Musings and bemusings on the Ottawa Protocol

Are you an anti-Semite? Am I? Is everyone?

Have you read the Ottawa Protocol released by the self-styled Ottawa Conference to Combat Anti-Semitism?

Have you seen how they define anti-Semitism? Can you believe it? Can you even imagine the chutzpah involved in equating criticism of a government with racial hatred?

Do you think the foundation of Canada involved racism and colonialism against first nations people? If so, does that make you an anti-white racist?

Do you think the foundation of Israel involved racism and colonialism against the indigenous Palestinians? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you think it is criminal when Palestinian bombers kill Israeli children? If so, does that make you an anti-Arab racist?

Do you think it is criminal when Israeli bombers kill Palestinian children? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you think that the U.S. did right in responding to the Pearl Harbor attack? If so, does that make you an anti-Japanese racist?

Do you think that Palestinians have a right to respond to Israeli attacks? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you sometimes notice that Jewish people seem to be quite influential in the media in Canada? Does this mean you are an anti-Semite?

Have you ever thought that perhaps there is too much talk about the Holocaust, and not enough about other major human rights abuses (such as the legacy of African-American and Afro-Caribbean slavery)? If so, does this mean you are an anti-Semite?

Has the thought ever crossed your mind that Israeli ultra nationalism, extreme militarization, territorial expansionism, and racism bear sad similarities to the policies of Nazi Germany? If so, does that mean you are an anti-Semite?

When you read about the racist policies of the current Israeli government, do you feel troubled? Does that mean you are an anti-Semite?

Have you felt sympathy for the Palestinian advocates of the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel and even been tempted to participate? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you "single-out" Israel for special condemnation and opprobrium more frequently than perhaps you "single-out" The Congo for special condemnation and opprobrium? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you read about the behaviour of former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who works so relentlessly for Israel, and wonder if he may be more loyal to Israel's interests than Canada's? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Do you marvel at the political power of the Israeli Lobby in Canada which could get something like the Ottawa Conference and the Ottawa Protocol paid for by the Canadian taxpayers? If so, does that make you an anti-Semite?

Did you hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper's inane remarks at the Ottawa Conference where he equated all "anti-Israel rhetoric" with anti-Semitism? Were you embarrassed and ashamed that a Canadian leader would say that?

Did you hear him say that anti-Semitism is a major and growing problem in Canada? Do you believe it?

Do you think it was insulting to Canadians for him to say that if it is not true?

Are you going to let them insult you?

Are you going to let the signatories of the Ottawa Protocol define you as an anti-Semite?

Are you going to let them silence "anti-Semites" like you in the media, on the Internet, and on university campuses?

Are you going to let them tell you what you can or cannot say (or think) about the Middle East?

If not, what are you going to do about it?

Terry Greenberg is a member of Independent Jewish Voices, and teaches cross-cultural communications in Greater Vancouver. He is a retired East Asian specialist from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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