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 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 also published on Nov. 24, 2016 on Rabble.
Last week, the Vancouver Sun printed a remarkable apology to Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada. The Sun editorial board had published a piece in August claiming that IJV – a Jewish organization – had denied the Holocaust and encouraged terrorism against Israelis. The only problem was, they were dead wrong.
The Vancouver Sun produced the apology after IJV contacted Postmedia through its lawyer. In its retraction and statement of apology, the Sun suggested it had been influenced by certain “advocacy groups,” and indeed, their false accusations did resemble allegations made on an undated pro-Israel lobby Website. The Sun’s remorse seemed short lived, however, as the apology came off their Website after only about a week.Read more