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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bitter partisan politics, the ethnic vote, and Israeli apartheid hysteria

Never underestimate the sheer batshit stupidity that can come of combining the wrong ingredients in the wrong proportions under the wrong conditions.

First example is an easy two points. Some guy working for a Conservative candidate in Etobicoke wants a bunch of funny brown people to serve as a background mosaic for a Harper photo op, so what does he do?

He invites people to dress up in funny ethnic folklore costumes and sit in the front row just behind the Dear Leader.

(h/t Harper Hacks.)

Too juicy for the indefatigable, intrepid and essential Kady O'Malley to resist. Her take is here.

That's the easy example. For the second teachable moment, we're going to have to fight through a bit more traffic and crash the net.

Everyone knows by now about the kerfuffle involving Queers Against Israeli Apartheid marching in the Toronto Pride parade. City manager Joe Pennachetti, obviously in thrall to logic, reason and common sense, somehow failed to come to the desired conclusion in a report to Toronto city council. His report concluded, among other things, that the phrase "Israeli apartheid" does not violate the city's anti-discrimination policy.

Well, we all know what that's triggered. The Ford boys, Giorgio Mammoliti and the rest of the usual suspects are up on their hind legs, braying about cutting funding to Pride. I'm indebted to the Dawgmeister for much of what follows (and in passing, perhaps I can offer a brief apology for lowering the tone of the discussion over at his place), but in brief ...

What we're seeing here is yet another example of the time-honoured technique, favoured by ideologues and intellectual bullies, of stripping words of their meanings and then repurposing them for their own political ends. Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber isn't satisfied with the city manager's report, arguing that Pennachetti doesn't have sufficient expertise to discuss the meaning of "hatred."

Well, that's Bernie's prerogative. If he doesn't like Pennachetti's conclusion, he's got every right to express his disappointment.

But then he resorts to the intellectually dishonest and lazy technique of conflating all criticism of Israel's actions with Jew-hatred. Never mind the fact that there are a lot of Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, who are deeply disturbed by Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. The standard response to people like that, of course, is to dismiss them as "self-hating Jews." Yawn. Some other time, let's talk about projection.

Dr. Dawg's already done a comprehensive job of detailing the multi-faceted horrors characterizing Palestinian life under Israeli occupation, so not much point in rehashing it here. But you won't have much luck getting people like Bernie to address that, because with the accusation of Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism, he's moved the conversation onto much more favourable ground. Accusations of racism and anti-Semitism are rhetorical napalm. They appeal not to reason, but to emotion, and serve only to raise the temperature and the volume to the point where the target of the accusation is intimidated and verbally beaten into silence.

Enough already. Never mind the intellectual fraud and easy resort to rhetorical intimidation. Never mind the redefinition of loaded terms like "hate" and "anti-Semitism" for political ends. More offensive than any of that, at the end of the day, is the rank hypocrisy and selective moral outrage. People like Bernie apparently don't have a problem with rampaging settlers, collective punishment, house demolitions, Operation Cast Lead, everyday humiliations and demeaning treatment, hoarding of resources, separation by race and ethnicity and the like, but they get their gutkes in a twist because someone's calling it what it is?

Bernie. Give it a rest already. The fact that you find the comparison odious doesn't make it hateful. Hoch mir nicht kein chainik. The specious transparency of your argument is giving me a kopvaitik.

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