By: Daniel Bordman, Communications Coordinator CAEF
What is antisemitism? Is it calling for a genocide of Jews? Is it promoting the medieval “blood libel”? Is it claiming that the Zionists control American politics? People may disagree on a concrete definition of antisemitism, but interestingly enough Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) does not think that any of the listed examples constitute antisemitism.
To understand why IJV thinks this way we can go back to last week’s controversy surrounding ousted Federal Liberal Candidate Hassan Guillet. Guillet was dropped from the Liberal party when his past comments and associations were made public by B’nai Brith Canada. This included multiple links to sermons from Imams on his mosque’s website calling for the death of Jews. Most of it was related to the Hadith that talks about the end times not coming until Muslims everywhere fight and kill the Jews all over. The same passage can be found in the Hamas charter. Guillet has also supported Hamas-aligned activist, Raed Salah, who once claimed that Jews kidnap your children to use their blood for their holy bread. Guillet wished him good luck at “liberating all of occupied Palestine” i.e. no more Israel. Finally, Guillet himself has stated that, “Zionists control American politics”.
The story gets more interesting from here, as it looks like the Liberal party lied to the public about its stance against antisemitism. The Liberals allege that when they saw the comments, they launched an investigation and it took weeks to verify the accusations. This is contradicted by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Hassan Guillet himself. CIJA has stated that it had given this information to the Liberal party in June, and according to Guillet, the party had been working on a PR campaign for him to negate his antisemitism.
The plan, according to Guillet, was to have different voices within the Jewish community back him, to use his words, “undercut the Conservative’s claims of antisemitism”. Personally, I find his choice of words here fascinating. It seems he knows quite well the NDP and Green Party would not care about his brand of antisemitism. This seems to be true as neither party issued a statement condemning Guillet’s antisemitism. Also, the NDP tend to flirt with different BDS and anti-Israel activists, and Elizabeth May just released a statement condemning many different types of discrimination, except antisemitism.
This brings us back to the first part of the Liberal’s plan and IJV. They needed “Jewish voices” to legitimize antisemitism. According to Corey Balsam, IJV’s National Coordinator, “Upon examination of the facts, it is evident to us that Guillet is anything but an antisemite.” Here we have an allegedly “Jewish” organization which does not think the blood libel, claims of Zionist control over politics, or even out right calls for the genocide of Jews, constitutes antisemitism. So, what is antisemitism to IJV? It is definitely not the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition because they campaigned heavily against its being adopted by the government of Canada.
This is why far-Left “Jewish” organizations pose a great threat to the Jewish community. They are well funded, growing strongly and provide a powerful weapon for antisemites on the Left to operate with impunity. Independent Jewish Voices does not see a problem with calls for a Jewish genocide. IfNotNow blamed Israel for the recent terrorist attack that killed Rina Shnerb. Max Berger, IfNotNow co-founder, tweeted that he wants to be friends with Hamas, and now is an advisor to Elizabeth Warren, the current front-runner for the Democratic Party presidency. Bernie sanders, another progressive candidate, only ever invokes his Judaism to lie about Israel or to legitimize one of Americas worst antisemites, Linda Sarsour.
If the wider Jewish community continues to remain silent on these radical groups we are in for a catastrophe. If you think Hassan Guillet is the last antisemitic public figure to be embraced by a Left-wing political party, then you are being extremely naïve. Our universities are infected with anti-“Zionist” professors and activists, the main stream media isn’t much better, and Ilhan Omar has already shown that tweeting out classical antisemitic tropes from congress is acceptable, as long as certain Intersectional categories are met.
What could be a better gift to an antisemite than an organization that claims to be Jewish, but never thinks anything is antisemitic, no matter how vile or genocidal the comment. These groups are not going away. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and hope the anti-Semitic Leftist organizations will be deprived of oxygen and die. They are well-funded and ideologically driven, but more than that there is a high demand for them in certain growing markets. It may not be too long until certain political parties across the world make the simple political calculous that, the demographics have shifted and the antisemitic and anti-Israel vote now out-numbers their Jewish constituents. Will politicians give up votes to stick to their principles? Or will they use organizations like IJV to whitewash their antisemitism?
This is why it is important to speak out now, and let politicians know that embracing Independent Jewish Voices and their ilk is just as dangerous to the Jewish community as embracing the Ku Klux Klan.