Canada’s Values?

In early Novenber 2010, politicians from more than 40 countries gathered at the second conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism described as “largely aimed at exposing what its members say is the ‘new anti-Semitism,’ which is defined as excessive and unjust criticism of the state of Israel.” ((Gloria Galloway, “Harper pledges ‘relentless’ stand against anti-Semitism,” Globe and Mail, 8 November 2010. ))

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper defended Israel, saying: “But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”

Out of the conference gave rise to Parliamentary committee called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA). In July the CPCCA presented its final report.

The CPCCA report provided examples where criticism of the state of Israel is held to be anti-Semitic:

• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
• Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
• Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.

What if Israel is the only state committing breaches of law and morality? The examples given by the CPCCA are logically and morally challengeable on many fronts. Nonetheless, there is an out: where criticism of Israel is similar to that leveled against any other country it cannot be construed as anti-Semitic.

Philosophy professor Deborah Cook found the report flawed “by its very nature, fundamentally opposed to the foundational values of Canada, including its multicultural identity, its Charter guarantees of freedom from discrimination, as well as the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” [italics added] ((Deborah Cook, “Anti-Semitism report contradictory,” Toronto Star, 23 July 2011.))

Cook points out a contradiction:

The report also makes the contradictory claim that criticism of Israel both is and is not anti-Semitic. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic when it is “similar to that levelled against any other country,” but it is anti-Semitic when it singles ‘Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium.’ This is an invidious distinction; it can be used to silence all criticism of Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank because such criticism necessarily singles Israel out for condemnation given that these policies are unique to Israel. ((Deborah Cook, “Anti-Semitism report contradictory,” Toronto Star, 23 July 2011.))

The CPCCA points out was has been emphasized starkly by Canadian prime ministers in recent times. Harper has pledged that his party and government would always stand by Israel.

Harper stated, “Those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada.” ((See Al Jazeera video-report on Canada’s one-sided support for Israel.))

In stating so, Harper is trying to go one better than the Liberal Party, whose former leader and prime minister, Paul Martin, told delegates at the annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Toronto: “Israel’s values are Canada’s values — shared values — democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights.” ((Press Release, “Canadian prime Minister Paul Martin Addresses Delegates at Opening of United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly,” UJC.))

Clearly both parties are tying Canada and Israel together: Israel’s values are Canadian values, and Canada will always stand by Israel. So what are these identical values that Canada will always stand for?

1. Is fear of love a Canadian value?

Does Canadian society take a stand against romantic mixing between religious or ethnic groupings? Would a Catholic cashier dating a Protestant grocery bagger raise eyebrows and undue concern in Canada?

In Palestine – specifically, the Gush Etzion colony — a romance between a Jewish cashier and Palestinian bagger led to a separation of workers. Workers at the supermarket and a leading local rabbi say the Palestinian worker was fired, but the supermarket owner denied it saying the bagger had gone to Jordan. The cashier quit on her own. ((Chaim Levinson, “Israeli grocery store keeps Arab baggers and Jewish cashiers apart,” Haaretz, 26 July 2011.))

Rabbi Gideon Perl demanded that the supermarket owner prevent a re-occurrence of mixed pairings.

2. Is boasting of assassinations (and assassination per se) a Canadian value?

In Israel, boasting of assassinating Palestinians is TV fare. (( “Israeli undercover agents boast of killing Palestinians on TV,” Ma’an News Agency, 19 June 2011.)) Would Canadian TV show Canadian intelligence officers bragging about killing other human beings?

3. Is the killing of unarmed protestors a Canadian value?

The Canadian security apparatus is becoming increasingly dismissive of the right to protest, and many Canadian police abused their authority as recently as the 2010 G8 Summit in Toronto. ((See “Is There a Right to Protest in Ontario?”, 26 June 2011.)) The security forces, however, did not slaughter the protestors. If only Israeli forces were so restrained. (( “Bloody Sunday: Israeli Forces Kill Protesters,” ICH, 15 May 2011. ))

4. Is depriving one group of rights to education a Canadian value?

In Canada, rights to an education have also been abused as a tool to try and assimilate the Original Peoples (i.e., disappear a minority into a majority population). The government finally offered an apology in 2008, although what that apology was worth is questioned by many. ((Mike Krebs, “‘Sorry’ For Genocide?The Dominion, 18 July 2008.))

The educational situation is different in Gaza, but similarly terrible. Life under occupation has made education most difficult for Palestinians according to the Minister of Education and Higher Education, and international bodies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). ((Al Bawaba, “Palestinian children deprived of basic rights to education,” uruknet, 15 September 2010.))

5. Are Christian-only roads a Canadian value?

In Israel, and in occupied Palestine there are Jew-only roads. ((Shulamit Aloni, “This Road is for Jews Only: Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel,” Counterpunch, 8 January 2007. ))

Even in Apartheid South Africa, one never heard of any White-only roads.

6. Is building a humongous wall between peoples (in violation of the International Court of Justice ruling) a Canadian value?

The Apartheid Wall, as it is commonly known, cuts off Palestinians from Israelis and from each other, imposing all kinds of oppression on Palestinians. ((Gabriel Ash, “Another Brick in the (Apartheid) Wall,” Dissident Voice, 8 June 2006.))

7. Is siphoning off the money owed to a particular ethnic group and laying siege to the destitute and hungry people a Canadian value?

Israeli journalist Amira Hass tells of $105 million stolen from Palestine at border crossings under Israeli control. ((Amira Hass, “The robbery is going off without a hitch,” Haaretz, 11 May 2011.))

8. Do Canadian values prohibit discussion of a genocidal takeover by Europeans of Canada?

The genocide in Canada is documented if not widely discussed in the corporate or state media. ((E.g., Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada: The Pacification of the North (Black Rose, 1973).))

Israel, however, seeks to shut down discussion of the Nakba. A bill was passed by the Israeli Knesset to deny government funding to any organization that commemorates the catastrophe that Jews inflicted on Palestinians. ((Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, “Israel criminalizes commemoration of the Nakba,” Electronic Intifada, 29 March 2011. ))

One could go on and on citing Israeli values that if stated as an item only, no Canadian politician would embrace. Racism is the quintessential non-value for progressives, and while many Canadian politicians will deny Israel is an apartheid state, the evidence of Zionist Israeli racism is voluminous. ((Writing colleague BJ Sabri and I tackled Zionist racism in a 12-part Dissident Voice series: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, & 11, and 12.))

To be fair, however, Canada does share sordid background with Israel. It has racism, even arguably institutionalized. For example, as with Israel’s high rates of incarceration for Palestinians ((Email from Adam Keller “Israeli security forces practice suppression and mass detention of Israel’s Arab citizens, in implementation of Lieberman’s ‘population exchange’ program,” Gush Shalom. )) there are also much higher rates of incarceration for Original Peoples than White Canadians. ((See Kim Petersen, “Land and Jail,” The Dominion, Part I, Part II, and Part III. ))

9. Is displacement of one ethnic group a Canadian value?

In Israel, Palestinian residency is being revoked to allow Jewish families to move in. ((Akiva Eldar “Erekat: Israel’s cancelation of Palestinian residency is a ‘war crime’,” Haaretz, 1 May 2011. ))

That couldn’t happen this day and age in Canada, could it? ((See Kim Petersen, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Africville,” Dissident Voice, 29 March 2004.))

It would appear so, although the government will avoid owning up to it. After all, Canada is a territory where the Original Peoples were killed, displaced, discriminated against, and to this day many live in Bantustans/reserves.

It is a “value” shared by Israel and Canada, and it is despicable.

Where the steadfast supporters of Israel or any state err is in their unrelenting support of a geopolitical entity. The steadfast support should be to the principles that all principled states must adhere to — for example, peace, human rights, respect for diversity, good neighborliness, egalitarianism, and social justice. Solidarity with states that share and uphold fundamental values is where fealty and allegiance should reign. A steadfast friendly state speaks out when an ally state strays from a principled path.

Of course racism directed at Jews is odious and wrong; but racism directed by Jews against other humans is also odious and wrong. Dispossession, occupation, and oppression are wrong; they are the antithesis of progressivist values. Canada should forcefully renounce such anti-values in any state that upholds them, but Canada should first hold the mirror up to itself and deal ethically with its own dispossession, occupation, and oppression.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.