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Letter to the Editor: In response to “Diaspora Jewry: A Hostage to the Conflict”

by Penny Jones Square, June 28, 2021

[Editor's note: This letter is in response to Dr. Catherine Chatterley's article "Diaspora Jewry: A Hostage to the Conflict which can be found here. ]

As an admirer of Dr. Chatterley’s scholarship and commitment to combatting antisemitism, I found her blog surprising and unsettling.]

In her blog, Dr. Chatterley states that the “violence and antisemitic rhetoric” that erupted worldwide during and in the aftermath of the recent Israel-Gaza conflict “is not a surprise to those of us who study this phenomenon [of antisemitism] professionally.” I would suggest that scholars were not alone in being unsurprised: only the uninformed and indifferent would be, for the Palestinian narrative has been successfully promoted across most media outlets and in the universities for decades now. Their narrative of victimhood and grievance, represented as “righteous anger” over their “terrible predicament,” has garnered the sympathy of the social justice warriors of the world while demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and the Jews. The “shifting” of the “balance” “culturally in favour of the Palestinian people,” has already happened. Had the Israel narrative been heard, the falsehoods, mischaracterizations, and misinformation on which the Palestinian narrative is based would have collapsed. Unfortunately, Israeli Hasbara has been virtually non-existent while the Palestinians’ has flourished in mainstream media and on campuses worldwide. 

In her assessment of the supposed disinterest of non-Jews in the recent resurgence of anitisemitism, Dr. Chatterley suggests antisemitism is only a “side-effect” of “Palestinian rage” (a rage that I see to be synonymous with antisemitism). She says that “most non-Jews” do not see antisemitism as “a root cause” but rather “see the imbalanced and unjust conditions in the Middle East” at the root of Palestinian animosity. This assessment and her referencing Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ military capability, its “occupation in the West Bank with its daily restrictions and humiliations,” and the “endless cycles of conflict,” all belie a very biased perspective (on the part of “most non-Jews” she is describing if not herself). Dr. Chatterley suggests that what “most non-Jews” see in “Palestinian rage” is “righteous anger, despair, and enormous frustration over their predicament.” Something that, as a non-Jew, I certainly do not see. The problem with this view is that Palestinian rage is entirely misdirected at Israel, and in being so misdirected, it too gives the lie to antisemitism being at its root. For Israel is not to blame for the Palestinian people’s oppression and misery; it is the fault of their leadership: the Palestinian Authority/Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza—the real “occupiers” of each territory. This rage, which would be necessary and justifiable were it directed properly at the Palestinian peoples’ leadership rather than at Israel and Jews, has instead become unjust and inflammatory, forbidding communication and exacerbating conflict.

Raheel Raza (May 23, 2021) in her National Post op-ed, “Battle Against Anti-Semitism has Barely Begun,” locates antisemitism at the root of the problem, seeing “the reason that this conflict is spilling out into the streets of democratic countries” is “[b]ecause anti-Semitism is a uniquely pervasive, enduring, and lethal form of hatred which has insinuated itself into multiple cultural, religious, and political frameworks across the globe.” This again due to the successful Hasbara of those promoting the Palestinian narrative, including not only Hamas but also the foreign press in its biased coverage.

Dr. Chatterley asserts that “most reasonable people want to see two states,” but this cannot include the Palestinian leadership who have consistently (and unreasonably) rejected all offers of a two-state solution (in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000 at Camp David, in 2001 at Taba, in 2008 after the Annapolis Conference), preferring the annihilation of State of Israel to having a state of their own.

The May 15 Palestinian Car Rally in Winnipeg drew hundreds of anti-Israel protesters responding to a call from extremist Islamist groups to rage against the Nakba (a wholly fraudulent narrative). About fifty people responded to the Israeli Canadian Council’s call to stand in solidarity with Israel, after having received the full cooperation of the Winnipeg Police Forces and agreeing to abide by COVID-19 restrictions. The hostility “whip[ped] up” was not “on all sides”; I was there and can attest to that. The violence was perpetrated only by the anti-Israel protesters who physically attacked some Israel supporters, burned Israeli flags, and hurled verbal insults and antisemitic slurs, while refusing throughout to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.

I believe it was necessary to be present and stand up against the hatred against Israel and the Jews that is already present “on our own streets” as was demonstrated during this rally and in the days following.

The Middle East conflict has clearly already come to “a neighbourhood near” us, and this should not be ignored as that will surely “guarantee” the terrifying future Dr. Chatterley prophesizes “for the rest of us and for all Canadian children.”


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