The NDP and the big lie about Israel: An open letter to Carole James

Dear Ms. James,

As Jewish British Columbians we were disappointed and angered by your treatment of newly-chosen Kensington candidate Mable Elmore regarding comments she made some years ago about the difficulty of dealing with Zionists in her union when trying to organize around peace issues. We want you to know that we are not at all offended by Mable's remarks but rather by your response to them, which we think does a disservice both to Jews and the community as a whole.

Mainstream Zionism is a political ideology that supports the creation of an exclusively Jewish state in the land of Palestine. The creation of the state of Israel and its many actions in violently repressing the indigenous Palestinian people, denying their human rights and repeatedly violating international law is a direct consequence of this Zionist ideology.

It is completely fallacious to equate the term "Zionist" with the term "Jew". There are many in the Jewish community, including ourselves, who are very critical of the policies of the Israeli state and have strong disagreement with the Zionist organizations and individuals in Canada and elsewhere who defend these policies. With the recent brutal assault on the people of Gaza by the Israeli military, and the recent election of an Israeli government which includes openly racist demagogues such as Avigdor Lieberman, more and more people within the Jewish community and within the broader community are becoming critical of Israeli policies and want to see a change in the situation which could actually lead to a just settlement and peace between the two peoples.

The real aim of the Zionist leadership in branding people like Mable who criticize Israeli policies as anti-Semites is to try to extinguish any debate, discussion and analysis of the real issues in the Middle East. It is the new McCarthyism in the current political context. This is the Big Lie—to repeat endlessly that criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism.

Your response to Mable's words in that interview have helped to spread the Big Lie further and to repress any real discussion and debate over the difficult human rights issues in the Middle East. For the party of social democracy in British Columbia to take such action is shameful. We hope that you will reconsider your words and actions in this matter and attempt to set the record straight.

Sincerely,

Sid Shniad
Marty Roth
Martha Roth
Judith Neamtan
Eva Sharell
Carl Rosenberg
Lawrence Boxall
Bob Rosen
Rick Marcuse
Stephen Aberle
Joanne Naiman
Neil Naiman
Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta  
Ernie Yacub

Independent Jewish Voices B.C., a provincial chapter of Independent Jewish Voices (Canada).

Comments

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7 Comments

Chrystal Ocean

Mar 26, 2009 at 3:22pm

Blogged with link back to here.

Mike T

Mar 28, 2009 at 12:11pm

To be fair to Carole James, the term "Zionist" is a politically loaded one. As you are all in no doubt aware, anti-semetic white supremascist Wiliam Pierce reffered to the United States government as the Zionist Occupational Government in his "novel" The Turner Diaries in 1978. That hate-filled piece of neo-Nazi propoganda about a race war in the USA cullminates in the destruction of the FBI headquarters and an atomic attack on the state of Israel. Pierce's book has become a "bible" for the far-right lunatic fringe who have frequently talked about Zionist conspiracies over the last three decades. This small but dangerous hate-filled minority needs no encouragement.

Lawrence Boxall

Mar 30, 2009 at 2:50pm

Mike T: Respectfully, your argument could just as easily be made about the word "Jew" which is used as an anti-Semitic epithet by those same white supremascists. Does it follow, therefore, that I should no longer use the word "Jew" because it is so loaded. May I not, rather, be allowed the freedom to refuse to let extremists hijack the language I speak by forcing me to limit my words to ones they don't use. To be fair to Carol James, it is tough trying to win an election when you are clearly up against a mainstream media that has long been committed to promoting neoliberalism, but this was clearly a misstep that, though it will require courage and risk, needs to be set right if the NDP is to maintain its reputation as a principled rather than an opportunistic party. I say this as a dues paying member of the NDP and I take no joy in criticizing the NDP or its leader.

Anne Miles

Jun 16, 2009 at 9:37am

In the mid nineties, when the N.D.P. were in power in B.C., they screwed the Welfare poor in response to media b.s. ("We balanced the budget without hurting the poor" was an outrageous lie,) It does not surprise me, then, to see that Carole James finds it expedient to join with the right wing media in an attack on a member of her own party--a member who was duly nominated and elected but had not found favour with the party elite. I voted N.D.P. this time around (I hadn't heard about this controversy at the time) but I cannot vote for them again if James remains leader. My daughter heard about the controversy and voted Green. And I've heard N.D.P. types lament the lack of young people supporting their party!

goldtoes

Oct 6, 2009 at 7:50pm

Zionism is not about creating a purely Jewish state, it is about creating a place that Jews can be safe.

DUTV.org

Semite ? Jewish

Jan 2, 2010 at 12:31pm

In North America, few people know abut the Autonomous Jewish State in eastern Russia, created by that great "saviour" of the Jews named Stalin. Today, it's known as Birobidzhan. Check it out! I found it on a big old NatGeo Atlas, and it changed my view of the world and international politics in one very foul swoop.

Then check out the real meaning of the word Semite on a real dictionary!
You will be surprised.

The world is a complicated place, and easy answers don't work.

p.s. - safety is waiting in heaven!

Jerry Walfish

Sep 19, 2010 at 12:32pm

Should the Canadian Government come to take you away without a warrant, that would be a denial of civil rights.

If, instead, you had risen in rebellion and began to murder Canadians at random would it still be a denial of your civil rights if the same government shot you dead - presumably without a trial, but on a battlefield?

Possibly, but even in Canada I would bet most people would opt for self defense over civil rights. Maybe YOU wouldn't, and that's your right.

Now, imagine the same situation, and you had just watched your wife\husband\mother\father\brother\sister\child murdered, would you still opt for civil rights for people coming for you?

Your assertions that the Israel government has denied these people -citizens who have no civil rights in their own countries- is in the wrong is, at best, infantile. You must be members of the Canadian Tea Party.

You probably think that those statements about pushing those Israeli's into the sea is just rhetoric. I would suggest that you go to Kuwait and ask the people there if they think the Palestinians are just talking. Many of their [non-combatant] families have still not returned from the first Gulf War.