Stephen Harper and the New Strain of Anti-Semitism

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in his courageous “Fire and Water” speech in the Israeli Knesset, also spoke forcefully about the historic hate crime that once again is rearing its ugly head.

Harper argued persuasively that in recent years, the world is witnessing ” the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.”

According to Harper, the old form of anti-Semitism, contained the explicit hatred of Jews and the blaming of Jews and Judaism for the ills of the world or more particularly, the domestic problems of certain nations.

In the case of Germany, in the 1930s, Hitler’s blaming the Jews for Germany’s multiple problems, was used as the rationale for developing and implementing theHolocaust, a state-sponsored and systematic elimination of a whole people and its unique culture.

Harper further argued:

“But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history.

That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.”

But, this is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.
But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself, while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

What else can we call it when Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations?

And when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its Human Rights Council?”

This is very powerful stuff.

I totally agree with Harper when he stated that criticism of Israeli policy “is not in of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.”

Take for example the Israeli policy towards its minority, the Israeli Palestinians (representing about 20 per cent of the entire population).

Since in general, the Israeli Palestinians, lag behind the Jewish majority in terms of housing, education and income, the Jewish majority’s policies pertaining to this group, may be in part called into question. That is fair game, provided the critics of Israeli policies towards its Palestinian minority, are sincerely interested in the civil and human rights of Palestinians.

Accordingly, such critics, if they were acting in good faith, would also be openly critical of Hamas’ discriminatory mistreatment of Palestinians in Gaza, especially Palestinian women.

But to turn a blind eye to the many civil rights abuses inflicted upon the Palestinians by Hamas, (in terms of rule by violence, lack of democracy and lack of rule of law) is to seriously call into question the bona fides, as Harper has done, of the critics of Israeli policies pertaining to Palestinians.

By just targeting Israel for criticism, indicates that the true intentions of these critics, are not to protect the civil rights of Palestinians, but to use the plight of the Palestinians to create hatred against Israel and its Jewish people.

With the ultimate goal of delegitimizing Israel and deeming Jewish people as international pariah.

Harper has publicly identified this form of criticism as the new anti-Semitism.

Harper is also bang on when he accuses those who criticize Israel as an “apartheid” state, as also engaging in the new anti-Semitism.

Because to suggest that Israel is guilty of engaging in apartheid, akin to the racist and discriminatory treatment of black residents of South Africa, is a modern day form of blood libel. (for centuries anti-Semites alleged that Jews kidnapped Christian children, killed them and used their blood for Jewish rituals)

In apartheid South Africa, as discussed in a recent Huffington Post article ” a minority of whites oppressed a majority of blacks and discrimination was enshrined in law.

There was separation by colour: white, coloured, Indian, black, South Africans were forced to live in areas based on those designations. There were government boards given the legal right to designate “colour… There were segregated sports arenas, public restrooms, schools, stores, restaurants, and public transportation.” Similar to the Jim Crow laws of the U.S. in the early 20th century.

In contrast in Israel, equality of all Israeli residents is enshrined in The Israeli Declaration of Independence, which proclaims, Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants regardless of religion, race, or sex.”

Unlike in formerly apartheid South Africa, in Israel there is no segregation by races or color as to the restaurants, hospitals, public restrooms, public beaches. Israeli Palestinians are politically represented in a democratically elected Israeli Parliament.

Their civil rights and human rights are also protected by the rule of law and an independent judiciary and legal bar.

I commend Harper for calling a spade a spade.

That is, solely targeting Israel for criticism, without holding Israel’s opponents to the same standards, is simply the new anti-Semitism — a sickening disease that should be continuously and publicly exposed and eradicated.

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