The Jewish community is now under siege as it confronts a global wave of antisemitic virulence not seen since the 1930s. Almost everywhere we look, we observe the unmistakable signs of a mounting assault on the Jewish people, whether in the state of Israel surrounded by genocidal enemies or in the Diaspora, especially in Europe where Jews must increasingly remain alert or suppress their identity in the face of ramifying acts of vandalism and a devil’s assortment of hate crimes.
As if this were not enough, the situation is complicated by a bitter historical irony endemic to the Jewish people itself, namely, the tendency to engage in various forms of fratricidal conflict even as it is under sustained attack. The biblical record is dispositive, as is the political drama of the ages in which time and again an endangered community descends into a maelstrom of warring factions, thus rendering it ever more vulnerable to the predations of its adversaries.
We note this peculiar dilemma unfolding in every quarter of the compass. In Israel, the judicial, academic and literary Left form what I’m tempted to call an unintelligentsia that diligently works against the very survival of the nation, often siding with or abetting those—European-funded NGOs, Palestinian irredentists—who are intent on destroying it. It is as if they are paying their karmic debt for the sin of being Israelis. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, of many in the Diaspora who embrace the bogus Palestinian narrative, promote “interfaith dialogue” with duplicitous Muslim clerics and organizations, make common cause with anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish campus groups, or consider the state of Israel a historical liability.
Such manifestations of canting dishonor are evident everywhere in the West, not only in Europe but in America as well. Much has been written about Reconstructionist congregations, Jewish university administrators, Jewish student associations, diverse pseudo-rabbinical groups (for an extensive list, see my The Big Lie and Hear, O Israel!), and large formal organizations (the most notorious of these being Jeremy Ben-Ami’s J Street), often linked with a leftwing political orientation, that proliferate in the U.S. Similarly, there is a strong “collaborative” inclination in my own country of Canada, on the level of both major Jewish social institutions, such as the former and influential Canadian Jewish Congress more preoccupied with a scattering of Nazi skinheads than with the growing Islamic threat, and of smaller, ad hoc coalitions like the Shalom-Salaam “dialogue group” that inveighs against Israeli “aggression” and supposed brutality.
A case in point is provided in microcosm in my home town of Montreal where, even as I write, a boycott of a Jewish-owned shoe store which sells Israeli products is in progress. The campaign against Chaussures Naot (Naot Shoes), which threatens to put the establishment out of business, is prosecuted by a group that styles itself as Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) and accuses Israel of practicing apartheid and other human rights violations. Every Saturday afternoon, PAJU pickets the store, attempting to dissuade potential customers from entering on the most important shopping day of the week. Naturally, these very same people would not dream of picketing the Jewish General Hospital, built with Jewish money, using Israeli medical innovations and serving the public irrespective of race, religion or ethnic origin, whose care they may one day require.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a panCanadian amalgamation of the Quebec-Israel Committee, the Quebec Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee and the Canadian Jewish Congress, initially adopted a hands-off, observer status vis à vis the PAJU demonstrators. But even this marginal and “evaluative” presence was, presumably, regarded as too intrusive. According to a report in The Canadian Jewish News, CIJA has since backed off, claiming that the battle has now been won thanks to public and official support for the embattled business, and concerned lest pro-Israel activism “may be associated in the public mind with activism that mocks traditional Muslims or associates Muslims as a people with repression.”
No surprise here for an organization which Isi Leibler, chair of the Diaspora- Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has described as a “cowardly” and “undemocratic body headed by professional public relations consultants.” After all, CIJA has circulated an internal document promoting a “risk-averse” approach and titled “The Ten Commandments,” instructing its members to take a low public profile. Commandment 5 states, in part: “Do not directly attack or assign blame to the Palestinians or their leadership.” Commandment 7: “Do not ask the government of Canada to appear—or be—more favourable to Israel.” Commandment 9: “Do not attack the media for being biased against Israel.” This form of anti-advocacy is known in the Yiddish idiom as the sha shtil philosophy—hush hush, do not speak up—an attitude whose consequences across the generations have been monstrous.
This reaction is typical of many Jewish groups and organizations that fall into line with a general policy of political correctness and craven appeasement rather than assume a resolute moral stance against the spreading plague of antisemitism and its deceptive confederate, anti-Zionism. In refusing to take issue the enemy, they effectively empower political covens like PAJU, Shalom-Salaam and numerous others. What is even stranger in this particular instance is that CIJA’s vice-president and spokesman Luciano Del Negro, who is not Jewish, allegedly has a damaging past of affiliations with the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Canada (PCCml), modeled on the late Albanian prime minister Enver Hoxha’s ultra-totalitarian Party of Labor. Indeed, according to the nationalist Tribune libre de Vigile, Del Negro was at one time Secretary General of the PCCml.
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