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David Harris and Catherine Chatterley

David Harris and Sandy Shindleman

Editor's Report: David Harris, Executive Director of American Jewish Committee on Anti-Zionism, Palestinian Refugees, and Linda Sarsour

By Rhonda Spivak, May 8, 2019

David Harris, CEO and Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, who delivered the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism`s 2019 Shindleman Lecture, was asked in the question period of his talk whether anti-Zionism equals antisemitism.

Harris answered that if someone is an anti-Zionist because they are a member of the Neturei Karta sect, "I`d be hesitant to call them an antisemite." If a person is a universalist who believes there should be no countries, "I don`t agree with that" but "I can`t charge them with antisemitism."

However when people "single out only one nation on the planet [Israel]," and choose to "ignore the Balfour Declaration, and the UN partition plan", then you have to ask "what`s going on here?" Why are they challenging the legitimacy of one state and one state alone, Israel, while not challenging the legitimacy of other nations, such as Jordan or Iraq, or Libya?

Harris spoke about his wife`s family who stayed in Libya when it achieved independence in 1951 "with a constitution that was violated each day." Then during the 1967 Six Day War, Egypt`s Nasser broadcast that he was defeating Israel, and in Libya the local population went out to attack the Libyan Jews. His wife`s family was hidden by an Arab Muslim "who saved 10 people" and the family then came to Israel. Jews of Arab lands who "are indigenous to the Middle East" are truly "the forgotten refugees of the conflict, Harris said. As Harris added "there were two sets of refugees" that emerged out of the Arab -Israeli conflict, the Palestinian refugees and Jews of Arab lands, such as his wife`s family.

On the subject of anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, Harris noted that "when Linda Sarsour is an open advocate for BDS," and wants to demonize Israel then "something is going on." He said that if Sarsour, "will cry tears for the Jews of Pittsburgh," but will remain silent about victims in Israel, "then I don`t take very seriously the tears for Pittsburgh." He said he was "not impressed with her [Sarsour`s] crocodile tears." After the lecture he reiterated to the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "People who cry tears for the Jews of Pittsburgh and remain silent about victims in Israel are not people whose support we seek or want."

Harris was also asked about what subjects he was concerned about. He answered "I have fear that Corbyn will become Prime Minister" of Britain, and roughly 40% of Jews say that if he becomes Prime Minister "they would seriously consider immigrating." Harris, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, also stated that "I have a profound concern" about Jihadism. "We have a stalemate with Hamas" but the notion of Jews as the infidel is increasing.

Harris also said in regard to Jews, "there are people who are awake [and understand the threat of the resurgence of antisemitism] but there are people who are still asleep. I`m still shocked about how many Jews are still asleep." 

To watch the lecture, click here.

To read about Harris`s full remarks, click here




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.