Zionists organized the mass anti-Jewish demonstrations and riots?

      Honestly I think the Arab immigration hit Israel when it was too unstable had they been able to control it they probably would have preferred to wait a decade and not have it in the early 1950s when it was economically crippling against an already weakened economy. So I find your hypothesis unlikely. I don’t have any doubt that some guys associated with the various militant factions got encouraged to do some terrorism in the early 1950s but that’s a far cry from what you are claiming.

      I think what you will find if you look is you had a classic push pull sort of ethnic cleansing in the 1940s and 50s. Jews left because they did not live comfortably and amicably among the Muslims and Christians but rather were an economic disadvantaged discriminated against minority and sometimes hated and expelled. Once a good option existed it wouldn’t take much to push them out. The sudden upsurge in discrimination as a result of the Palestinian cause, pan Arabism, the spread of Nazi ideology from the Soviets… all contributed to an increasingly hostile environment. Certainly the Israelis / Zionists encouraged immigration from Arab lands the same way they encouraged immigration from everywhere on the planet. The Israelis were successful because the Arabs were anti-Jewish bigots both before and after the conquest of Palestine. Had antisemitism not be present in the Muslim world the Jews would have assimilated away and there wouldn’t have been a Jewish population of noticeable size to migrate to Israel after 1300 years.

  8. So much gobly gook. It will take much energy and long writing to put you to right.

  9. A very interesting andreveaking exchange and commentary on BDS which shows both its effectiveness and futility in promoting a just and enduring solution to the israel Palestine solution most likely and probably based on two sovereign and equal states.
    BDS has reasonable goals in this regard which are certainly not antisemitic but it’s methodology of economic sanctions is not likely to be effective and promotes an adverse reaction and condemnation that risks distraction from the achievement of a “two state solution” of Israel and Palestine. Both supporters and detractors of BDS should put aside their differences and focus on the achievement of a just solution for Israel and Palestine as soon as possible

    1. @George

      Agree with the sentiment. The goal of BDS is either the annihilation of the Hebrew national identity and via. some range (depending on the BDSer) between the physical destruction of the adherents of that identity or such ferocious economic pressure being applied that the Israeli people undergo a complete shift in political orientation and agree to their permanent oppression. Of course that’s going to illicit strong condemnation. Most people are opposed to genocide or genocidish type solutions.

      So I think what’s possible depends on what you mean by a “just resolution”. The terms that BDS asks for are so onerous, worse than the terms of surrender inflicted on a military opponent after a war, that Israelis simply wouldn’t submit to them in any negotiation. The BDSers who are honest about where they stand are right that to get those policies implemented they will need to inflict massive suffering on Israel and the Israeli people. I don’t think BDS has any plausible path to achieving that, but even if I did believe it could I still wouldn’t believe there is any possibility of achieving those objectives now.

      Then there is another group of people who are frustrated with Israel and by “just resolution” just means something like the two state solution which has been frustratingly close multiple times in the last 20 years. And there is yet another group (of which I’d consider myself a part) that “just resolution” means a plausible strategy for Israel to have a normalized inclusive humane democracy with the enthusiastic support of almost all the people living under its rule. And that I think is achievable since it has majority support among Israelis. Moreover I think BDS is one of the impediments to that sort of humane democracy being achieved.

      Part of what I find interesting about the Canadian BDS movement (if you all are typical) is that there seems to be complete denial of what BDS stands for. You just cited the goal of Liberal Zionism, (the 2nd group) a two state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living in peace with one another, as the goal of BDS. The point is, that’s scenario is not the goal of BDS. BDS hates and opposes Liberal Zionism. Additionally it also hates peace dialogue, seeing negotiating with Zionists as being “normalization of racism”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaGNfKabwfQ BDS wants an Israeli surrender not negotiation.

      If you want to have a dialogue which of these 3 types of objectives do you aim to achieve?
      Do you insist on an end Israel/Zionism? Or do you want two states one of which is a Jewish state? Or would you settle for the sort of mixed solutions that are far from an abstract ideal but the rather reflect practical compromises to achieve a humane and harmonious outcome, the sort of solutions that work in various societies to prevent wars (including Canada with respect to the French population incidentally).

      1. Hey CD Host, I describe myself as a “democrat”. I believe in equality – race, gender, religion etc. I cant agree with any ideology that justifies preferred treatment, or prior rights for one group of people in a given state over others. So I can’t accept the idea of Zionism which gives more rights to Jews than non-Jews. According to a recent Pew survey, 89% of Jewish Israelis believe they should have more rights than non-Jewish Israelis. Liberal Zionism is better than right-wing Zionism, of course. But it still means inequality.

  10. Thank you Peter for your thoughtful interaction with Hudak correcting his ill-informed position on BDS and the draconian nature of his bill replete with the falsehoods and nonsensical logic he tries to defend.

    As David pointed out above, Hudak has taken a position based solely and exclusively on interaction with state of Israel boosters, and indeed may very well be a bill that was drafted by the Wiesenthal Centre itself. Your suggestion that he holds a hearing with CJPME, UNJPPI and IJV to gain a true understanding of BDS as enshrined in international law is a brilliant one–I sincerely hope he takes you up on it. And if Hudak did in fact receive “vitriolic, hateful, anti-Semitic” messages, I would suspect the source of them–it certainly would not have come from anyone in the BDS movement as you pointed out to him.

    I have my suspicions that Hudak is a Christian Zionist as is Harper and his ilk. The indoctrination of theological heresy mingled with doctrines of 19th century colonial supremacism is a mindset not easily breached. It expresses itself in Hudak’s admiration for the Butcher of Beirut and war criminal Ariel Sharon while being blind to and even dismissive of the horrifying suffering caused to the victims of this hubris, aptly described as “the banality of evil” in Arendt’s terms where moral responsibility for genocide and oppression can be so easily shrugged off. And in the case of Israel, where such crimes are pointed out and accountability demanded, shrieks of anti-Semitism attempt to drown out the cries for justice.

    Perhaps most insidious is the stronghold of political pragmatism. As one columnist whose name escapes me at the moment suggested, Hudak and Colle may very well have introduced a losing bill knowing it would fail, but took a swift and decisive action to pander for the Jewish vote in their constituencies while Wynne was away doing business with the apartheid state, also to pander for the Jewish vote (and campaign donations). Very little light can get into those dark places no matter how much reasoning and logic one might use. When it comes to political power, it is the voice of the people that matters and clearly your voice caught his ear. We need to amplify it. But a little light is better than none. Let it shine, Peter and BDS on!

  11. Title of book Jake recommended is: Ben-Gurion’s spy : the story of the political scandal that shaped modern Israel.
    it’s important to keep in mind that this debate is not one based on logic. this is a political or ideological debate. As suggested in the comment immediately above Hudak and Colle were “playing politics” by introducing Bill 202.
    The root cause of this conflict is Zionism i.e. the creation of a colonial-settler state based on a religious and ethnic orthodoxy and founded through the ongoing brutal displacement and dispossession of non-Jews. The “justification” for the zionist project is summed up in the phrase, “the deed for our land is the torah.”

    1. I’m partly wrong. The book Jake mentioned is not available at TPL but is available online in pdf form online.

  12. After watching the first two of a three-part series on The Real News Network featuring a discussion with the producer and narrator of a new documentary, “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States”, with all due respect, I wonder about the effectiveness of Peter’s polite exchange of letters with Tim Hudak in terms of countering the dumbing down impact of the decades-old Israeli propaganda machine on US and Canadian audiences. And let us not overlook the role of our own servile mainstream media in spreading the lies.

    Perhaps a more promising approach would be to show just how pro-Israeli voices here and abroad have managed to dupe us into believing big lies about the Israel/Palestine conflict. Israel’s propaganda machine has contrived to make its narrative of the conflict the predominate narrative — portraying itself as the victims, David, if you will, and the Palestinians as the terrorists, Goliath.

    Faced with this effective, unrelenting propaganda, Mr. Hudak, as well as most politicians, and most Canadians are unlikely to see through Israeli policies that are murderous, genocidal, apartheidal. We can hardly be faulted for falling victim to a stealth, powerful, false narrative.

    On a positive note, colleges and universities in the US and Canada are trying to launch a counter narrative in the form of the Palestinian BDS campaign. It is having an impact, so much so that billionaires like Sheldon Adelson are now starting to put lots of money into making sure that that alternative voice is very quickly silenced.

    And although there has been blowback among American and Canadian elites to their governments’ unconditional support of Israel, until that opposition outweighs the strategic value that has been put in supporting Israel in the Middle East, it’s not going to make much of a difference.

    As for the film, the fact that it is being suppressed from public viewing outlets — e.g., film festivals, public TV networks, mainstream media, Netflix – illustrates the power, influence and fear of those voices desperate to ensure monopolization of the Israeli narrative.

    1. fjwhite, I thought to add a link to the RNN discussion you mentioned. It was good to see that Roger Waters is part of it. Thanks for mentioning it:

    2. Hey fjwhite,

      Thanks for writing.

      Just to be clear, I do not expect to influence Mr. Hudak with my polite exchange of emails. (If I do, that’s great, but I’m not holding my breath.)

      But I copied 105 other MPP’s, many of whom will never have heard of the BDS movement before he tabled his motion. Some of them, or some of their assistants, will read my email because they are now aware of the issue.

      The tabling of the motion gives me an opportunity to address 105 other MPP’s about BDS, and about the Israel/Palestine issue. It would have been almost impossible to get them to read an email about BDS if Mr. Hudak had not done this. (I know most will not do so… but some will…)

      In my mind, we need to use opportunities like this motion to talk to decent, serious Canadians about the Israel/Palestine issue.

      My motto (which you see at the top of my blog) is “raise the issue and lower the temperature”.

      Thanks again.

      1. Peter, thanks for your response. I’ll try to keep my reply short but I have much to say.

        First, to clarify, I did not imply you were trying to “influence” Mr. Hudak. Rather, I wondered about the potential “effectiveness” of your exchange of letters with Hudak.

        Second, you frequently refer to your motto: “raise the issue and lower the temperature”. Is it not the Israelis who are keeping the temperature at the boiling point?

        Third, consider what risks you are asking Mr. Hudak and other MPPs to take by becoming more responsibly informed about the BDS campaign in particular, and by logical association, with the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Dare they speak the truth? The party would almost certainly risk losing considerable financial support and influence from the pro-Israeli forces here and abroad: not to mention the personal risk of being unseated in future elections. And would party leader Patrick Brown look kindly on Mr. Hudak’s conversion.

        You mentioned CJPME in your letter. Here’s a little bit of history about this organization that you may find instructive.

        CJPME was established in 2002. I was loosely associated with the organization in the early years, had numerous conversations with co-founder Tom Woodley, and even wrote a factsheet or two and assisted with the editing of some letters to public figures and other support materials.

        The Tom I knew back then reminds me very much of you, Peter. He was a very bright, articulate, energetic leader who was convinced that “Canadians will respond and Canadian policy makers will respond if we provide enough information and show that we’re numerous enough that politicians have to listen to us.” CJPME did subsequently arrange meetings with MPs in Ottawa. (Source: short link, my blog, July 2012, http://wp.me/pO0No-1i6 ).

        But information, alone, while essential, is never sufficient. Unconvinced that Tom’s approach would be sufficiently “effective” to make a significant difference, I drifted away from the organization but follow it via its newsletter.

        That was Tom then. How times must have changed Tom; for his most recent action event is so much more confrontational: “CJPME President waits to be Condemned by Trudeau Government”, Press Release, February 23, 2016. (Source: short link, my blog, March 2016: http://wp.me/pO0No-3fA

        So what’s my point? As I learned at an excellent workshop on problem solving, so many years ago while employed at Finance Canada: Step 1 – define what is / is not the problem. If you fail to clearly define what is / is not the problem you risk wasting cognitive energy, time and resources on remedial action that is not addressing the “real” problem.

        Is Mr. Hudak the “real” problem here? Well, he’s certainly a part of it. But no more so than most of us who have been duped by a very effective, convincing Hasbara propaganda campaign (designed by the way with the assistance of the CEO of Miller’s beer).

        And that, may I suggest, is the ‘real’ problem. It’s the propaganda campaign and its Canadian purveyors, including the MSM, that we have to go after, while concurrently supporting those who dare to offer a convincing counter narrative, including the producers of the film, “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States”.

        Cheers, Frank

      2. Frank, I very much agree. Legal cases, work done with cases to the Press Council (as the Jewish lobby organization “Honest Reporting Canada” does so well) and BDS are so important. Sure, so politicians can learn more and are willing, but at the end of the day the poor of money, politics and the establishment prevail.

  13. Thanks, Peter, for taking the discussion about occupation, inequality and refugees to a new level. As you know, BDS is just a tool and the objective is equality for all in Palestine/Israel.

    Equality is the cause and the real question. In my opinion, Hudak is not just against the tool, he and his Conservative party, especially under Harper, do not believe in equality in Palestine/Israel. There are many reasons to believe they do not believe in it here in Canada too. As someone mentioned in the comments, the discussion is about values and not arguments. For example, he said that BDS targets Canadian Jewish community (!?). We all know that this is not true, and could not be just a mistake or poor information. Hudak is well-informed and this wrong info he used suggests that he deliberately distorts facts to serve a right-wing political view of the world.

    Values are universal and can not be divided. This is why struggle for equality and real peace in Palestine/Israel is part of a struggle for equality and real peace everywhere. Yesterday, I watched a report about collaboration between activists for native rights in Canada and those fighting for rights of black people. On the other hand, we all know the close relationship between security services in Israel and those in Canada (especially under Harper) and US. One world, one humanity, one struggle. Right-wing Conservatives in Canada, like Hudak and Harper, and the Israeli lobby are on the wrong side of this struggle for equality and real peace.

    1. @New Canadian —

      If anti-Zionism’s history of targeting the indigenous Jewish minority in most places where it has arisen how do you explain anti-Zionism having cleared about 20 countries including some quite recently of their Jewish population? What happened to the Jews of Iran (a government that claims to not be Antisemetic but just anti-Zionist) yet 95% of have left this generation. What is happening to the Jews of Venezuela, same claim regarding hating antisemitics yet 2/3rds have left the country because of “anti-zionism”.

      Jews in America certainly claim that the BDS movement targets them. BDS movements when they have gained strength, including in Canada, have used their power to attack the local Jewish community. News events continually show BDSers going after domestic Jewish institutions. Why shouldn’t people view this movement as anti-Jewish?

      So no it simply is not true that “we all know this is not true”. There can be people who are well informed, honest and still disagree with you about stuff. I have trouble understanding how anyone looking at the record of anti-Zionism and the rhetoric of BDS has any trouble seeing it as anything other than a classical antisemetic movement with the only new twist being the initial public focus being about foreign Jews.

      1. CD-Host: I appreciate your dedication to follow this blog. We need all views. However, you need to support your statement [[“BDS movements when they have gained strength, including in Canada, have used their power to attack the local Jewish community”]], with facts and credible Canadian sources.

        Many people who are BDS activists in Canada are Jewish. For example, Canadian Independent Jewish Voices organization:

        http://ijvcanada.org/

        This makes me wonder who is confused: you or IJV?

        To be specific politically, here are the issues of BDS:

        1- Is the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Israeli siege of Gaza acceptable or not?
        2- Should we address the refugees question to end their suffering or not? By refugees I mean those people who became refugees as a result of events in 47 – 48.
        3- Should all citizens of Israel be treated equally under the law or not?

        I talked with many BDS activists in Canada, including Jewish people who are among the leaders of this movement in Canada, and they believe that any solution in Palestine/Israel should make everyone feel free and safe regardless of their religion or ethnicity. This is their core value.

        Again, your energy, time and dedication to follow this blog is very visible. However, you need to provide credible resources about your statement: [[“BDS movements when they have gained strength, including in Canada, have used their power to attack the local Jewish community”]]. Otherwise, some people may see it as baseless propaganda.

  14. @Peter

    The opinions you just expressed are liberal zionism not BDS.

    I believe in equality – race, gender, religion etc

    BDS does not. BDS believes in racial land entitlement. There are groups of people who by virtue of race should be endowed with rights over land, and anyone else who tries to move into that area is a colonizer who can and should be resisted (killed). There are BDSers who don’t doesn’t believe in religious equality either (though this is not universal in the movement). Quite often you hear BDSer discuss religious rights as simply the ability to worship but no ability to influence society with those beliefs, excluding Islam. That is more or less support for the status of Christianity and Judaism under Islam where Islam is dominant and the other religions supposedly protected.

    Liberal Zionism conversely doesn’t have this problem of disagreeing with you and aims to achieve full social and economic equality. It worked hard with multiple groups over the last 7 decades elevating and integrating them into Israeli society. It wrote many of the basic laws designed to assist in preventing and narrowing discrimination with Israel proper. It hasn’t applied that to the West Bank since it generally has been opposed to annexation and the imposition of Israeli law is a huge step towards annexation of the West Bank.

    I cant agree with any ideology that justifies preferred treatment, or prior rights for one group of people in a given state over others.

    I assume you mean between citizens of that state. Otherwise you live in a state that does that. Canadians have rights in Canada that not Canadians do not.

    So I can’t accept the idea of Zionism which gives more rights to Jews than non-Jews.

    Which is fine. Most Zionists agree with you on that.

    According to a recent Pew survey, 89% of Jewish Israelis believe they should have more rights than non-Jewish Israelis. Liberal Zionism is better than right-wing Zionism, of course. But it still means inequality.

    That’s simply not true. For example right now overwhelmingly Israeli society is trying to address the 300k semi-Jews who live in Israel and they are working hard to normalize their status and eliminate any vestiges of discrimination caused by their status ( marriage, burial, etc…). That’s not a society that doesn’t care about equality.

    Similarly for groups like the Druze there is widespread support for their advancement.

    Muslim Palestinians today don’t serve in the IDF. They live in a country whose public morality is based around universal enlistment and service and they don’t even do public service. And when you talk about West Bankers who have moved from peaceful coexistence and cooperation they had in the 1970s to trying to recreate the Gaza of the 1990s, all because they are scared Jews might move into the neighborhood. And now in Jerusalem where they were granted full citizenship for a generation, refused that of their own volition and then started stabbing people because the effects of not voting for a generation are negative on their way of life. Of course the Hebrews don’t like them much. As the “resistance” dies down the antagonism will as well.

    Fixing that means getting Palestinians to accept that they have to become part of the state where they live. How does BDS possibly advance that?

    1. CD host.
      Thanks again. Your statement “BDS believes in racial land entitlement” is puzzling to me. What do you refer to. I am stumped.

      On another point – where do you live? I see that you have done a lot of reading on I/P. Would you be interested in participating in some kind of public debate with me on the issue of whether the BDS movement is anti-Semitic? You can support the idea, and I will oppose, ofr course. I live in Ottawa. That kind of live public discussion might be better than trading emails before a relatively small audience. I would be happy to do it at the Jewish Community Centre or any other venue you felt suitable.

      1. @Peter

        “BDS believes in racial land entitlement” is puzzling to me. What do you refer to. I am stumped.

        One of the core arguments of BDS is that nations (and not just ethnicities) are biologically determined. A person is Palestinian by virtue of birth: a 4th generation Syrian 1or 2 of whose 16 great-great grandparents came from Palestine is Palestinian not Syrian. Conversely a 4th generation Israeli of Jewish descent is not and can never be part of the nation. They belong “where they came from” even if “where they came from” is now split among a 1/2 dozen countries thousands of miles apart.

        BDS then compounds this national identity It then compounds this with the idea that nations are entitled to “their land” regardless of the current inhabitation. Moreover that any kind of migration including sale is an invasion / colonialism and illegitimate.

        This discrepancy of view is much more pronounced in my country where birthright citizenship is a core value of almost all Americans. Americans overwhelmingly believe that everyone should be a full citizen wherever they were born. Which is why even if people are here illegally and they have children those children are full citizens. Many American cities and towns have changed their dominant ethnicity a dozen times or more. Your city has done it about 3. Do you consider that change of ethnicity to be a shocking injustice or just part of the natural migration of peoples?

        ____

        As far as your offer to debate I might take you up on that. Thank you for the offer. I’m going to think about it. I live about 800km away from Ottawa and never get up around Syracuse (much less further north) but it is a doable trip. Certainly a Jewish Community Center is a fair venue. Of course I have the disadvantage of not knowing as much Canadian history as I do American.

        There are a couple reasons I might chicken out. Professionally I’m not sure it would be good for me. Not that anyone will care one way or another what political opinions I hold but doing a controversial event on either side (though yours would be far worse professionally for me). There is also the time and expense. For example If I’m going to debate in Canada I’d have to learn a lot about the Quebecois history to see if there are any good analogies similar to how I typically explain both the Palestinians and the Israelis in terms of the various groups that existed in the South for the century after the Civil War. Quebecois nationalism is frankly so much more peaceful than USA history (or other good analogies like Russian history or German history) I’m a bit worried that there won’t be analogies.

        So in short, thank you for the offer! I will seriously consider it. I think it is worth doing and at the same time I can think of lots of good reasons not to do it.

  15. For those who are still wondering about the Israeli system of oppression and discrimination, here is an article by an Israeli writer and peace activist Uri Avnery published on May 21, 2016:

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1463756720/

    [[” The discrimination against the Palestinians in practically all spheres of life can be compared to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. (The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories resembles more the treatment of the Czechs in the “protectorate” after the Munich betrayal.)

    The rain of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. Like then. The call “Death to the Arabs” (“Judah verrecke”?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospital. A Chief Rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our Ministers of Education and Culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the Minister of Justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto. “]]

    [[” The inclusion of Lieberman’s party in the government coalition confirms Golan’s blackest fears. This is another fatal blow to the Israeli democracy. “]]

  16. I was not going to engage any further with CD, but can not hold myself when he makes utterly false comments.
    I’m referring to his remark about Iran’s Anti Semitism and 95% of Iranian Jews left Iran.
    Yes about 95% did leave, but nothing to do with ill treatment of the, absolutely none.
    I’m an Iranian, my Parents and most of my extended family left Iran to Israel in 1950, it was purely due to Zionist propaganda, to come to the “land of milk and honey” and “The promised land”. What a god damn promised land it turned out. Land of utter discrimination.
    No Jew was discriminated in Iran before the revolution and after.
    Iran still has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. They are free to leave as they wish. In fact about 15 years ago Israeli agents together with Christian Zionists went to Iran offering hefty amount of money to any Jew to emigrate to Israel. None took the offer. They knew where they’ll get bad treatment.
    Also by far most of Iran’s Jews did not go to Israel, they went to US, England etc. Some of the ones who went to Israel, left to other countries.

    The Jews in Iran have absolutely same rights as the general population, unlike in Israel and the Palestinians.
    Iran’s regime always reiterated that they are against Zionism, which any decent person around the world should be.
    Zionism was and is a racist and colonial ideology, which it’s going on for almost a hundred years.Originally the Zionists at the beginning did not want any oriental Jew to come to Israel. They wanted a purely white European Jewish country there.Ben Gurion referred to oriental Jews as human dust. They changed later, realizing that many Jewish bodies are needed to counter the Palestinians and for cheap labor.
    Recently it comes to light that they also did not want the European Hasidic Jews, due to their bad appearance and image. They more or less hinted to the Nazis that they can do with them what they like and in return to get others to go to Palestine.

    A documentary was done not long ago about the Jews of Iran, where it shows them livig peacefully and prospering.
    Also a research was published recently about the protection of Jews in the Middle East in the last few hundreds of years. In some instances they even put then on a pedestal.

    1. Hey Jake,
      i did visit Iran a couple of years ago. Visited a synagogue (two in fact, one of which had a functioning Jewish school attached to it). It didn’t have any particular security issues – we walked in unquestioned.

      Nor did it have any Israeli flags like Canadian synagogues do.They were clearly Jewish institutions but not clearly Zionist or pro Israel.

      I did met with a Jewish lawyer who was on the board of the Jewish newspaper in Teheran. He told me that a lot of the Iranian Jews who left to go to the USA (“Teheran-gelos”), had been closely linked to the Shah regime, and left after it had fallen. I was also told that very few of them went to Israel.

      I am not in a position to verify whether this is true or not, but seems to confirm your story.

    2. @Jake and Peter

      I’m going to give the stats.
      Prior to the war of independence there were 3,536 legally registered Iranian Jews. The Yishuv’s belief there were about 20,000 Persian Jews living in Palestine at the time of the war. There were at that time depending on how you count about 100,000-150,000 Persian Jews living in Iran.

      There was light emigration in the years following independence. There was population stability at about 80k Iranian Jews in Iran during the rein of the Shah. After the fall of the Shah about 1/2 the Jews left very quickly. There has been a steady withdraw since then and no one really believes there are more than 10k Jews left most think far fewer.

      Israel: As of 2007, Israel is home to just over 47,000 Iranian-born Jews and roughly 87,000 Israeli-born Jews with fathers born in Iran. While these numbers add up to about 135,000, when Israelis with more distant or solely maternal Iranian roots are included the total number of Persian Jews in Israel is estimated to be between 200,000-250,000.

      And this is of course larger than all other Iranian diasporas combined. In 2nd is the USA with 60-80k Iranian Jews.

      Every study of the Jews that are there disputes your claim of no discrimination. I can of course point to individual incidents including a bunch of executions of Jews to help incite against them but the numbers speak for themselves.

      ____

      As for your comments about Ben Gurion those are just pure lies. Ben Gurion established an aggressive education system for Mizrahi because he wanted social equality. The exact opposite of what a racist would do.

      _____

      Peter and New Canadian if you want an example of what people object to in BDS and why guys like Hudak don’t consider you just a human rights group. There you go. Human rights groups don’t have this sort of nonsense.

  17. Just had to add that maybe CD and the likes, should see what is happening in Israel nowadays, where many Israeli scholars and hi ranking army officers calling it heralding toward fascism, even with comparison with the atmosphere in Germany in the 1930’s.

  18. @New Canadian

    However, you need to support your statement [[“BDS movements when they have gained strength, including in Canada, have used their power to attack the local Jewish community”]], with facts and credible Canadian sources.

    I have. Let me cite another example, “ It is clear that the CSU, by a variety of actions – the suspension of Hillel, coercive demands, and withdrawal of funding – aggressively tried to harass and/or shut Hillel down. There was undeniably a period in which a fair-minded viewer would conclude Hillel was effectively ‘banned’ in the colloquial sense of the term.” (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: http://www.cbsc.ca/ciii-tv-global-television-re-confrontation-at-concordia ).

    Many people who are BDS activists in Canada are Jewish. For example, Canadian Independent Jewish Voices organization:

    So what? Many members of ISIS are European that doesn’t mean that ISIS isn’t anti-European. Huge numbers of slavers were black that doesn’t mean American slavery wasn’t racist. Heck Field Marshall Erhard Milch (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhard_Milch ) was a 1/2 Jew whose got his mother to tell an obvious lie about her 6 children being the result of incest so that he could continue to be a Nazi. He was convicted at Nuremberg among other things for the use of Jewish slave labor in the construction of Nazi aircraft. Were the Nazi not antisemetic because they had a few guys like this?

    To be specific politically, here are the issues of BDS:

    As I’ve stated before the BDS demands individually are not problematic. The problem is the 3 in combination.

    1) Load the gun
    2) put the gun in your mouth
    3) pull the trigger

    Remove 1 of the 3 pieces and the little series becomes much less dangerous. Its the 3 together that amount to suicide and similarly the 3 BDS demands in combination amount to a demand for national suicide. Individually all 3 are reasonable. Now I’ll dispute them individually.

    1- Is the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Israeli siege of Gaza acceptable or not?

    I don’t think what’s going on in the West Bank is an occupation. “Military occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature (i.e. no claim for permanent sovereignty), by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.” (Eyāl Benveniśtî. The international law of occupation). What’s going on in the West Bank is clearly not this as 650k people have Israeli citizenship, Israel has tried to extend it to hundreds of thousands more in Jerusalem and Golan. There have been repeated claims and actions consisting of permanent claim including formal annexations of greater Jerusalem. And finally the administration is not entirely military in nature.

    If I were to assume it were an occupation I don’t think massive ethnic cleansing is “acceptable” to use your term. So no I don’t agree with BDS on that.

    2- Should we address the refugees question to end their suffering or not? By refugees I mean those people who became refugees as a result of events in 47 – 48.

    The people who became refugees in 47-9 are mostly dead. Their suffering has ended. The question of return is not about them but about their grandchildren and great grandchildren. And while they are discriminated against I think as I argued here they should be resettled in the countries of their birth where possible and somewhere where they can be safe and secure if that is not possible.

    3- Should all citizens of Israel be treated equally under the law or not?

    Yes they should. I’m firmly in favor of the equality of all people. Which is one of the reasons I oppose BDS demands (1) and (2) both of which contradict equality.

    I talked with many BDS activists in Canada, including Jewish people who are among the leaders of this movement in Canada, and they believe that any solution in Palestine/Israel should make everyone feel free and safe regardless of their religion or ethnicity. This is their core value.

    No it isn’t. If it were they would be pursuing opportunities to engage with the Israelis to reform the system of government so as to enhance freedom and safety not undermining it. If it were they wouldn’t engage in hateful and demonizing language designed to discourage both freedom and safety. They wouldn’t support policies like denormalization which promote Jewish paranoia and rage. They would be encouraging the Palestinians to come to terms with reality and not encouraging them to engage in escapists fantasy about an international collective their rescue.

    Quite simply they would be using the language of people pursuing peace not genocide.

    1. CD Host: You say: [[” I don’t think what’s going on in the West Bank is an occupation”]]

      The International Court of Justice calls it [[“Occupied Palestinian territory”]]

      http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf

      Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

      [[” Palestinian Refugees
      Canada believes that a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is central to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as called for in United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 (1948) and United Nations Security Council resolution 242.

      Occupied Territories and Settlements
      Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories.”]]

      http://www.international.gc.ca/name-anmo/peace_process-processus_paix/canadian_policy-politique_canadienne.aspx?lang=eng

      Conclusion:
      You deny basic facts confirmed by ICJ, UN and Canadian official policy (under all parties). Therefore, it is fair to believe that your views are irrational and motivated by an ideological extremist view of the world. I appreciate your energy and time you put on this blog, but I am interested in rational discussion only. Wish you peace.

  19. In Ontario politics all parties represented in the legislature at Queen’s Park are supporters of Zionism. The NDP has a christian zionist as one of its leading MPPs , C. DiNovo. She is a “progressive” on all issues except Palestine an dhas made outrageous statements in support of the zionist entity.

  20. CD Host: You say: [[” I don’t think what’s going on in the West Bank is an occupation”]]

    The International Court of Justice calls it [[“Occupied Palestinian territory”]]

    http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf

    Canadian Policy on Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

    [[” Palestinian Refugees
    Canada believes that a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is central to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as called for in United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 (1948) and United Nations Security Council resolution 242.

    Occupied Territories and Settlements
    Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories.”]]

    http://www.international.gc.ca/name-anmo/peace_process-processus_paix/canadian_policy-politique_canadienne.aspx?lang=eng

    Conclusion:
    You deny basic facts confirmed by ICJ, UN and Canadian official policy (under all parties). Therefore, it is fair to believe that your views are irrational and motivated by an ideological extremist view of the world. I appreciate your energy and time you put on this blog, but I am interested in rational discussion only. Wish you peace.

    1. @New Canadian

      Whether the ICJ or the UN has that policy is a matter of fact.
      Whether they are right is a matter of opinion.

      BDS tends to preach UN absolutism when the UN condemns Israel and completely in error when it partitioned Palestine and setup a Jewish homeland. That obviously is a contradiction. If the Canadian government cannot err and your opinions are facts then this whole thread is pointless as the Canadian government could not possibly err in their classification.

      We live in reality where the UN can be wrong about stuff and is an imperfect human institution. Its policies can be disagreed with. Citing the ICJ and Canada separately doesn’t prove anything they are all merely following the UN’s position. Courts don’t have the authority to overthrow black letter law, and Canada on international matters (excluding fishing) generally has been (prior to Harper) very hesitant to disagree with international opinion.

      The UN’s classification is wrong. It is a political body doing the politically expedient thing and lying about it. Not a huge shock and saying that is not extremism.

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