The Flying Shingle
Coalition aims to criminalise criticism of Israel
Monday, October 4, 2010
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo
Michael Keefer ~ treatment of Palestinians is “indecent”

Will a coalition of all the federal parties except the Bloc make it illegal to criticise Israel?
According to Dr. of Philosophy Michael Keefer, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) will try to do just that.
At a Sept. 25 presentation at the Nanaimo library, Keefer said that activists in France have already been charged and convicted of hate crimes for advocating a program of “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” against Israel. Keefer said this is a sample of “the kind of exemplary intimidation” the CPCCA wants to implement in Canada.
The coalition, which Keefer said is not currently an official parliamentary committee, was organised to look into the problem of anti-Semitism by Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Professor Irwin Cotler, former justice minister and human rights activist, and by Conservative MP Jason Kenney the minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Keefer said that both men had taken positions “that can reasonably be described as extremist”.
Keefer said that even before Judge Richard Goldstone – “a Jew and a lifelong Zionist” – released his United Nations sponsored report on Israel’s 2008 attack on Gaza, Cotler said that Goldstone’s position would be “unbalanced … unless it denounced the people of Gaza as the aggressors” and portrayed Israel’s behaviour as appropriate.
As for Kenney, Keefer said, among other things, he has defunded and denounced as anti-Semitic, KAIROS, a long-standing human rights organisation supported by “11 mainstream Christian churches in Canada”.
The CPCCA first appeared in June 2009, Keefer said, and “… (came) to their conclusions before … getting any public expert opinion or citizen’s input. … They were saying anti-Semitism is a burgeoning, resurgent, horrendous problem … and we have to act urgently to do something about it. … They also made it clear that they wanted to consider anti-Semitism as a term that incorporated criticism of the State of Israel”.
Writing the book
Keefer said he and many other well-respected scholars and organisations wrote to the coalition to offer input, and were ignored. The Bloc Quebecois withdrew from the coalition when this trend became apparent, he said.
Many of those who had their input snubbed sent their submissions to the Canadian Charger – a news website – instead, Keefer said. The Charger collected those submissions to give to all MPs, he said, “so that parliamentarians can be made explicitly aware of the kinds of censorship that are being exercised by this enquiry”.
Those submissions, he said, became the core of his book: “Anti-Semitism Real and Imagined”. He said many of the submissions were written by Jews who encountered anti-Semitic persecution in their lives, and whose experience “living with a vile prejudice directed against them, was an important part of what determined them not to remain silent in the face of injustice”.
Keefer said he wrote an introduction to the book discussing “lawfare” – which is what Cotler calls objections to Israel’s unlawful behaviour. Cotler alleges, said Keefer, that those who speak against Israel’s lawlessness are pretending to care about the law but actually just hate Jews. He said Cotler was retaliating to this alleged racism by defining calls for Israel to stop breaking international law as “hate-speech”.
Also included in the book, Keefer said, was the history of the real anti-Semitism in Canada and research into, and statistical evidence on, any modern resurgence of anti-Semitism. He said that Canadians are insufficiently aware of Canada’s shameful history of anti-Semitism. But he said the statements made by the CPCCA about an increase in anti-Semitism are “false” and “fear-mongering”, although “there HAVE been spikes in anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of war crimes committed by ... Israel, such as the attack on Gaza”.
CPCCA report
Keefer said that the CPCCA will be releasing its report in November while hosting the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism - an international body founded by Cotler. He thought when that happens, “the distinction between this group … and a formally appointed parliamentary committee is going to evaporate”.
Kenney’s ministry is contributing $450,000 to host that meeting, Keefer said. He added that some of the current funding for the CPCCA is coming from a foundation that also funds a US group “which has taken forceful actions … against academic freedoms in one case after another”, as well as initiating “smear campaigns” against human rights activists.
Keefer said Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians pander to the fact that Canadians like to think of themselves as a decent people, but “it is indecent to have participated in the blockade of Gaza. It is indecent to provide material, support, and diplomatic cover to the ongoing expropriation of Palestinians’ land in the West Bank. … The blockade of Gaza is starving people (and is) a grotesque violation of international law, and any country that supports that blockade is engaging in the breaking of international law in the complete abrogation of its responsibilities under the fourth Geneva convention. I think we need to stand up and say to our Members of Parliament: ‘If you want to talk to us about decency, do kindly start practising it’ ”.

Want to forward this article? Here's the link: