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September 7, 2010

Jason Kenney spending $451,280 of taxpayers’ dollars, is antisemitism the real target?

Reuel S. Amdur

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Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, is doling out $451,280 of taxpayers' dollars to the Parliamentary Centre to hold a conference on combating antisemitism from November 7 to 9.

The Parliamentary Centre is a non-governmental organization promoting parliamentary democracy around the world.

Kenney declared that the funding of the conference is part of the government’s commitment to fight antisemitism: “Canada strives to be an international leader in fighting the pernicious evil of antisemitism.” 

It is projected that the conference will involve international participants.  In addition to the conference itself, there is to be a forum of experts to explore the topic from various angles.  The steering committee will include participation of both B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Is the conference and the forum to be an oversized pep rally for Israel? 

Let’s hear the thoughts of Bernie Farber, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress: “Criticism of Israel crosses into antisemitism when it calls into question the legitimacy of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.” 

John Follows, in the New Dictionary of American Politics, defines antisemitism thus: “Hatred for and legal and social discrimination against Jews, practiced by many people throughout history, and, in modern times, by German National Socialists and their imitators.” 

When Farber tries to add references to the state of Israel, he is dragging a red herring in, for the purpose of defending Israel, not in order to have any impact, whether practically or in scholarship, on the real evil of antisemitism. 

We must treat his organization’s involvement on the steering committee with a certain suspicion.

Kenney calls for “zero tolerance” for antisemitism, whether “in international fora or on Canadian university campuses.” 

By the fora, he has references to UN activities.  Reference to university campuses clearly implies Anti-Apartheid Week, many of whose activists are Jews. 

B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the likes of Jason Kenney constantly spread the lie that Anti-Apartheid Week is a “hate-fest”, but they never offer any evidence of real antisemitism there. 

Simply because the week is critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, Israel’s ardent defenders paint it with the same brush that they apply to bigots like Ernst Zundel.  No doubt that makes Zundel very happy.

Among the participants at the conference are representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and its Canadian counterpart. 

The Canadian Coalition is the Mr. No of organizations.  It refuses to reveal the source of its funding and it refuses to hear or consider submissions from groups and individuals whose views are not in line with those of the “official” Jewish organizations. 

For example, Independent Jewish Voices was not invited to appear.

Will the whole program be one of defense of Israel, or will antisemitism be examined as something distinct from opposition to Zionism? 

If it is not simply to be a justification of Israel, perhaps we might expect an invitation for Dr. Michael Keefer to attend. 

He has produced a volume, Antisemitism Real and Imagined, which looks at the issue. 

Contrary to the hysteria of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition, Keefer offers evidence of the weakness of antisemitism in Canada and the United States. 

The question arises: to what extent are we experiencing a campaign of fear-mongering?  Keefer could add something substantial to a genuine examination of the issue.

And a final question. 

If one looks at the incidents of hate crime on the basis of religion, Jews and Muslims are both targets in Canada these days. 

To say that antisemitism is weak is not to say that it is nonexistent. 

However, can we look forward to an equally well-funded conference to examine Islamophobia? 

Does Jason Kenney’s Canada strive “to be an international leader in fighting the pernicious evil” of Islamophobia?

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