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March 24, 2010

Bloc Québécois resign from the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism

Reuel S. Amdur

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This month the two Bloc Québécois members of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism resigned.

Luc Desnoyers and Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Luc were part of the Coalition, but their adherence has always been somewhat tentative. 

When the Bloc members originally joined, they did so because the Bloc “believes that it is necessary to combat anti-Semitism and racism.” 

They commented on a declaration in London on the basis of which various national parliamentary coalitions have been formed, and which says in part that anti-Semitism includes efforts to isolate Israel and act against it internationally. 

The Bloc commented that that “gives a blank cheque to the State of Israel.”  Thus, the Bloc cautioned the members of the Coalition that “we are prepared to work to fight effectively against anti-Semitism.  On the other hand, if the members of the coalition attempt to confuse criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, the Bloc Québécois will re-evaluate its participation in this coalition.”

According to Bloc MP Luc Desnoyers, the moment of truth occurred at the end of last year, when the coalition decided not to hear presentations from the Canadian Arab Federation and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. 

He reiterated: “Racism is not limited to anti-Semitism, and criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism.” 

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden is not an anti-Semite for his remarks about construction for Jewish settlers in Jerusalem.

Back in August last year, Independent Jewish Voices issued a submission to the coalition challenging its very existence.  “Despite protestations to the contrary, the CPCCA conflates legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism” in its assertion that “calls for the destruction of the State of Israel are inherently antisemitic.”  It appears that the Bloc came to share their viewpoint.

Independent Jewish Voices also challenged the CPCCA’s assertion that “the extent and severity of antisemitism is regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War.” 

IJV cited studies by the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy which “found very low levels of anti-Semitism,” as well as the U.S. Anti-Defamation League’s 2002 survey, which recorded a decline from 29% in 1964 to 17% in 2002.

IJV challenged as well the truth of the coalition’s contention that Jewish students on campuses “are being threatened and intimidated to the point that they are not able to express pro-Israel sentiments freely, or are even fearful to wear a Jewish skull cap or Jewish Star of David around their necks.”

When Parliament re-convened after the prorogation, Conservative MP Tim Uppal introduced a motion denouncing anti-apartheid week.  It failed to get unanimous consent.  Then, Bloc Québécois MP Claude De Bellefeuille introduced another:

“That this House denounces the use of the word apartheid to describe the Israeli policy toward the Palestinians and of the term anti-Semitic for all criticism of Israel, and that this House reaffirms as well its support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security within definite and established borders, and reaffirms as well its support for the right of the Palestinian people to have its own State with clear borders and to live there in peace and security.”  This motion also failed to get unanimous consent.

There is one aspect of the effort to conflate opposition to Israel and/or its practices with anti-Semitism that has failed to get the attention it deserves.

The confusion of the two is a gift to genuine anti-Semites, as it puts them in good company, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and even Joe Biden and Barack Obama. 

Those pushing this destructive line are doing the opposition to anti-Semitism no favor whatever.  They serve only as a tool of Israeli propaganda. 

Reuel Amdur is a freelance writer based near Ottawa.

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