This past June, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for “singling out Israel” for criticism. This is not a new line: the “singling out Israel” accusation is a decades-old tactic that Israel’s proponents use almost any time that Israel is challenged on its human rights record. The rise of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calling for economic pressure on Israel for its human rights violations has only amplified the use of this evasive tactic.
At best, critics of Israeli government policies can expect to be accused of imposing an unfair standard on Israel; at worst they can face allegations of anti-Semitism for supposedly singling out the country for criticism. For example, during Parliament’s 2016 debate over a motion to condemn BDS, about a dozen Liberal and Conservative MPs toed this fictitious line when they declared, “Israel is singled out from the rest of the world.” In addition, a few MPs actually suggested that BDS supporters are the new face of anti-Semitism because they “selectively condemn Israel.”Read more
This article was originally published on September 11, 2017 on Rabble.ca and on September 12, 2017 on Huffington Post.
Most old popstars end their careers playing arenas in front of aging fans, milking old hits for every cent they're worth. Long past are the days when their politics were meaningful or relevant. But Roger Waters, the former front-man for Pink Floyd, is no ordinary musician. Waters' politics, in fact, still strike fear among some of the strongest political organizations in the world. All because Waters supports the international boycott of Israel.
Waters is due to give a series of concerts in Canada next month, and right on cue, Canada's pro-Israel lobby groups have mobilized aggressively to badmouth him. The hyperbole in these campaigns is astounding. According to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), for example, Waters "promotes vile discrimination" in a "bigoted campaign" targeting Israel. It sounds really nasty, until you look at what Waters is actually saying.Read more
This article was originally published on September 4, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
For years, Israel's apologists have made headlines accusing the Palestinians of using anti-Semitic textbooks. Recently, the battle came to Canada when B'nai Brith attacked the government's decision to fund the UN aid organization for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), suggesting UNRWA school textbooks demonized Israel. It is a cynical strategy which grabs headlines when announced, but fails to make the news when such allegations are debunked.
When exploring the most recent incarnation of these accusations, it's important to mention a few realities conveniently omitted by Israel's champions. First, UNRWA has never been in the business of producing textbooks. Instead, UNRWA schools use the textbooks and curricula of the countries which host the refugees, i.e. the textbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Gaza; and the textbooks of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in those countries. This is because students who advance in their studies must inevitably sit for local exams.Read more
This article was originally published on August 31, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
Whatever its other failings, the Liberal government should be praised for its recent decision to contribute $25 million to help millions of Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the Middle East. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees is the recipient of the government's magnanimous gift. Canada's contribution will make up about 1.5 percent of UNRWA's overall budget: of which 54 percent is spent on education, 17 percent on health care, and 9 percent on relief and social services.
A no brainer you might think: no one could possibly oppose such a humanitarian gesture. Wrong!Read more
This article was originally published on August 28, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
Last Thursday, the Trudeau government announced another $25 million in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees. Within hours, Canadian pro-Israel lobby groups had criticized the decision, dredging up spurious arguments to subvert any potential public sympathy for Palestinians, refugees or otherwise. But average Canadians can reasonably be excused for asking, "Why should Canada support Palestinian refugees?"
This article was originally published on August 8, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.
On July 20 an Israel lobby organization named UN Watch wrote to Amit Chakma, President of the University of Western Ontario saying it was “shocked” to discover that Western has been providing Professor Michael Lynk with support for his “prejudicial mandate.” (According to the UN that mandate is “to assess the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (and) report publicly about it”.)
UN Watch is a Geneva based organization which describes itself as “concerned with the just application of UN Charter principles”. It is specially focussed on Israel and what it calls “the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel.” Former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, a strong advocate of Israel, is on the UN Watch board of directors.Read more
This article was originally published on August 1, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.
A couple of years ago, two young Canadian Jews had a provocative idea: a series of critical podcasts about Jewish media and politics in Canada. They called it Treyf Podcast. (Apparently ‘ Treyf’ is a Yiddish word for non-kosher food, or for not kosher in the more metaphorical sense, as in not legitimate.”)
Since then, Sam Bick and David Zinman have produced dozens of podcasts ranging from 20 to 40 minutes covering projects and perspectives otherwise sidelined by Jewish media.Read more
This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
This article was also published on July 14, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
With the recent flip-flop of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on the labelling and sale of West Bank wines in Canada, it's easy to wonder whose interest the agency serves. On July 6, CFIA issued a directive to all Canadian liquor boards which some interpreted as necessitating a ban on the sale of two wines that CFIA considered falsely labelled as "Made in Israel." CFIA made a compelling argument, citing Canada's Food and Drugs Act, and the Government of Canada's official policy on the status of the West Bank.
This decision was triggered by a formal complaint launched by Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, and affected wines from Psȃgot Winery Ltd. and Shiloh Winery Ltd. In his complaint, Kattenburg demonstrated that both wineries are operating in the West Bank, and not in Israel proper, and neither winery uses grapes harvested in Israel, in violation of CFIA labelling regulations.Read more
This article was originally published on July 13, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
This article was also published on July 14, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
It’s official. Canada is now a hawk when it comes to the proliferation of nuclear arms. If any additional confirmation were needed, it was Canada’s absence at last week’s UN vote to ban nuclear weapons. But for those who have been following this file, this is only the latest of Canada’s hawkish gestures.
Canada’s failure to step up for last week’s nuclear weapons ban was criticized from many corners. “It’s shocking that Canada is not going to participate,” asserted former Canadian ambassador for disarmament, Douglas Roche back in March. Paul Meyer, another former Canadian ambassador for disarmament described Canada’s absence as “pathetic.” Project Ploughshares’ executive director Cesar Jaramillo considered it a hypocritical contradiction of the Trudeau government’s stated commitment to multilateralism.Read more
This article was originally published on July 11, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
For years, Lebanese Canadians flying to Beirut have had to endure exhausting layovers in Europe. But recent hopes that the Trudeau government would approve direct flights to Beirut were dashed with a tweet from an Air Canada executive early Monday. Duncan Bureau, VP Global Sales for Air Canada tweeted that the government had rejected their application, commenting, “Huge disappointment for us and [the] Lebanese community here.”
Bureau’s comments were echoed by the Lebanese community on social media. Comments to a post about the refusal on Facebook were both sceptical and critical. One individual wrote, “Trudeau will not be re elected in the next election. […] Pathetic decision Justin.” On Twitter another wrote, “Shame on @JustinTrudeau & @liberal_party for discriminating against the Lebanese-Canadian community.”Read more