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September 3, 2009

Combating Anti-Semitism? - An Open Letter

Bruce Katz

(This letter was submitted to The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism )

Dear Mr. Reid,

I have looked at the names of those Members of Parliament who have been chosen to sit on the Parliamentary Commission to Combat Anti-Semitism with some consternation.

The list includes a good number of people who are associated with the pro-Israel lobby and who have issued statements in the past which might lead one to believe that they harbour anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments.

One of the Honourable Members sitting on your commission went so far as to suggest that food be cut off to the already beleaguered population of Gaza, this during the last federal election period. Are there any Parliamentarians of Arab descent or of Muslim faith sitting on your Commission and if not, why not?

When one adds these facts to the already established tone of the Commission’s proposed discussion: You mention in your FAQ section that “. . .while accusations of blood libel are still being made against the Jewish people, instead they are being directed against the State of Israel, such that anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for anti-Semitism...’’, it is apparent that the scope of your commission is not to look at the nature of anti-Semitism as such, but to attempt to manipulate the definition of anti-Semitism so as to make it synonymous with criticism of Israeli policy.

This is so transparent that I can already tell you what the final recommendation of your Commission will be: the Commission to Combat Anti-Semitism will recommend to a government already steeped in Islamophobia that it is ’’anti-Semitic’’ to propose a boycott of Israel at any level, and that the government enact legislation to ’’criminalize’’ any joint reference to Israel and apartheid.

The Commission is quite simply the official rubber-stamp which the Harper government has chosen to legitimize the decision already made behind the scene.

I state this now on August 30 , 2009 so that when the Commission renders its recommendation which will be more or less what I have stated it to be above, the malicious nature of plotting behind the scenes by individuals both inside and outside Parliament will be all the more evident.

After all, if the decision rendered by the Commission was stated clearly by an outside observer before that Commission even sat, then it becomes clear that ‘something is rotten in the State of Denmark.’

I take exception to the idea that Zionism and Judaism are one and the same so that consequently to criticize Zionism is to be anti-Semitic. This is sophistry of the worst kind. If you believe this, then you must necessarily condemn great Jewish thinkers such as Albert Einstein and Martin Buber as being anti-Semitic since they were both critical of Zionism.

Indeed, the list of prominent Jewish intellectuals who have been critical of the nature of Zionism is as long as one’s arm. Are they therefore anti-Semitic? Are the Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel also anti-Semitic because they have criticized their own government and defend Palestinian human rights?

Zionism succeeded in absorbing Judaism into the idea of the State, thereby secularizing and ethnicizing Judaism while emptying it of its messianic, transcendent nature and its strict moral code which issues from precepts of the Torah and the Mosaic Code.

In other words, in order to create the New Hebrew Man (le nouvel homme hébreu ) as Yakov Rabkin coins the term in his book,  Au nom de la Torah, une histoire de l’opposition juive au sionisme, it was first necessary to evacuate the transcendant nature of Judaic normative principles in order to substitute the State for the God of the Israelites.

The State, however, cannot itself be Judaism, and no amount of sophistry will make it so.

The worship of the State as a religious object is quite simply idolatry, the worship of the Golden Calf, and in the case of the State of Israel, its worship should be called Israelism (which would be more readily understood than ‘Zionism’) and not Judaism.

To claim that they are one and the same is a falsehood; to claim that the State of Israel is the embodiment of all the world’s Jews is not only a lie, but a dangerous one, for if the State of Israel is guilty of crimes inflicted upon a neighbouring people – and it is – and if the extrapolation is made that this State guilty of crimes also embodies world Jewry, then all Jews are made to share a collective guilt with this State, though many Jews oppose that State’s actions. This results in a growing anti-Jewish sentiment caused not by an extant anti-Semitism which is everywhere prevalent , but caused by the actions of that State.

That is why I continue to say that the gravest danger posed to the security of Jews everywhere is the present segregationist policy of the government of Israel – reminiscent of Jim Crow laws in the U.S. and the apartheid system of South Africa in the past – all of which underscores the need for Jews to distance themselves from the hegemony of the State of Israel by making a conscious distinction between Israelism and Judaism.

Given these facts, it should be apparent to all concerned that the scope of your Commission – namely that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism – is a non sequitur.

I suggest that you abandon the idea of using your Commission as a tool of inducing Canadians to refrain from speaking the truth as concerns the nature of Zionism, the true nature of anti-Semitism, and the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To attempt to silence Canadians is to impugn the public’s right to freedom of expression and thus to impugn the Constitution of Canada. I suggest that you give serious consideration to the consequences such an attempt to transgress the Constitution could have on your own reputations. Remember Senator Joseph McCarthy.

To all I express my wish for a joyous Ramadan and a joyous Rosh Hashona.

To those members of your Commission who will be fasting on Yom Kippour (Day of Atonement), I invite them to think of the Palestinians in Gaza who ‘fast’ virtually every day because of the blockade which prevents food and other necessities from entering Gaza as shown by the unusually high number of Palestinian children there suffering from anemia due to malnutrition.

Bruce Katz

Montreal, August 30, 2009

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