Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Cairo Clique: Anti-Zionism and the Canadian Left

Terry Glavin, in Z-word

A fine, and well worth reading, analysis of how Canada's Indecent left is trying to re-articulate Canadian nationalism. To be a good Canadian means anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism increasingly indistinguishable from antisemitism, anti Canadian mission in Afghanistan and de-facto complicity with terrorist genocidal organizations like Hizzballa and Hamas, and support (or at least a by-standers' approach) for scary totalitarianism in Iran, Syria, and anywhere else.

THE PHENOMENON THAT Dr. Ely Karmon of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism has called "a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-globalization and even rightist elements with Islamists"[1] has lately emerged as the dominant trend in "anti-war" activism in Canada.

Central to the phenomenon is a strategic collaboration between ostensibly left-wing activists in and far-right Islamists that animates the leadership of Canada's main "anti-war" organizations. It has accommodated Israel's most committed and unambiguously antisemitic enemies, and has enjoyed particular success in framing public debates about Canada's role in the NATO-led mission serving in Afghanistan.

The Canadian left has exhibited a peculiar reluctance to face up to it, despite repeated warnings, perhaps most noticeably from progressive Canadian Muslims. The overall trend Ely Karmon describes has also implicated important public policy debates in Canada with respect to Israel, Iran, and even Darfur. It has advanced rapidly, almost completely eluding the notice of the Canada's news media. It is marked by a tendency to isolate Canada's mainstream Jewish activists.

The trajectory of this trend in Canada has been quite straightforward. It has run largely unencumbered through a distinctly Canadian version of the confusion that has prevailed across much of the Euro-American left in the wake of 9/11, a phenomenon that has been closely observed by such academics and journalists as Fred Halliday, Nick Cohen, and Paul Berman. [2]

While anti-Zionism became a central feature in the politics of the New Left after the 1967 War, the 2006 Second Lebanon War further entrenched anti-Zionism and an overt identification with Israel's enemies as a ubiquitous element of left-wing politics in Canada.

In the United States, the trend has been largely isolated by leaders of the American anti-war movement. [3] But its politics thrive in Canada, owing to uniquely Canadian expressions of the New Left "ideational package" outlined by the historian Shulamit Volkov: anticapitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, and if not outright antisemitism, then its first cousin - a strident and irrational anti-Zionism. [4]


In Montreal, some young Lebanese Canadians showed up at an "anti-war" rally on 18 July with a sign that read "Peace for Lebanon and Israel." They were shouted at and pushed around, and had their sign ripped up. The parade proceeded, with groups of marchers carrying the flag of the clerical-fascist Hezbollah, and other marchers carrying huge photographs of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A few days later, at a large demonstration in Toronto sponsored by the city's Stop the War Coalition, there were more Hezbollah flags, young men in Hezbollah t-shirts, and more placard-sized photographs of Nasrallah and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


It is hard not to notice these cultural codes emerging in Canada's "anti-war" ideational package, perhaps especially during and after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Its anti-Zionism is often barely distinguishable from antisemitism, and having lost its grounding in a solid progressive politics, it hasn't taken much of a leap to get from conventional Canadian nationalism to a reactionary anti-Americanism that regards Israel as an objectionable surrogate for the United States, and Jews as objectionable surrogates for Israel.


They have preempted the possibility of a legitimately robust international peace movement that might have found a way to intervene on behalf of ordinary Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese during the bloody crises of this century's first decade. And they have given courage and comfort to antisemitic fanatics and anti-modernist zealots from the crowded tenements of Gaza to the scorched opium fields of Kandahar.

In Canada, they have effectively infantilized important Canadian debates about the Afghanistan mission, upending these debates into a lurid discourse about American imperialism.
They have undermined labor-movement solidarity campaigns on behalf of the persecuted trade unionists of Iran. They have "problematized" the potential for Canadian leadership in a multilateral intervention on behalf of the suffering people of Darfur.
What this implies for the left in Canada, over the long run, can't be known. But the damage, already, has been incalculable


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