The Etiology of Hate

Anti-Arab racism is, however, so widespread as to be unnoticeable; it is perhaps the only remaining form of racism to be regarded as legitimate.

— Noam Chomsky

Contempt for the Arab population is deeply rooted in Zionist thought.

— Noam Chomsky

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat.

— Yitzhak Shamir

First and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play in our war against the occupier.

— Yitzhak Shamir

Of course, Israel itself is a suicide culture, though they left this part out of my Hebrew School classes. What else could one call a nation erected amidst folks who don’t want you there, whose land you had to steal, if not a land rooted in a death wish? We may not blow ourselves up, but we sure as hell have come up with a creative way to put our individual and collective lives in danger — become usurpers of other people’s stuff: always a sure way to make people hate you.

— Tim Wise

Canada’s largest metropolis, Toronto, has seen a wave of vandalism targeted at its Jewish community. This is deplorable and steps must be taken to expunge it. Canada’s national daily, the Globe and Mail, opines that the problem is ineradicable. “The vandalism has confronted the city with the problem of how to deal with a hatred that will not die.”1

These acts can correctly be labeled as anti-Judaism since they blatantly indicate hostility to Jews. Anti-Judaism, in recent times, has seen Jewish cultural icons vandalized in countries such as France, Russia, and Turkey.

The Globe and Mail asks, “Yet how to confront an anti-Semitism so cowardly that it conceals itself in the dark, in hope of stoking not only hatred but fear?” This is a very important question and the solution likeliest lies in understanding the root causes of anti-Judaism. To deny an underlying environmental motivation is to define hatred as a hereditary manifestation. This, however, is not supported by the scientific and psychological literature. Therefore, people must identify the sources of hatred.

The Globe and Mail attributes the anti-Judaism to envy of “Jewish success.” It gives the example of McDonald’s Canada head George Cohon who was allegedly barred from an elite golf club because he is a Jew. “If the accomplished Mr. Cohon is not fit to keep company with some rich golfers, doesn’t that confirm for the most virulent of anti-Semites that this country’s 350,000 Jews have no right to choose where to live, or bury their dead or place their clothing-donation boxes?” asks the newspaper.

Of course Cohon should not be barred from playing golf because of his religion. It is an exclusive golf club and it would be idyllic if clubs were inclusive. The Globe and Mail does not denounce the club for discriminating against poorer Canadians.

The Globe and Mail‘s selective pronouncements on racism merit strong scorn. The racism practiced by many Zionists against gentiles is covered up by “deliberate falsification, slander, and libel.”2

How the Globe and Mail chooses its causes is telling.

Then came the firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal and the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin declared such acts as “unacceptable,” and “un-Canadian.” He emphatically stated, “This is not my Canada. This is not our Canada.”3

“We must all utterly condemn this cowardly and racist act and draw together to fight such an abomination which, like cancer, undermines the harmonious relations among the diverse communities that make Canada an example throughout the world,” Martin said.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express our solidarity toward the Jewish community in Montreal and across Canada.”

This is all fine and no correct-thinking people will dispute this. But why are there no such pronouncements from Martin on the exceedingly horrible plight suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of Israeli Zionists? Why are Muslims being mistreated in Canada?4

The signs are that Martin will mimic the US path in the Middle East, a path that is inimical to justice for Palestinians oppressed through ante-occupation pogroms and 37 years of brutal occupation. The belligerent US ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci responded to the media overtures from Martin’s office for a closer relationship with curiosity and characteristic frankness: “I don’t know exactly what the prime minister means, but I suspect he means that if we’re so heavily invested in the Middle East, whether it’s the effort in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Palestinian situation, maybe there are other parts of the world, maybe in this hemisphere that need attention that Canada could take the lead on. That would be complementary to what the United States is trying to do.”

The brutally honest comments by the ambassador were reported without analysis. Canada is being offered a “complementary” role to the US — an offer of leadership to pursue the interests of empire in areas that are not of highest American priority. Canada is being assigned a junior partner role whereby it would effectively abandon independence in foreign policy — an abnegation of Canadian sovereignty.

As indicated by Cellucci, “the Palestinian situation” will be handled by the US — no need for Canadian involvement here. The US continues to push the world away from the insidiously expressed “Palestinian situation.” What does Cellucci mean by such phraseology? Is this a reflection of high diplomatic discourse? Is the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in their homeland merely a “situation”? Are the Palestinians alone in this “situation”? Obviously they are not having a “situation” by themselves. They are not expropriating their own land. They are not throwing stones at themselves and being shot dead by themselves. They are not bulldozing their own homes. They have neither imposed curfews on themselves nor blockaded themselves. They are not “transferring” themselves. Zionists are doing this but Zionists are not alone in this oppression. Israel is a client state of the US, which often shows more independence than the US would like. The US finances, arms, and protects Israel in international fora. Noam Chomsky termed it the “fateful triangle.” To get a true understanding of what the Palestinians are up against in their determination to live in their homeland, one must realize that the Palestinians — who are without an army, navy, airforce, or major military equipment — are up against the world’s fourth strongest military power backed by the only superpower.

Cellucci’s egregious phraseology must be refuted. But Martin and Canadian officials were silent on this matter.

Martin’s administration is taciturn on actions taken against Palestinians. Yet it was quick to respond against Palestinian groups, proscribing three Palestinian groups under anti-terrorism legislation. Canada aligned behind Israel in opposing consideration by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the legality of Israel’s construction of an apartheid wall. The Canadian government supposedly thinks justice is something that certain nations can pick and choose to consider. The socially-oriented New Democratic Party foreign policy critic Alexa McDonough was moved to remark, “I trust Canada has not argued in its submission that the ICJ does not have the legal purview to render an opinion on the wall.”

Balanced Rhetoric?

The outrage expressed by the Canadian prime minister to the shameful defilement and destruction of Jewish culture is supported. But where is the outrage when Palestinian land is stolen and their homes are bulldozed in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, to which Canada is a signatory?

Why the incongruent responses to terrorism? When Israel assassinated Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Canada condemned the murder calling it “simply unacceptable” and noted that it would precipitate more violence. Canadian Foreign Minister Bob Graham’s official statement was:

Canada fully recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens against terrorism and has consistently condemned the terrorist attacks it has faced. Canada has also designated Hamas as a terrorist organization with Sheik Ahmed Yassin as its recognized leader.

The extra-judicial killing of Sheik Yassin is simply unacceptable and contrary to Israel’s international obligations.

We condemn this attack, which will only inflame tensions in the region and create yet another obstacle to achieving a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Canada calls for restraint and reaffirms that the only solution to this impasse is a negotiated process toward implementing the Road Map.

But this was not simply the cowardly killing of a wheelchair-bound ascetic spiritual leader. The media focus is on “the assassination,” but seven other humans were killed and more injured. The criminal code of Canada defines terrorism as “an action that is taken or threatened for political, religious or ideological purposes and threatens the public or national security by killing, seriously harming or endangering a person, causing substantial property damage that is likely to seriously harm people.” It is patently clear that the assassination of Sheikh Yassin and the wanton killing of seven others is by definition terrorism — a terrorism that is wholly unexceptional to the scofflaw state of Israel. So why then has the Canadian government not seen equally fit to condemn and list Israel’s terrorists along with the Arabs so listed by Canada? How are the Canadian government’s denunciations of terrorism supposed to be regarded when its own hypocrisy is illuminated?

A comparison is in order with Graham’s statement on the deadly February suicide-bombing in Jerusalem, which also claimed eight lives.

Canada strongly condemns this morning’s cowardly terrorist attack in downtown Jerusalem that has been claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Canadians join me in expressing our condolences to the families of the victims.

An analysis here is very telling. When Israelis are killed it is “strongly” condemned whereas when Palestinians are killed it is condemned but not “strongly.” The killing of Palestinians is prefaced with a statement on the right of Israel to defend itself against terrorism but the legitimate right of Palestinians to resist illegal occupation and likewise defend itself against terrorism goes unmentioned. Where is the balance? Why are condolences extended to the Israeli victims and not to the Palestinian victims? Why is the Israeli terrorism called an “extra-judicial killing” while the Palestinian suicide bombing is labeled a “cowardly terrorist attack”? Why are not both labeled terrorism? On the subject of cowardice, what requires greater courage: blowing yourself up or firing missiles from an untouchable distance? When Palestinians are killed Graham urges “restraint.” No such call was made following the Jerusalem bombing.

It is merely a manifestation of the double standard held in much of the world. One needs look no further than to compare UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s pronouncements on the two aforementioned deadly attacks.

“The deliberate targeting of civilians is a heinous crime and cannot be justified by any cause. We urge the PA [Palestinian Authority] to take the steps necessary to bring to justice those who plan, facilitate, and carry out such crimes,” said Annan of the Jerusalem bombing.

After the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, Annan said, “Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution. I appeal to all in the region to remain calm and avoid any further escalation in tensions.”

Annan seeks “justice” for the killing of Israelis and “calm” for the killing of Palestinians. The Palestinians perpetrated a “heinous crime” whereas the Israelis acted “contrary to international law.”

Such is the Orwellian doublespeak from the world’s head representative.

Canada’s political defenders of Zionism also share a concern for language.

Similar to the many political friends Zionists have assembled in the US, Zionists have made similar inroads in the political landscape of Canada. There is no balance. The official opposition is rabidly pro-Israel. In Martin’s governing party members of a pro-Israel caucus, Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel, have attained important positions.

Members of Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel include former head of Canadian Jewish Congress Irwin Cotler (minister of justice), Stephen Owen (minister of public works and government services), Joe Volpe (minister of human resources and skills development), Carolyn Bennett (minister of state for public health), Lucienne Robillard (the minister of industry), and Jim Peterson (minister of international trade). Jack Austin is the government leader in the Senate.5

The pro-Israel caucus takes exception to the phrase “cycle of violence.” Owen contends, “It suggests an equivalency that does not properly describe the dynamics of violence in the Middle East.”

There is no semblance of balance and even balance itself would be a distortion in such a massively skewed conflict. In an interview with British philosopher Ted Honderich, Paul de Rooij queried Amnesty International’s equating of “the nature of the violence perpetrated against Israelis and Palestinians.” Honderich responded:

Everyone should object to the terrible “even-handedness” of such statements as the Amnesty one. Everyone should choke on such attempts at “balance”. In an ordinary sense of the words, there is no place at all for even-handedness and balance in actually dealing with the rapist engaged in the rape of the woman with a knife at her throat. The rapist has no rights that bear significantly on the question of whether he should stop or be stopped. The analogy with Israel is not a wild one, but exact.

If Amnesty were taking the view that any killing is as bad as any other killing, it would be taking a view that is denied by all of history. If it is saying that you can settle any question of killing by making a declaration of a right to life, that is nonsense. It has the upshot, to mention but one, that it would have been wrong to kill a single German guard in order to save a thousand Jews from death in gas chambers in a concentration camp.6

Building Peace

Not surprisingly, Owen identified Foreign Affairs Minister Graham as a key ally of the pro-Israel caucus. “He was totally supportive of the group and the role we want to play,” said Owen.

This role includes the supply of military arms to the Israeli side in the conflict, promoted by Graham’s ministry.7 Yet, said Graham, Canada “totally disapproved” of the shipment of arms to Palestinians. “We disapprove of any act that takes away from the opportunity of building peace in the Middle East, which has been our strong policy.” These are fine words but how is arming one side in a conflict supposed to be construed as “building peace”?

If Canada is serious about building peace then that peace must be built on justice — not only in Canada but everywhere. Canada prides itself on its multiculturalism. Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims are a vibrant part of the Canadian multicultural mosaic. Canada must treat all of its citizens well. If Canada tilts its support unjustly in the international arena then those Canadians with cultural ties to a slighted region are bound to be upset. If Canada wishes to sow accord domestically then it must practice morally-guided policies abroad.

What applies to Canada, applies equally to all nations and regions seeking peaceful co-existence. People guided by moral principles must speak out against those who prey on weaker people. A society’s ethics can be gauged by how it treats its weaker members. Jews are the dominant power in the Middle East. How they wield this power will do much to shape how their neighbors regard and interact with them. People who point guns at others will tend to have guns pointed back.

Who has the bigger gun today might not always have the biggest gun tomorrow. The history of the Middle East bears this out.

It is axiomatic that killing and destruction wreaked by one group against another group invites reprisal. The preponderance of the violence in “the Palestinian situation” is being inflicted on the Palestinians. It would be absurd to suggest that they continue to be killed and “transferred” without retaliating. Yet through force the Palestinians have no chance to achieve justice in the near future. Neither can Zionists escape the hatred generated by the perpetration of disdainful crimes against a weaker opponent. It is not possible to genocidally wipe out another people nowadays. As long as some exist so will the memory of wrongs perpetrated. If these wrongs are not atoned for and the aggrieved people are not granted some kind of justice then the wrongs and the memories of these wrongs can trigger future violence and vandalism. Who wants to live in a world where one always has to look over one’s shoulders?

The memories of crimes committed today can endure; it is better to build instead the foundations for a just peace now so the world will be a better place for our ourselves and our children and succeeding generations.

  1. Commentary, “Anti-Semitism’s stain,” Globe and Mail, 23 March 2004. []
  2. Paul Burrows, “Israel’s Allegations about Peace Activists are Deliberate Falsification,” ZNet, 4 May 2003. []
  3. Susan Delacourt, “‘Not our Canada,’ Martin says,” Toronto Star, 6 April 2004. []
  4. Kim Petersen, “Canadian McCarthyism,” Jerre’s Thinktank, December 2003. []
  5. Pat Johnson, “Israel supporters in cabinet: Jewish state has friends in the new Martin government, says Owen,” Western Jewish Bulletin, 9 January 2004. []
  6. Paul De Rooij, “Ted Honderich: A Philosopher in the Trenches,” Counterpunch, 4 December 2002. []
  7. Stephen James-Kerr, “Meet Canada, the Global Arms Dealer,” Paul Martin Time, 25 May 2003. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.