Less than two years ago, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) held an online program entitled Word Crimes, and speakers presented talks on how language has been corrupted by political agendas, primarily on the Left, where words like “progressive” have come to apply to certain political views that are opposed to others to the point of intolerance, and against Israel’s independent sovereignty and decision-making in many spheres of life. An article published on this topic, referencing a scholarly journal that expounds further can be found here.
Thus, “progressives” who may also claim to be Zionists, believe they have the moral authority to tell Israel when and how much to thwart its enemies, how much fire power to hit back with when attacked by Hamas, which areas of Judea and Samaria to hold onto or give up, and how many Jews can live on the land of our ancestors. To other people this is “regressive” or even “oppressive” and not consistent with the literal definition of “progressive,” (favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas) as the ideas they are promoting are illiberal, antiZionist, and divisive.
Other words that are distorted include “occupation” when applied to lands that are rightfully Israel under international law since the 1920 San Remo Declaration, the 1922 establishment of the League of Nations, and various treaties. The antiZionists claim that though acquired through an offensive war initiated by Jordan and other Arab countries, and held illegally from 1949-1967 by Jordan, the land of Judea and Samaria are forever “occupied” by Israel, when others would say they were “liberated” or “returned” to their owner. Consider also the word “settlement” to describe the city of Ariel, the cities of Jerusalem or Hebron, and others in Judea and Samaria. When does a community that has existed for several generations, cease being a “settlement?” What does the word itself imply and why is it used by Israel detractors who forever ignore the illegal land grabs of the Arab population which, it is understood under the Oslo Accords (yet to be actualized by the Arab leadership) that only Area A falls entirely under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and thus the seizure of land in Area C, that would always be under Israeli control, is in fact illegal and a “settlement?” Often no Arabs even take up residence in these seized areas, but buildings are thrown up overnight and the land claimed, which under the old Ottoman Empire laws still unfortunately controls the lives of two peoples in Judea and Samaria. Allowing Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish areas, would mean the end to squatters rights and better protection for Jewish residents.
Today language itself is under siege. Actions follow words, so the arbitrary and heavy use of words like “colonial,” “apartheid,” or “racist” inflame the listeners, and the cancel culture then obviates any attempt to rebut, to explain, to counter their usage when applied to Israel. Thus, Israel is vilified by the users who are very often academics, media, politicians, NGOs, and bodies of influence such as the EU, UN, UNESCO and others. Such words incite.
To understand the power of the word crimes and how they are applied to denigrate and demonize Israel, and the impact on Jewish students and allies of Israel, consider the potential harm that might have befallen a generation of students at the University of Toronto if Dr. Valentina Azarova were to have been hired by the Faculty of Law to head a new Human Rights Program. Azarova has a long history as shown in her bio below of working for the PA and against Israel.
"Al-Shabaka Policy Member Valentina Azarova is a visiting academic at the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC), University of Manchester, and a strategic and legal adviser to the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). Valentina received her PhD from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway. She was a co-founding member of the Al-Quds Bard College, Al-Quds University, where she directed and taught on the human rights program for five years (2009-2014). She also taught at Birzeit University’s Graduate Studies School (2014-2015). Since 2008, she has worked at HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual; Al-Haq; and the MATTIN Group, and consulted a range of international and inter-governmental organisations on international law as it relates to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Her research concerns the role of third parties and the contribution of domestic and transnational regulatory processes to the enforcement of international law. Her publications can be accessed here."
Have a look at the titles of her publications and note the abundance of critical articles about Israeli institutions, military actions and support for the ICC (International Criminal Court) in relation to a non existent state of Palestine. Academic freedom is a high value in our society, but what about academic truth?
Below is an article published in The Jerusalem Post on October 14, 2020 by a Jewish University of Toronto student, Danil Konischev, who describes the already tainted anti-Israel atmosphere on that campus and its impact on Jewish students and the potential harm that would come from the appointment of Azarova, were she to have been hired. The second article by Doğan Akman, a retired lawyer and former federal civil servant, addresses the issue of academic freedom, and how that too has been co-opted by the cancel culture or “progressives’ who support lying and degrading Israel by all means available.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ONTARIO FOR ADOPTING IHRA—WHO IS NEXT?
We are about to see a new era in combating antisemitism in Ontario, thanks to the Government’s signing of an Order in Council on October 26th, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples which include denigrating, demonizing and applying double standards to Israel. To understand the importance of having language to describe antisemitism, consider the article below from the Times of Israel, October 6th, 2020.
Europe can’t fight Jew-hatred without a working definition of anti-Semitism, screams the headline. This as a result of the failure of a German court to rule a synagogue torching was an antisemitic act. Read the story for an example of the imperative to having an agreed upon definition of antisemitism as a tool to confront and eliminate it, to shame and name the perpetrators, and develop appropriate consequences.
CAEF is committed to having all provinces and territories adopt IHRA.
Does Canada Need an Anti-Islamophobia Policy?
[The opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of CAEF, but offer ideas for consideration by our readers. Comments are welcome at email@example.com]
Concerning a Definition of Islamophobia
By Doğan D. Akman
A few days ago, I came across a report that purports to analyse the data generated by a 2020 survey on the subject of antisemitism. In this context, the writers note that an EKOS poll conducted in 2018 found that 57% of Canadians feel that Islamophobia is an increasingly disturbing problem in Canada.
I find this fact troubling in the context of Canadian values, which as an immigrant and member of a minority group, I strongly share and support; namely cherishing multiculturalism and within it, diversity of religions, cultures and inclusion.
The term “Islamophobia” has been and continues to be a controversial one in that to date the definition of the term has yet to be finalised by any authoritative consensus of Canadians, nor for that matter by Canadian Muslim communities.
Good News Tidbit
Most people may not be aware of the fact that many, if not all countries, will not issue a passport to a Jerusalem born individual that lists their birth country as Israel, because to do so would acknowledge the ancient truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. So, until this week the US, Canada and Britain for example, would print only Jerusalem on the person’s passport, making it seem they are stateless. That changed in the US this week with the great news, that now Jerusalem born Israelis who are dual citizens will have Israel added to their passports.
When might we see Canada do likewise? What does it mean that Canada currently does not recognize that Jerusalem is the capital, and does not even mention it is a city in Israel when issuing a passport, rather the government views the status of Jerusalem as yet undecided?
The Green Prince Speaks Up Again
The son of a Hamas leader came to prominence a few years ago when it was revealed he worked undercover for Israel and revealed the inner workings, operations and violence of Hamas in Gaza, even sending his own father and other relatives to serve time in Israeli prisons. This was more than heroic as Mosab Yousef risked his life and that of his contacts, and betrayed some normative values of his cultural upbringing. Yet, he also saved lives, both Jewish and Arab.
The film, The Green Prince, is a revelation as his very life.
Now Yousef is speaking up again in this Times of Israel article of October 28, 2020, calling for peace between the Palestinian Arabs and Jews, the children of Abraham.
A Palestinian Dreams of Isaac and Ishmael
“Israel is the solution, not the problem.”
To have expressed this as a young Palestinian twenty years ago, or even come to realize it, as I did, was an unforgivable heresy deserving a gruesome death before a stone-throwing mob. And yet here we are these twenty years of hatred and strife later with a new reality set in motion by the Abraham Peace Accords that can make those treasonous words even become an accepted truth.
Long in the works, the plan is to have Arab states announce their signing of the accord one by one with the ‘enemy’ Israel, with Saudi Arabia to be the last and most important signatory. The road to peace turns out to be not about land, but about economy. Isaac and Ismael can work together to open a new era of prosperity in a region without borders.
Why is this possible now? What are the current facts on the ground?