This Bulletin is focused on the importance of Words. Words that signify hatred and anti-semitism are often brushed aside as “just words,” but they can be toxic, and as we know from history, can breed violence. In fact much violence is preceded by words, and language today is being distorted to the extent that truth is being turned upside down, lies are presented as facts, Holocaust words and imagery are being appropriated by those who demonize Jews and Israel, and some words such as “Zionism” are avoided by Jewish people, because of the connotation that has misrepresented their true meaning.
This article by Daniel Bordman, Communications Coordinator, provides examples that ought to make us wary. (ed.)
Words matter, and double standards matter. This was on full display recently in Washington DC as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made an outlandish Holocaust comparison.
While doing a livestream on Instagram, the congresswoman compared the detention centres on the South border to “concentration camps”. Cortez even added in the phrase “Never Again” to double-down on the Holocaust comparison. However, when she was called out on her misuse of the Holocaust reference for political gain, she had the audacity to claim that it was the Republicans that were bringing up the Holocaust, while she was just referring to the Boer War.
A few things need to be pointed out before the story continues. First, deflecting to the British actions during the Boer War was actually the strategy that the Nazi propagandists used to deflect away from their actions during the Holocaust. Second, despite one’s opinion on Illegal immigration and how the American government handles it, one thing is clear. There are not Nazi style concentration camps, and that should be obvious. The Nazis rounded up Jewish and other minority citizens in the countries they controlled and sent them into the camps. In America, people who are caught crossing the border illegally are sent to facilities where their identity can be determined and their claims can be processed.
Cortez went on to refuse the offer of a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor, Edward Mosberg, when he offered to take her on a tour of Auschwitz. Instead she further doubled-down on her antics by tweeting out the definition of Concentration camps, “Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.” These facilities in no way meet the definition/description of a concentration camp which was significantly pointed out by the US Holocaust Museum.
All of this illustrates the massive double standard in our society when it comes to the Jewish people. With all the outrage these days over “Cultural Appropriation”, to the point where Halloween costumes at Yale make it into the national news, appropriation of the Holocaust by an elected government representative barely gets a mention in some Leftist circles.
The effects of this pattern of behavior can already be seen. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar feels more than comfortable speaking classic antisemitic conspiracies, confident that she will face no internal repercussions. Therefore, she states Israel is now “hypnotizing the world” and AIPAC is controlling American policy with their money. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib “gets a calming feeling when thinking about the Holocaust”, because she remembers a version of alternate history where Haji Amin Al-Husseini did not collaborate with Hitler, Eichmann and other high-ranking Nazis to help push the Final Solution, instead the “Palestinians” gave the Jews refugee during the Holocaust. A simple Google search would show that Husseini helped recruit Bosnian Muslims into the SS to help the Nazis send half a million Hungarian Jews the death camps, and that there was a ban on Jewish immigration into British controlled Palestine during the Holocaust. Yet, Tlaib can say this with impunity knowing that there will be an army of “academics” lining up to defend her alternate reality.
So, here we are, almost 75 years after the Holocaust ended and antisemitism is rising on all political sides. Far-Left politicians are unwilling to speak with the remaining survivors, but the more important question is, will the Jewish community listen to the lessons of the survivors?
In the 1930’s many Jews were in denial. They had given so much to Germany, they considered themselves patriotic Germans, surely the new Germany would include them, it was all just rhetoric. It is time to consider that the antisemites in power actually mean what they say when they spout antisemitic conspiracies, and that leadership which ignores anti-Semitism is complicit, Einstein’s definition of Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. In the 1930’s European Jews did not want to seriously deal with the rising tide of antisemitism, so if our Jewish community wants to stick its head in the sand today, why should it expect a different outcome?
Celebrating the Adoption of the Right Words
CAEF joins with many other Jewish organizations in congratulating the federal government for officially adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. We have forwarded our appreciation for this action to Prime Minister Trudeau and the two nternational Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. We have forwarded our appreciation for this action to Prime Minister Trudeau and the twoMPs who championed this, Michael Levitt, MP for York Center and Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal. CAEF urges everyone to write an individual letter to express appreciation for this inaugural step in addressing antisemitism. Further, we urge you to write to your Provincial Premier and the Mayor of your city to request their government do likewise.
The IHRA definition and statement of principles must become the sine qua non for evaluating the language and acts of anti-Semitism, here and across the globe.
Canada is one of 32 countries that has adopted the IHRA definition, and now must implement a strategy to enforce it. This is embedded in the recently released Liberals' anti-racism plan, Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022.
In our letter to the Prime Minister, CAEF asks that the Government of Canada go further, following the action of the German Bundestag (Parliament) which passed a Proposition in May of this year which clearly states that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel is anti-Semitic, unacceptable, and an expression of hatred for Jewish people and their religion. It points out that BDS evokes an association with the Nazi slogan, “Don’t buy from Jews.”
The following are excerpts from correspondence received in response to our information request to The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Press and Cultural Affairs Department graciously translated the Proposition into English from German as well as translating a relevant press release.
Excerpts from Proposition: Resisting the BDS Movement with Determination - Combating Antisemitism
“According to the working definition of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance, anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews that can express itself as hatred towards Jews. Anti-Semitism is directed in word or deed against Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, as well as against Jewish community institutions or religious institutions. In addition, the State of Israel, which is understood as a Jewish collective, can also be the target of such attacks.
There is no legitimate justification for anti-Semitic attitudes. The decisive, unconditional no to hatred of Jews of any nationality is part of the German reason of state. Anti-Semitism has proved to be the most devastating form of group-related hostility in the history of our country and throughout Europe in its murderous consequences and is still a threat both to people of the Jewish faith and to our free and democratic basic order. It is unacceptable that anti-Semitism has increased in recent years and that the Jewish community is increasingly insecure.
Anyone who defames people because of their Jewish identity, wants to restrict their freedom of movement, questions the right of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel to exist, or Israel's right to defend its national defence, will meet with our resolute resistance.
The German Bundestag condemns all anti-Semitic statements and assaults that are formulated as alleged criticism of the policies of the State of Israel, but are in fact expressions of hatred for Jewish people and their religion, and will resolutely oppose them.
Specific steps to removing or halting BDS include;
Not making available premises and facilities under the administration of the Bundestag to any organizations that express themselves in an anti-Semitic manner or question Israel's right to exist. The German Bundestag calls on the Federal Government not to support any events organized by the BDS movement or by groups actively pursuing its aims;
Not to financially support any organizations that question Israel's right to exist;
Not to financially support projects which call for a boycott of Israel or which actively support the BDS movement;
And to call upon countries, cities and municipalities and all public actors to join this attitude.”
CAEF is calling on the Parliament of Canada to similarly condemn the antisemitic BDS movement and all its affiliated support groups, funded or not funded. Germany has provided an important model and it is not a country unfamiliar with the damage that such a hate campaign can produce.
THE MISAPPROPRIATION OF WORDS by Andria Spindel
In an era fraught with complaints about cultural appropriation, often really confused with legitimate cultural admiration, imitation and rejuvenation, it isn’t always easy to spot the “politicization” of words, or what Yehudit Weisberg has termed, “words that turned history upside down,” and Scholars for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (SPME), have written about as “word crimes.” In their webinar of March 6th, 2019 entitled, “Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” the following were some of the words that scholarly analysis shows have become fodder for enemies of the Jewish State: Zionism, apartheid, occupation, indigenous, genocide, racism, and colonialism. Each of these words is used pejoratively against Israel, turned on their heads and become weaponized against Israel. Jewish people must reclaim the words, define them, re-turn them to their true meaning and show how the distortion has been a tool for judging Israel. Other words seem to have been invented to torment Israel, words such as “pinkwashing,” and another word used to denigrate any modicum of good contributed by Jews, White People, Europeans or many others is “intersectionality” which attributes ratings of those who feel oppressed based on the number of identifiable categories they can claim to belong to, except of course being “Jewish” which the Post-Modern social scientists have determined is not relevant to studies of oppression or persecution, which then allows them to proceed to persecute and submit Jews to discrimination.
It would seem that entire disciplines are misusing these words. To quote one of the webinar speakers, “there is a perversion of standards of evidence and open inquiry, and with little or no knowledge of Hebrew, some of the language abusers, are simply misinterpreting the meaning of words. I would not be so kind. We are experiencing the “hi-jacking” of words, and some faculty refuse to see anything coming out of Israel as valuable, legitimate scholarship nor to give credence to the innovation and humanitarian aspect of Israel’s contributions to the world. How can there be anything of value if one has already determined the country is of no value, rather that it is a colonial-racist-occupier?
“Zionism” has been the most distorted of the new Left’s abuse of words. Building on the Islamist movement, in which the Nation State of the Jewish People is “illegal” to the majority of Arab Muslims, thus they have equated it with “racism,” and nobody likes racism, so they must automatically reject Zionism. The truth has to be restored, just as Zionism is the restoration of Judaism in the land of Israel. Historically Zionists have always worked to ensure that all local peoples in Israel were not denied their rights, and in the early period post WWI, the Arabs and Jews together approached the Great Powers and put forth their respective situations, requesting a national home. Both were granted; hence Transjordan and Israel were brought into being at the same time, only the Arabs expanded their demand. The British and others capitulated to the point that little was left of Israel by 1947. The Jews accepted this and were to still acquire all of the land on the West side of the Jordan River. Zionists accepted this. Zionism did not require more and did not ask for more.
How is it that Israel’s status has seemingly become a major discipline, all of its own? The BDS and Anti-Israel Apartheid movements, now in their 15th year, have deployed words as poison, ratcheting up hatred, teaching lies not truths, inventing history, even inventing a people, the “Palestinians.”
Support our commitment to protecting Israel from AntiZionist Lies
CAEF is bringing important speakers and conversations to a wide audience and sending speakers to community groups and organizations on a range of crucial topics. We accept the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; Anti-Zionism = Antisemitism.
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