Society

The Israel Taboo

Money and sex aren’t the only things Canadians don’t talk about

From the January/February 2014 magazine
Illustration by Peter Ryan

Last summer, I went on a canoe trip down the Petawawa River, paddling the same rapids Pierre Trudeau once travelled. In the middle of this iconic Canadian scene, a friend and I started chatting about Israel. As our voices slowly rose, two other canoes approached, and we all put down our paddles for an impromptu summit. Surrounded by and oblivious to the peace and tranquility of Algonquin Provincial Park in central Ontario, we started arguing. Is a corrupt occupation ruining Zionism? Is boycotting Israel anti-Semitic? Are Israelis guilty of human rights violations? How much responsibility should Palestinians take for their situation? Our token WASP kept quiet, unable to get a word in, until finally he asked, “How will they ever figure out how to get along in the Middle East? Even the Montreal Jews can’t agree.”

No matter what you say about Israel, someone will get angry. Venturing to question the Jewish state gets you labelled an anti-Semite by right-wing Zionists, but left-wing activists can be just as vicious. Admit that you want Israel to remain a safe haven for Jews, and you’ll be told your Zionism is racist. My Jewish friends are scared of lefties, and my lefty friends are scared of Zionists. As a lefty Jew, I’m scared of both.

A few years ago, I gave a talk in Los Angeles at the University of California’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, where I spent a semester during a post-doctoral fellowship. I was making the case that Israelis in the occupied territories misuse Holocaust memory when they argue that settling Palestinian land is necessary to guard against a second Holocaust. A representative of a Zionist watchdog organization showed up, ostensibly to guard against anti-Semitism in Middle Eastern studies departments. When he posted his misunderstanding of my lecture online, I received a series of standard threats from strangers. One expressed a hope that I would “show [my] sincerity by leading the way to the gas chambers,” while another stated, somewhat ungrammatically, that I was “carrying a death wish for himself.” Within twenty-four hours, my post-doctoral supervisor in Montreal got an email saying I was a “turd” who would “shit his pants” if I was put “on the front lines.” This entirely accurate insult highlighted an unacknowledged truth: talking about Israel does put you on the front lines. When emotions explode into anger and accusations start flying, you are no longer discussing the conflict. You are a part of it.

My media activist friends have a traditional Marxist theory about why it’s so tough to talk about Israel. For them, it boils down to power, which means money. Zionist money funds lobby groups and media watchdogs that attack the pro-Palestinian media. My friends argue that this creates a climate of antagonism, and that many media outlets systematically avoid the question of Israel because it’s too much hassle to deal with the backlash.

Wait a second. Are my lefty friends saying Jews control the media?

The left has a long tradition of such anti-Semitic clichés. You may recall the scandal in 2004 when the Vancouver magazine Adbusters published an article titled “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?,” which infamously listed “the 50 most influential neocons in the US,” with black dots beside the Jewish names. But keep in mind the watchdog organization that targeted me at UCLA. There certainly are well-funded Zionist groups that pressure and attack anyone perceived to be critical of Israel. It is intimidating; one has to think twice before talking publicly or writing about the conflict.

This is because the weapons of this war are not only bullets, stones, tanks, and explosive jackets. The extremists attack and defend with words or, more specifically, with invocations of the Holocaust and accusations of genocide—to the point of absurdity. Today, almost twenty years after Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, comparisons with Nazi Germany have become cynical clichés. Palestinians put swastikas on Israeli flags, Israelis compare Arab leaders to Hitler, and Zionist settlers accuse those proposing to withdraw settlements of being complicit in the final solution. Given the number of so-called Nazis out there, you would think Germany had won the damn war.

Debates rage over whether anti-Zionism can be defined as the new anti-Semitism. The Palestinian-driven campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions attempts to link Zionism and Israel to apartheid-era racism in South Africa. Since the 1980s, members of Israel’s hasbara programs have used academic, religious, and government resources to teach Zionists rhetorical tactics and ideological strategies to defend Israel against criticism in social media and elsewhere (if you are reading this online, you may hear from them in the comments below). While hasbara translates as “explanation,” this Internet-era “public diplomacy” more often resembles old-school propaganda.

The problem with this linguistic warfare is that it re-entrenches existing positions. Everyone wants to convince, and no one wants to listen.

In highlighting the role of money in shutting down the conversation about Israel, my Marxist friends miss an essential point: extremist ideological positions would not be so effective, or appealing, if they didn’t tap in to real emotions and fears. You can’t understand the way many Canadian Jews are deeply attached to Zionism, to the point of being unable to consider another point of view, without addressing Holocaust survivors and the history of anti-Semitism in Canada, and in Montreal in particular.

Canadian Jews, while liberal in many ways, are surprisingly right wing when it comes to Zionism. According to a census analysis done in 2006, 25 percent of American Jews identify as Zionist, while 42 percent of Canadian Jews do. Toronto and Montreal have some of the highest rates of visitation to Israel of any Jewish community in North America, at 75 percent. This gives the impression of a seemingly univocal, unconditional support for the Israeli state in Canada, at least within the Jewish community.

Toronto and Montreal are quite different from Tel Aviv, where I went in early 2012 to interview Jews who had become pro-Palestinian activists. We sat in the cafés, and while these Israelis criticized their government, raged against the power of the settlers, and testified to Palestinian suffering under the occupation, I kept looking nervously over my shoulder. “Relax,” one refusenik told me. “This is Israel. You say what you want here.”

Back in Canada, I visited the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre to ask Jacqueline Celemencki, the education coordinator, why Canadian Jews are more conservative in their Zionism. Her answer is simple—and difficult. After World War II, Montreal received the third-largest group of Holocaust survivors in the world. “The Holocaust plays a critical role,” she says. “It dismantled and destroyed generations and generations of Jewish life that will never be re-established in many countries, so the only hope for the future is a collective identity based on this controversial and contested piece of land.”

She points out that among Montreal Jews, as in many victimized groups concerned with survival, a mistrustful attitude persists. Unity and solidarity within the community are valued more than debate and dissent. This resonates with the experience of many young Montreal Jews I know, who are more comfortable talking critically about Israel in Tel Aviv or New York.

Yet New York and Israel took in even more Holocaust survivors than Montreal after the war. So why are New York Jews more liberal, and why is it easier to trash-talk Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv? I met Stephanie Schwartz to discuss these questions over coffee in Mile End, one of Montreal’s historical Jewish neighbourhoods, where I live and where my father went to Talmud Torah. She does research for an online museum of Montreal’s Jewish community, has a Ph.D. in religious studies (specializing in Canadian studies), and researches multicultural Canadian Jewish identity.

She explains that in Montreal, the centre of Canadian Jewish life up until the 1980s, most Jews never felt fully accepted. Caught between the two solitudes and victimized by European-imported anti-Semitism, Jews were excluded not once but twice over, from both French and English institutions, which made it difficult to get hospital jobs and university spots. While the city harboured pockets of British and French brands of nationalism, neither appealed to eastern European immigrants. American republicanism encouraged Jews to hop into the melting pot, but Canada’s bicultural, and subsequently multicultural, structure encouraged more segregated ethnic identifications. Unlike their American cousins, who helped define fast-talking, neurotic New York, Montreal Jews rarely felt included or welcome in Canada’s national project. Hence the appeal of Zionism, and the distant utopia of Israel, a place that is controlled by the Jews.

Trauma also plays a role in shutting down the conversation. Too often, the word gets used as a synonym for violence. More properly, the Greek word for “wound” refers to how past violence can haunt victims by seeming to reappear in the present. This obfuscates our perception of the present and impedes our capacity to respond appropriately to contemporary situations. Trauma can also refer to the impact or effects of violence that we are unaware of, and that we may not have directly experienced. Scholars define this as second-generational trauma, endured by parents and transmitted to children, but it is not only passed on through families. Stories about historical violence circulate in the media, the news, movies, and oral histories. What scholars refer to as traumatic discourses can affect people in subtle ways, even if they or their parents were not victimized personally.

Jews have lived within traumatic narratives for a long time. The technical name for this is Judaism. For thousands of years, people have been kicking the shit out of Jews. Long before the Holocaust, our history was already a litany of disasters and ritual commemorations of victimization. As my relatives often joke on Passover, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”

Illustration by Peter Ryan

I didn’t exactly grow up on the mean streets of Babylonia. In the Vancouver suburb of White Rock, I was the only Jewish kid any of my friends knew, and I don’t think they had any opinions about Jews either way. Mostly, I was the same as any white suburban kid, easily accepted by Canadian society. No one would have even known I was Jewish if I hadn’t kept talking about it.

In 1978, when I was seven, my father decided it was time for my Jewish education, which commenced with NBC’s Holocaust miniseries. It was the first time he had spoken to me as if I were an adult. I was wide eyed with amazement, and excited to stay up past my bedtime. For the first time, I saw the images from the concentration camps, emaciated corpses piled up on top of one another, a jumble of bones. Those scenes were burned onto my retinas, and they have remained imprinted on my mind ever since. Just as important was the story that went with them. My dad looked me straight in the eye and told me this has been happening to our people for thousands of years, and who knows where, who knows when—but it could happen again.

What does a kid do with that kind of information? I never experienced this eternal Jew hatred, but it became a permanent theme in the fantasy world of my suburban backyard. I didn’t play cowboys and Indians. It was always me against Hitler. That bastard. But this childhood fantasy was not just a game. In a deep sense, I was convinced that I wasn’t really Canadian. From an early age, I figured that if push came to shove Canadians would turn against me.

One day, I snuck out to buy licorice from a convenience store a few blocks away. I looked up at the man behind the counter and wondered if he would ever put me and my little sister into a concentration camp. Now, that’s a pretty messed-up thing for a ten-year-old to think. What’s even crazier is that years later when I remembered his face, I realized that the man must have been Pakistani.

During the ’70s and ’80s, my formative years, British Columbia was rife with overt racism. I only heard seven or eight anti-Semitic jokes in high school, mostly rugby players at high school dances singing, “She’s got the nose that kills,” to the tune of Mötley Crüe. But I must have heard thousands of anti-Pakistani, anti-Chinese, and anti-Aboriginal “jokes” that were part of a process of real discrimination. Like many white Canadian teenagers searching for approval from their peers back then, I repeated those jokes. Convinced I was a victim, I was oblivious to the victimization of others around me and, to my shame, even participated in it. This is what traumatic narratives can do: blind us to the victimization of others, whether Pakistani or Palestinian.

It is hard to conceive of Jews as an oppressed minority when our prime minister fully supports Israel, has established the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and works overtime to court the Jewish vote. But does that mean anti-Semitism is a relic, part of Canada’s ugly history of discrimination, or is it a lingering potential that could re-emerge at any time?

If I am honest with myself, and with you, I have to admit that I’m still not sure. On the very day I write this, Pauline Marois’s PQ is presenting the Charter of Quebec Values, which proposes forbidding Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others from wearing religious symbols if they work in publicly funded institutions. Many, including me, see this as primarily a white francophone response to Muslims in Quebec, but many of my Jewish friends are freaking out. Saying Jews can’t wear yarmulkes, or telling Montreal Holocaust survivors to take Hebrew off their storefronts, is guaranteed to trigger traumatic associations, conjuring up the 1935 Nuremberg laws in Germany, which were designed to restrict the Jewish presence in public life.

Now, hold on: I am not calling Marois a Nazi, but this threat has triggered a long-standing sense of exclusion and a fear of non-belonging among Jews as well as many Muslims, immigrants, and people of colour. I am certainly not immune to it. My battles with Hitler were imaginary, but my father grew up Orthodox in Quebec and was called maudit juif (“cursed Jew”), regularly harassed, attacked a few times, and even beaten up for being Jewish. It is easy to entertain the paranoia that the Québécois have remained anti-Semitic, and to imagine that anti-Semitism is secretly, silently lurking beneath the surface—an eternal conspiracy, as in Le péril juif.

This is what makes the fear of anti-Semitism so difficult to get over. When you are raised to think your people always have been and always will be persecuted, it becomes hard to know if there is actual, immediate danger. This is how trauma works: historical violence haunts you so much that you can’t tell if a threat has actually reappeared or whether it is only an apparition. Traumatic violence isn’t just something that happened to you or your parents or even your grandparents. It is an abstract, intangible threat that hangs over your head, and makes it tough to figure out who the victims are, right now. Religious Jews and Muslims in Montreal? Indigenous peoples across Canada? Palestinians in the West Bank? Traumatic narratives blur our perceptions of victimhood past and present. Perhaps this affects Marois’s PQ as much as it does Montreal Jews.

When historical trauma—such as Canadian anti-Semitism, or the English oppression of the French in Quebec—haunts the present, it disables change, reigniting ancient fears and making us feel vulnerable, shutting down any possibility for real dialogue. A few years ago, I saw this in action. In a large auditorium at McGill University, a Palestinian doctor from Toronto, Izzeldin Abuelaish, was invited to discuss his book, I Shall Not Hate. His story is tragic and moving: three of his daughters were killed in Israel’s 2008–09 bombing of Gaza. As he shared his story, demonstrating his refusal to hate or demonize Jews, I looked around the audience and saw a wide variety of Jewish faces that were open, listening. They were not peaceniks or Zionists, just regular people. Abuelaish had found a way to talk to these Canadian Jews, to truly communicate with them, enabling them to witness the depth and tragedy of Palestinian suffering. It was extraordinary. In that moment, you could feel the possibility of a less violent future.

After he finished, a voice spoke out. The man started respectfully but grew more strident, trumpeting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. When he compared Israel with South Africa, a sad thing happened. The room divided in two. One side clapped in support, while the tentative but open faces on the other side closed and turned angry. The bridge Abuelaish had been building collapsed. The comparison to South Africa returned the conversation to the battlefield. After years of watching such exchanges, I realized this: when anger erupts and people start attacking each other, we re-enact the violent antagonism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war itself explodes into the middle of our conversations.

Illustration by Peter Ryan

Twenty years ago, I lived briefly in Safed, in northern Israel. This blue-painted artists’ colony became the centre of Jewish mysticism in the sixteenth century, when prominent Sephardic rabbis, expelled from Spain, moved to Palestine and popularized the Kabbalah. I ended up there because I was bored with school, so I dropped out of my second year at the University of British Columbia and took a construction job to pay for a ticket to Israel. After five months living in the Old City of Jerusalem, I travelled to quiet Safed to explore my spirituality and meditate at the graves of kabbalistic rabbis. It was a wonderful and profound experience, and I felt I was connecting to my history.

Ten years later, I found myself sitting on a couch in Toronto, chatting past midnight with a Palestinian Canadian friend, Hanadi Loubani. One story led to another, and finally she told me about her father. He had grown up just outside of Sa’sa’, a Palestinian village near Safed. In 1948, the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah Jewish Paramilitary, attacked the village as part of Operation Hiram and expelled all of the Palestinians who had not already fled. Nostalgic for his birthplace and unable to return home, Hanadi’s father would tell her bedtime stories about his childhood in Palestine. The story she remembered best was the one about his long, lonely walk to school. For company, he would tie a tin can to his shoe and kick it all the way to class.

The story of that tin can jolted me. While I was connecting to a mystical history in Safed, someone else was unable to return to his home a few villages over. Blam! In that moment, it hit me. I felt this other person’s suffering. Something tight and defensive inside me softened and relaxed a little. Israel was no longer just my story.

As a Jew raised on a traumatic narrative, I will always be sensitive to the history of anti-Semitism. I can’t, and won’t, forget certain things. But as a Canadian, I also feel implicated in the injustices of others. Sometimes, I will take a break from feeling Jewish guilt about the plight of Palestinians, and take a turn feeling guilty about the suffering of Indigenous peoples right here in Canada. For Jews, or anyone raised on a traumatic narrative, addressing and acknowledging the stories of other victims will help us to move on and to foster among all Canadians a greater sense of belonging.

There is a reason the phrase “cycle of violence” has become a cliché for describing intractable conflicts: it highlights how violence imprisons us in a repetitive loop of victimization, fear, anger, and retaliation. Acts of aggression, by Israelis or Palestinians, are invariably justified as counterattacks. Whether defensive, retributive, or even pre-emptive, one side’s violence is perpetually explained as a response to the other’s. Like children in a playground, everyone yells, “He started it!”

But anger is not power; it is impotence. When we yell, we throw away our agency, and the power to stop the cycle of violence. Defensive walls protect us from the enemy, but they also block our capacity for change and growth.

The voice of Jewish suffering in Canada and elsewhere is important, and well established, but the realities of Palestinian suffering have yet to transform the Canadian conversation. The future of Israel will not be created by fighting the ghost of Hitler in our backyard. All of us must calmly, consciously refuse to engage in the war of words, whether genuinely traumatic or deliberately funded, that silences debate.

As home to both Jewish and Palestinian diasporas, Canada is a place to let down defensive barriers and have a real conversation, one that will open the door to a new becoming. This is, after all, the dream of a dynamic, multicultural country: to reinvent ourselves and our communities, and to loosen the grip of traumatic pasts. This has nothing to do with guilt or righteousness. Refusing anger and starting a genuine dialogue about Israel is the only way to meet the future.

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  • Fiona MacCool

    Wonderful and brave article – I am one of your leftist types married into a Jewish Canadian family so I avoid the subject as best I can with both sides. My family are Northern Ireland Catholics so I know something of deeply entrenched conflicts where being a moderate is the most rhetorically dangerous position of all.

  • http://burnsthefire.com/ Burns the Fire

    Have you heard of compassionate listening? Brave, smart and reading between the lines- a peaceful heart. Looking forward to reading the solution.

  • Dan_Lowe

    Wow, if your article didn’t come at the perfect time of my day. I posted an article today about Israel’s new law regarding illegal African immigrants, and my wife’s friend reached across two cities and dropped the label “anti-semite” in my lap. I was flabbergasted, since I usually post this kind of stuff on my wall about EVERYBODY else. How come Israel can’t receive similar critiques? Thanks for posting this. It’s appreciated.

  • Sara Farah

    Excellent article, and like Fiona said, brave indeed. I too am looking forward to reading the rest. Everything so far rings true. It is a difficult topic to discuss without being labelled as something by any of the parties involved. I often chose to remain quiet on the subject to avoid conflict, especially since I cannot offer a viable solution to the present situation. One thing I will say though, which I hope all can agree with: no good can come from actions rooted in fear…

  • clivel

    The writer is more than a little disingenuous with his rather transparent attempt at undermining debate by pre-dismissing any dissenting opinions as mere ‘hasbara’.

    In truth however, worldwide, the so called Jewish lobby has failed. The Western press with relatively few exceptions acts as a powerful propaganda machine for the Palestinian narrative which they have bought lock stock and barrel.

    If anything one wonders what part the far more secretive, far more powerful, and far better funded (Saudi money) Arab lobby have played in the anti-Israel onslaught spread by influential media machines such as the BBC which was forced to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds suppressing the Balen report which threatened to expose the BBC’s lack of impartiality towards Israel.

    • ScrapPaper

      To suggest that Canadian newspapers are anti-Israel and have “bought” the Palestinian narrative is laughable. Canadians have to read the foreign press for accurate coverage of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The Canadian press is too cowardly.

      • EinKarim

        Even your foreign press is inaccurate. In the Israel-palestine conflicts the least amount of civilians have been killed compared to any other middle eastern conflict. If you want to discuss ethnic cleansing look at the statistics of the Syrian civil war.

    • promich

      There’s this little newspaper called the New York Times that might have heard of.

    • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

      Thank you see my comment above. I learned what rethoric was. This is snotty rethoric. He accuses people of accusing and accuses ppl right at the bottom of his articl. The author is mentally ill I say…or has no idea what he is talking about

    • beestyng

      I am not Palestinian, but from where I stand, the press bends backwards to accommodate those who speak on behalf of Israel. Rosen was on the CBC this morning and who was the other speaker? Not a Palestinian Canadian – the other party in the said conflict – but Jonathan Kay, an apologist of Israel. We very rarely hear the Palestinian or Arab views on our airwaves. Is this what you call “impartialility towards Israel”?

      • Gabor Fränkl

        LOL! ROFL. So one represents the Palestinians as an aggressive anti-Israel hater, while the other rather agrees with Israel and you complain! You couldn’t make it up, it’s so laughable. IOf anything, Rosen’s malicious lies and hatred stand in stark contrast with his opponent’s rather mild and detached manner in “defense” of Israel.

        • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

          You make no sense whatsoever. Even I came here to dissagree with Rosen`s article, but you aren’t making this any worse for Rosen. You continually accuse people of being anti-sementic and being exposed to propaganda they have never heard of. Yet you can`t develop a single logical argument without going besides the point. Some aggree in part with this article, some not at all. Most dissagree with the very end of the article. Why is this so hard to beleive or understand? You`re acting out and making no sense. Use Canadian english please!. You sound like an emo english goblin. A…rather pompous emo english goblin that is yet rather vacuous. (GIGGLE) MUAHAHA

  • promich

    Some good points, though it seems a bit cowardly to avoid the subject of the diproportionate deathtoll of the current conflict.

  • Oingo

    Pardon my ignorance or misinterpretation but I don’t see how this article address all Canadians.. I do think the title is appropriate though for reasons not mentioned. You don’t have to look far to see how powerful Jews are. That said I am thankful for their unrelenting quest for wealth and status as they are some of the best professionals in their fields and in half of century can’t recall dealing with any that were less then excellent. I think that Canadian’s reluctance to discuss Israel is only a portion of it. I myself refrain from discussing anything related to Judaism for several reasons. 1. I don’t have an insiders point of view. 2. I don’t have anyone that is interested in changing that. 3. I don’t have anybody that is interested in discussing it, I suspect for reasons similar to my own which are for fear of offending someone that can alter things for the worse. Many years ago I noticed that many everyday products that I would say are not specifically intended for Jewish consumption are marked with the kosher symbols of the religious organization that certified them Curious I inquired about one that I used as I felt that it being certified as being kosher was about as far away from the definition of edible or for consumption that I had around. One such product is A well know laundry detergent made by Proctor and Gamble.I called them and inquired if they could let me know how laundry detergent is made kosher, if money was paid for the certification and if so is recorded in any way that was available for me to look at. I also asked if any monies paid to the organizations were considered a religious donation. I did not receive any of this information and was treated not as a lifelong customer but as someone that is making them uncomfortable by asking and pretty much stonewalled. Strangely enough, I have since stopped using the product even though CR rates it as the best since I found out it contains the highest amount of the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane via the testing done by David Steinman from the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG)

    • beestyng

      The conflict is not about religion. So, please ask and learn more about Judaism. in fact, the current push-back that we see comes from Jews who do not agree that what Israel is doing – in their name no less – is consistent with the values taught by Judaism. The attempt to conflate Israel and Judaism is a shielding trick. Israel is not a religion.

      • Gabor Fränkl

        And what share of those “Jews” are of the whole? 0.1 % or less? Ooh, why is that so?

        • beestyng

          Jews Against the Occupation, Not in My Name, Independent Jewish Voices and many more. Numbers are growing. Don’t kid yourself. Young American Jews who value human rights are turning away from blind support of Israel, There are now Open Hillel and the first to defy HQ Hillel, Swarthmore College Hillel, are trying to remove the tight noose that AIPAC et al. have instituted and open the door to airing the views of ALL Jews, not just those AIPAC agrees with. A very welcome decision.

          • Gabor Fränkl

            Yes, Jews for Jihad, exactly antisemite. Your comrades. As I said, 0.01 % of Jewry or less.

    • jbirdme

      I believe that many companies consider their Kosher certification costs as part of their marketing expenses. Having Kosher certification is worth X amount of advertising.

  • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

    This article can be considered a rethorical device for a Protestant Alliance ( like the one that supported apartheid South Africa) . But I sure wont go their since the author didnt pfffff. If Im an atheist would that not make me an oxy moron. BTW I am an Acadian Aboriginal Athiest with liberal morales. I do not beleive being Jewish is a race. Being jewish is religion. Claiming jew ancestry is un scientific and as logical as giving Israel to the Byzantines and watching who fights over Roman ancestry. That is my opinion since I am Acadian I see no difference between us and them. Both my ancestries have had to face genocide I do not envisage in a thousand years that this would make us free from criticism. I also see no difference in calling this an Aboriginal Catholic state undermining everyone else. I beleive they should govern together in a secular Israel. Much like Canada should do. Israel is an apartheid state and we should condemn our Prime Ministre for taking sides and pouring oil on fire. This has to be discussed regardless where.

    • Gabor Fränkl

      And you are perahps an ignorant antidsemitic deluded moron, who is brainwashed by similarly despicable articles such as this one. You don’t know anything about israel, just the lying devious faux agit-propaganda of the radical haters, to whom you also belong.

      • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

        and you sir know nothing of canada …are you saine did your forgot your aluminum helmet?

        • Gabor Fränkl

          But of course you know sooooooooooooooo much about Israel…You are so laughable, do not embarrass yourself any more. Please, as a Canadian, learn to speak proper English first.

          • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

            Im guessing you do not read your own english? BTW Im french….:P Blame New Brunswick`s bilingual educational system lol

      • beestyng

        Insults do not make for an intelligent debate.

    • jbirdme

      Jews are a people, not simply a “religion”.

      • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

        Jews are part of Judaism which is a religion not a race.

  • Guest

    If anyone has a belief that can change and conform to facts than it is not based in reality. Too bad for them. But for those who have a formed opinion should not be discourage into silence by the likes of this article or by name calling.

  • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

    If someone has beleifs that cannot conformed or change in relation to facts and logic. Their beleifs are not based in reality. Too bad for them. For the reste of us. Let us not be discourage by the likes of this article or name calling. This has to be discussed regardless where.

    • Gabor Fränkl

      Learn proper English you poor illiterate woman.

      • beestyng

        Israeli Hungarian? or Hungarian Israel?

  • Gabor Fränkl

    A response to the malicious false tsunami of lies from an insecure person, who feels the need to indicate in advance (!!!) at the end of his little piece that anybody who brings contrary arguments, be they however well-founded, can only be “propaganda”. Earth to Rosen: exactly his meaningless hate-inciting (this could only have been the very aim of this poorly written trash in the first place, no doubt) puke-piece is full of vicious innuendo and unsubstantiated borderline antisemitic lies and outright misrepresenztation of the Canadian media/press at large, inaccurate factually-flawed and transparent BS about “any taboo”, which is laughable on its face. No wonder the poor chap couldn’t bring one, only one single actual example. He couldn’t, but flailing in the wind in vain spreadinmg his dastardly muck that simply does not stand up to scrutiny.
    The rants of an insecure person who best knows that what he writes is absolute nonsense (otherwise he would not attempt to dismiss wity a disgusting smear all those who could easily discredit his own pitiful and easily dissectable agit-propaganda). “The problem with this linguistic warfare is that it re-entrenches existing positions. Everyone wants to convince, and no one wants to listen.” – writes the genius. I agree. It applies to him first and foremost as a peddler of incitement, outright nonsense BS and impotent anti-Israel (antisemitic) hatred.

    • Gabor Fränkl
      • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

        As an aboriginal acadian I think I very much know what apartheid is. It is of extreme extent in Israel given their fudamental religions and their need to involve it in their politics. Not much quite different than The protestant alliance that Harper and kin are part of. Harper loves apratheid.

        • Gabor Fränkl

          Even though I am a non-native English speaker, I could use and write English a bit better than you. You simply do not know, have not the faintest vaguest idea what you are talking about, only agit-propaganda-style talking points wrt “apartheid”, all you heard/read from pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian activists themselves. In your inane quest to use the word as a libel, you will not even figure out that the biggest and filthiest insult you do with this is precisely the very SA black people who suffered genuinely from this odious practice.

          • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

            lol Im french. Your english sucked a while ago…You use spell check now? I had most of my papers edited. I received my educational formation in francophone schools and pursued my post secondary enducation in a anglophone school. I am also able to write in Acadian french for that is my mother thongue….Good for you that you can write. I didnt majore in english. I would always get my essays edited aIso… I know nothing of these propaganda stories you say that I have been exposed to. I also beleive you come to no point accusing someone of being racist. Like I sayed both of my ancestries have known genocide and apartheide. Nelson Mandela himself called South Africa apartheid and I agree with him. The definition stands when comparing it to Israel.

        • Roberto Machado

          What might be interesting to you, Apartheid was based on the Canadian reservation system. I am a proud Canadian but I feel shame when I think about how we European Canadians have abused the First Nations.

      • beestyng

        (dis)honest reporting is part of the Hasbara, like CAMERA, MEMRI and PMW amongst many others well “well-funded Zionist groups that pressure and attack anyone perceived to be critical of Israel” as rsen mentions. So, please widen your reading and quote reliable sources if you want to be taken seriously.

        • Gabor Fränkl

          Yes, that’s right, moron. Especially when MEMRI and PMW only documents (meticulously) and shows to the widest public what they themselves tell in their own media/press in Arabic. You are clearly demented or so defensive of your pets that you discard the most elementary logic and basic facts. HR (and CAMERA) also documents and fights anti-Israel and also antisemitic media-biases, double-standards and much worse and also smears and libels. (I always knew that CDN had a very big minority of anti-Israel/antisemitic constituency, btw.)

          • beestyng

            You make the point for Rosen. Those who can’t debate throw insults. Bet I can find a few quotes from Israeli leaders and minor figures that mirror the quotes used by the Hasbara group: they look for the worst extremists and put out their words as if they were mainstream. They also mistranslate to show how awful Palestinians are. All mis- and dis-information. And people like you use these sites as resources to smear and attacks those who are not Israel Firsters. Sorry. Intelligent debate doesn’t seem to be your forte. Slurs and insults are. Trolling by any chance?

          • Gabor Fränkl

            Oh yes. The old nonsense that those who supposedly do not have truth and right on their side can nevr as basic rule hurl “insults” and “slurs”. Stupid. My indignation is at the devious self-hating anti-Israel activist Rosen and his borderlime antisemitic lies about Jewish power in Canada, a figment of his own deluded mind, nothing else. Never mind, that he couldn’t bring one single tiny *FACT* to support his central gist of this article. “Bet I can find a few quotes from Israeli leaders and minor figures that mirror the quotes used by the Hasbara group: they look for the worst extremists and put out their words as if they were mainstream.”
            Well, you bet wrong, antisemite. You bet wrong, because you simply can’t from any mainstream Israeli politician. Simply cannot. Otherwise the pro-Palestinian, pro-arab and pro-Islamic MSM in CDN and elsewhere would easily have trumpeted any such faux pas out of all proportion. That’s their one-sided pseudo-journalistic unethical anture. Never ever ever about the Arabs in Israel/Judea and Samaria who call themselves Palestinians. They are solidly in the tank for them. I offer prrof: why MSM never ever bring the odious antisemitic and sometimes even positivrly Naatzi-like racist incitement against Jews fromo fficial Pal. media/press, then, I would ask? You reveal yourself as a fraud like Rosen, too.

          • beestyng

            These are just a few hateful quotes/articles from rabbis. One can find more from Israeli army and politicians by doing a google search.

            “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail,” Rabbi Yaacov Perrin said in his eulogy of New York Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein who opened fire and killed 40 praying Palestinians. (http://tinyurl.com/l48tutj)

            Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: “Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”

            “There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study… Black people reside there [New Orleans]. Blacks will study the Torah? [God said] let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.” (http://www.timesofisrael.com/5-of-ovadia-yosefs-most-controversial-quotations/)

            Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau: “Why do you care about whether these kushim [a derogatory term for black people] who get paid in Tel Aviv beat the kushim who get paid in Greece?”
            (http://www.jpost.com/National-News/New-chief-rabbi-widely-condemned-for-comments-on-black-people-321529)

            Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook (“Haro’eh), providing a persuasive explanation to his flock: “The difference between the Israeli soul, its independence, its inner yearning, its aspiration, its characteristics and disposition, and the soul of all the other nations, is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a human being and the soul of a beast.”
            (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/rabbi-lior-s-racism-is-not-his-fault-1.37123)

            “It is forbidden to sell an apartment to Arabs, it is forbidden to rent an apartment to Arabs. Say ‘racist’ all you want, I’m unimpressed by such words. This, by the way, is prohibited by Jewish law.”
            (http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.571227)

            And how about the Torat Ha’Melech (the King’s Torah), “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.” (http://tinyurl.com/kerd74n)

            We can play this game ad eternam. There are extremists on all sides. As long as people like you see the world as one of Us against Them they will see a world of Us against Them. Emotions, attitudes toward others, the way events are interpreted will mirror their world view, thereby confirming and reinforcing it. The killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians is wrong. The military control of a civilian population is wrong.A little bit of empathy could go a long way. Try putting yourself in Palestinian shoes and see how you would react. If you can’t do this, then where is your humanity?

          • Gabor Fränkl

            Don’t be ridiculous. 1. None of these are senior Israeli politicians, political figures unlike on the other side. The Arabs’ priest (muftihs) regularly make blood-curdlingly racist proclamations in their mosques and during their sermons and even more, outright incitement to hate and murder packaged in Islamic theology. 2. These crude remarks do not habitually enjoy any support from the larger Israeli society whatsoever unlike on the Palestinian side.

          • beestyng

            The Chief Rabbinate controls the foundations of Jewish life in Israel: conversion, marriage, burial, food and more. It consists of two Chief Rabbis, currently Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi is David
            Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi is Yitzhak Yosef. These rabbis do not limit themselves to religion: they have a say through the religious political parties. Religion and politics mix here
            (http://www.reformjudaism.org/blog/2013/07/29/problem-israels-chief-rabbinate). So the words of these leaders are followed religiously: they are equivalent to fatwas.

            For politicians, here are a few quotes:
            “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”. Ehud Barak, then Prime Minister of Israel, August 28, 2000. Reported in The Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000
            “The Palestinians’ would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” Ehud Barak, then Israeli Prime Minister in a speech to Jewish settlers, Reported in the New York Times April 1, 1988
            “We must expel Arabs and take their places.” David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.
            “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, Reported in the New York Times, 14 April 1983.
            ” [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. Reported in the New Statesman, 25 June 1982.

          • Mrgn

            You just solidify what the article predicted. The irony is beautiful. Thanks. :)

          • Roberto Machado

            I think you and I read different articles.

          • Polyorchnid Octopunch

            Ezra, is that you?

    • Guest

      Based on your choice of words, I wonder if your name ain’t Gregor…

    • http://dietwald.com dietwald

      Is this parody, or are you trying to make the case for Mr. Rosen better than he ever could?

    • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

      you seem perfectly saine…you forgot your aluminum helmet sir.

      • Gabor Fränkl

        And is this supposed to be a fact-based rebuttal from you?

        • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

          Have you seen your rebuts…attacking my grammaire? I myself was thinking your grammaire sucked much Lol

    • Sylvia Moranda Benoit

      Just because I oppose this does not make me anti sementic what ever middle eastern race you are I will not discriminate against you because of race. I do not beleive in religion and that would include judeo christianity. You have yet to write something that explains why I am anti sementic. Are you anti-catholic anti aboriginal anti-atheist ANTI ACADIAN are you anti canadian?….this can go on. Im just saying it would seem they have been opressing on both sides for some time and the whole lets make Isreal a religious state or even a racial state is nothing like our nation advocats for.

    • Randy McDonald

      Should we trust the postings of someone who doesn’t post under his own name, or even an identifiable pseudonym?

  • bccarver
  • David Smith

    If ever there was proof of the merit of Rosen’s thinking it is down here in the comments, which are sadly dominated by one or two voices who have set out their stalls to stifle meaningful conversation and insult, belittle and demonize anyone who disagrees with them. I’m surprised no one’s been called a Nazi yet.

  • MatherZ

    Yeah, the money point the author makes:
    “This is what makes the fear of anti-Semitism so difficult to get over. When you are raised to think your people always have been and always will be persecuted, it becomes hard to know if there is actual, immediate danger. ”

    What if he, at 10 years old, had been told “in the history of your ancestors, people like you have often been persecuted for being different. Sometimes that even happens today, because people are maybe scared of those who don’t think they way they do, or maybe they’re just jerks. But our family lives in Canada now, and no one’s allowed to do bad things to you just because you’re jewish, so there’s no reason to be afraid.” What would his perspective on Israel be now, if he’d been told that instead of “holocaust holocaust holocaust”?

    The other thing, from a sufficiently different perspective that the author
    may not fully appreciate, is that certain fundamentalist christians (like, say, Stephen Harper) have an actual checklist of Things That Have To Happen Before Jesus Returns, based on a weirdo reading of the bible, and one of them is that the Jews have to rebuild King Solomon’s Temple. So you have to support a strong Israel so that they can be wealthy and powerful enough to do that (though it will be complicated, since the Muslim Dome Of The Rock is on that site now),and obviously if they’re under attack, or if – as some would have you believe – they’re in danger of being wiped off the map, then that can’t happen. Of course, there’s a limit to how much support Israel can expect, since another item on the checklist is that Israel gets
    completely wiped out in a rain of fire.

    Finally, South Korea’s in more immediate danger than Israel. The physical threats to Israel come from politicians, who say things to get votes or curry favour, and who are otherwise rational people who can be negotiated with using sticks and carrots such as sanctions and
    nuclear energy. North Korea doesn’t necessarily work that way, and so are, I would suggest, more dangerous to their neighbours. Yet if you say “hey, maybe we should engage Kim in more open discussions”, you’re not immediately accused of wanting the total destruction of South Korea.

  • dr. abraham Weizfeld

    Abraham Weizfeld via Judy Rebick
    This seeks to overcome the hierarchy of oppressions that haunts the two Nations concerned in a mutual impasse of a political PTSD. Buber would help but the Nation-State concept has to be swept aside. For a federated set of National-Cultural-Territorial Autonomies.

  • Critical Thinker

    The Palestine Israel conflict will be resolved the day Palestinian suffering trumps Zionist “feelings”

  • LelaG

    Late reading this intellectually stimulating article… but I must say this. It is not to be taken solely and superficially on what Semitism and Zionism advocates are fighting for.
    The whole article is representative of human history, in that prejudice is universal and eonian. It is both a social and a natural phenomenon based on human territorial and survival instincts, attributes which are expessed by both groups interchangeably. Zionism is based on the Con ideology to possess and reign by oppressive methods and propaganda strategies, and Semitism, the socialists, to defend territorial belongings and counteract invaders. All efforts to change natural instincts are temporary and superficial as they will re-emerge under different assumptions.

  • Yaffa Tegegne

    Excellent article, however as an Ethiopian Jewish Montrealer I have to say that the author fails to outline the complexity of Jewish identity. The Holocaust is the experience and narrative of one group of Jews. The Montreal Jewish community is one of the most diverse in the world including Moroccans, Egyptians, Syrians, Yemenites, Iraqis, Persians and Ethiopians. How we relate the debate both in Quebec and abroad should be accounted for. There are many examples of how the narrative of trauma that go beyond the Holocaust.

  • guest

    ” Traumatic violence isn’t just something that happened to you or your
    parents or even your grandparents. It is an abstract, intangible threat
    that hangs over your head, and makes it tough to figure out who the
    victims are, right now. Religious Jews and Muslims in Montreal?
    Indigenous peoples across Canada? Palestinians in the West Bank?
    Traumatic narratives blur our perceptions of victimhood past and
    present. Perhaps this affects Marois’s PQ as much as it does Montreal
    Jews.”

    And perhaps the young Mr. Rosen knows next to nothing, or chooses to ignore, the long history of the French in North America – the deportations, the beatings for speaking our language, the Durham letter saying we had no history or culture. And in the same paragraph subtly arrogates to himself, in his late 20th century youth, an experience equivalent to the experience of the First Nations. Give me a break. How did I know that this would turn into a “Now I’m not SAYING Pauline is nazi, just that history shows she MIGHT be.”

  • Robert Dufour

    Interesting point of view. Good
    illustrations too! Oddly enough, as non-Jewish (actually I was born and spent
    my teenage years in Chicoutimi, a 99% uni-lingual francophone part of Québec) I
    can relate to it. I will rather avoid the subject of Israel politics with my
    few Jewish acquaintances, by fear of spoiling their beliefs and our
    relationship. A rather cowardly stance on my part, this self-censorship. But
    then again I do not care that much about politics. The taboo is in good part
    motivated by fear of being labeled an anti-Semite. This happens very quickly,
    especially with francophone Quebecers, by default suspected (by some) of being Nazi-nationalists.
    For me saying anything about Israel, as I am doing now, is asking for trouble.
    Even a balanced or positive comment can be perceived as anti-Semitic by people
    who already have decided what I must be. You can read some of that in some of
    the reader’s comments. And once that awful tag is put on you, good luck trying
    to straighten things out.

  • umre turu

    To paraphrase a friend, Let’s see here: the people who want to tell me how big my soda can be, how much sugar I can have, how much and what kind of fat I can eat, which trees in my own yard I can cut down , how big the fish I can keep ought to be, whether I can smoke, what kind of light bulbs I can buy, what words I shouldn’t use, what kind of T shirts I can wear, which speakers are allowed to speak on a college campus, how many miles per gallon my car must get, among a host of other demands and impositions on my personal freedoms, now find it imperative that we ban the word “Bossy”…? Yeah, Right! Talk about Fascist! Yeah, the end justifies the means!

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  • umre turu

    Netpencere ile Sanal Ofis Yorum

    bu kalabalığı görüpte sokakta çalışan insanları düşünmemek elde değil , halbuki Sanal Ofis kiralayarak evinde çalışıp sabah erken kalkma zorunluluğunu ortadan kaldırmak varken neden böyle yapıyorlar anlamıyorum . Sanal ofis sistemi türkiye’ye geldiğinden beri insanlar daha fazla girişimci olmaya başladılar .

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  • Saurabh Tuteja

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I’ve really loved browsing your
    blog posts. After all I will be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again
    soon!.

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  • Mrgn

    Interesting article. As someone of non jewish descent, I find talking about all of this as far too touchy. Nothing good comes from everyday people feeling as though they can’t be part of the conversation.

    Here’s hoping for peace this week.

  • Roberto Machado

    A wonderful article. Thank you.

  • Moaz Ahmadmoa

    This is an excellent and thoughtful peace. I often find myself wondering about the types of trauma that are being faced by both sides in the perpetual war. But the recent flood of horrible images of violence and gore have upset me and saddened me instead of making me angry (as I think that they were supposed to). Without the smell and the sound and the feel of the chaos and terror that is war…these are just images on a screen and a flood of images leads to desensitization.

    Both sides are dehumanizing the innocent victims of political violence…in their effort to spread propaganda in order to win a semblance of control of an uncontrollable situation.

  • http://affiliatestd.com Shahriar Kabir

    Really Fantastic place it is.

  • commandergreen

    My thinking is that if you give Israel enough rope not only will they hang themselves, the Samson option

  • Pingback: The Handbasket » My Faint, Fragrant Hope

  • TheDom

    This is beautifully written.

  • Lisa Ebenal

    when a debate breaks out on facebook on this horrible situation, i quote your words:

    “There is a reason the phrase “cycle of violence” has become a cliché
    for describing intractable conflicts: it highlights how violence
    imprisons us in a repetitive loop of victimization, fear, anger, and
    retaliation. Acts of aggression, by Israelis or Palestinians, are
    invariably justified as counterattacks. Whether defensive, retributive,
    or even pre-emptive, one side’s violence is perpetually explained as a
    response to the other’s. Like children in a playground, everyone yells,
    “He started it!”

    But anger is not power; it is impotence. When we yell, we throw away
    our agency, and the power to stop the cycle of violence. Defensive walls
    protect us from the enemy, but they also block our capacity for change
    and growth.”

    very wise words, very wise man…spoken like a true Canadian….thank you