Friday, October 15

THE COZIEST CAUSE

A trio of self-anointed feminist activists has called upon Canada to sponsor a resolution at the U.N. calling for the condemnation of anti-Semitism.

Why? Are people implying that virtue can be legislated? What about racism in general?

Jews represent one per cent of America, and the rest of the country--aided and abetted by demagogic Christian fundamentalists--are given the impression that Islam is a vile belief system.

If the mainstream press, virtually at any point since 9/11, replaced the word "Muslims" with "Jews", many would understand the pervasive, un-admitted, arch-bias that exists.

The real goal is to make the distinctions between Osama and peace-loving Muslims; between Palestinians who want statehood, and those can't see beyond their hate. Hell, America can't even make qualifications about who attacked them: Was it Iraq, Osama, or Arabs in general?

While the Jews in Canada, and all of us along with them, lament ethnic vandalism, it should be remembered that Jews have never been safer and have never received so much support. (Military and economic integration between the U.S. and Israel is absolute.)

Moreover, it remains hard for many--like Aboriginal people for example--to feel the pain of Jews who are, probably, the most successful ethnic group in North America. How many CEOs are Aboriginal? How many, for that matter, are Portuguese?

Worse still, is that many Jews, consciously or not, use anti-Semitism and its spectre as a club to deflect critisism of Israel, as if any hint of such thing must really be veiled bigotry.

So what is the reality? The reality is that in order to guard Jewish votes in the American election there has been not a whiff of Israeli policy discussion. Ariel Sharon has operated carte blanche.

Personally, I believe Israel's long-term security interests are not served by this approach. Indeed, much of what exists as anti-Semitism today should be subsumed as anti-Westernism. I don't blame Israel for this lack of leadership. It is an American problem as the region is an American protectorate.

When people proclaim that in fighting anti-Semitism they are, by extension, defending everyone, and that anti-Semitism itself is universalized to represent all bigotry, the question must be asked: Why posit an ethnic focus at all? It is disingenous to claim universality when it is predicated upon ethnic partisanship.

If we are to make a universal plea, let's start with Aboriginals who are subjected to much more prejudice--more than African-Canadians.

Jews are never refused a job anymore because they are Jews. Can the same be said for all other groups?

Is anti-Semitism overrated? Let's just say that, in our society, I cannot think of a safer, cozier, more conventional cause. Today, with a strong, vibrant and influential Jewish community able to hire feminist activists like Irshad Manji for redundant speaking engagements, it makes anti-Semitism as a cause celebre, a cause du jour, even more attractive.