Friday, May 04, 2007

Crying Wolf ... the new definition of Anti-Semitism??

The term, Anti Semitism, carries with it a powerful negative connotation, and so it should.

It originated during the time of Nazi Germany and described the hatred generated by the fascists against the Jewish community, a hard working community which integrated into and made many positive contributions to the countries in which they lived, including Germany.

I think most people would agree with me when I say that the Holocaust and the crimes committed against the European Jews were horrific, and constituted crimes against all humanity as per the Nuremberg trials. This hatred was also extended to the Roma people, the homosexual community, and the disabled. Anyone who resisted this attitude and opposed this hatred was also condemned to the concentration camps.

When I was a young child, growing up in Vancouver, my father was incensed by the attitude of some people not to do business with Jewish people or to go to Jewish professionals and use their services. He made a point of doing the opposite and had a great deal of respect for the Jewish community.

Ever since I was old enough to understand the significance of World War II and the importance of the Nazi defeat at the time, I have worn a Poppy on November 11, Canada's Remembrance Day. I wore my first Poppy with great pride when I was 11 years old.

As a teenager, and in my early 20's, a time when right wing extremists were organizing in Canada, I was vocal against these extremists and their anti-semitism.
Through out my life I've found fascism, fascists, and anti-semitism unacceptable and have stepped up to show my opposition and to defend the dignity and integrity of the Jewish community, as have many others in Canada, Jews and non-Jews alike.

So, I find it offensive in the extreme, when I hear the term misused by people (Jewish or not) with agendas, whose purpose is to manipulate the media, public opinion and/or smear the reputations of people they don't like, or don't agree with, whether those individuals are Jewish or not.

It is insulting to the memory of the millions of Jews whose lives were brutally taken during the Holocaust, and to the survivors of the Holocaust.

It is insulting to the memory of those who fought against fascism and in defense of the Jews around the world (including members of my family), during World War II, and to the surviving veterans of that war.

To those people, I would like to say the following:

1. Disagreeing with a position taken by Israel, or pro-Israeli special interest groups does not, in and of itself, constitute Anti-Semitism and it doesn't make someone a Terrorist. To say it does, is inflammatory, and, an obvious attempt to both muzzle free expression of opinion on the Middle East conflict and to intimidate those who would take a different position.
2. To use that difference of opinion to engage in abuse of power, violation of civil rights, and/or to launch smear campaigns to discredit and destroy the reputations of those people who do not support every single position Israel or the pro-Israeli special interest groups take is an offense to our democratic system and way of life.

3. Misusing the term in this way takes away from the real meaning of the term and it's serious connotations. It results in a Cry Wolf scenario and after a while will not be taken seriously by anyone.

The generally accepted definition of Anti-Semitism provided by Wikipedia is:

"Anti-Semitism (alternatively spelled antisemitism) is hostility towards or prejudice against Jews (not, in common usage, Semites in general ... . This happens on an individual level and goes on to the institutionalized prejudice and persecution once prevalent in European societies, of which the highly explicit ideology of Adolf Hitler's National Socialism was the most extreme form."

Their in depth explanation can be found here:
Wikipedia on Anti-Semitism

Redefining terms to further your own agenda doesn't change history or reality.

So, for example, supporting the 2006 G-8 Resolution as most of the leadership candidates did in the last Liberal leadership convention does not constitute Anti-Semitism despite the charges of
Anti-Semitism and in my opinion, general smear campaign that went on during that convention. Michael Ignatieff's point, in his speech to the convention, was, the job of the Leader of the Liberal Party and possible future Prime Minister, was to represent the interests of all Canadians, not just those of special interest groups.

Taking the position that it's wrong for Israel to bomb the Palestinian infrastructure, killing innocent civilians is no more Anti-Semitic or Terrorist than taking the position that it's wrong for Hamas to send Suicide Bombers to Israel to kill innocent civilians.

Suspending students like
Daniel Freeman-Maloy who are critical of Israel by charging him with some other offense, and putting Professors like David Noble in a position where they feel they have to sue for libel because they criticized the Administration for their Pro-Israeli positions, as was done at York University, is, in my opinion, a violation of the most basic Academic freedoms that we expect our Universities to uphold in the Democratic world.

Personally, I don't consider myself pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli.

I consider myself Anti-Terrorist and always have.

The generally accepted definition of Terrorist is:

One who utilizes the systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve political objectives, while disguised as a civilian non-combatant. The use of a civilian disguise while on operations exempts the perpetrator from protection under the Geneva Conventions, and consequently if captured they are liable for prosecution as common criminals."

And frankly, I don't care what their religious, political or other affiliation is, since
Terrorists exist as extremist elements in all affiliations.

Wikipedia's Detailed Definition of Terrorism

Exploring ideologies and philosophies are a key component of campus life as is freedom of speech and the right to protest. In fact, they are key components of life.

Redefining the term Anti-Semitic to mean anyone who disagrees with any Israeli policy or the policies of pro-Israeli special interest groups, and, redefining the term Terrorist to mean anyone who disagrees with the status quo sets very dangerous precedents and is fundamentally anti-democratic because there is no recognition of legitimate dissent, and other fundamental democratic concepts.

In my opinion, it's an attempt to bully the media, public opinion, and individuals into taking a certain position and intimidating any opposition to that position.

Here's a concept ... how about just agreeing to disagree?

After all, that's what
Democracy is all about!

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