How Montreal’s Pro-Israel Lobby Intimidates Public Officials

Bruce Katz

On 05/12/2023

Depuis plus de vingt ans, nous organisons des vigiles hebdomadaires en solidarité avec la Palestine et rencontrons les gens où ils sont pour leur en parler. Les vigiles se tiennent devant des écoles et universités, stations de métro, boutiques et durant des fêtes de rue et de quartier… Jusqu’à présent, plus de 500 000 dépliants ont été distribués aux passants!

Pour nous appuyer, vous pouvez devenir membres, participer aux vigiles, faire un don ou toutes ces options en même temps. Nous avons hâte de travailler avec vous!

Bruce Katz

According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, a campaign by the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to force Bochra Manai (Montreal’s anti-racism commissioner) to resign for participating in a pro-Palestinian demonstration where was present a controversial figure – Imam Adil Charkoui issued a prayer calling for the destruction of those involved in the attack on Gaza – and for expressing her empathy with the Palestinians on Instagram.  CIJA claimed that as anti-racism commissioner, Manai  had a duty to remain neutral and should not have made any comments on the situation in Gaza. The same article quotes Manai as saying that she took part in “demonstrations in Montreal in support of a request for a ceasefire” because she is “committed to peace (and) saddened by the horror of this situation.” The statement is laudable and one remarks that there has been no such call for a ceasefire by either CIJA or the B’nai Brith. Israel right or wrong!

One also notes that there was no comment whatsoever by either of the two organizations named above by the call to the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza by Éric Sabbah of the Pierre Boucher Hospital in Longueuil who  wrote that it was time for a grand nettoyage (a great ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinians in Gaza because it is “impossible to distinguish the good from the bad.” Not a peep from either organization. Not a peep from either organization regarding the bloodbath happening in Gaza. Israel right or wrong! Unconditional support for Israel, even if that means enabling genocide by unconditional support for a racist, fascist Netanyahu coalition and rabid Jewish settlers who have enacted pogroms against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the same sort of pogroms enacted against Jews in the European experience over the centuries.

In fact, both CIJA and the B’nai Brith use the smear of antisemitism as the means of silencing the vocal opposition and massive demonstrations taking place in support of Palestinians. The smear campaign against Bochra Manai is but one example. Vandalism and intimidation against Jews and synagogues is deplorable and should be denounced. It should, however, be noted that it is the failure to differentiate the state of Israel from Jews as a collectivity which is at the heart  of the current rise in anti-Jewish sentiment.

Because it has been the Zionist project to absorb both Judaism and Jews into the concept of the State of Israel as the embodiment of Judaism, thereby substituting the State for God, it is now in the public imagination to conflate Zionism with Judaism and Israel as the embodiment of world Jewry. Hence, the blame for heinous acts enacted upon the subjugated Palestinians under the colonial rule of Israel fall upon the collective shoulders of the Jews, although there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Jews who are critical of Israel and bound to their Jewish culture by virtue of Judaism’s humanist values, not to the worship of the State.

Thousands of Jews –including a number of Jews in Israel – continue to take part in the massive demonstrations taking place in support of Gaza. The  instrument by which the pro-Israel lobby promotes this Israeli hasbara (propganda) is by virtue of the use of the false notion of antsemitism known as the IHRA definition (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).

This is what has accompanied the smear campaign against Bochra Manai (not unlike the odious smearing of the reputation of the late Yves Michaud via the Quebec National Assembly some years ago), as the B’nai Brith has “urged” Mayor Valérie Plante  to “endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.” This is how the pro -Israel lobby uses antisemitism to silence and intimidate pubic officials and anyone else who dares to criticize the racist apartheid State of Israel. It is time that these two organizations were called out publicly for what amounts to a blanket endorsement of Israel’s crimes committed against Palestinian civilians. That begins with supporting those very public officials who have the courage to stand on principle and condemn Israel for what it is: a racist apartheid state.

 Unfortunately, in the case of Bochra Manai, the Lobby’s campaign has been successful to the point of forcing Manai to promise she will never again attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration. What is left unsaid but is nevertheless understood, is that the effect of promising to never attend such a demonstration is to imply that those who demonstrate in support of the Palestinians are all “antisemites.”The “Lobby” should remember the following: when you call those who defend human rights and decry war crimes “antisemites,” you make “antisemitism,” such as you define it, a moral imperative! When everyone is an antisemite, then there are no more antisemites! It is, indeed, a dangerous game to play.

Share This