Frightened Liberals confuse anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism – again!!

PP-Guillet-05-03-2019

A frightened Liberal party hastily revoked the candidacy of Hassan Guillet, a well known moderate Muslim cleric, after a pro-Israel lobby group claimed he had made anti-Semitic statements. Anti-Semitism is not acceptable and no political party should accept anti-Semitic candidates. But based on the evidence provided, the claims against the Imam are ill-founded. Read more…

It is possible that Imam Hassan Guillet is an incorrigible racist and anti-Semite, of course. But that would be a big surprise to those who watched his thoughtful and moving eulogy following the Quebec City Mosque massacre in 2017. His remarks, which included compassion for the gunman, criticism for those who had put racist ideas in his head, and a call for tolerance among all citizens irrespective of religion, were circulated around the world. 

“We are citizens like all other citizens. We have the same rights and we have the same obligations. We should build this country together.”

– From the eulogy for 6 Muslims murdered as they prayed in a mosque

Imam Hassan Guillet,

Quebec City, February 2017

Pro-Israel lobbyists, including “Bnai Brith Canada”  have been gunning for Mr. Guillet for a totally different reason – he is very critical of Israel, and if he were to be elected, he would be a powerful and credible critic inside the Liberal caucus. They have dishonestly used the accusation of “anti-Semitism” as a way to scare the Trudeau Liberals away from him.

It seems to have worked … but Guillet is fighting back. He has responded on Facebook and in several media interviews. Many friends – Muslims, Christians, Jews and others have leapt to his defense.

guillet fb post

Guillet responded quickly and forcefully on his FB page both to the accusations of anti-Semitism, and to the cowardly over-reaction by the Trudeau Liberals.

What, exactly are the statements or actions by Mr. Guillet that Bnai Brith Canada finds so offensive?

The two main concerns of Bnai Brith are that:

  • in 2017, on his FB  page Mr. Guillet argued that “the Zionists control American politics”
  • Guillet once accused Jared Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, of directing his government to support an “Israel first” agenda

Bnai Brith believes that these two statements are evidence of profound anti-Semitism. “The antisemitic tropes of ‘Zionists controlling governments’ and of ‘dual loyalty’ are two of the more abhorrent expressions of paranoid anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, claimed Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

Let’s examine the evidence and see. Is there any way Guillet’s statements can really be called anti-Semitic?

The claim that Zionists “control” the American government

If Mr. Guillet had claimed that “Jews” control the American government, this would have been an anti-Semitic slur. (And it would have also been wrong). But it is not what he allegedly said. He referred to “Zionists”. Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing. The distinction is an important one. Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews.

In fact, both US vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are “born again” evangelical Christians who support the Christian Zionist idea. And Donald Trump who is also Christian, aggressively promotes a Middle East policy (e.g. moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel) advocated by the Zionist Organization of America.

To say that people who support Zionism have an overwhelming influence in US policy towards Israel/Palestine is neither exaggerated, nor anti-Semitic.

Is the accusation of Jared Kushner’s “dual loyalty” really based on “paranoid anti-Jewish conspiracy theories”?

To say, or imply that all Canadian Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to Canada (just because they are Jews) would be anti-Semitic and wrong. It would be just as racist as saying that “Chinese Canadians (or Japanese Canadians) are more loyal to China (or Japan), than to Canada”.  Those kinds of blanket racist accusations lay behind the Chinese Exclusion Act and the forced internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII.

But again, Mr. Guillet did not say “Jews support an Israel first” agenda. He targeted a specific person, Jared Kushner. Specific individuals may well have loyalties to other countries that are stronger than those to the country of which they are citizens. If they go too far, they could even be spies.

This is the case of Jonathan Pollard, a former American intelligence officer.  Mr. Pollard was born in Galveston Texas to a Jewish family. In 1987, Pollard pleaded guilty to spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison for violations of the Espionage Act. Clearly, to say that Mr. Pollard’s loyalties to Israel were greater than his attachment to America is a statement of fact, and not evidence of anti-Semitism.

As reported in a recent article in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the Zionist movement actively encourages diaspora Jews to see their first loyalty to Israel, over their loyalty to their country of residence.

While there is no evidence that any Canadian Jew has ever gone so far as to spy for Israel like Mr. Pollard, according to a CBC report in 2017 over two hundred Canadian Jews had chosen to show their loyalty to Israel by serving in its military, rather than that of Canada.

A blanket allegation of disloyalty against American or Canadian Jews by Guillet or anyone else would be both wrong and anti-Semitic. But to point out that specific Canadians or Americans do have allegiances elsewhere is neither racist, nor anti-Semitic, if the claim is backed by credible evidence.

The root of the problem

The root of the Liberals’ problem is that Trudeau himself is not clear on the difference between opposition to Zionism (an exclusive race/religious-based political ideology which supports special rights for Jews in a Jewish State created on Palestinian land), and anti-Semitism (a hateful form of racism against Jews, analogous to Islamophobia or racism towards Black or Indigenous Canadians.)

Two years ago, Trudeau demonstrated this confusion when he committed himself and his party to fighting “anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” as if the two were the same thing, when they are clearly very different.

As long as this confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism continues, the pro-Israel lobby will be able to continue to use the “anti-Semite” label to attack legitimate critics of Israel, and the frightened Liberals won’t know what to say.

____________________________________________________________

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) encourages and promotes a thoughtful discussion among Canadians on the Israel/Palestine issue, including a well informed and sensitive discussion about solutions. CTIP encourages serious people who disagree with any column to make comment. Disagreements respectfully offered are welcome. To learn more about what CTIP does, contact us at chair.ctip@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments

  1. Mr.Trudeau is an intelligent man, I feel confident that he understands the difference between being opposed to Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and being anti-semitic. However, he seems to be afraid that his voters won’t make that distinction. Those of us who do understand the distinction need to write to Mr. Trudeau and make it clear that we object to his conflating the two,

    1. I doubt that writing Trudeau would do any good. What is needed is to match the donations his party along with others receives from the Zionist lobby. I support Democracy Watch which aims to clean up the ethics and funding mess in parliament including the free junkets to Israel and a few other states.

      Another big problem is the fake news issue. There are Zionist trolls such as Honest Reporting that pester the media labeling genuine news as “antisemitic”. Take a post I put on this CBC News Page: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/axor-liberals-conservatives-donations-1.5263576
      I was replying to a guy who made a post saying he was more concerned with what went went under the table. My comment was disabled and I suspect “Honest Reporting”. I posted again in no uncertain terms and this time it was not disabled. See below:

      The post below was well within the bounds of civil discourse and totally relevant to the political funding issue on this site. Also It would have met approval from Democracy Watch, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star which covered the very issue some time ago and The Center for International Governance Innovation, all critical of Trudeau and Harper on the Middle East Issue. It was disabled due bias, incompetence or trolling. Should this happen again it will be addressed vigorously.

      Reply to @Lenny Griever: Under table, under water like most of the iceberg. You only see the size when they do something like vote with the US and Micronesia
      when the UN General Assembly gets upset over Israeli territorial predation.

  2. Peter, have you ever asked yourself why would the leaders of the jewish community here in Canada squander their resources fighting the wrong people?

    CIJA, BB and some prominent jewish MPs are after all jews, not Israelis, real antisemites are a direct threat to their way of life here in Canada, Anti-Zionists are not.

    1. Maybe jews here in Canada identify themselves with Israel to the extent that for them anti-zionism is anti-semitism

    2. Maybe Canadian jews thinks that sometimes Anti-zionism is actually a dog whistle for antisemites

    3. Maybe these guys are more committed to Israel than to their own community and prefer to go after anti-Zionists rather than going after antisemites

    4. Maybe we ran out of antisemitism in Canadian mainstream to the extent that BB and CIJA’s can only justify their existence by chasing anti-zionists

    What would be your explanation to that phenomena?

    1. Ahik, it would have been interesting and useful if you told us why you support Zionist goals and tactics. In my experience, no two Jews are alike and there are many possible answers to your question.

      Many have told me that they believe that Jews need Israel as a refuge, a safe haven against antisemitism; those people believe that Israel will protect them if they need it. I was told this as a child by Holocaust survivors who were convinced that antisemitism would rise again and that Israel was necessary to survival. I believe that that is an honest belief.

      Others have told me that they see Israel as land given to the Jews (descendants of Abraham) by G-d and that it is the religious duty of Jews to return to that land and build a Jewish State there. They want to support that mission even though they are comfortable here and do not personally want to go to Israel and help to build the Holy Land. They believe that the non-Jews, including descendants of Jews who converted and other descendants of Abraham, are interlopers so that the land is essentially empty and waiting for the Jews to return. I have heard the slogan, “A land without people for a people without a land”. I believe that many of them honestly believe that they are serving G-d by supporting Israel.

      In other cases, Canadian Jews are part of a family that was separated by the Holocaust and they want to support friends and family who ended up in Israel. They see this as a duty and I believe them.

      For some, the confutation of anti-semitism with Anti-Zionism is a political tactic. They know that so many people are horrified by the events of the last century that nobody wants to be accused of anti-semitism or to defend someone who is accused of anti-semitism. By identifying those who want Israel to reform as anti-semitic, they can weaken them and help to make sure that Israel continues to get support for its re-occupation project.

      Those are a few of the reasons that I have heard from my fellow Jews (including friends and family). Now, please tell us what your reasons are.

      By the way, I don’t think any of the above arguments justify doing unto others what we would not want done to us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s