Canadian Israeli Lobby’s “Good Cop, Bad Cop”

Two recent events, while not of any great significance in themselves, reveal much about the state of Canadian foreign policy.

B’nai Brith Canada, Canada’s oldest Jewish service organization, founded in 1875, hosted Brigadier-General Eden Attias, Canada’s first Israeli defense attache (only the US and Canada have ‘Israeli defense attaches’), at the Asper Jewish Community Campus in Winnipeg on 28 August (free admission and refreshments).

The Canadian Jewish Defense League has invited Pamela Geller, founder of Stop Islamization of America, and Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch, to speak at the Hilton Suites Hotel in Markham, on 17 September, despite lobbying by anti-racist groups to cancel the event.

Before his diplomatic promotion, Attias was head of Israel’s Nevatin Air Force Base, with jurisdiction over Gaza. As such, he was intimately involved in both the invasion of Gaza in 2008 and the assault on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara in 2010 in which nine Turkish citizens bringing aid to besieged Gaza were killed by Israeli troops.

A group of ex-Israeli Defense Force members so overcome by remorse for these acts drew up a “dirty 200” list of Israeli war criminals, where Attias enjoys pride of place. The Mavi Marmara incident also led Turkish investigators to charge him with murder, along with 193 other Israelis who were identified from documents and video footage of the assault.

For services rendered, Attias was promoted to the world of diplomacy, now seconded to Canada make sure the public security cooperation “partnership” which the Canadian government signed with Israel in 2008 is adhered to. Welcome to Ottawa (and Winnipeg), Eden. Surely a ‘paradise’ compared to the devastation you left behind in Palestine. No fear of arrest, as could well be the case in the UK and many other countries, where war criminals are still prosecuted.

Geller and Spencer, co-authors of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (2010), are the most prominent organizers of the campaign to stop the building of a mosque at “Ground Zero” in Manhattan (in fact, the Park51 Islamic Community Center). They have been in the news for months now, after they were denied entry into the UK to address a rally of the far-right racist (but pro-Zionist) English Defense League (EDL). The British government ruled that their presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good” and refused them entry under pressure from anti-racist groups such as Hope not Hate.

“The UK should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate,” reads the decision by the British Home Office, a ruling which will remain in effect for three years. Geller shot back: “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state.” The news came on the same day that a mosque in Redditch was broken into and had Swastikas and the letters “EDL”, as well as other racist messages, daubed on it.

Unlike the B’nai Brith gathering to celebrate war criminal Attias in Winnipeg, there will be no free cookies for Geller fans in Markham. On the contrary, those who want to schmooze, get an autograph and a photo op with Geller, must join a select 30 individuals at $500 a head in order to attend a pre-lecture cocktail party.

This is Geller’s second talk this year in Toronto. Her May event was a “huge success” according to JDL Canada, though it almost didn’t take place at all, as the synagogue that offered to host her got cold feet and backed out, and the Toronto Zionist Center had to come to the rescue.

Though the JDL has been listed since 2001 by the FBI as a “violent extremist Jewish organization”, it operates openly in the US, Canada, Europe and South Africa, with international headquarters in Los Angeles. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli member of the JDL, opened fire on Muslims praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, killing 29 worshippers and injuring 125 before he ran out of ammunition and was himself killed.

Immediately after the massacre, on its website, the JDL called it a “preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews” and noted that they “do not consider his assault to qualify under the label of terrorism”. Head of the Canadian JDL Meir Weinstein said: “Our organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers.”

JDL Canada, which disappeared under the radar after 9/11 and the FBI condemnation in 2001, came alive again in 2006, with the arrival in Ottawa of Stephen Harper, still headed by Weinstein. Whether or not these leaders are acquainted personally, Weinstein’s campaign to bar British MP George Galloway from entering Canada in 2009 to speak about attempts to lift the siege of Gaza became government policy, exposing Canada to international ridicule.

In 2011, JDL Canada organized a “support rally” for the EDL (at the Toronto Zionist Center) featuring a live speech via Skype by EDL leader Tommy Robinson. This scandalous event was even denounced by the Canadian Jewish Congress whose leader, Bernie Farber, said he was “disappointed that the JDL would support an organization whose record in the UK is one of violence and extremism.” Shortly after, it was revealed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had launched an investigation against at least nine members of JDL Canada accused of plotting to bomb Palestine House in Mississauga.

Apart from Farber and the CJC’s ‘harsh’ words, the JDL’s warmongering and racism are denounced even by ultra-Zionist Abraham Foxman, head of the notorious Anti-Defamation League, who admitted the JDL has a history of violence and extremism”, and said Geller and Spencer “promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam.”

Yet, neither Farber nor Foxman is upset enough to demand that our governments ban the JDL and prosecute Geller-Spencer for their hate speech. On the contrary, the JDLs on both sides of the border raise millions for God-knows-what acts of “violence and extremism”, and Geller and Spencer promote their bigotry freely, despite the tsk-tsks of Zionist critics.

On the contrary, Foxman is also a vocal opponent to the Park51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero, and indulges in much the same bigotry as Geller, though with more delicatesse. Nor are the Foxmans and Farbers worried about the advice Israeli ‘military attaches’ in the US and Canada are whispering in our leaders’ ears.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) is currently fighting a legal against Harper’s ex-Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney regarding the 2009 decision to cut federal funding to CAF, which provides vital settlement programs for new Arab Canadians, teaching immigrants language and job searching skills. CAF President Mouammar stated that the CAF was the victim of a “well-planned Zionist campaign being waged by the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith supported by some politicians. The campaign of intimidation launched by the Israeli lobby and their supporters is seeking to de-legitimize Arab Canadian institutions, services, access to public funds and to silence all criticism of Israel.”

Note that JDL Canada is discretely absent from this campaign of mainstream bigotry. Is it possible that the CJC (now the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs), B’nai Brith and the JDL, is really just a case of the Israeli lobby’s ‘good cop, bad cop’? That the JDL’s extreme bigotry and incitement to violence—as exemplified by the Geller/Spencer event—is merely a way of making the more mainstream Zionist bigotry of the Israeli lobby—as exemplified by Attias as Canada’s first Israeli ‘military attache’—more palatable to Canadians?

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. He is the author of From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization and Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.