“CAEF has taken the position that Canada, an ally of Israel, should let Israel decide on its actions, and if not supportive, say nothing.”
By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News
As Israel takes its next steps in the quest for sovereignty, the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation is urging Canadian Prime Minister Minister Justin Trudeau to respect Israel’s decisions.
Andria Spindel, executive director of the foundation, and its president, Anita Bromberg, co-wrote a letter to Trudeau.
World Israel News spoke with Spindel and Bromberg, who discussed anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in Canada as well as what they see as the Liberal government’s double-standard for not calling out countries that actually abuse human rights.
Q: You reached out to Canadians for signatures on a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, prompted by one sent to him earlier by three progressive Jewish groups, urging the Canadian leader to oppose Israel’s extended sovereignty. What did those letters say?
“The letter dated June 18 from JSpace, New Israel Fund and Peace Now Canada claims that ‘unilateral annexation of almost any magnitude, unless reversed, would make it impossible to achieve an eventual resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution.’
“They argue that Canada should maintain a long-standing policy regarding a negotiated two-state solution, and ‘urge our government to speak out strongly against a unilateral annexation agenda that is unwise, unjust and dangerous to peace in the Middle East.’”
Q: What is your position?
“There is no partner for peace, and the world has witnessed zero compromise by the Arabs whose charters (PLO and Hamas) still call for Israel’s destruction.
“CAEF has taken the position that Canada, an ally of Israel, should let Israel decide on its actions, and if not supportive, say nothing. Canada does not have the moral authority to tell Israel, a sovereign state, what to do.
“If Canada did have the moral standing, which it wishes to play out, then why is it not telling China to stop illegal expansion in the Pacific Ocean and at its Indian border? Why is Canada not calling for an end to Turkey’s occupation in Cyprus, or to Spain’s occupation in Western Sahara?
“What is the obsession with Israel and how does it benefit Canada to weaponize its views on Israel—it has been reported that Canada was too positively biased towards Israel, hence it did not win a seat at the UN Security Council. We would hope that Israel was not being sacrificed over a seat that itself has little actual value.
“It might not be a far stretch to suggest that ‘progressive’ Jewish organizations object to Israel’s plan because it is from [U.S. President] Trump, who they love to hate, and because [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu, who they also love to hate, supports it.
“It is sad that Jewish organizations, instead of recognizing the U.S. administration’s overwhelming support for Israel, will sell Israel short rather than be seen to agree with anything that has Trump’s name on it.”
Q: How many signatures did you obtain?
“The letter was sent on June 25 to the prime minister and all cabinet members with 152 signatures. Today, we have over 275 signatures and people send us requests to be added to the letter. We sent the letter on June 29 to all members of Parliament.”
Q: Has Trudeau taken a stand on Israel’s sovereignty plan?
“He has opposed ‘annexation.’ Look at this news clip, in which Trudeau criticizes both China and Israel:
“China is not a democracy, is not operating under the rule of law, has put a million Muslims in detention camps, and is holding two Canadians as hostages. Trudeau cannot compare the two countries. So what is the purpose in pressuring Israel?”
Q: Do you consider the current Canadian government supportive of Israel?
“Recently, Canada has voted against Israel at the United Nations and increased funding the corrupt, overstaffed, anti-Semitic organization UNRWA.”
Q: How would you rate Trudeau in comparison to his predecessor, Stephen Harper, on Israel?
“Trudeau’s actions suggest he is far less supportive of Israel than Harper.”
Q: Your group is the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. But this was an Israel issue, not an anti-Semitism issue. Do you feel that this was outside your group’s bailiwick? If not, why not?
“CAEF is focused on combating anti-Zionism, which is a more insidious and potentially dangerous aspect of anti-Semitism. By the pretext of criticizing Israeli policy, the anti-Israel campaigns are spreading hatred for Jews and the Jewish people. From Israel Apartheid Week on campuses, to the BDS campaigns of the Canadian BDS Coalition, to the online campaigns by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, they are all anti-Semitic in nature.
“Canada’s adoption of a resolution to support the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is rather vacuous if Canada now treats Israel differently than all other countries — clearly a double standard. CAEF wants to see implementation of IHRA, including the appointment of an envoy or Special Representative to combat anti-Semitism, monitor abuses and sanction anti-Semites.”
Q: Do you think anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are the same thing at this point?
Q: Is the Canadian Jewish community similar to the U.S. Jewish community as far as support for Israel goes?
“Studies show that the Canadian Jewish community is slightly more ‘conservative’ and more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community. We would need to review the data to address this properly.”
Q: What are the unique challenges within the Canadian Jewish community?
“First, we are a very tiny population:
· Total Jewish population 391 665 (.94% of total Canadian population)
· 16.9% of Canadian Jews are 65 or older
· 25% of Quebec Jews have French as their mother tongue, and 62% are bilingual.*
· Median income for Canadian Jews (age 15+) is $30,670
· 6.7% of Canadian Jews live in female-headed single-parent families
· 14.6% of Canadian Jews live below the poverty line. This percentage rises to 15.7% for
Canadian Jews aged 75 and older, and to 20% among Quebec Jews.
“Second, we don’t have a single organization that unifies all aspects of the community though there is a body that holds itself out as our voice in Ottawa, but on this issue they have not issued a statement.”
Q: How successful are groups like J Space Canada, Canadian Friends of Peace Now and New Israel Fund of Canada in influencing the Jewish community in Canada?
“It can be assumed they have support of the Reform and Reconstructionist congregations, many academics, a lot of students, and others who want to be viewed as ‘progressive.’ No one asks, ‘Why is it progressive to stand against Israel and in favor of an intractable enemy that publishes hostile propaganda, and across the globe attacks individuals and the collective Jewish community under the cover of entities affiliated with the Palestinian Authority?’”
Q: Why do you oppose them?
“They do not tell the whole story; they are not educating Canadian Jews, but pressing an agenda. We disagree with the view that Canada should pressure Israel — it’s irresponsible, and it places an onus on Israel to solve a 100-year-old problem. It ignores the intransigence of the Arabs and suggests the Diaspora, which does not live and vote in Israel, should be considered by the government of Israel. Our position is that Canada should say less, not more, because the current position shows a total lack of knowledge of history, of Arab intent, of the geography of the land.”
Q: Does Canada have a block of non-Jewish Israel-supporters like in the U.S., which has a large evangelical community?
“We do have Christian evangelical support, but we don’t know the size of this. A review of the websites of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Canada Christian College did not reveal any recent statements about Israel. CAEF does hold programs with support from ICEJ Canada and several churches, and we have the support of Muslims Facing Tomorrow.
“As of May 2013, Muslims account for 3.2% of the total population, with a total of over a million, and Islam has become the fastest-growing religion in Canada. This population is not pro-Israel, although there are certainly individuals who are Zionists and two small organizations which speak out against both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”
Q: What would you say the average Canadian’s attitude to Israel is?
“CAEF believes that Canadians probably don’t think that the matter of Israeli-Palestinian relations has much, if any, bearing on their lives, and most have little to no knowledge of what it means to extend sovereignty – and for certain, only a tiny minority of adults would even have looked at the U.S. plan. So with constant feeding by some media and public figures, as well as orchestrated anti-Israel campaigns on campus, there is a potentially great alienation by Canadians towards Israel.
“CAEF sees a need to address this lack of knowledge, to educate loud and proud Jewish young people to stand up for Israel at every opportunity and to tell the truth.”