Putting Accusations of Anti-Semitism in Context
Canada is in the midst of yet another debate on anti-Semitism. This time, the uproar was spurred by statements made by David Ahenakew a native leader and recipient of the Order of Canada. Mr. Ahenakew’’s statement that Hitler was right "to fry 6 million of those guys because they were taking over" is disgusting and his membership in the Order of Canada should be withdrawn immediately. However, I can no longer contain my resentment over the endless superficial and pointless discussions, interviews and opinions on "growing anti-Semitism".
One particular dialogue on CBC radio left me steaming for days. Upon sitting down and analyzing the reason for my anger I concluded that it is not so much what was said as what was not said that disturbed me. The idea put forward by one of the participants that since most Jews are Zionists, one cannot claim to be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Neither the host nor the other two participants in the discussion saw fit to challenge this opinion. This idea must be challenged in the strongest terms each and every time it is put forth. IT IS NOT RACIST TO OPPOSE A RACIST IDEOLOGY. If it is true that most Jews are Zionists they must be re-educated to abandon this ideology. It is not up to the rest of the country to accept it.
As usual in this type of discussion one is made to feel that Jews are more victimized than other groups or that anti-Semitism is somehow more abhorrent than other forms of racism. Although reference was made to bomb threats against Synagogues and Jewish Schools, there was not one reference to threats made to Mosques and the current hate literature being published on Muslims and Arabs by the Zionist controlled media.
Typically, only one participant touched upon what he referred to as "the situation in the Middle East in regards to Palestinians". I suppose this vague statement was intended to raise the issue of a possible link between rising anti-Semitism and the Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza. Policies that include 24 hour curfews for months, home demolitions, destruction of ancient olive groves, roadblocks that prevent access to education, jobs and healthcare and total disregard for over 65 United Nations Resolutions. The rank hypocrisy of talking about offensive WORDS, no-matter how stupid, racist and ignorant, in regards to Jews and the Holocaust while ignoring what is actually HAPPENING to Palestinians right NOW must surely be offensive to any intelligent listener.
The Zionists supporters will argue that Israel is held to higher standards that other nations. But Israel proclaims itself to be a bastion of freedom, democracy and justice. Nations like Israel, Canada, the United States and Britain, should be held to higher standards than developing countries with undemocratic governments and large uneducated populations.
There can be no discussion regarding growing anti-Semitism without consideration of the Israeli apartheid system imposed on Palestinians. Although I am not of Arab background, my anger at this injustice in intense. Fortunately it is tempered by age and experience. My parents often repeated to me that there are good and bad in every race: time has proven them right. I have also had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with Jews who see the injustices being perpetrated on Palestinians. Since a young age I have turned to writing when I am sad or angry.
What of the children of people of Arab descent? Both Canada and the U.S. have a substantial Arab and Muslim populations whose sympathies clearly lie with Palestinians. How is the testosterone charged teenager of Arab descent going to react to news that 8 year old children of a group he identifies with, are being shot for throwing rocks at tanks or sometimes just shot in the back? What is this kid going to do when he hears lengthy discussions about anti-Semitism on radio and television and nothing about the crimes committed against his own kind? I can bet it will not be to write. Talk of anti-Semitism without looking at the context may be a way to fill air time without generating the ire of B'nai B'rith but in no way contributes to reducing anti-Semitism. Real solutions come as a result of discussion by an informed public. There is no winning through suppression of information and discussion. You can only keep the lid on the pressure cooker for so long before it blows up.
Since my early teens I have heard in reference to the Holocaust that "It must not happen again". This is a wise statement that has become part of our moral fibre. But "It" is happening again - to Palestinians. Sympathy for Jews and revulsion for Hitler and the Holocaust must not be carried beyond the bonds of logic. It must end when the victim becomes the oppressor, otherwise we have learned nothing.
The pro-Israeli camp is quick to point out that Arabs are not sufficiently critical of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli's but how often does one hear Jews condemning the Israeli policies of aggression on the entire Palestinian population. I blame the media for this as much as Jews because I know that there are Jews who passionately condemn and actively oppose Israeli apartheid. By giving air time to the whining Zionists with their preposterous precepts and not the to "left-wing" Jews who oppose the policies of the war criminal Ariel Sharon and his ilk, the media is contributing to anti-Semitism AND condoning the racist Zionist policies which are completely irreconcilable with our values of freedom and equality.
Linda Belanger is an activist living in Canada. Email: Belalin54@hotmail.com