- In the current climate, perhaps given:
- -- America's police state laws;
- -- no due process or judicial fairness for any state
- -- mass illegal surveillance;
- -- targeting dissent; and
- -- the power of the Israeli Lobby over Congress, the
media, academia, the clergy, and most anyone confronting them.
- During Israel's war on Gaza, only 5 of 535 congressional
members dissented on pro-Israeli resolutions.
- On January 8, 2009, the Senate unanimously passed S 10:
"A resolution recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against
attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for
Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian
(no peace) peace process."
- On January 9, the House, by a 390 - 5 vote, passed HR
34 "Recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from
Gaza, reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel, and supporting
the Israeli-Palestinian (no peace) peace process." More on this below.
- Then on October 28, Obama signed the expanded 2009 Hate
Crimes Prevention Act, some call a stealth war on free expression and civil
liberties. More on this as well.
- Also consider events in Canada, initiated by a body called
the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA), a
voluntary association of 22 MPs investigating anti-semitism because, it
- Its "extent and severity is widely regarded as at
its worst level since the end of the Second World War," despite contrary
evidence and much to show how Israel twists opposition to Zionism and its
international law violations to be an attack on Jews.
- On October 29, in fact, Reuters reported that:
- "Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States are
at a historic low, with 12 percent of Americans prejudiced toward Jews,
an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey found" based on polling done
from September 26 - October 4 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%.
- ADL said the level of anti-Semitism matched 1998's as
the lowest in the poll's 45-year history. Yet in his 2003 book, "Never
Again? The Threat Of The New Anti-Semitism," national director, Abraham
Foxman, said he's:
- "convinced we currently face as great a threat to
the safety of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s - if not
a greater one," contradicted by Cato Institute research fellow Leon
Hadar (writing in the January 2004 Chronicles) that public opinion polls
"indicate anti-Semitism (both its racial and religious versions) has
been in steep decline in most of Western Europe...."
- Yet various Canadian Jewish organizations, including
Hillel, B'nai Brith, and the Canadian Jewish Congress cite rising anti-Semitic
incidents. On March 31, 2009, for example, B'Nai Brith Canada claimed Canadian
anti-Semitic incidents rose 8.9% in 2008 over 2007, with "more than
(a) four-fold increase in incidents over the past decade."
- The result gets bodies like CPCCA to exploit it, with
disturbing implications of where this may lead, including calling opposition
to Zionism and Israeli crimes anti-Semitism, and criminalizing them at
a time the global BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gaining
traction in the wake of Operation Cast Lead and 42 years of military occupation.
- CPCCA's web site (cpcca.ca) says:
- "In February 2009, parliamentarians from around
the world gathered in London for the inaugural conference of the Inter-Parliamentary
Committee for Combatting Antisemitism." Over 125 legislators attended
from nearly 40 countries, after which "The London Declaration for
Combating Antisemitism call(ed) on all governments to face the problem...."
- CPCCA is a Canadian body, formed in March 2009 by 22
parliamentarians from all parties in the House of Commons. An inquiry was
begun on June 2 calling for written submissions followed by public hearings
(excluding anti-Israeli groups) running from November 2 - December 8. When
concluded, the Steering Committee will produce a report for the government,
anticipating a response "no later than the fall of 2010."
- Its web site asks: "What is the new anti-semitism,"
- "Anti-semitism is an age-old phenomenon, yet it
is always re-invented and manifested in different ways.
- For example, while accusations of blood libel are still
being made against the Jewish people, instead they are being directed against
the State of Israel, such that anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for
- Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
- Founded in 2002, CJPME (cjpme.org) promotes "justice,
peace, prosperity and security for all peoples of the Middle East,"
and believes "all positions should respect international law....violence
is not a solution, (and) all parties in a conflict must be held to the
- On August 31, 2009, it issued a "Written Submission
to (CPCCA) Concerning Anti-Semitism in Canada," saying:
- -- it opposes anti-Semitism;
- -- Israeli criticism must not be linked to it; and
- -- because of how it's vilified, CJPME fears it will
- -- "a terrifying attack on civil liberties (and
free expression) in Canada, and
- -- a total silencing of debate on Israel out of fear
of legal action."
- Yet both outcomes would violate "fundamental protections
enumerated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," so efforts
must be made to prevent them.
- Israel is a secular state, not a proxy for Judaism or
Jews. Many Jews globally, including Israelis, are extremely critical of
government policies with regard to Occupied Palestine and its own Arab
citizens. According to Ryerson University's Social Justice and Democracy
Professor Judy Rebick:
- -- equating Israeli criticism with anti-Semitism "is
based on a claim that the State of Israel is the single outcome of the
history of the Jewish people, the final end of generations of diasporic
existence. It attempts to make the Zionist project of a Jewish nation the
only legitimate project for all Jews," when, in fact, many Jews publicly
oppose Zionism and Israeli policies. Doing so isn't anti-Judaic, anti-Israeli,
or anti-Semitic because they, like Martin Luther King, believe that:
- "True peace is not the absence of violence, but
the presence of justice," an element entirely absent in how Israelis
treat Palestinians and their own Arab citizens.
- Asking why Israel is heavily criticized, CJPME cites
- -- its continued defiling of "the international
consensus for respect for human and humanitarian rights - as reflected
in international law....;"
- -- its maintenance of "one of the longest military
occupations in modern history" over Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem,
the Golan, and Shebba Farms area of Lebanon;
- -- its repeated violations of international law and UN
- -- its imposition of "elements resembling those
of South African Apartheid."
- As a result, it's unsurprising that anti-Semitism accusations
are made to stifle Israeli criticism as a way to diffuse and perhaps criminalize
them. The possibility worries CJPME enough to say they can't be used "to
infringe on fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms comprising Part I of the March 29, 1982 Constitution Act.
CJPME formally petitioned to participate in CPCCA's inquiry that so far
excludes Israeli critics.
- "America's Last Taboo"
- It was distinguished Palestinian American activist/scholar
Edward Said's title for his New Left Review November-December 2000 article
citing the "near-total triumph for Zionism in the United States."
Then and now, Israel is cast as victim in a dangerous neighborhood acting
only in self-defense against "rock-throwing barbarians (comprising)
what is essentially an invasive force. (It's the) Palestinians who are
encroaching on Israeli territory, not the other way around."
- The message is so ingrained that the media repeat it
ad nauseam, and Said more than once said that the entire US Senate can
be marshaled in a matter of hours to support Israel on virtually anything
- even a wanton attack as malicious as Operation Cast Lead and numerous
previous ones for many decades.
- Exhibits A and B: S 10 and HR 34 with near-identical
- -- "Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying
the State of Israel."
- Fact Check
- Hamas was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada to
resist repression and occupation through negotiation and international
consensus, not war or terrorism as falsely portrayed. Yet as international
law allows, it strongly defends itself when attacked.
- -- "Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of
State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization."
- Fact Check
- True because any organization or group opposing imperial
aggression and dominance is so designated.
- -- "Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements
of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the
United Nations) that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce
violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the
- Fact Check
- Hamas repeatedly called for peace and an end of violence
and expressed willingness to negotiate on the basis of "hudnah"
or temporary truce. Its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said Hamas would
end its liberating struggle "if the Zionists ended (their) occupation
of Palestinian territories and stopped killing Palestinian women, children
and innocent civilians." More recently, Hamas offered peace and Israeli
recognition in return for a Palestinian state inside pre-1967 borders,
its Occupied Territories.
- -- "in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked
Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom they continue
to hold today."
- Fact Check
- On June 25, Palestinians, including Hamas, responded
to repeated Israeli attacks by striking an Israeli military post near Kerem
Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, killing two IDF soldiers, injuring
several others, and capturing (not kidnapping) a third, corporal Shalit.
Israel's long-planned Operation Summer Rain followed resulting in mass
killings and destruction ahead of its horrendous July war on Lebanon, causing
over 1,000 deaths and destruction comparable to Operation Cast Lead.
- -- "Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and
mortars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005."
- Fact Check
- Many dozens, not thousands, of crude homemade rockets
and mortars were used only in self-defense in response to repeated Israeli
attacks with the most technologically advanced weapons, mostly from Washington,
including F-16s, helicopter gunships, and powerful munitions, some clearly
- House and Senate resolutions also cite, but don't substantiate,
Iranian help; Hamas locating "elements of its terrorist infrastructure
in civilian population centers, thus using innocent civilians as human
shields," a practice Israel has used for decades; the threat "hundreds
of thousands of Israelis" face from rocket attacks, giving them no
alternative but to respond.
- Dismissive about Gaza's two and a half year siege, the
resolutions stress how "Israel has facilitated humanitarian aid to
Gaza with over 500 trucks and numerous ambulances entering the Gaza Strip
since December 26, 2008."
- It also says "the ultimate goal of the United States
is a sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will
allow for a viable and independent Palestinian state living side by side
in peace and security with the State of Israel...."
- Fact Check
- After Hamas' democratic January 2006 election, Israel,
with Western support, collectively punished Gazans maliciously. It denied
all outside aid, imposed an embargo and sanctions, and stepped up repression,
repeated attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, and property destruction,
followed by a medieval siege since June 2007 causing grave humanitarian
harm by restricting essential to life foods, medicines, and medical equipment
as well as electricity, fuel, construction materials, and virtually everything
needed to function normally.
- Israel facilitates misery, not humanitarian aid, peace
or Palestinian self-determination it's spent decades to deny through violence,
intimidation, naked aggression, confrontation over diplomacy and peaceful
coexistence, and what scholar Joel Kovel calls "a machine for the
manufacture of human rights abuses," facilitated by Washington's financial,
military, and political support.
- Ending "America's last taboo" is the way forward
toward a viable, sustainable Middle East peace, possible only when 42 years
of occupation end and Palestinians are again free - so far, what Israel
and Washington won't allow or even consider.
- The 2009 Hate Crimes Prevention Act
- The Department of Justice FBI web site (fbi.gov) defines
them as follows:
- "A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a
criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that
is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race,
religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."
- On April 29, the House passed HR 1913: Local Law Enforcement
Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 "To provide Federal assistance
to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes,
and for other purposes."
- On April 28, S 909: Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention
Act was introduced "to provide Federal assistance to States, local
jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other
- On July 15, 2009, the measure was adopted as an amendment
to S 1390, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.
On July 23, the full measure passed.
- On October 8, the House passed HR 2647: National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 containing hate crimes prevention
- On October 22, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed, then on October 28, it became law after
president Obama signed it. A same day New York Times Jeff Zeleny article
titled, "Obama Signs Hate Crimes Bill" said it:
- "expands the definition of violent federal hate
crimes to those committed because of a victim's (actual or perceived) sexual
orientation (or identity). Under existing federal law, hate crimes are
defined as those motivated by the victim's race, color, religion or national
origin," even though, short of reading an offender's mind, there's
no way to know if a crime was committed for other reasons besides "hate."
- Further, the bill doesn't repeal the "don't ask,
don't tell" policy, banning gays from the military if they admit their
sexual orientation, or the Defense of Marriage Act, defining legal marriage
to be between a man and a woman.
- In addition, it doesn't address universal civil and human
rights; patients' rights to effective health care; students' rights to
a good education to the highest level; and everybody's right to the essentials
of life, including safe food, water, and clean air; adequate shelter; full
protection under the law; and democracy for everyone, not just the elite
- Nonetheless, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's
largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group praised the
bill as the "nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation"
for LGBT. Others called it advancing civil rights, but critics expressed
- The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative legal
alliance partnered with over 300 ministries and organizations, fears that
pastors calling homosexuality a sin may be linked to a hate crime if a
parishioner harms someone for their sexual orientation. ADF says it's seen:
- "evidence of where 'hate crimes' legislation leads
when it has been tried around the world: It paves the way for the criminalization
of speech that is not deemed 'politically correct.' (These laws) fly in
the face of the underlying purpose of the First Amendment, which was designed
specifically to protect unpopular speech."
- Others fear an attack on dissent against anyone expressing
politically unpopular views at a time of disdain for human rights and eroding
civil liberties putting everyone at risk.
- The new law, however, prosecutes "crimes of violence,"
defined by section 16, title 18, US code as:
- (a) "an offense that has an element the use, attempted
use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property
of another, or
- (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its
nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person
or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense."
- Whether new measures will follow bears watching given
a severe economic crisis and the fragility of American democracy at a time
it's transitioning toward a full-blown police state with noted trends watchers
like Gerald Celente predicting the "greatest depression" unleashing
violence, street crime, and mass civil unrest because "when people
lose everything, and they have nothing else to lose, they lose it."
- If so, government repression will follow with harsh police
state measures because when powerful people fear losing what's taken them
decades to achieve, they'll do anything to defend it, including criminalizing
protected speech, dissent, and whatever threatens their privilege or important
allies, none more valued than Israel.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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