Several Canadian pro-Israel groups express alarm over right wing Israeli extremism

The return of Benjamin Netanyahu and the election of overt racists and homophobes like Ben Gvir (l) and Bezalel Smotrich (r) in Israel has caused concerns among Canada’s traditionally liberal Jewish community. They fear that it represents a real threat to the rights of women, LGBT, and other minorities. But others, including some Jews, point out that for Palestinians, this is just one more step along a road that started in 1948. Read more…

Responding to news that Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu has sworn in the most hardline government in Israel’s history, six progressive Canadian Jewish organizations have issued a public statement calling on others to join in the fight against Israeli extremism.

” Israel’s new government (…) will accelerate settlement construction and upend the status quo with the Palestinians, (and…) weaken the judicial system. Prime Minister Netanyahu has given extremists the helms of key ministries with expanded powers capable of igniting more violence.

We urge Canadian Jewish leaders, institutions, and the government that represents us in foreign affairs to aid Israelis fighting for liberal democracy and to reject extremism, even when it emanates from sitting Israeli ministers.

The statement was signed by six Canadian liberal Zionist organizations:

Liberal Jews in Washington demonstrate against new Netanyahu government

The strongly worded statement was aimed at reassuring their own liberal membership that they oppose Israel’s most recent turn to the extreme right.

Implicitly, it was also a rebuke to reflexively pro-Israel Jewish organizations like CIJA, B’nai Brith Canada and Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who have either downplayed the results of the election or ignored it completely.

And in part it was a wakeup call to the Canadian government which has for years been claiming that Canada and Israel share “common values” and that the establishment organizations speak for the entire Canadian Jewish community.

An even stronger letter was circulated separately by Canadian Friends of Peace Now.

“A new, ultra-nationalist government is about to take office in Israel, and it means business. The profound change underway is encapsulated by the slogan: “It’s time to be the landlords in our country.” (…) , it wrote.

Landlords in our country” is code for Jewish supremacy on both sides of the Green Line

– Canadian Friends of Peace Now

“Landlords in our country” is code for: Jewish supremacy on both sides of the Green Line, continued CFPN, “de facto annexation of large swaths of the West Bank, brutal enforcement of the occupation, and erosion of human rights. (…) The incoming “landlords” have already made threatening noises about measures to hamstring civil society organizations. LGBTQ and women’s rights are also in jeopardy because of the ultra-Orthodox partners in government, wrote CFPN

But a danger to Israel’s “founding values”?

CFPN’s appeal ends up claiming that that the new government’s “extremist agenda is inimical to Israel’s founding values of justice, equality, freedom and peace”.

Those “founding values” do, in fact, appear in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. But they were never incorporated into its “Basic laws” which serve as the Israeli constitution, and have never guided Israel’s actual policy toward the Palestinians.

For the Palestinians, the “new” Netanyahu government appears to be just one more step along a long trajectory that began with the Nakba in 1948, and has continued with apartheid-like policies everywhere Israel rules, argues Peter Beinart in a recent blog post.

Zionism was never a democratic project”, argues Beinart. ” It wanted liberal democracy for Jews. But the illiberal anti-democratic elements of this new government with respect to Palestinians is not really a break from the norm. It’s actually really a consolidation, or a new twist on, very, very old patterns.”

Israel could only be a democracy for Jews, continues Beinart, by expelling most of the Palestinians, making Jews the majority in a country where Jews had been in the minority.

CFPN, NIFC and others are to be congratulated for their willingness to stand up to Israel’s Canadian apologists like CIJA and B’nai Brith Canada. But they should not forget that the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians, did not begin with Netanyahu, but with the project to create a Jewish-majority state in Palestine by expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinaians over 75 years ago.

Dont Miss: OFIP Webinar January 18th @ 1 p.m. Ottawa time
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3 comments

  1. Sadly, Canada remains tied politically through our current government to the Israeli government, just as it remains in lockstep with the American government.
    Imagine having a national policy insisting on a two-state solution for the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, while continuously voting against UN resolutions meant to strive toward reaching a two-state solution.
    There is a nasty name for people who talk the good talk, but then walk another’s walk when push comes to shove.

  2. As the Israeli veteran journalist Gideon Levy, who’s very closely involved in what’s happening in regard to treatment of Palestinians and Israeli policies for about 35 years, wrote this talking to the Israeli left ( if there is any left voice still),

    This is an excerpt from an article by the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy. November, 3 , 22.
    Jake.

    For years, Israelis have been about the Chosen People, about the Holocaust after which anything is permitted, about the Arabs who want to throw us into the sea, about our right to the land because of the biblical stories, about the IDF as the world’s most moral army, about David versus Goliath, about Israeli Arabs as a fifth column, about the whole world being against us and that anyone who criticizes us is an antisemite. What did we think would arise out of all that? Ben-Gvir actually took his time.

    He could well have made his big splash a long time ago. That’s what happens when cries of “Death to the Arabs,” which will now be drilled at morning assembly in schools, were not met with a single cry of “Freedom for the Arabs.” That is where it began, this is where it ends.

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