Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kelly McParland: Dog days in the Hate Israel industry

Things must be getting tougher in the Hate Israel industry these days, what with Arab leaders slaughtering their own people everywhere you look, in order to hold onto their jobs.

People were killed in Egypt, people were killed in Tunisia and Bahrain, people are still being killed in Yemen, Libya and especially Syria. They’re being killed because they’d like to change the government, which you can do in Israel just by turning up to vote. They’re being killed because they’d like to be more like Israel. How can you focus the world’s attention on the despicable state of affairs in apartheid Israel when the people in neighbouring countries insist on giving up their lives in hopes of winning similar rights to those Israel already offers? It’s almost like the protesters in all those places didn’t realize that the source of all their troubles lies in Jerusalem, not in their own countries. Hate Israel people aren’t easy to persuade, though, so they’re persevering despite the headwinds. The folks behind the Canadian boat to Gaza sent their little contingent off on the weekend to join the heroic struggle to break the murderous Israeli blockade of Gaza and bring life-saving supplies to its besieged people. The people of Gaza aren’t really besieged, and it’s not really that hard to send them supplies, if that’s your intention, but admitting as much would spoil all the drama and self-serving bombast of the Hate Israel folks, so they’re pretending otherwise. If they’re really lucky, Israel will try to turn back the boat and they can try to provoke a confrontation, enabling them to get a ton of international publicity for themselves, which is what they live for. It might be a bit more difficult than in the past, though, since Israel may be reluctant to play along, and since the blockade has already been eased. And Turkey, which has been supportive of the flotillas, has its hands full trying to deal with the flood of civilians fleeing Syria to escape the government’s murderous campaign to put down a popular revolt. (Syria is one of those countries that kills people who challenge the government, a state of affairs the Hate Israel people have to studiously ignore.)

The United Church of Canada, or a faction within it, is also keeping up its campaign to pretend Israel is worse than the countries that want to annihilate it. A “task force” within the church which has all of 15 members is trying to drum up support for a boycott of firms that do business in Israel. The campaign, as reported by the National Posts’ Charles Lewis, seems a little unfocused. It hasn’t been endorsed by the Church’s national body, “but it hasn’t unendorsed it either,” says Brian McIntosh, a reverend, pastor and spokesman for the campaigners. (The U.S. Senate hasn’t unendorsed it either, so I guess they must also be on board. Kind of a surprise, but there you go.)

Rev. McIntosh acknowledges that the group hasn’t called for boycotts against any of the many oppressive regimes in Africa or the Middle East, or China, where government critics get chucked in jail and members of many religious faiths may be persecuted. So why Israel?

No. 1, because Israel purports to be a democracy. No. 2, they are in violation of international law and even the UN has tried to call Israel to account. So what is left for people who want to see international law enforced? Libya just happened and the U.S. jumped to take on the presumed responsibility to protect civilians; they jumped in with all kinds of force. But they won’t do that against Israel ever because Israel purports to be a democracy.

“Purports to be”, like, they have elections and stuff. Which they don’t bother with in Syria or Libya or Bahrain. They just shoot people, which is evidently cleaner and more effective. One of the companies Rev. McIntosh wants boycotted is Indigo books, because owners Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz personally support a foundation that provides scholarships to Israeli soldiers. They do it on their own, but Rev. McIntosh figures they get their money from Indigo, though a quick Google search would show that Mr. Schwartz actually has one or two other business interests as well. So why pick Indigo? Rev. McIntosh doesn’t really have an answer, just as the Hate Israel people don’t really have an answer for why they hate Israel and not its murderous, repressive, anti-democratic neighbours.

They just do.

National Post

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