Mike Fegelman, Executive director HonestReporting Canada, an Israel advocacy organization, is in full damage control. After three successive reports by authoritative organizations alleging that Israel practices apartheid, and the election of the most far right Israeli government in recent history, Israel’s reputation is taking a hit in Canada. “Israel, like Canada, is an imperfect country”, Fegelman pleads in a recent op ed in the Hill Times. Of course, Canada IS imperfect, but it does not have overt racists in its government and has not been accused of apartheid by reputable organizations. Read more...
“Israel, like Canada, is an imperfect country, but nevertheless it is a vibrant liberal democracy“, argued Mike Fegelman in a recent op ed in the Hill Times (available on the website of his organization Honest Reporting Canada.) “Although Israel has elected officials whose views may be outside the mainstream”, he continued, “so does every other democracy.”
“Outside the mainstream”, is an understatement. Even the Jerusalem Post calls two of the recently elected members of Knesset, Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvirand “racist and fascist”.
Their extremist views are certainly far outside of the mainstream in Canada, or any other western democracy.
Unfortunately, Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are not so far out of the Israeli mainstream – in fact they have enough political support that they can demand, and are likely to be given, key positions in the new Netanyahu government.
It is a measure of how right wing Israeli society has become that Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, quips sarcastically that Netanyahu may be the “the last fortress standing between loathsome, Jewish-fundamentalist racism and an ordinary apartheid state.”
Fegelman is covering up an awkward fact, Israeli society has become increasingly nationalistic and racist. “ A majority of Israel’s Jewish population — about 62% — identifies as right-wing”, notes the Los Angeles Times, “young Israeli Jews (70%) are more right-wing than older Israeli Jews. (…) It reflects sustained political efforts to promote a doctrine of Jewish supremacy.”
Pro-Israel coalition in Canada fragmenting
Fegelman seems to have been particularly worried by possible defections from the pro-Israel camp.
He took specific aim at Ben Murane and Esther Enkin of the New Israel Fund of Canada, who have raised the alarm about the new Israeli government. In an earlier HillsTime oped, entitled “Tell the Canadian government to stand up for democratic values in Israel”, they underline how successive Israel governments have “seen laws passed demoting Arabs to second-class citizens, incitement against political opponents, attempts to wholesale deport African asylum seekers, and near annexation of the occupied West Bank.“
Fegelman attacks Murane and Enkin for being worried over this and over other racist proposals like “legalizing gay ‘conversion therapy,’ deporting ‘disloyal’ citizens, creating a ‘Ministry of Migration’ to encourage Arab citizens to self-deport, accelerated dispossession of Palestinian land,” and so on”. Fegelman chalks this all up to Israel’s proportional voting system which allows a wide range of views to be expressed.
In fact, Fegelman is concerned that the Murane and Enkinarticle points to a deeper problem for Israel: as it moves to the right, it is losing the support of liberal Jews in North America.
‘Israel Is a Red State, U.S. Jewry Is Blue’: argues journalist and historian Eric Alterman, referring to the profound political differences between “red” Republicans and more liberal “blue” Democrats in the USA.
Israel’s continued slide toward overt fascism is also a problem for the Canadian government which has made the claim that Canada “shares values” with Israel.
Murane and Enkin want the “Canadian government to stand up for democratic values in Israel”. That will require the Canadian government to accept that Israeli society doesn’t really share our values after all.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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