June 09, 2010

In Contempt: Zionism and McCarthyism in Canada by Naomi Binder Wall,Feb 04, 2010, Toronto


In Contempt: Zionism and McCarthyism in Canada

Naomi Binder Wall

It is common practice in solidarity work to draw comparisons linking different historical periods of political and social transformation. As an example, the anti-Apartheid movement as it applies to the Israeli state is focused on boycott, divestment and sanctions and has as its reference point South Africa's anti-Apartheid BDS campaign.

Comparisons have also been drawn between Zionism and McCarthyism. There is no doubt that the current brand of Zionist demagoguery must send a chill up the spine of any one who remembers or has learned about the anti-Communist threats of the 1950s, when countless thousands of American lives were devastated in a riot of anti-Communist fervor. The most prominent anti-Communist of that time was Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin, whose investigation hearings conducted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities worked in tandem with the FBI's anti-Communist campaign to construct an extreme climate of fear across the United States. Canada played its part and in both countries numbers of progressive Jewish voices were silenced, by threats, loss of income, prison, and ubiquitous harassment and intimidation.Today, Zionist Jews front the attacks against Israel's critics, using tactics that eerily echo McCarthyism.

At the same time, while we can point to McCarthyism and identify similarities to Zionist attacks against critics of Israel, any comparison must be framed within and informed by the on-the-ground reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the brutal infrastructure that buttresses unchecked violations of international humanitarian law. This includes ethnic cleansing and forced removal, construction of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land,control of exports, imports, electricity, water, and telephone lines, house demolitions, revocation of residency rights, administrative detention without charge or trial, torture, and the use of white phosphorous bombs. It is not the content, but the tactics and strategies of repression that link Zionist attacks against critics of Israel and McCarthyism.

McCarthyism embodied a virulent anti-Communism that functioned to demonize progressive social and political movements, organizations and individuals on behalf of colonialism and capitalism. In much the same way,Zionist ideology and practice demonize the Free Palestine movement.

Backgrounding McCarthyism

Prior to 1942, the U.S Department of Justice started keeping alist of domestic organizations that it deemed subversive. Anti-Communist committees and "loyalty review boards" in federal, state, and local governments and in private agencies carried out investigations for companies concerned about possible Communist employees. Agencies kept cross-referenced lists of organizations, publications, rallies, and charities, as well as lists of individuals who were suspected Communists. Most victims of loyalty-security reviews were not allowed to cross-examine or know the identities of those who accused them and in many cases they were not told what they were accused of.Thousands of working people lost their jobs.

Joseph McCarthy delivered his first anti-Communist speech on February 9, 1950, to the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling, West Virginia,where he claimed that known Communists were working for the U.S. State Department. Just three weeks earlier, amid international protests, the Israeli Parliament declared Jerusalem the state's capital city. Prime Minister Ben Gurion announced: "Jerusalem is not only the capital city of Israel and of world Jewry, it should also become, according to the word of the prophets, the spiritual capital of the entire world." Israel was effusive in its support of the American government's hunt for Communists and progressives- a campaign that targeted many hundreds of American Jews - while offering itself as a haven for Jews worldwide, citing the words of the prophets as affirmation of its inherent right to the "spiritual capital of the entire world" on behalf of Jews everywhere.

Repressive Measures

"I don't want to dwell on the past but for a few moments to speak of the future. I feel that unless you remember this sinister epoch and understand it, you may be doomed to replay it. Not with the same cast of characters or of the same issues but I see a day perhaps coming in your lifetime...when a new crisis of conscience will grip this republic." Michael Wilson, screenwriter targeted by HUAC in 1947

Here in Canada we are in the midst of a Zionist propaganda campaign that vilifies solidarity work carried out against Israeli Apartheid and the total abrogation of Palestinian rights. We are seeing increasingly slanderous attacks against organizations and people advocating for Israel's compliance with International Law, a basic enough demand but apparently a grave threat to Zionist ideologues. In the face of an international shift in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), and significantly increasing numbers of institutions, organizations and individuals around the globe demanding an end to Israeli impunity, Zionist zealots have come unhinged.

Over the past two years, Canadian-based pro-Israel lobbyist shave escalated their attacks against groups, organizations, and individuals engaged in Palestinian solidarity work. An abbreviated list of examples includes:

* demanding that the LGBTQ community not allow "anti-Israel agitators" to march at Pride Toronto;
* condemning and demanding the removal of this year's Pride Toronto parade grand marshal for speaking at a public event organized by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid;
* demanding the banning of the term "Israeli Apartheid" at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario;
* removing Israeli Apartheid Week posters at several universities;
* threatening several Canadian-based university faculty with review and dismissal;
* censoring and blocking of community videos by Shaw TV because the words "ethnic cleansing", "massacre" and "genocide" were used in presentations;
* sponsoring of a motion filed in the Ontario legislature condemning the use of the term "Israeli Apartheid Week";
* demanding that the federal government refuse to allow British MP and outspoken advocate of Palestinian human rights George Galloway to enter the country;
* demanding the unilateral stripping of federal funding from the Canadian Arab Federation.

In the spring of 2009, Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, personally called the president of the main funding body for academic research in Canada and demanded they reconsider their funding of the peer-reviewed conference at York University, "Israel/Palestine:Mapping models of statehood and paths to peace." There was an uproar of protest and the conference proceeded as planned. But interference of this kind from members of the federal parliament is not unusual, and in fact infrastructures have been created to facilitate these interventions, through lobby groups,Israel's representatives in Canada, and "inter-parliamentary committees."

Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, CPCCA

"We have come to a point in the 21st century where at least in the halls of government and I think very much in the mainstream of Canadian life, we are viewed as part and parcel of Canadian polity." Bernie Farber CEO,Canadian Jewish Congress, Toronto Star

Around the same time that Farber acknowledged that Jews "are viewed as part and parcel of Canadian polity", in August 2009 the Toronto Star reported that, under a federal program providing security for groups at risk of being attacked in hate crimes, 46 of the 85 projects funded by Ottawa since February 2008 belonged to Jewish community groups. Over the same period, five Muslim organizations received funding, one Sikh group, a Portuguese organization, an Aboriginal organization and a Hindu organization.

Interparliamentary Conference on Combating anti-Semitism (ICCA)Founding Convention

In February, 2009, over 125 international delegates gathered in London for two days of presentations and discussions on the "increasing problem of anti-Semitism globally" and called on all governments "to face the problem of anti-Semitism, especially its manifestations in the media and academia."Under the leadership of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, a delegation of 11 Canadian Members of Parliament attended the conference. They returned "with the desire to form a Canadian coalition to fight anti-Semitism here."

In June, 2009, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) launched its nation-wide inquiry into anti-Semitism by inviting written submissions on the subject. The plan was to review the submissions and begin hearing witnesses in the fall. Testimony was scheduled from November 2, 2009 through February 8, 2010. The list of witnesses reveals a transparently biased selection and excludes submissions from people intending to substantively challenge the notion of a "new anti-Semitism." [1]

Following the inquiry, the CPCCA plans to submit a report on anti-Semitism to the Government of Canada, in anticipation of the next Interparliamentary Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, to be held in Ottawa in October 2010.

The "New Anti-Semitism"

In 2005, the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) offered a "standardized" definition of anti-Semitism for data collection. The EUMC definition was an important resource at the ICCA London conference. It states:

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity." As Irwin Cotler, the chair of the CPCCA/ICCAdeclared in his key note address at the London Conference, "Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks this new anti-Semitism is often less directed against individual Jews. It attacks primarily the collective Jews,the State ofIsrael."

Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel include (1) denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor; (2) applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; (3) holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

On the one hand, it is anti-Semitic to hold Jews "collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel." On the other hand, the working definition, as shown above,states that manifestations of anti-Semitism could "also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity." It is impossible to tell from a reading of the definition what is and what is not anti-Semitism. Not that it matters. Its primary function is to pave the way for the criminalization of criticism of Israel.

In August, 2009, Seriously Free Speech, a Vancouver-based organization concerned with the protection of free speech in Canada, forwarded a submission to the CPCCA in which they sounded the alarm regarding the Coalition's apparent intention to make criticism of Israel a hate crime:

"...the hearings of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat anti-Semitism (CPCCA/ICCA) are directed not towards combating racism and anti-Semitism but rather towards incorporating a much broader definition of anti-Semitism in the Canadian criminal code. This new definition...is an expansive,subjective and politicized definition which merges the interests of individual Jews with the state of Israel and its Zionist ideology. By conflating the Jewish people as a whole with the government of Israel, it seeks to delegitimize and even criminalize criticism of Israel and its policies."

Faculty for Palestine (F4P), a pan-Canadian network of university and college teachers, submitted a deposition to the CPCCA as well.They pointed out that both of the CPCCA's main committees are under the direction of Members of Parliament who have been at the forefront in advocating an application of the "new" anti-Semitism definition against Palestinian advocacy. F4P warns:

"This is a self-constituted body and not a representative one.Its mandate was given to itself, not generated out of public debate nor approved through any parliamentary channels. This aspect of the CPCCA permits it to be shielded from public accountability."

Who Is Irwin Cotler?

Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler is a key player in the push to apply the "new anti-Semitism" against Palestinian advocacy. He is the co-founder of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism and the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. A former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, he is a board member of UN Watch, an Israeli advocacy group focusing on the United Nations, and an associate of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israeli right-wing think tank. He gained notoriety for his verbal attack of Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for her condemnation of Israel's bombing of Lebanon in 2006.

In his keynote speech in London, Cotler stated: "Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mineshaft of evil, and it threatens us all." In an outburst of Zionist zeal, he declared:

"What we are witnessing today- and which has been developing incrementally, sometimes imperceptibly, and even indulgently, for some thirty-five years now is a new sophisticated, globalizing, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism, reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 30s and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War."

Cotler also raised the spectre of genocide in his keynote address, encouraging delegates to consider "if anti-Semitism is the most enduring of hatreds and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of this genocidal intent embedded in anti-Semitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations." Referencing the Holocaust, he went on to say,"Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state.'" In a chilling call, the so-called London Declaration warns signatories to the Genocide Convention [2]that "where there is incitement to genocide, signatories to the Genocide Convention automatically have an obligation to act...this promise must now be acted upon."

The Canadian Government

"Canada holds the distinction of being one of four nations in the world that has refused to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." Ashifa Kassam, rabble.ca

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper was the first to impose the siege on Gaza after the election of Hamas, the first to provide unquestioning support for the war against Lebanon in 2006, and the first to announce a boycott of Durban II.

Canadian Citizenship vs. Canadian Foreign Policy

In a September 2009 Rabble.ca article, Ashifa Kassam cautioned that the Harper government has launched "a full-out war against those they believe are not worthy of Canadian citizenship, whether it be children born abroad to parents that are Canadian but not born in Canada, or the visa regulations slapped on the citizens of Mexico and the Czech Republic [3] to control ‘bogus'refugee claims. The move exposes the increasingly overt racist immigration and refugee policies and practices of the federal government. The current rate of rejection of refugee claims in Canada is 62%.

In an August, 2009 article in the Globe and Mail, Paul Koringreported that, while the Canadian government is aware of a new Israeli practice of stamping the passports of Palestinian Canadians with a "Palestinian Authority only" stamp - thereby curtailing freedom of movement for Canadian citizens -the Harper government has made no protest. In response to the government's silence on the situation, the president of the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians said, "The Harper government wants to disown us even though we are citizens." He cited the growing list of cases where non-white and Muslim Canadians facing difficulties overseas were refused help by Canadian diplomats.

Canada's Security Certificates

There are compelling similarities between the oppression of Communists during the McCarthy era, and present-day targeting and persecution of "suspected terrorists," who are predominantly Arabs and Muslims. In Canada,the issuance of security certificates is central to the hounding of people under the country's homeland security legislation, as was the McCarran-Walter Act, enacted by the U.S. government in 1952. It allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens suspected of "subversive activities"and to bar "suspected subversives" from entering the country.

Security certificates, issued under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act, apply to non-citizens, visitors, refugees or permanent residents.The certificate may extend for many months, or even several years. Foreign nationals are automatically incarcerated when a certificate is issued, and permanent residents may be detained if deemed a danger, or considered likely to fail to attend court proceedings. Much of the evidence in security certificate cases is heard in camera, with only the Federal Court judge and government lawyers and witnesses present. The precise allegations, and the source of the allegations, remain unknown. Evidence may be presented in court in the absence of both the detainee and their lawyer, making the cross-examination of key witnesses impossible.

Canadian Foreign Policy: Shifts in Language and Terminology

According to Michelle Collins, writing in Embassy Magazine(Ottawa) in July, 2009, staff at the Department of Foreign affairs were expressing their concerns about changes being made to commonly used terms in the lexicon of Canadian foreign policy language.

Embassy sources had learned that "tweaks" to the language"fraught with policy implications" had been in the works since the Harper government took power in early 2006. The word "humanitarian" had been excised from all references to "international humanitarian law." In addition, the term"gender equality" had been replaced with "equality of men and women."References to gender-based violence had been removed, marking a serious step backward in Canadian foreign policy language. The new terminology denies that it is women who disproportionately experience distinct and often deadly forms of gender-based violence and it sets the stage for disallowing gender-based violence as a legitimate claim for refugee status.

Errol Mendes, a professor of International Law at the University of Ottawa, told Embassy that removing the word "humanitarian" from the language could be the Harper government's strategy for diluting Canada's obligations to the International Criminal Court. According to Embassy, a source close to Foreign Affairs said that the Prime Minister's office "had once tried to change Canada's official position on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to essentially state that Canada does not support the ICC, it tolerates it." It appears that the Canadian government shares the Israeli state's contempt for the principles of international humanitarian law.

The Canadian Arab Federation and Kairos

In his opening address to the February, 2009 founding convention of the so-called Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism,Jason Kenney, federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration stated: "Organizations like the Canadian Arab Federation and Canadian Islamic Congress should not expect to receive government funding, because of their hateful sentiments toward Israel and Jews...I would encourage all other governments to take a similar approach to organizations that either excuse violence against Jews or express essentially anti-Semitic sentiments." The Canadian Arab Federation was in fact stripped of its funding, most of which would have been earmarked for language classes and essential settlement services.

More recently, Kairos, an internationally renowned Canadian faith-based human rights organization, representing seven of Canada's largest church denominations, was informed by the Canadian government that its funding would be axed. Kairos' human rights work includes projects in Africa,Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. Addressing the Global Forum to Counter Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Minister Kenney described his government's fights against anti-Semitism, citing the defunding of Kairos as an example. After35 years of Canadian governmental support, the organization has been labeled"anti-Semitic" by the country's Minister of Immigration and Citizenship andstripped of its ability to fund its international commitments.

Canada's "Full Understanding" of the Israeli State

"It's hard to find a country friendlier to Israel than Canadathese days. Members (of parliament) are loyal friends to us, both with regard to their worldview and their estimation of the situation in everything related to the Middle East, North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Somalia. No other country in the world has demonstrated such full understanding of us." Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, after meeting with Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and the leader of the Liberal opposition, July, 2009.

The pivotal geo-political, economic, military, and ideological role played by the Israeli state positions it as the war on terror's designated bully on the block, acting with impunity and in possession of the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East. Canada stands as the state's most steadfast champion, its loyalty lauded by people like Lieberman, who has repeatedly called for the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel.

In addition to public displays of devotion, Canada's complicity in Israel's war crimes includes a number of important infrastructural initiatives. These include the implementation of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Act; substantial technical and structural support to the Israeli military [4];and the Canada-Israel "Public Security" Agreement. The agreement is a"Declaration of Intent" by the two governments, and "is an opportunity for Canada and Israel to strengthen their commitment to safeguarding their citizens and respective national interests from common threats," according to Avi Dicter, the Israeli Minister of Public Security. This talk of "common threats"echoes the racist rhetoric of Islamaphobia and is part of the construction of the political climate needed to legitimate the criminalization of criticism of Israel.

Conditions for Genocide

"The blockade (of Gaza) has created conditions for genocide through contamination of water supplies due to white phosphorous, raw sewage pouring into the sea, and the prevention of food, medical, and other humanitarian supplies from entering Gaza. The Palestinians living in Gaza are already feeling the terrible effects including a huge increase in birth defects and in cancers especially in children." From International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), on the 2009 anniversary of the siege on Gaza.

In September, 2009, the UN Environment Programme sent out a report with a warning that "the aquifer that 1.5 million Gazans drink from, and grow crops with, is failing. Overuse is making the water supply saltier...pollution from sewage and fertilizers is high enough to put young children in jeopardy of nitrate poisoning...repairing the water system will require US$1.5 billion over two decades." [5] Just two months later, in November, 2009, Canada's Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, met with Israeli industry and government officials to discuss Canadian developments in the field of water technologies. "I am hoping that our visit may lead to even closer cooperation and serve to demonstrate to companies here that Canada is a good place to do business," Mr. Clement said. [6]

In the glaring light of the devastation of Gaza, where water pollution from sewage and fertilizers puts young children in jeopardy of nitrate poisoning and the prospect of access to clean water may be as much as two decades away, Canada's pursuit of business with Israel in the field of water technologies is yet another indication of its complicity with war crimes.

In the Climate of the "War on Terror"

No doubt there are similarities between Zionism and McCarthyism.At the same time, this similarity does not occur in a vacuum. The Israeli state plays a pivotal role in the so-called war on terror and speaks the Islamophobic rhetoric of "homeland security" with impunity. Escalating support for Boycott,Divestment and Sanctions is seriously threatening to upset Israel's plans for Palestine, plans in lock-step with U.S. and Canadian interests in the Middle East. As support for Palestinian self-determination grows and strengthens,Zionist reaction will escalate. Here in Canada we can expect more McCarthy-like scare tactics against Palestinian advocacy. The primary targets will be Palestinian, Arab and Muslim organizations and individuals, and other Communities of Colour. Jews and others in solidarity may well be targeted for their work in support of Palestinian self-determination, but are not besieged by the apparatuses of the so-called war on terror and the racist rhetoric that fuels it.


[1] See http://www.cpcca.ca/inquiry.htm

[2] Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

[3] Mostly Roma

[4] See Making a Killing: The Canada-Israel Military-Industrial Partnership, A Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) Pamphlet;www.caiaweb.org

[5] Seewww.marketwire.com/press-release/Industry-Canada-1076235.html

[6] The Canada/Israel Public Security Agreement, Michel Chossudovsky, April, 2008.


Michel Chossudovsky, The Canada-Israel "Public Security"Agreement: Ottawa and Tel Aviv Collaborate in Counter-terrorism & Homeland Security, April 2, 2008.

Michelle Collins, Canadian Foreign Policy, International LegalObligations Being Subverted by PMO -Driven Shift in Policy Language andTerminology, Embassy Magazine (Ottawa) July 29, 2009.

Yves Engler, Is Canada More Pro-Israel than the US?, TheElectronic Intifada, October 12, 2009.

Ashifa Kassam, Canadian Foreign Policy Fails Its Citizens,rabble.ca, September 7, 2009.

Paul Koring, Israel Targets Palestinian Canadians, The Globe andMail, August 21, 2009.

"Enemies from Within": Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's Accusationsof Disloyalty", HistoryMatters.com


Naomi Binder Wall is a long-time political and social activistand writer. She is a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network(IJAN).

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