Also published in the NS Advocate on June 2: https://nsadvocate.org/2021/06/02/judy-haiven-the-heart-of-the-matter-why-does-the-canadian-jewish-establishment-conflate-support-for-palestine-with-antisemitism/
The CEO of B’nai Brith Canada says It is starting to be unsafe to be a Canadian Jew…
The National Post recently published an open letter to Canadians and their political leaders, B’nai Brith Canada’s Michael Mostyn laments the recent displays of anti-Semitism in this country and calls for decisive action to address it.
I’m a Canadian Jew: Here is my response
At a time when Israeli air strikes have left more than 50,000 Palestinian residents of Gaza without homes, killed 230 (and more than 60 children) in less than two weeks, when the air strikes have decimated Gaza’s infrastructure, Michael Mostyn the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada writes that we Canadians should support Israel and fight antisemitism.
In his article, Mostyn does not give us one statistic or one fact on the ground which speaks to antisemitism in Canada.
On Nakba Day (May 15), which commemorates Israel’s 1948 expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their land and homes in Palestine, there were protests around the globe. Those protests were against what Israel did 73 years ago, and what has resulted today: millions of Palestinian refugees still living in camps throughout Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel will allow no Palestinians the right to return to their homes and land. The protests Mostyn refers to in Toronto and Montreal were in support of human rights for Palestinians.
Left: Demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, photo credit Mostafa Alkarouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; top: photo credit Mohammed Salem/Reuters. Bottom right: photo credit Times of Israel.
What Mostyn calls anti-Israel extremism is the result of Israel “mowing the lawn” in Gaza– year after year. This is a cynical Israeli term for its periodic attacks on Gaza.
Since 2009, more than 5,000 Gazans, the majority civilians and children, have been killed and tens of thousands seriously injured by Israel in various military operations, including Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge. In 2019, Israeli snipers shot and gassed thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters who stood at the fence between Gaza and Israel during their year long Great March of Return.
Gaza is an open-air prison, whose 3 million residents have little access to clean water, limited access to electricity, and a rate of unemployment near 50%. Israel continues to keep Gaza under military siege, by air, by sea and of course by land. Israel has been illegally occupying Gaza since 1967, and despite its obligations as an occupier under international law, it refuses to immunize the people from Covid. As a consequence of poverty, lack of water, sanitation and food, rates of Covid are sky high in Gaza.
Mostyn should not conflate antisemitism with the support of Palestinians. He does this deliberately. But more and more Canadians (and Canadian Jews like me) are now rejecting what B’nai Brith and the rest of the Jewish establishment are saying. Canadians see that Palestinians want and deserve peace. Israel is violating Palestinians’ rights every day. For Mostyn and the Canadian Jewish establishment, it becomes a hard-sell. So Mostyn resorts to saying everyone is an antisemite.
We are at the point that Jewish Canadians have to decide whether or not to be on the right side of history – the side that supports human and civil rights for Palestinians.
Judy Haiven is on the National Steering Committee of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. She lives in Halifax, NS.
Featured image: Israeli missiles hit Gaza City, May 2021, photo credit Independent.co.uk