The Empire Strikes Back: Israel lobby groups lash out at recent survey on Jews’ attitudes towards Israel

two jews

Two of the major pro-Israel lobby groups have lashed out at a recent survey which shows that a surprising number of Canadian Jews have very ambivalent feelings about Israel. They attacked the sponsoring organizations, the survey methodology and the author. But they did not attack the findings. Read more….

Judging by the harsh words used by Shimon Fogel, head of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), and Michael Mostyn, head of B’nai Brith Canada, a recent survey of the attitudes of Canadian Jews towards Israel really has them steamed.

The survey commissioned by Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) and the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO) found that “a significant portion” of Canadian Jews are critical of Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinians and that almost half believe accusations of anti-Semitism are often used to silence legitimate criticism of the Israeli government.

Specifically, the survey of Canadian Jews found that:

  • 31 per cent oppose Israel’s blockade of Gaza, while 57 per cent support it;
  • 45 per cent oppose the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while 42 support it;
  • 30 per cent consider the Palestinians’ call for a boycott reasonable, while 53 per cent don’t;
  • 22 per cent believe it is reasonable for Canada to impose sanctions on Israel, compared to 58 per cent who do not; and
  • 48 per cent agree that accusations of anti-Semitism are often used to silence legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies.

CIJA and B’nai Brith react sharply to the survey

slam survey

It’s not surprising that CIJA and B’nai Brith feel threatened by such findings and have lashed out in anger. The findings are dramatically different from the pro-Israel (and even pro-Netanyahu) stance that both CIJA and B’nai Brith project to Canadians and to the Canadian government “on behalf of Canadian Jews”.

But neither organization head dared to dispute the findings of the poll. In interviews with Canadian Jewish News they restricted themselves to:

  • attacking the two organizations which sponsored the survey, and Independent Jewish Voices Canada in particular,
  • a vicious personal and ad hominem attack on the report’s author, Dr. Diana Ralph, a retired professor at Carleton University (and a founder of Independent Jewish Voices Canada), and,
  • an attack on the survey methodology which was designed by EKOS Research Associates, a respected and experienced Canadian polling firm

Both CIJA and B’nai Brith must be very concerned that the evidence revealed by this poll of Canadian Jews seems to be tracking a parallel (and much bigger) shift in the USA where many commentators have noted a growing rift between American Jews and Israel. In an unprecedented move, even the very pro-Israel US lobby group AIPAC recently felt obliged to distance itself from Benjamin Netanyahu  after he moved to incorporate a political party with open ties to terrorist organizations into his electoral coalition. (Tellingly, CIJA made no comment on Netanyahu’s move.)

CIJA and B’nai Brith are certainly feeling the ground shifting under their feet. Their response appears to be “shoot the messenger”.

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Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) encourages a thoughtful discussion among Canadians on the Israel/Palestine issue, including a well informed and sensitive discussion of Zionism itself. CTIP accepts guest columnists and encourages brief comments (under 100 words) from serious readers. To learn more about what we do, contact us at chair.ctip@gmail.com.

14 comments

  1. addressing points:

    • 31 per cent oppose Israel’s blockade of Gaza, while 57 per cent support it;
    • 45 per cent oppose the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while 42 support it;
    • 30 per cent consider the Palestinians’ call for a boycott reasonable, while 53 per cent don’t;
    • 22 per cent believe it is reasonable for Canada to impose sanctions on Israel, compared to 58 per cent who do not; and
    • 48 per cent agree that accusations of anti-Semitism are often used to silence legitimate

    criticism of Israeli government policies.
    Will Gaza attack Israel? What assurances has Hamas put into place to quell fears of missile attacks?
    With Jerusalem as the only possible capital of Israel (a Jewish state, like all other religiously-defined states in the region) and the birthplace of Jews, it’s simply realpolitik.
    BDS implicitly calls for the annihilation of a Jewish state in Palestine (“from the river to the sea”). If it critically and rigorously espoused the boycotting of goods-from-occupied territories, then it might garner support from celebrated Israel critics like Noam Chomsky and others.
    Should Israel be targeted (now) for sanctions when so many other countries explicitly and actually uphold patriarchy and racial supremacy – a question of priorities.
    It’s true – accusations of anti-Semitism may work as ‘silencers’ of legitimate opposition to state-sanctioned oppression. In a world of cultural-specificity and collective guilt, this goes a long way. Calling the victim-card is the trump in this game. Let’s give up that. Let’s admit we all have to live here: as indigenous people – we all belong to (and are constituted by) this land.

    1. Hey Six million, lets be clear on terminology. Is it possible to “annihilate” a state? What does that mean?
      Was the Soviet Union “annihilated”? Was Jugoslavia “annihilated”. How about Rhodesia? Those states were no longer seen as legitimate and were replaced by other states. But the people who lived there were not killed or expelled.
      Like many others, you seem to assume that if Israel were to be replaced by another state, all the Jews would be at great risk.

      As for BDS – I don’t think you can find any official BDS statements that call for the “annihilation” of anything. If you find one, I will happily join you in denouncing that idea.

  2. Thank you for presenting this information.
    I have long been concerned that the quickness of CIJA and B’nai B’rith to reduce political debate to Semitic/anti-Semitic terms can have the effect of generating anti-Semitism.

    1. Cija and Bnai brith are getting more pushback for using the antisemitism smear technique to take on critics of Israel and supporters of a 2 state solution against Iaeaeli policies.. Bnaibrith has been sued twice for defamation and tries to be more restrained despite having a very litigious CEO who goes after everyone who quotes Islamic scripture or uses alleged antisemitic tropes even such rhetoric is standard fare in Israel. Neither organization are very outspoken on the current polemic of antisemitism over Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments on the,Iarael lobby. They have attacked independent Jewish Voices quite mainly saving many of the self hating Jew or non Jew comments for the leadership and quibbling with recent survey which they claim many non Jews were involved. Whole claiming victories like getting the PM to say that BDS is antisemitic and pro Pal activities makes,Jewish students feel uncomfortable, basically their tactical use of antisemitism is having less and less impact while probably generating a lot of real antisemitism hatred and distrust of Jews as opposed to legitimate criticism of Israel. Advocacy for a 1 state democratic solution runs up against the lobby’s argument that this would effectively end the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and therefore is an antisemitic plot to destroy Jewish Israel.

  3. Before and especially in the wake of the 1967 war and for years thereafter, when Israel was mentioned at a party or some other social gathering, the majority of people in attendance were complimentary, describing it in glowing terms as an incredible success story, a long needed “Jewish State” fending off envious, blood thirsty Arabs, i.e., “Muslims.” (Most people had no idea of how many $billions Americans were providing the “Jewish State” in tax payer funded aid.)

    Not so now! Ever Increasing numbers of average Americans, Canadians and other peoples around the world, including Jews, are finally comprehending the inescapable truth and seeing Israel as the racist, fascistic, murderous, expansionist monster it obviously is. They now know that it is the Arabs, predominantly the indigenous Palestinian Arabs, who are and have been the innocent victims of Zionists of foreign origin. The writing is on the wall. It’s only a matter of time and time is not with “Israel.” The shift is under way and gathering momentum.

  4. IJV? As Jewish as a ham sandwich with mayonnaise. Hopelessly tainted with Jew hatred. Nothing they will ever do will be taken seriously by main stream Jewish people, except as a security problem. Most certainly the survey people would have coached to come up with the negative foreordained answers So the rest of us just dismiss whatever they are offering out of hand without a second thought.

    1. Hey Harry,
      Thanks again. I agree that IJV is a marginal movement in the greater Jewish community in Canada today. I think they would agree as well. But they appear to be growing.

      1. They are being propped up to make a bit of a fight of it. But winning hearts and minds? Their premise is shallow, fraudulent, they tied in with violent terror orgs. So they have a limited shelf life. One thing they sure don’t do, is help the Palestinians to achieve a sustaining nationhood.

  5. Like JVP in the US, IJV is most definitely not a marginal movement in the impact it is having on the pro Israel Jewish and other lobbies in the debate over Israel and Palestine and how to get to a real soln with human rights, democracy end of occupation for all, And the more IJV is smeared and demonized as self hating or non Jews with no credibility the more their influence will grow. And in fact the greater the use of false antisemitism smears to target and distract and detract from criticism of Israel will be, the more resentment will rise. . In fact such smears of Jews and other critics of Israel may generate real antisemitism among real anti-Semites who really do not want to see Israel exist – not people who are suggesting ways to make Israel both Jewish and democratic. Time to get past paranoia and work constructively for a real solution – 1 state or 2 – that would take antisemitism mudslinging out of the discussion of Israel and Palestine. And while you are at it you might consider finding another name for the anti Arab Palestinian racist comments and policies by Israel, currently amplified by the election campaign, if you object to apartheid Islamophobia which while correctly labelled have been falsely called anti-Semitic. .

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