The progressive Palestinian movement has always maintained that Zionism and anti-Semitism are two faces of the same coin and that they often feed off each other. Opposition to both is based on opposition to racism and on a principled and solid belief that human rights should be applied equally and universally to all human beings regardless of their nationality, color or religion. As part of that movement, we have a long record of challenging both, no matter the source, be it from Canadian federal politicians such as Jason Kenney and John Baird, provincial politicians such as Carole James or Canadian mayors such as Gregor Robertson, and even from Jews such as Gilad Atzmon.
From the early inception of Zionism, its founder Theodor Herzl recognized this connection and described anti-Semitism as a “propelling force” and declared: “Anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow, and so do I”. He also stated: “The governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want.” And as early as the first Zionist Congress (1897), Zionists collaborated with anti-Semites to achieve their common goal: ejecting Jews from their respective countries and in-gathering them in the new Ghetto in Palestine.
We also consider those who promote anti-Semitism as our enemies, not just because they are Zionism’s “propelling force” but also because they promote hatred against a religious group.
Without anti-Semitism, there would have been no Israel; without anti-Semitism, Zionism would have never convinced its “cannon fodder” to adopt its settler colonialist ideology.
Since its founding 120 years ago, Zionism has always claimed that it represents all Jews and that Israel is the “Jewish homeland”. The recent Israeli “Nation-State” law is the clear manifestation of this ideology, which was hidden from the world for the past seventy years under the Israeli slogan “the only democracy in the M.E.”. This law is also meant to redefine anti-Semitism by claiming that since Israel represents the Jews, any criticism, repudiation or hatred of Israeli brutal, racist and genocidal policies is considered anti-Semitism.
The Dimitri Lascaris “tweet”
Earlier this month, the major Canadian political parties that rarely agree on any subject in favour of the Canadian people, came out in an unprecedented show of unity and solidarity with Israel and Zionism.
This was in response to this tweet by pro-Palestinian activist and lawyer Dimitri Lascaris:
“Apparently Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and colleagues in the Liberal caucus.”
The backstory here was that Lascaris had exposed the racist nature of several B’nai Brith Canada supporters who were inciting violence against Canadian politicians and called “for the Death Penalty for Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh and Liberal Muslim MPs”. He had called for political leaders to condemn this outrage but the silence at that point was deafening.(For background info on the story see Yves Engler article, Dimitri Lascaris’s response to Justin Trudeau, Independent Jewish Voices position on libelling Lascaris and a follow-up Engler article.)
And as usual, the Zionists employed the 3 D’s of Israeli hasbara: diversions, distortions and defamations. Diverted the attention from the Zionist supporters’ racism and their call to violence and murder, distorted what Lascaris was saying and then defamed him as an anti-Semite.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) stated in a tweet that Larcaris’ statement fits the “literal definition of #antisemitism” and asked the organization, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East CJPME, (of which he is Chair of the Board) to “publicly retract & apologize for this antisemitic smear”.
And then those same Canadian politicians that had absolutely no comment earlier, took their cue from CIJA and parroted its accusations and slander.
Canadian Prime minster Justin Trudeau went so far as to say in a tweet that Lascaris’ statement was a “Vile anti-Semitic smear”.
The Leader of Canada’s Conservative Party(CPC), Andrew Scheer, in the name of the CPC caucus, tweeted: “It’s shameful to see two MPs subjected to such anti-Semitism”.
The NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also tweeted:
“Antisemitism has no place in Canada”. And the NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière tweeted: “I condemn the anti-Semitic comments directed against them”
Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party also jumped on the band wagon and tweeted addressing the two Zionist MP’s (the alleged “victims”): “So unacceptable. Your loyalty to Canada is unquestioned.”
Even the organization CJPME, although taking great pains to point out that Lascaris’ tweet was personal and had nothing to do with them, nonetheless felt compelled to legitimize this Zionist definition of anti-Semitism by saying in their email statement: “The Jewish community is sensitive to allegations of divided loyalties … CJPME agrees that it is unnecessary to invoke questions of loyalty to Canada.”
The above quotes show clearly how the Zionist lobby has succeeded in hijacking the truth and the agenda by imposing its narrative on the vast majority of Canadian politicians, media and even some civil society groups, be they Jewish or non-Jewish.
Shockingly, a recent revelation made by Adalah noted: “The Israeli government declared that ‘the Knesset [is permitted] to legislate laws everywhere in the world’ and that it is authorized ‘to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries via legislation that would be applied to events occurring in their territories,’ in legal materials it recently submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court.”
Once upon a time, there were leaders in Canada who cared about truth, fairness, equality and dignity of all peoples. In 1935, the national leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation CCF (the NDP’s predecessor) J. S. Woodsworth, predicted the dangers of the Zionist Movement. He stated, referring to Zionism, that “if nationalism was ‘over-emphasized’ it would call forth a counter-nationalism that [would] be very disadvantageous.” He also said “the promotion of the interest of a sectional group tends to provoke a certain reaction in other sections of the population, and thus defeat the very object in view.”
Also, in 1938, when Woodsworth was approached to get CCF support for the Zionist settler project, he was quoted as saying: “It was easy for Canadians, Americans and the British to agree to a Jewish colony, as long as it was somewhere else. Why ‘pick on the Arabs’ other than for ‘strategic’ and ‘imperialistic’ consideration…” (Canada and the birth of Israel, David J. Bercuson, page 18, page 19).
Mr. Jagmeet Singh and Ms. Hélène Laverdière, please take note.
Zionists’ loyalty has always been to Zionism and its settler colonialist project
The claim that Zionism represents THE Jews is false and in itself promotes anti-Semitism. Those who believe that Zionism represents the Jews, including Canadian politicians, are either Zionists, anti-Semites or are promoters of it.
As the True Torah Jews put it: “…there are, generally, two types of people who conflate Judaism with Zionism: Zionists who try to legitimize Zionism, or anti-Semites who try delegitimizing Judaism.”
In fact, Jews were the first to recognize these facts and were the first to oppose the settler colonialist ideology, ZIONISM.
* In 1897 on the occasion of the first Zionist Congress, the Executive Committee of the Association of Rabbis in Germany issued the anti-Zionist manifesto that stated: “Judaism obligates its adherents to serve with all devotion the Fatherland to which they belong, and to further its national interests with all their heart and strength.” (Unease in Zion, Ehud Ben Ezer, Page 22)
* The strongest opposition to the Balfour Declaration within the British Government came from its only Jewish member, Sir Edwin Montagu, who wrote: “Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom…I assert that there is not a Jewish nation…When the Jews are told that Palestine is their national home, every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens…”
Also, more recently 40+ Jewish organizations from all over the world declared: “This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law.”
Zionism and its adherents seem to care less about the well being of the Jews, and more about the survival of the Zionist settler colonialist project. In 1938, the Zionist leader and later the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, stated: “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.”
This tradition continues today as Israel and the Zionist lobby openly collaborate with extreme anti-Semites and racists as long as they are pro-Israel.
Canadian Zionists showed their true “loyalty” to Canada when they broke the Canadian law and the U.N. embargo on war material and manpower to the region in 1948: ”The (Canadian) government was reluctant to draw attention to this matter (the Zionist volunteers) and refused to invoke the Foreign Enlistment Act (a law passed to discourage Canadians from fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War) … More than 300 Canadians eventually joined the Israeli forces while tons of military equipment, from Harvard training aircraft to radio sets, were smuggled out of Canadian ports. The recruiting of volunteers and the smuggling of arms were done with the active knowledge and assistance of leaders of the United Zionist Council…” (Canada and the birth of Israel, David J. Bercuson, page191.)
Why this Alliance between Zionism and Colonialism and Imperialism?
The real reason behind the support western colonialist and imperial countries have been giving to Zionism is that it serves their interests in the Arab region. It is not because of any Western love for Jews or even Zionists for that matter. The Zionist movement realized all of this in the early stages and quickly exploited it.
Theodore Herzl wrote in his book “The Jewish State”: “There we shall be a sector of the wall of Europe against Asia, we shall serve as the outpost of civilization against barbarism.”
Another Zionist leader, Chaim Weizmann, who was a close friend of the South African Apartheid leader Jan Smuts, also stated: “We had long pointed out to the British, and I repeated it again in my interview with Lord Cecil, that a Jewish Palestine would be a safeguard to England, in particular in respect to the Suez Canal.”
The support of Western powers to the Zionist project makes them complicit in Israeli war crimes, and by their support they are enabling Israel to carry on with the crimes of genocide and Apartheid against the Palestinian people.
We also should realize that their support to Israel and Zionism will continue only as long as Western imperial interests are being served. We could speculate further that their pretense of being “controlled” by the Zionist lobby helps to set the necessary exit strategy when Israel becomes a liability to those interests, and we know all too well who will be the target of any future backlash. Imperialism and settler colonialism have no morality nor conscience.
Trudeau and Canadian politicians are objectively promoting racism!
Mr. Trudeau, what falls under the category of “Vile anti-Semitic smears” is your support for the Zionist claim that it represents the Jews; by tarnishing the Jews with the war crimes that the Zionist state is committing against the Palestinian people and against humanity, you are the one objectively promoting anti-Semitism, not Mr. Lascaris. What constitutes “Vile anti-Semitic smears” is your support for the supremacist ideology of Zionism that uprooted and stole the land of the Semitic indigenous people of Palestine.
If you ever wake up one day with a conscience, how about implementing what Sir Edwin Montagu suggested in 1917 to the British Government:
“I would willingly disfranchise every Zionist. I would be almost tempted to proscribe the Zionist organisation as illegal and against the national interest.”
Unfortunately, we live in an era where supremacist, colonialist and imperialist forces control the world from the barrel of a gun. For peace, justice and dignity to prevail, it is incumbent on all of us to fight against all forms of racism and the hegemonic designs of those imperial powers, wherever they manifest. Otherwise, humanity is doomed.
Chair, Canada Palestine Association