Friday, December 15, 2006

Not in Canada

I opened my Globe this evening to find the following letter:

national president, Canadian Arab Federation

Richmond Hill, Ont. -- The Canadian Arab Federation agrees with Raja Khouri's point that the Israel lobby attempts to bully and silence critics of Israel by calling them “anti-Semites.” However, we assert that any support for Israel is support for apartheid, occupation and war crimes. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and the special rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council have accused Israel of practising apartheid. Canadian Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Amnesty International have accused Israel of committing war crimes.

CAF is alarmed by the racist overtones of the debate surrounding the Liberal convention. Not a voice was raised when Bob Rae left the NDP in part because it was critical of Israel, or when MP Susan Kadis resigned as co-chair of Michael Ignatieff's campaign because he was critical of Israel, nor were there any complaints when Heather Reisman, president of Chapters, withdrew from the Liberal Party because she felt it was not sufficiently pro-Israel. Yet Muslim and Arab Canadians become targets of racist attacks because they refuse to back a politician who supports Israel.

CAF works with all social justice groups to advance justice and social issues and combat Islamophobia and Judeophobia without worrying about political partisanship. Guided by this vision, CAF has developed strong working relationships with the Muslim Unity Group, Jewish Women Against the Occupation, Not in My Name, and the Alliance of Concerned Canadian Jews — a Jewish group being denied membership in the Canadian Jewish Congress because it criticizes Israel.

I wrote this letter to the Globe this evening. Regardless of whether it gets printed, I thought I'd post it here:

Khaled Mouammar's letter (Dec 15) would verge on the comic were it not so deeply disturbing. He begins by saying that "the Israel lobby" tries to silence critics by charges of anti-Semitism, then goes on to make the most anti-Semitic argument I have seen printed in the Globe: "any support for Israel is support for apartheid, occupation and war crimes."

Really? Support not for the occupation of the territories but for Israel's existence and its right to defend itself against terrorism is tantamount to support for apartheid? This is to stand the definition of racism on its head.

This is not the only rhetorical inversion attempted by Mr. Mouammar. In his topsy-turvy moral universe, it was not the organized whispering campaign by many Muslim delegates to the Liberal convention that said, in essence, "don't vote for Bob Rae because he's married to a Jew and therefore supports apartheid" that was racist. Rather, he is "alarmed by the racist overtones of the debate" that this despicable campaign provoked.

To Mr. Mouammar, it's not racist to suggest voting against someone with a Jewish spouse. It is racist to point out that it was Muslims propagating this sentiment.

I wish I could dismiss his letter as reflecting the sentiments of a lunatic fringe. But the fact that Mr. Mouammar is the national president of the Canadian Arab Federation leaves me deeply concerned about the depth and acceptability of anti-Semitism among Muslims in Canada.


Blogger Alienated said...

Ah, Islam! Not a religion or idealogy, rather, a mental illness.

1:45 PM  

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