Saturday, March 24, 2007

A nation of shabby resentments

Canadian anti-Semitism at an all-time high (ht: David T.):
There were 935 reported incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada in 2006 - representing a 12.8 percent rise from the previous year, a four-fold increase over the past 10 years and an all-time high since counting began - according to figures released by the League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith Canada.

"Canada is a good place," affirmed B'nai B'rith Canada's Executive Vice President Frank Dimant, "but the barometer of intolerance is rising, and police statistics show it's Jews and blacks who are the most targeted groups in this country. When 42 synagogues were vandalized this year, it's not even a news item anymore," he told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Toronto on Wednesday.

The figures, reported in the League's 2006 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, show a steady trajectory of rising violence and harassment toward Jews. From around 60 incidents reported annually in the early 1980s, the number of reports rose to 212 in 1997, 459 in 2002, and on to 935 in 2006.

"With the exception of a small hiatus in 2005, when a slight 3.3% decrease was reported, there has been a relentless upward movement over the past 10 years," the report reads.

Mitigating the severity of the audit is the fact that, of the 935 incidents reported, only 30 - that is, a mere 3% - involved violence. However, that figure also represented an increase over the previous year.

"My instinct is that Jews in Canada are starting to worry about their place here," attorney Marvin Kurz, national legal counsel for the League, told the Post, adding that Canadian Jews "are recognizing that this isn't a shrinking phenomenon but a growing one, and that it may not go away even if [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert sign a peace treaty tomorrow."

For this reason, he noted, "Jews are increasingly preoccupied with security. There are guards at synagogues now, and Jewish institutions are getting bullet-proof windows."
While police figures for 2006 are still being compiled for most of Canada's regions, those for the Peel Region, north of Toronto, show that in an area with 2,635 Jews and 53,470 Muslims in a general population surpassing 1.1 million, Jews were the targets of hate crimes in 29% of cases, followed closely by blacks with 27%. Muslims, despite popular perceptions of their victimization, were targeted just 8% of the time, the report found.

The increase in anti-Semitic incidents is partly due to growing anti-Israel sentiments among Canada's burgeoning Muslim population, Canadian Jewish leaders say.

As one example, Dimant cites an attempt during the Liberal Party leadership conference in December to convince voters to reject candidate and former Ontario premier Bob Rae because his wife, Arlene Perly Rae, was Jewish and holds a leadership position in the Canadian Jewish Congress.

The flyers accused the JNF, to which Rae once spoke, of "war crimes and ethnic cleansing" and said Rae supported "Israeli apartheid."

While Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation, denied distributing the flyer, The Canadian Press reported it had obtained a copy of an e-mail showing he was distributing it.
There has always been antisemitism, or better put, Judeophobia, in Canada, and I doubt the headline that it is at an all-time high - it was pretty rank in the 1930s. It first came here, as many places, with Christianity, as a test of the Christian (or post-Christian) to realize the true message of Jesus' transcendence, a test many have always failed.

It has often been said that a people who hate the Jews are condemned to destroy themselves or be destroyed by divine will. If the idea is useful, it is not so much because some among the Jewish minority in a Judeophobic population are blocked from realizing their full creative potential and thus denying us, say, another Einstein, Proust, or Arendt, or simply an entrepreneur who creates opportunities, wealth and jobs, or a doctor who saves lives. It is because what the Judeophobe resents - Jewish priority as the first monotheist nation, and all that goes with it - acts to delude him about the necessity of some people going first in various creative endeavours that discover new truths or opportunities that somehow apply to all of us (even to those whose Judeophobia takes the intellectualized form of the denial of any universal truths), and thus restrains his own creative potential. The role of Israel as the first among equals in the history of nations is a role we can all aspire to play as individuals, and should play at times. But those who step out of the pack to have a go at going first in some area of cultural, business, professional, or political leadership are often resented and denigrated. This, it seems to me, is a recurring problem in Canada.

And today, we have the phenomenon of "multiculturalism" (not that the Canadian born and bred have anything but a shallow monoculture drilled into them by the school system's enforcers of "multiculturalism", i.e. a singular victimary ideology) under which we welcome immigrants from some of the most virulently Judeophobic places on earth, now that a new kind of antisemitism mixing traditional European forms with Islamic or Koranic ones is pervasive in the mass media of the Islamic world. If Canadians want a decent future for their children, where people are served by risk takers and cultural innovators, if they want a country in which they don't have to witness the cement barriers in front of Jewish schools and the metal detectors outside rooms where Jewish professors are giving public lectures on topics of ancient Biblical history, or the queer looks given to bloggers who meet on Thursday nights in the library atrium with Israeli and Canadian flags on their caps - as are all presently the case here in Vancouver - then they are going to have to grab their Judeophobic fears and give them a good shake, demystify them, study the anthropology of resentment, and start building a country where firstness is celebrated, and where the nations that are first among equals (Israel in the Middle East, America in the world) are not the target of a constant and delusional victimary politics. Yes, even Canada can become a totalitarian hate state. If you want to imagine it, it's not too hard to do.

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