Canada’s three political Jewish establishment groups would have us believe that Canadian Jews stand behind the recent Israeli aggression in Gaza and the West Bank. But the truth is quite different.
As usual, a statement from B’nai Brith Canada (BBC), Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), is remarkable more for what it does not say than for what it does say.
Desperate to rally dwindling support for Israel, the statement, entitled “The Jewish Community of Canada Stands with the People of Israel as They Remain Under Assault from Rocket Fire,” focuses on one aspect of the current unrest only: the firing of rockets at Israel from Gaza and the seven Israelis killed (as of 4 pm EDT Thursday, May 13.)
Here are some important things that statement omits:
- As of May 18th, over 200 Palestinians, including at least 63 children in Gaza have been killed and over 600 wounded as a result of Israeli air and artillery bombardment.
- The current hostilities began with armed gangs of religious Israeli Jews rampaging through the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, throwing Palestinian residents out of their homes and occupying those houses. Yelling “death to Arabs.” Many of those Palestinians facing forced expulsions have lived there for several decades.
- Israeli police and military stood by and allowed the Sheikh Jarrah evictions to happen.
- The same police and military stepped in to harass and arrest Palestinians protesting the evictions.
- Far-right Jewish extremist leaders, some of them members of the Knesset, have been recorded ridiculing and insulting the protesters.
- Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, May 10, near the end of Ramadan, firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets, some of them into the mosque itself, with about 400 worshippers inside. At least 215 Palestinians were hurt in the attack, 153 of them hospitalized.
- While the mosque compound attack was under way, Jewish extremists marked the 54th anniversary of the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem, as they have for many years, with singing, dancing and marching. In previous years, they have provocatively marched in Palestinian neighbourhoods, but authorities this year scuttled such direct confrontations.
- On Wednesday, May 12, a far-right Israeli mob lynched a Palestinian man near Tel Aviv, dragged him from his car and beat him. He was seriously injured. Some far-right Israeli politicians denounced the cruelty of the attack, but the Canadian Jewish organizations ignore it in their statement. Other scenes of inter-communal violence are threatening to escalate the friction.
- All of this is within a context that Human Rights Watch and Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’tselem consider to constitute apartheid.
Canadian Jews are justifiably horrified at the above aggression by the Israeli government, armed personnel and some citizens.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which opposes Israeli occupation and apartheid and promotes a just peace, speaks for those tens of thousands of Jewish Canadians.
We know that the 400,000-strong Canadian Jewish community is seriously divided on the issue of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. A 2018 EKOS poll of Canadian Jews indicates that:
- 44% say Israel is not making sincere efforts at peace with the Palestinians
- 37% have a negative opinion of the Israeli government
- 30% think boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel are reasonable
- 48% agree that “Accusations of antisemitism are often used to silence legitimate criticisms of Israel”
As Canadians and others in the world grow increasingly exasperated with Israel’s aggression and impunity, BBC, FSWC and CIJA should be very careful about claiming that Canadian Jews are less concerned.