Jason Kenney explains the difference between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel at Monday’s session of The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism:
Irwin Cotler: “How does one distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and crossing the line?”
Jason Kenney: “Criticism of Israel predicated on a view of Israel as a criminal enterprise, as a state guilty of massive crimes against humanity simply for engaging in the normal responsibilities of a state to protect its civilian population from unprovoked attacks — I would say that criticisms of that nature go to the heart of the question. They are not criticisms based on particular policies or tactics; they are criticism of the existence of Israel as representing in that sense ‘the collective Jew,’ and this is the problem I have with organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. They do not seek a conventional peace settlement between two parties; they seek the destruction, the annihilation of the only Jewish democ- state in the world and the driving of the Jews into the sea, and I for one, unlike some, I take them at their word. That actually is their intention.
“And so I think here in the democratic west, we hear echoes of that that are sometimes less obvious, sometimes a little less aggressive, but nevertheless those voices who essentially say that Israel is an illegitimate state, that by virtue of its Jewish identity, it is an abomination and a criminal state. These kinds of sentiments in my view clearly cross the line from legitimate political criticism to an anti-Zionism which has at its heart a form of anti-semiticism. There is a global effort with voices in Canada not just to delegitimize but to demonize the Jewish state.”
What an appalling mess that is.
Apparently, despite the great care taken by the CPCCA to insist that they do not equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, the “new anti-Semitism” includes “a view of Israel as a state guilty of massive crimes against humanity.” And if Israel represents “the collective Jew,” then any criticism of Israel is by definition anti-Semitic. Worse, it seeks to make Jews the world over collectively responsible for Israel’s policies in Gaza.
Lib MP Anita Neville and NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis both asked for an apology for the divisive and partisan Con 10% flyers purporting to show that the Cons are better friends of Israel than the Libs.
“Some of your policies and spokespeople” said Neville, “will create an anti-Semitic response.” Neville, who is Jewish, noted that the Con approach also makes Jews feel “other.”
Kenney found eight different ways of saying he did not understand what she was talking about. “All I get is praise from Jews,” he said, “everywhere I go.”
I’m beginning to see the real problem with Jason Kenney’s definition of “new anti-Semitism” at the CPCCA. It attempts to equate all Jews with Israel and then further reduces Israel to just the policies of its right-wing government.
You will recognize this of course as being the same tactic often used against Jews by genuine anti-Semites. It’s a very very bad idea.
Kenney did however get off the best line of the day during his criticism of KAIROS.
“Why focus so much on the liberal democratic state of Israel?” he asked.