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Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded what many observers deemed a triumphant four-day visit to Israel. His powerful message to the Knesset that "through fire and water, Canada will stand with you" earned him the praise of conservatives in Israel, Canada and the U.S. alike. While Sarah Palin thanked Harper for his full-throated, unequivocal support of the Jewish state, Conrad Black described the Knesset address as "as a great milestone in the rise of Canada as a power in the world" and "one of the greatest speeches ever delivered by a Canadian leader."

But while the embrace of "Canada's first Zionist prime minister" doubtless warmed the hearts of Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, other Israelis might have taken umbrage. After all, when Stephen Harper decried those who compare Israel to "an apartheid state" as the faces of the "new anti-Semitism," he was describing a group which includes two recent Israeli prime ministers.

Harper didn't mince words. Declaring "we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage," the Canadian leader sternly warned "we have witnessed in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain."

"People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East...

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Now think about that statement. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that. A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, founded so that Jews can flourish as Jews and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history. That is condemned, and it is condemned in the masked language of anti-racism.

Friends, that is nothing short of sickening. But, this is the face of the new anti-Semitism."

Unfortunately, by Harper's standard the faces of the new anti-Semitism would have to include former Israeli PM's Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

In 2010, Barak warned that Israel must reach a peace agreement resulting in a Palestinian state or risk becoming an apartheid regime. The war hero who became Labor Prime Minister and Netanyahu's defense minister explained:

"As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."
Three years earlier, Kadima Prime Minister Olmert, who almost inked a peace deal in the final days of his premiership, issued a similarly dire forecast.

As the Guardian reported in November 2007, "Israel risks apartheid-like struggle if two-state solution fails, says Olmert."

Israel's prime minister issued a rare warning yesterday that his nation risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa if it failed to agree an independent state for the Palestinians. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Ehud Olmert said Israel was "finished" if it forced the Palestinians into a struggle for equal rights.

If the two-state solution collapsed, he said, Israel would "face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished". Israel's supporters abroad would quickly turn against such a state, he said.

But the apartheid analogies aren't limited to Bibi's predecessors. As Ha'aretz columnist Ari Shavit put it in his new book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, the path forward for his beloved country will involve pain:
Both in Beit El and in Shilo, the question is whether Israel will end occupation or whether occupation will end Israel. Will the Jewish state dismantle the Jewish settlements, or will the Jewish settlements dismantle the Jewish state? There are only four paths from this junction: Israel as a criminal state that carries out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories; Israel as an apartheid state; Israel as a binational state; or Israel as a Jewish-democratic state retreating with much anguish to a border dividing the land. I still believe the Israeli majority prefers the fourth path.
Millions of Israelis wrestle with these questions every day. "So far," Shavit frets, "Zionism has not been able to summon from within the forces that will save it from itself." Some Israelis who share his view worry that on its current trajectory, Israel will be--if it hasn't already become--an apartheid state.

Voicing that powerful and painful concern doesn't make them the faces of Stephen Harper's "new anti-Semitism." And to casually suggest that it does is, to quote Harper himself, nothing short of sickening.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good lord....what a wanker. nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David54, sturunner, fluffy, agrenadier

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:26:23 PM PST

  •  To single out Israel for criticism (9+ / 0-)

    over other country situations--Iran, China in Tibet, Zimbabwe and so on--is, for some, motivated by anti-Jewish feelings.  The preoccupation with Israel at the UN is bizarre. It's so obvious.

    •  we single Israel out because we care (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peachcreek, Brecht, Sandino, fluffy, Mikey

      Israel is supposed to be one of the good guys - an ally, a liberal democratic republic, a Western First World country, etc. - and unfortunately, that means you get held to a higher standard rather than a lower one.

      Nobody's shocked when Hamas or Hezbollah says or does something despicable, because that's what everyone expects from them.  But absolutely they get a cookie when they say or do something good ... or even just when they refrain from saying or doing something bad.  Israel doesn't get a cookie when they show restraint or execute a unilateral withdrawal from occupied territory, but everyone's up in arms when they bomb Gaza.

      It sounds like a double standard because it is one.  If Israel wants to be held to the same low standard as Hamas or Hezbollah, then they have to sink as low: become the kind of people running the kind of country that nobody thinks can do better and nobody cares if they can.  Turn the whole thing over to the ultra-Orthodox with no education and Bronze Age social mores and 1 Samuel for policy towards the Palestinians, and the world will care as little about what goes on between the river and the sea as they care about what goes on in most of Africa.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:32:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I expect better (5+ / 0-)

      from the self-proclaimed "only democracy in the Middle East".

      If the best you can do is be better than Zimbabwe, that's setting the bar pretty damn low.

      Oh, and here's today's $8.5 million in military assistance.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:48:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  to single out the jim crow south for criticism (5+ / 0-)

      over other country situations - the soviet union, china, cuba - is, for some, motivated by anti-white, anti-christian, anti-american feelings.

      •  Simplistic. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sandbox

        For an American to focus on an American failing needs little explanation. But for, say, a French citizen in the 1950s to focus on American apartheid to the exclusion of, say, Soviet tyranny in eastern Europe, or, of course, within the USSR itself well may reflect anti-Americanism--the references to "anti-white, anti-christian" are red herrings.

        In other words, being against Jim Crow in the American south did not necessarily mean one was anti-American, but it was not inconsistent with, and sometimes may have resulted from, being anti-American.

        Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

        by another American on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 06:18:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  american racists made the exact same complaint (2+ / 0-)

          during the cold war as israeli racists make today, as south african racists made in the 80s, as chinese racists do today.

          pointing at someone else and yelling that all criticism is prejudice because someone somewhere else is doing something bad too is purile and pathetic.

          •  You provide a good example of the Livingstone (0+ / 0-)

            Formulation. As explained by David Hirsch, the Livingstone Formulation is "a rhetorical formulation which is sometimes deployed in response to an accusation of antisemitism, particularly when it relates to discourse which is of the form of criticism of Israel. This formulation is a defensive response which deploys a counter-accusation that the person raising the issue of antisemitism is doing so in bad faith and dishonestly."

            First, however, I want to note that I was careful to write that "being against Jim Crow in the American south did not necessarily mean one was anti-American[.]"

            Hirsch notes:

            ... It is widely accepted in the sociological literature on racism, and also in the practice of antiracist movements, that racism is often unintended and that social actors who are involved are often unconscious of the racism with which they are perhaps complicit or of which they are unconscious ‘carriers’. Antiracists are generally comfortable with the concepts of institutional, structural and discursive racism and they are comfortable with the idea that discourses, structures and institutions can be racist in effect, objectively, even in the absence of any subjective racist intent on the part of social actors. Yet a common response to the raising of the issue of antisemitism in relation to discourses concerning criticism of Israel is that if there is no antisemitic intent then there can be no antisemitism. Antisemitism is implicitly, then, often defined differently from other racisms as requiring an element of intent.
            In a paper on the subject, the second link above, Hirsch writes that The Livingstone Formulation
            is defined by the presence of two elements. Firstly the conflation of legitimate criticism of Israel with what are alleged to be demonizing, exclusionary or antisemitic discourses or actions; secondly, the presence of the counter-accusation that the raisers of the issue of antisemitism do so with dishonest intent, in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. The allegation is that the accuser chooses to 'play the antisemitism card' rather than to relate seriously to, or to refute, criticisms of Israel. While the issue of antisemitism is certainly sometimes raised in an unjustified way, and may even be raised in bad faith, the Livingstone Formulation may appear as a response to any discussion of contemporary antisemitism.

            Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

            by another American on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 01:20:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But you are acting in bad faith. (0+ / 0-)

              The only thing you have, which is pathetic, is criticism of the act of criticizing.  Can't you argue on the merits of the argument (which is indefensible) instead of acting like an irrational troll trying to divert the topic by implying that anyone who criticizes Israel is anti-semetic?  

  •  I stand with the hecklers. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fluffy, Celtic Merlin

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:34:41 PM PST

  •  Oh, yeah, I've never met a Canadian who ever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    420 forever
    "we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage,"
    criticized any other nation on earth except Israel.  Yup, Israel is the one and only, the single, the lone, the unique nation on the planet that every Canadian thinks of when they think of one nation they would like to criticize.
  •  If I were a Canadian, freezing my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agrenadier

    ass off most of every year, I too may begin to hate people who get to live in the land of milk and honey (and warm sunshine). It's natural for Canadians to hate everyone south of Greenland.

  •  This all about Harper pandering for Jewish votes (0+ / 0-)

    in the Greater Toronto Area.

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:12:48 PM PST

    •  According to Wikipedia, 3% of the population in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agrenadier

      Toronto identifies as Jewish.

      Isn't Harper a rather conservative Christian? I think that could also help explain his views.

      •  It might be 3%, but (0+ / 0-)

        Jewish votes are rather concentrated in certain blocks, and those votes definitely made a difference in some of the seat losses the Liberals had back in 2011 (York Centre was a very good example of this.)

        Also, that's not counting in Greater Toronto, where seats like Thornhill tend to have a lot of Jewish voters. Canadian Jews also tend to be a lot more conservative than American Jews, which could be due to the fact that American and Canadian Jews had different upbringings and different amounts of cultural resistance in their new home countries.

        I didn't leave Huffington Post, Huffington Post left me...

        by speedyexpress48 on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:58:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't as a rule H/R (0+ / 0-)

    but this is nice work. The title is essentially a slur and is by no means backed up by the diary. Classic DBAD.

  •  that won't work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leftynyc

    Because everyone knows that Toronto's Jews are supporting Rob Ford.
    Harper has always seemed like a superb dimbulb to me. And thank you, sandbox, for your comment; I heartily agree, and those of us who support the two-state solution make that distinction, but often get drowned out with the apartheid blah blah blah.
    For the record, it's 61 and raining in Tel Aviv!

    Life is a shipwreck. But we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. — Voltaire

    by agrenadier on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:30:03 PM PST

  •  A certain incoherence (5+ / 0-)

    After quoting Harper as criticizing those who call Israel an apartheid state, the diary claims that criticism would have to include former Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert. But as the diary later says, they raise the specter of apartheid only in the context, which they oppose, of an Israeli-ruled de facto single state west of the Jordan. In other words, by th standard the diary attributes to Harper--surprise, surprise--neither Barak nor Olmert qualifies as an antisemite.

    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:11:22 PM PST

    •  At least for the Olmert quote, I didn't get that.. (0+ / 0-)
      Israel's prime minister issued a rare warning yesterday that his nation risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa if it failed to agree an independent state for the Palestinians.

      An independent state is an Israeli-ruled de facto single state?

      •  Olmert says (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peachcreek

        Apartheid is a danger IF Israel fails to agree a Palestinian state. That's still in play. so, Olmert doesn't come within Harper's definition.

        If the focus of the diary is entirely on Canada, perhaps that's all that needs saying. If not, I suggest mr comment regarding Ari Shavit.

        Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

        by another American on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:34:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fairness to Ari Shavit (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agrenadier, hester, maggid, leftynyc, fluffy

    The diary emphasizes only one of the two central pillars of Ari Shavit's thought and book. Shavit is at pains to make clear both that Israel is the only western, democratic country to be occupying another people and that it is the only western, democratic country facing existential threats. The problem, Shavit says, is that too many on the left ignore the threats to Israel's existence; and too many on the right ignore the occupation.

    Shavit also makes the point that ending the occupation, which he believes vitally in Israel's self-interest, is most likely to be achieved through a two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement, and that achieving such a settlement requires persuading Israelis, as President Obama and Secretary Kerry are seeking to do, Shavit thinks with some effect, that we recognize and sympathize with their historically-justified concerns.

    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:22:52 PM PST

  •  Harper is a disgrace to our country on the foreign (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, Sandino, semiot, Anastasia Castro

    stage. Having recently declared Canada's foreign policy to be principally driven by our own economic interests; from having pissed off all our traditional allies at the UN, such that we were kept off the Security Council; by repeatedly snubbing the Annual General Assembly meetings and refusing to appear while sending our truculent foreign minster John Baird to speak and harangue an empty General Assembly Hall; this latest is just another of Stevie's ill-informed, biased, ignorant forays. Not to mention his paid-for appearance (we paid so he could appear) at the US-Canadian Business Council in NYC, where he said he would not take a NO from the US on Keystone and that he would continue to fight any NO until the US buckled, right on the President's own turf. This man has no class.

    This weekend he was at it again, saying the Ukraine was being drawn back into the orbit of Russia and the old Soviet Union. Sticks it to Putin right befoe the Olympics, just in case our teams and fans need rescuing.

    Not to mention the new negotiations between the affected natonal governments to establish the sovereign borders over the Arctic land and seas, after years of science, exploration and mapping has come to fruition to define the land exetnsions and so on, prior to multilateral negotiations. And, after our scientific evidence was finalized for transmission to the other countries, at the last minute he refused it and sent it back to the scientists to have it altered to  say the North Pole is in Canada. Missed the deadline. What a tool, belongs in the Tea Party. I'm embarrassed as hell, having worked for five of his predecessors, to think this man ever got elected.  

    Sorry for ranting, had to get it off my chest.

    The President was wonderful tonight, if a bit over the top at the end about the US exceptionalism. Stevie Harper thinks he is the world's exceptional person, seeing and knowing all, and he is not.

    "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage "

    by ontario on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:51:55 PM PST

    •  having lived through eight years of bush (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino

      i really feel for you. when's the next chance to throw harper out of power?

    •  Isn't it at least somewhat pusillanimous (0+ / 0-)

      to refrain from criticizing the Putin-supported, if not inspired, government repression and violence in Ukraine our of fear that Russia may not carry out its responsibilities to Canadian citizens, and others, as host of the Olympic games? And what does it say about Russia today that a potential need to rescue Canadians, and others, from Sochi is a serious enough concern to be thought to justify quietism regarding Ukraine?

      Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

      by another American on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 06:25:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess my construction gave a meaning I did (0+ / 0-)

        not intend. In the context of what i said about Steve, I simply pointed out he is sticking it in Putin's eye, like he does so blindly, without forethought,  in other cases I have  cited. That was my main point. The Olympic danger reference was an add-on, not my main point.

        Wu Ming, Harper hah a majority now, next election should be in 2015. But he may be brought down by scandals in his own office. His chief of staff paidi off a senator's debt to the Senate for  having made inapproproate expense claima. The coverup began. Harper is a control freak but disclaims any knowledge. The RCMP are investigating and emails released now show at least 12 of his staff involved, when he said no one was, then only one, whom he said had resigned, then he saidi he fired him. Three of his senate appointees were suspended for two years via a closure vote in  the Senate, with out a Committte hearing for the Senators involved. Two were very prominent media personalities, the other a native person.

        "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage "

        by ontario on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:00:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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