Promoting Jewish Victimhood as Guise for Victimizing Palestinians

Last week the House of Commons unanimously passed a private member’s bill to establish a national Holocaust monument. While it is a good thing to commemorate the suffering of Jews in Europe, it is important to point out that uncritical support for Israel is part of the backdrop.

Edmonton Conservative MP, Tim Uppal, who introduced the private member’s bill, explained last year: “After I had decided on [accepting Minister Peter Kent’s proposal to put forward An Act to Establish a National Holocaust Monument], I ended up going to Israel with the Canada Israel Committee in July. Being there, and learning what I did about the Holocaust and Israel, just made me feel more reassured that this was the right thing to do and get this bill passed.”

Speaking in favour of the bill last week, Winnipeg NDP MP Jim Maloway also connected the planned monument to Israel. “I had the privilege and pleasure of traveling to Israel. … It was a very inspiring visit … I was amazed to see the progress made by Israel in turning deserts into productive lands and cultivating crops in the middle of the desert.”

Alongside its ardent support for Israel, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has promoted the commemoration of Nazi crimes and the idea that anti-Semitism is worse than other forms of oppression. Concurrently, they’ve repeatedly conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

During a July 2007 meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Canada supported the appointment of a representative to the chair to report on anti-Semitism. Despite calls for a change in OSCE policy, Ottawa supported recognizing prejudice against Jews as a unique phenomenon, not one among many forms of bigotry. The OSCE meeting condemned all forms of racism, discrimination and “aggressive nationalism” but added: “Recognizing its unique and historic character, [we] condemn anti-Semitism without reservation, whether expressed in a traditional manner or through new forms and manifestations.”

In mid-2009 the Conservatives created a National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education. Headed by the fanatically pro-Israel group, B’nai Brith, the Conservatives invested $1 million in the project.

This Task Force was tied to a similar European initiative. In 2007 Ottawa applied to join the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, an organization that included 24 European nations and the U.S.. Created in 1998 the group promotes education of the genocide against European Jewry and “the unprecedented character of the Holocaust.”

An outgrowth of the Holocaust Task Force, the first ever Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat anti-Semitism meeting was held in London in February 2009. A number of conference participants expressed opposition to the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and Canada’s representative, Minister Jason Kenney, said “The argument is with those whose premise is that Israel itself is an abomination and that the Jews alone have no right to a homeland. And in that sense anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Last month Ottawa hosted and funded the second meeting of the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat anti-Semitism. Prime Minister Harper told those gathered that “as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand [in support of Israel], whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.”

He went on to say that this “hateful ideology with global ambitions … targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.”

Associated with the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat anti-Semitism the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) was formed last year to investigate what it describes as “this oldest and most enduring of hatreds.” Yet Canada has changed significantly since Jews fleeing Hitler were refused entry and elite social clubs restricted their access. There is little anti-Semitism in Canada today, which even CPCCA architect, Irwin Cotler, has acknowledged.

The CPCCA is not designed to combat racism against Jews, but rather to undercut growing public support for the Palestinian cause. Cotler and Jason Kenney are trying to intimidate reporters, academics, union leaders and other public figures into staying away from criticizing Israel, lest they be accused of anti-Semitism.

In “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering”, Norman Finkelstein argues that the American Jewish establishment has exploited the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for financial and political gain and to further the interests of Israel. Finkelstein claims that discussion of the Nazi Holocaust grew exponentially after the June 1967 Six Day war. Prior to that war, which provided a decisive service to U.S. geopolitical aims in the Middle East, the genocide of European Jewry was a topic largely relegated to private forums and among left wing intellectuals. Paralleling the U.S., the Nazi Holocaust was not widely discussed in Canada in the two decades after World War II. In fact, the Canadian Jewish Congress consciously avoided the subject.

Numerous other commentators also trace the established Jewish community’s interest in Nazi crimes to the Six Day War. “The 1967 war,” explained Professor Cyril Leavitt, “alarmed Canadian Jews. Increasingly, the Holocaust was invoked as a reminder of the need to support the Jewish state.” President of the Vancouver Jewish Community Center, Sam Rothstein, concurred. “The 1967 war … was the one development that led to a commitment by community organizations to become more involved in Holocaust commemoration. … Stephen Cummings, the founder of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center, said that ‘consciousness [of the Holocaust] has changed. Jews are much more proud, and that’s a post-1967 [phenomenon]. It was the event that gave Jews around the world confidence.’”

Holocaust memorials proliferated after Israel smashed Egyptian-led pan-Arabism in six days of fighting. Nearly three decades after World War II, in 1972, the Canadian Jewish Congress and its local federations began to establish standing committees on the Nazi Holocaust. The first Canadian Holocaust memorial was established in Montreal in 1977.

Nazi crimes, particularly Canada’s various ties to these atrocities, should be widely studied and commemorated.

The Nazi Holocaust, however, should not be used as ideological cover for Israeli crimes. That is an injustice to Palestinians and an insult to Hitler’s victims.

Yves Engler is the author of 12 books. His latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People's History of the Canadian Military . Read other articles by Yves.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 17th, 2010 at 11:10am #

    all i’d like to say [in ten words or less] : i am proud to oppose israel’s existence! tnx

  2. Ismail Zayid said on December 17th, 2010 at 11:59am #

    Amongst the fabrications that Stephen Harper and his supporters created as to Israeli ‘great democracy’ and that criticism of Israeli crimes and policies is a ‘new Anti-semitism’, we see here reproduced the old myth about how Israel made the desert bloom. NDP Mp Jim Maloway states: “I was amazed to see the progress made by Israel in turning deserts into productive lands and cultivating crops in the middle of the desert.” This old myth, that Palestine was a deset and the Zionists made it bloom, is best answered by the testimony of the distinguished Jewish intellectuals who stated:
    Sir Moses Montefiore, who travelled tp Palestine in 1839, to look for agricultural land to acquire for Jewish immigration, described the eastern Galilee as covered with “groves of olive trees, I should think more than five hundred years old, vineyards, much pasture, plenty of wells and abundant excellent water; also fig trees, walnuts, almonds, mulberries, etc… The inhabitants were good farmers and possessed horses, cows, oxen and goats in great abundance.” [Diaries of Sir Moses Montefiore and Lady Montefiore, p. 169, 175-176].

    When Ahad Ha’am, a leading Zionist thinker, visited Palestine in 1891 he wrote : ” We abroad have a way of thinking that Palestine today is almost desert, an uncultivated wilderness… But this is not in fact the case. it is difficult to find any uncultivated land anywhere in the country.”

  3. Rehmat said on December 17th, 2010 at 6:45pm #

    Some Canadian wonder what would had been the reaction of MPs, had someone sponsored to build a Holocaust Museum in the memory of the 100 million Russian and Ukrainian Christians killed by the Jewish controlled Russian Communist regime.

    According to Tim Uppal, Ottawa originally had agreed to donate the land at no cost, but “the government really believes that Canadians will be more than willing and pleased to contribute the full amount to this”.

    The world’s largest Holocaust Museum in Washington DC was also built on Federal Government land by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, a taxpayer-funded Federal Government agency created by Congress in 1980. It’s operating cost, which is far greater than the operating cost of the nearby Air & Space Museum and over seven-time more than the combined operating cost of Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington memorials.

  4. hayate said on December 17th, 2010 at 8:58pm #

    Rehmat said on December 17th, 2010 at 6:45pm

    “100 million Russian and Ukrainian Christians killed by the Jewish controlled Russian Communist regime.”

    That’s even funnier than that fer right propaganda shabnam repeats about Russia. If 100 mil were killed in the USSR, there wouldn’t have been a USSR left.

    Here are some population statistic of the USSR from it’s start to 1991 to show how absurd such figures are:


  5. Real Sephardic Jew said on December 18th, 2010 at 9:04am #

    Wikipedia is a controlled and biased source of information so not too surprising that Jewish Bolshevik Holocaust denier hayate would cite it.

    One thing that is not greatly known is how the flooding of the international market with wheat confiscated from the “breadbasket of Europe” (as the Ukraine was known before the Rothschilds funded Bolsheviks intentionally starved 7,000,000 farmers and their families) drove Canadian and American farming families off the land and created incredible hardship for them when prices dropped for their product. No doubt the Rothschilds bankers cleaned up on that one too.

    The Nazi Holocaust of Ashkenazi Jews is a pitiful drop in the blood bucket in comparison to what they themselves did in the former Russian Empire.

    Even Israeli newspapers agree, the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century were Bolshevik Jews:

    Sever Plocker
    Stalin’s Jews
    Israel Opinion – Ynetnews
    We mustn’t forget that some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish.,7340,L-3342999,00.html

  6. Dube said on December 18th, 2010 at 1:01pm #

    The logical Fallacy of Accent in Holocaust studies: there were many targets of Nazi racism, so to emphasize the Jews and forget the “others” exonerates Nazism. The fallacy in effect: if Nazism were purged of antisemitism, it would be as honorable as any other patriotic movement.

    So any memorials must declare the full range of the Nazi program.

  7. mary said on December 18th, 2010 at 1:19pm #

    ‘In mid-2009 the Conservatives created a National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education. Headed by the fanatically pro-Israel group, B’nai Brith, the Conservatives invested $1 million in the project.’

    Do the Canadian taxpayers know that their dollars are being spent this way and what is the support for Zionist Israel within the population?

  8. jayn0t said on December 18th, 2010 at 5:46pm #

    Some of the commentators above overdo their claims about Jewish crimes, exaggerating the scale of the ‘holodomor’ in the Ukraine in 1932-33, its cause, and the Jewish role in it. Its cause wasn’t mostly ethnic hatred, but rather, collectivism – an belief which often graces the pages of this website! If Jews ‘controlled’ the Bolsheviks, how come, out of the three top leaders, the only Jewish one, Trotsky, got axed? Claiming the Nazi Final Solution was trivial compared to the Ukrainian famine is nuts.

    The article says the Jewish establishment has ‘misused’ the memory of the Nazi holocaust. This implies there is a way it could be ‘used’ properly. Hypocritical whining about the suffering of one’s own people exclusively is not a ‘post-1967’ phenomenon. What’s needed is to challenge the use of ‘the’ holocaust, not just its misuse. This means emphasising its lack of uniqueness in human (inhuman?) history, and locating it within the bigger Holocaust, in which the Nazis were not particularly distinguished.

  9. mary said on December 19th, 2010 at 1:50am #

    Had you heard that children from Gaza are being traipsed round the Holocaust Museum in Washington. This is two years after hundreds of their brothers and sisters were annihilated in ‘a greater holocaust’ (Vilnai’s words) called Cast Lead.

    Ironic isn’t it that UNRWA have arranged this visit.

  10. Angie Tibbs said on December 19th, 2010 at 3:09am #

    I wasn’t aware of this, Mary, and I’m truly shocked. Whatever possessed UNRWA to do this (although I suppose we can guess).

    I shudder to dwell on what those children are being told.

    Can you imagine Israeli children being taken to view the devastation Israel caused in Gaza two years ago?

    Hamas should not be alone in its castigation of those responsible. Just think for a moment. Children (and adults) are not permitted to leave Gaza for health/medical reasons (and since the brutal Israeli seige hundreds of Gazans have died as a result), but a group of youngsters are taken to holocaust museums? The mind boggles.

    This needs to be investigated. Does anyone have any updated information? Is there a response from UNRWA?

    Again, I am truly shocked.

  11. mary said on December 19th, 2010 at 6:11am #

    Angie, I suppose John Ging would be the best one to ask for an answer. I have seen nothing in the way of a response from UNRWA so far. Friends in Gaza have been asked for info and reaction so will let you know here.

    Meanwhile, this is a cross posting from the medialens message board.

    Israeli air strike kills five in Gaza Strip
    Posted by The Editors on December 19, 2010, 10:25 am

    Now imagine if the “militants” had been Israeli soldiers – headline, front-page coverage perhaps?

    Posted by Kebz on December 19, 2010, 12:42 pm, in reply to “Israeli air strike kills five in Gaza Strip”

    The BBC is putting words into the mouths of medical staff. I guarantee you nobody would have described them as ‘militants’ rather than as members of the resistance.

    ‘Militant’ is BBC’s political label for anybody who dares to oppose Israel through any other means than collaboration

  12. Real Sephardic Jew said on December 19th, 2010 at 12:08pm #

    What a naive little world you live in jaynot.

    For a real understanding of the role Jewish bankers and Jewish workers organizations played in the mass murder, looting and enslavement of tens of millions of innocent Russians, Ukrainians and other nationalities read Red Symphony, the 1938 interrogation of “Christian Rakovsky” (real name: Chaim Chaim Rakover) that explains how internationalist Jewish bankers established Bolshevism and then found it stolen from them by Stalin:

  13. mary said on December 24th, 2010 at 9:05am #

    The BBC referred to Cast Lead as ‘a clash’!! in their report on the latest Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

    This is a letter to the BBC reporter based there which challenges his reporting.


    Another post on medialens compares the quality of the reporting on Russia Today which we have on Freeview in the UK and that of the BBC.
    The subjects being reported by RT were the Israelis forcing Bedouins off their land, South Korea and economic conditions in Maine.


  14. mary said on December 25th, 2010 at 1:13pm #

    With the anniversary of Cast Lead a few days away and with Israel threatening another onslaught on Gaza, Joe Fallisi leaves his home in Brindisi, Italy to go there. He is an operatic tenor and performs concerts for the Palestinians whom he loves dearly. He has been on the Free Gaza boats too. A passionate man I would say and don’t we need that.

    His message just in

    Dearest friends, I’m leaving again to Gaza (through Rafah)… my best wish would be to be able to perform in Shawa Theatre my third concert for the end of the year (in Italy we say “Non c’è due senza tre”… )… my brothers and sisters there invited me and are waiting for me… I’m looking forward to reach them again… I don’t know if I’ll succeed… INSHALLAH… as I had promised, finally I made the master of “Un momento” (the record will be released in January), that’s actually the Hymn of our Freedom Flotilla (at least for sure of 8000 boat)… and, for a true miracle by the shining stars, the choir is sung by… 7 Palestinian children… seven brilliant stars from the Strip of Martyrs. At my return to Italy in January I’d like to leave again and go all over the world… I have a good duo with a young player of mandola, mandoline and guitar, who lives in my town, Ostuni, and shares my ideals, Mauro Semeraro, and we’re ready to make concerts for a FREE PALESTINE and for the next Spring Flotilla,
    I hug you all.
    With love.