* Québec Solidaire MNA (Member of the National Assembly) Amir Khadir, who was instrumental in fueling the boycott, remains extremely popular in his riding, a fact that does not consort with CIJA public affairs director David Ouellette’s assurance that Khadir no longer constitutes a problem. Khadir’s extreme left and anti-Israel party’s influence appears to be growing steadily, leading many observers to fear that the party might gain more seats in the next election.
* It must be admitted that the CQI contributed financially to the anti-boycott demonstration, but, according to my sources, the sum in question was relatively negligible compared to what the counter-demonstrators spent out of their own pockets. The modest amount donated by the CQI would appear to serve the interests of its leaders far more than the cause which they ostensibly support.
* The claim that the boycott of Naot has little or no impact is manifestly spurious. To argue, as Poupko does, that the protestors are now “the butt of jokes” and therefore not to be taken seriously is, I’m afraid, arrant nonsense. The consequence of their activities is no joking matter, as my recent interview with Naot personnel made abundantly clear. On Saturday, December 17 of this year, the demonstrators prevented the manager of Naot from setting up a display stand in front of the establishment. They have also obstructed Naot business during the annual St. Denis Street “vente-trottoir” (sidewalk sale). Moreover, the proprietor of a small jewellery shop beside Naot deplored the harm the PAJU demonstrators were doing to her own business. It bears remembering that the Israeli Consulate in Montreal was obliged to move owing to a persistent PAJU campaign that disrupted adjacent offices and tenants. If even the Consulate was unable to renew its lease, what could a small firm like Naot do faced with an eviction notice?
* After having misleadingly taken credit for deterring PAJU from boycotting Le Marcheur, the CIJA abandoned Naot the moment that PAJU decided to concentrate its activities against a clearly Jewish and Israeli commercial concern, which Le Marcheur was not. It’s an easy thing for the Rabbi’s friends to stand up for a native French Quebecker like M. Archambault who was being molested by a pack of radicals and who enjoyed the sympathy of a large part of his community. It’s far riskier to defend a Jewish-owned store that sells an Israeli brand, given the fact that the store is located in what is considered as the most anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian district in the province, one which elects an Israelophobe like Amir Khadir to the National Assembly.
* As Poupko remarks, the Montreal City Council did indeed condemn the boycott campaign; however, the boycotters were plainly unimpressed. They are still picketing and may yet succeed in their efforts to bankrupt the store. Poupko also states that the Parliament of Quebec denounced the campaign, but fails to mention that the resolution was blocked from debate by Khadir.
* Poupko’s math is risibly pre-kindergarten. He asserts that the demonstrators have dwindled to no more than five people, “the few remaining boycotters.” This is false accounting. On the aforementioned Saturday, the PAJU gang occupied sixty feet of public space and hoisted three gigantic banners. Further, Poupko’s claim that the “QIC continued to mobilize grassroots support” for Naot is entirely dubious; the contrary seems more likely the case, as a letter by one of the anti-protestors, Nicole Allio, to the Canadian Jewish News attests. As a participant in the anti-boycott manifestations, she has no doubt that CIJA is pursuing a “laissez-faire policy when thugs are promoting the economic boycott of Israeli goods.” She continues in the unabridged text of her letter: “In London, the most important Ahava store was forced to close due to the continuous harassment of ‘anti-Israel-apartheid’ demonstrators. Does Del Negro hope to see Naot closing its doors soon—so that the anti-Semitic harassment of storekeepers will go away and CIJA can claim victory?” Le Journal de Québec columnist Eric Duhaime has also drawn a parallel between the forced closure of Ahava and the threat that weighs upon Naot. It isn’t rocket science to predict that should Naot go under, the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel campaign will gather momentum and other such vulnerable establishments will be targeted. Indeed, PAJU has also been picketing Montreal’s Indigo bookstore which is Jewish-owned and stocks Israeli-authored books, and which has sponsored the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. PAJU’s self-declared mandate is to advance “justice and sustainable peace in the Middle East” by accusing Israel of apartheid practices, a boilerplate canard. But its real agenda is to launch an anti-Zionist crusade and in the process to create a local domino effect: the Israeli Consulate, Indigo, Naot…Regrettably, it appears that our canonical organizations and community leaders are not paying attention.
To conclude. Rabbi Poupko professes to be “shocked,” shocked, at my “slanderous accusations” against Luciano Del Negro. He also finds it “extremely disappointing” that I would “resort to outrageous accusations to tarnish the reputation of an organization [the CIJA] that proudly and effectively defends the interests of Canadian Jews everyday [sic].” For my part, I am neither shocked nor disappointed, being way past that. I am merely reconfirmed in my rueful expectation of seeing the strategy of “cowardly” appeasement—to quote Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler’s denunciation of CIJA—adopted by many of the official organs that presumably represent the Jewish community.
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