Survey Results Dispel Notion of “New Anti-Semitism”

This article was originally published on Feb. 23, 2017 in the Huffington Post.

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The jury is in.  According to a new survey, the vast majority of Canadians do not consider criticism of the government of Israel to be “anti-Semitic.”  This finding flatly contradicts those who have been warning of a “new anti-Semitism” in Canada, where criticism of Israel is a veiled form of this despicable historic ideology.

Of those who offered an opinion, 91 percent of Canadians did not believe that criticism of Israeli government policy is necessarily anti-Semitic.  For those respondents who identified with the Liberal party, the number was 97 percent; for those with in NDP, literally 100% said that criticism of Israel is like criticism of any other country. 

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When it comes to Israel, are Quebec’s political elites out of touch ?

This article was originally published on Feb. 20, 2017 in Rabble.

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The most recent poll regarding Canadian’s attitudes towards Israel has just been released and the results are telling. Quite strikingly, far more Canadians have a negative view of the government of Israel than a positive one.  Even more remarkable, Quebec respondents have a far harsher view of the government of Israel than their fellow Canadians.

Some have argued that Quebecers have always been more critical of the Israeli government, and more sympathetic to the Palestinians.  This assumption was up in the air, however, when a survey by Crop-LaPresse issued in 2014 during the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas found that the majority (64%) of Quebecers chose not to pick sides in the messy flare up.

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Survey: Government Policy Disconnected from Canadian Attitudes on Israel

This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2017 in the Huffington Post.

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New survey results indicate that on the question of Israel-Palestine politics, the Trudeau government is grossly out of step with the Canadian electorate.  New survey results indicate that while Canadians were far more likely to have a negative opinion of Israeli government, most Canadians believe their government is biased in favour of Israel.

In a survey co-sponsored by my organization and conducted by EKOS, 46 percent of Canadians who expressed an opinion had a negative or somewhat negative view of the government of Israel.  Only 28 percent had a positive or mostly positive view of Israel.  On the other hand, 61 percent believed that their government held a pro-Israel Middle East policy, while only 16 percent thought Canada was pro-Palestinian.

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Canada Appears More Interested in Supporting a “2 State Solution” Than in Defending Palestinian Human Rights

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This article was originally published on February 16, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.

Israel, its settlers and its military have been on an aggressive roll since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. From shooting a Palestinian member of  Israeli Knesset, to killing a Bedouin citizen of Israel fighting expulsion, to demolishing 11 homes in the Israeli Palestinian town of Qalanswah, to announcing 6000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, to renewed bombing on Gaza, to retroactively legalizing settlements in the West Bank, Israel seems more determined than ever to exert its dominance over the Palestinians.

What has been Canada’s response? A month after being appointed, Canada’s new foreign affairs minister has finally made a comment:

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Poll: Canada’s politicians out of touch with public on Mideast

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This article was originally published on February 16, 2017 on Ricochet Media.

In the first all-party leaders’ debate in Canada’s 2015 federal election, Stephen Harper, arguably the most pro-Israel prime minister in Canadian history, challenged Justin Trudeau to clarify his attitude toward Israel. Harper asserted that “there is a movement at the United Nations to isolate and denigrate the state of Israel . . . . The best friend and ally this country has is in a very dangerous region, and we will never go along with that anti-Israel position.”

Justin Trudeau’s response? “All parties are in agreement on this.”

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Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s Message a Challenge to All Canadians

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The contrast could not have been more jarring.  Outside, a small group of rabid protesters, shouting threateningly, carrying megaphones, signs, and cameras.  Inside, a rapt crowd of 600 listening quietly to a message of civic engagement delivered by one of the Muslim world’s most articulate writers and thinkers, Dr. Tariq Ramadan.

It’s a shame that the protestors came to disrupt rather than to listen to Dr. Ramadan.  It’s likely that they would have been both encouraged and challenged by Ramadan’s talk.  Encouraged because he calls citizens to be involved and express themselves through our democratic mechanisms – exactly as the protesters were.  Challenged because he calls citizens to think deeply about the issues facing our divided societies, and to face our fears with rationality – precisely where our protesters fell short. 

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Canadian Society’s Double-Standard on the “Terrorism” Label

This article was originally published on February 9, 2017 on Rabble.

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In the aftermath of the Quebec City mosque attack we have heard and read all kinds of language to describe the event.  “Hate crime,” “mass murder” and “terrorist attack” were all used and they all, to some extent, do define what has happened. However, one confused TVA anchor said on air that this was a case of “reverse” terrorism. As if terrorism had only one form: Muslim against others.

The TVA anchor has since apologized for his words, but his statement is reflective of a much larger problem: many people seem confused about when to properly use the term “terrorism.” This is no surprise considering the fact that even pundits and governments are unable to agree on when to apply the term.

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The Radical Right has always been on the Radar, just not in the Media

This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2017 in Rabble.

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When radicalization is publicly discussed in Canada, it is almost always with a reference to Islamic extremism or terrorism. It’s as if this phenomenon is strictly confined to individuals who have adopted extremist Islamist ideas like those of ISIS. Yet, this narrow conception of radicalization has, without a doubt, allowed for the atrocities in the Quebec City Mosque to take place. By failing to acknowledge the threat coming from the radicalization of individuals and the presence of more than 100 right-wing groups throughout Canada, we have blinded ourselves to the possibility of something like this ever happening.

There is no question that Islamic radicalization and violence is a threat that must be addressed in Canada.  Governments at all levels have mobilized to address the risk posed by international Islamic extremist groups, and the academic study of the phenomenon has exploded

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Quebec Mosque Attack Should Cause Leaders on Political Right to Reflect

This article was originally published on Jan. 30, 2017 on the Huffington Post.

While details are still unfolding on the Quebec City mosque attack Sunday night, there is little question that the shooters were motivated by hate for Muslims.  As such, Quebec and Canadian political leaders should take a long hard look at how their statements and actions may exacerbate such hate.

Quebec Muslims rightly see the Quebec City mosque killings as just the latest escalation in a trend of growing harassment against Canada’s Muslims.  “The Muslim community in Quebec is suffering from a flood of hate attacks, […] and now the attacks are escalating and bringing […] the death of innocent people,” lamented Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.

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Security Council Censure of Israel Is Highly Significant

This article was originally published on Dec. 28, 2017 in the Huffington Post.

Friday’s UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution censuring Israel will not resurrect dead Palestinians or Israelis from wars past, nor will it change the near-term prospect for peace.  But despite cynical criticism from the left, the UNSC resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements (a.k.a. colonies) is still very significant.  

One cannot discount the symbolic importance of such a resolution – foremost for Israel.  Israel’s right-wing government can have virtually everything it wants via military might… except legitimacy for its actions.  Netanyahu is furious, not because the resolution will slow the construction and expansion of Israel’s provocative settlements, but because the legitimacy of Israel’s actions has been rejected by the world’s community of nations.

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