B’nai B’rith Smears Leading Palestine Solidarity Activist

Recently Israel’s largest human rights organization concluded the country was run based on a regime of Jewish supremacy.  B’Tselem wasn’t only referring to the occupied West Bank but an “apartheid” system in place from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

A week after B’Tselem’s report was released, one of Canada’s leading lobbyists for the “regime of Jewish supremacy” smeared maybe the country’s most effective activist in challenging Canadian complicity in that racism as, well surprise, surprise … racist. B’nai B’rith put out a press release attacking Karen Rodman for “promoting the sale of Israeli wine … only because the winemaker is an Arab, rather than an Israeli Jew.”

The release is cringe worthy. It’s hard to believe a more sober minded individual within the multimillion-dollar organization failed to intercede. But the truth is much of what B’nai B’rith produces reeks of an unsophisticated bully emboldened by a complicit political culture. A number of blogs promoting the “regime of Jewish supremacy” picked up B’nai B’rith’s release declaring: “Antisemitic BDSers support selling wine from Israel — as long as it isn’t from Jews”; “Anti-Semitism: BDS Activist Promotes Israeli Wine Produced by Arabs, Not Jews”; “A ‘wineing’ hypocrisy: The BDS movement in Canada”.

Rodman’s role in selling a few bottles from a Palestinian-owned winery is not, of course, why B’nai B’rith is targeting her. That self-declared human rights organization sees it as an opportunity to attack BDS and, more particularly, to undermine Rodman’s effective activism on a series of fronts.

A former United Church of Canada minister, Rodman has campaigned to expose a 1970s agreement the church made with B’nai B’rith to inform it about Israel-related affairs or possibly even to seek their consent before implementing policy approved by the grassroots. She was also the key player in last summer’s No Canada on United Nations Security Council campaign. Rodman compiled the research contrasting Canada’s viciously anti-Palestinian voting record at the General Assembly with its competitors for the seats Ireland and Norway. She also tracked down the contacts for all the UN ambassadors and coordinated an action alert that saw over 1,300 individuals deliver letters urging them to vote against Canada’s bid due to its anti-Palestinian record. Flustered by the campaign, Canada’s representative at the international organization wrote a last-minute response to all UN ambassadors. (Another 1,000 letters were sent to UN ambassadors about other elements of Canadian foreign policy.) The security council loss was embarrassing to the Trudeau Liberals and was also a blow to the “regime of Jewish supremacy” and its Canadian lobby.

More recently, Rodman has spearheaded the campaign to challenge illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada. Canadians have been recruited to fight in Israel’s military for three quarters of a century and only recently has there been an organized effort to stop the practice. The campaign launched with an open letter signed by numerous prominent individuals demanding the Trudeau government take action on recruitment for the Israeli military and over 2,000 emails have been sent to Justice Minister David Lametti and RCMP Commissioner Rob O’Reilly calling on them to investigate the matter. Adding further pressure, Member of Parliament Mario Beaulieu is participating in an upcoming webinar on the subject.

While one may be tempted to call B’nai B’rith’s attack on Rodman a new low, it is not. The group’s fanaticism in promoting hate is long-standing. In October 2018 B’nai Brith sponsored an event in Vancouver with Ben Shapiro — a former Breitbart News editor. Shapiro has said the “Palestinian Arab population is rotten to the core”, “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage” and Islam is an “ideological representation of third worldism … and poverty.” In response to a 2012 United Church resolution calling for a boycott of products from illegal Israeli settlements, B’nai Brith CEO Frank Dimant issued statement claiming the minimal act of solidarity with the besieged Palestinians was tantamount to “calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from these areas.”

Just like White supremacists accuse people of colour of racism when they call for equality, B’nai Brith accuses others of what it promotes. It backs extremist elements of the “regime of Jewish supremacy” while labeling those challenging racist governance as racist. People of good conscience will see through this and demonstrate solidarity with Karen Rodman.

• Image credit: ernstversusencana.ca.

Yves Engler is a former junior hockey left-winger and co-author of Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay. Read other articles by Yves.