News

Canada: “Antisemitism” – Real and Imagined

by Mark Hasiuk
from The Vancouver Courier

BACK IN March 2009, two federal heavyweights—Irwin Cotler (pictured), former Liberal justice minister, and Jason Kenney, current Conservative minister of citizenship—founded the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism. The name speaks for itself. A report featuring statistics and policy recommendations should be released sometime this fall.

But a new book titled Antisemitism: Real and Imagined penned by Michael Keefer, an English professor at the University of Guelph, argues that Cotler and company care little about combatting bigotry and much more about coddling Israel. Their strategy, to conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, represents an assault on free speech and civil discourse….

“If you come forward with ethical objections to the behaviour of Israel—that they’re violating Geneva conventions, they’re violating international law—this group will target you,” says Keefer, pointing to Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank. “The effect is to reverse the victimization so we’re no longer talking about the real evidence.”

Speaking of evidence. Or lack thereof.

During a speech on Parliament Hill last February, Kenney cited a “2008 audit of anti-Semitic incidents” tabulated by the B’nai Brith, a lobbying group known for its dim view of free speech. According to the audit, there was a “nine per cent increase” of reported “anti-Semitic incidents” in Canada between 2007 and 2008.

(Incidental footnote: my July 16, 2008 column about the scandalous treatment of a stupid yet law-abiding self-described white nationalist was labelled an “anti-Semitic incident” and included in the B’nai Brith audit.) [Emphasis ours. — Ed.]

Speaking of the media. As usual, they’re part of the problem..

In 2008 in Toronto, home to more than half of Canada’s Jewish population, the police reported an 18 per cent spike in reported hate crimes. Sensational news stories followed, stoking fears of widespread antisemitism while ignoring the previous year’s hate crimes figures—the lowest numbers on record.

Similarly, following a StatsCan report released last June detailing a spike in so-called reported hate crimes in Vancouver, one local newspaper said the news was “particularly disturbing for blacks and Jews.” That same newspaper failed to mention that many of the “hate crimes” weren’t crimes at all, and were dismissed due to lack of evidence or proof of innocence.

Read the full article at The Vancouver Courier

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