Dr. Dawg

Boycott Israel!

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Israeli Apartheid.jpgMy title is about to become illegal. So is the illustration. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Remember the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism and their silly one-sided Final Report? The other shoe is now about to drop.

I’ve long been a soft supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, but with some emphasis on the word “soft.” Noam Chomsky offers some solid criticism of the movement which, although I don’t agree with all of it, should encourage us to reflect on strategy. Norman Finkelstein, whose criticisms of Israel actually led to his being hounded out of DePaul University, is even more critical of BDS.

It behooves us to pay attention, and also to put all of our cards on the table. If we want a one-state solution, we should say so. If a two-state one, let’s be upfront about it.

Ah, if life were so simple. While I lean to a two-state solution based upon the Abdullah Proposal, the notion of ethnic rather than civic states does not sit well with me. Of course I would favour the latter kind of arrangement. But that’s a bit like being anti-Zionist, isn’t it? A principled position that has absolutely no relevance to the real world.

One can see that I’m arguing with myself. And I do so every time the Middle East comes up.

Where am I in sympathy with BDS? Well, I think boycotting products made in the illegal West Bank colonies makes sense. I think universities in Canada—like my own alma mater, Carleton—should disinvest in companies that shore up Israel’s military oppression of the Palestinian people. I’m not opposed to cultural exchanges, but frown upon giving a stage to one-sided Israeli propaganda that erases Palestinian history and perspectives. And I’m going to stay loudly critical of ethnic cleansing in the South Negev, second-class citizenship for Palestinian Israeli citizens and all of the other racist nastiness that we can expect in any state that defines itself by its majority ethnicity.

(Don’t like the word “apartheid?” Come up with a better one. I’ll use it.)

We need this debate. It’s very, very far from over. One could even argue that it’s hardly begun.

The Harper government, however, wants to use the law as a blunt instrument to shut down criticism of Israel, which, rather than being held to a “different standard” as its uncritical supporters claim we are doing, will now be held to none at all. The BDS movement will be banned. And so long, Israeli Apartheid Week. You don’t have a friend in the Commons, on either side of the House. Harper and his shrieky extremist friends are calling the shots, and judging from past experience the Opposition will either support this move or maintain a craven silence.

But a lot of us won’t. So, Mr. Harper—just bring it on.

UPDATE: Some of the Usual Suspects are claiming that the CBC story is untrue. The embarrassment has proven too much, perhaps. Yet an email exchange between CBC journalist Neil Macdonald and a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety really speaks for itself.

The hate speech laws were changed last year to include “national origin.” Some believed at the time that this would help to criminalize the BDS movement. I thought that was overreaching—now I’m not sure.

Did Stephen Blaney talk about “zero tolerance” or not? The would-be debunkers of Macdonald’s story do not address that issue. Instead they attack the CBC. Rather telling, I think.

If this was a trial balloon, as one commenter suggests, it may have fallen with a thud. Or perhaps action on this matter is to be deferred until after the October election. How would that action take shape? Blaney has signalled that complaints against BDS and IAW will be prosecuted. Cue B’nai Brith. Provincial Attorneys General, whose permission is needed to proceed under the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code, will doubtless fall into line.

One way or another, it really is too much for chagrined pro-Israel zealots to try to wish this story away. A change of headline is not a retraction.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 11, 2015 8:47 AM.

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