Doorstep Postings: Nowadays, all the world’s a stage—and the anti-Israel protesters are merely cosplayers

Ontario NDP MPP Jill Andrew was ejected from the legislature for violating the rule against wearing a keffiyeh—although she was simultaneously sporting a tallit on May 8, 2024.

This is a special edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

I was dimly aware of the Eurovision Song Contest before Israeli singer Eden Golan placed what I am told is a respectable fifth. She did so on May 10 despite a throng of anti-Israel protests outside the venue in Malmö, Sweden (the so-called “most antisemitic city in Europe”), a round of boos each time Golan performed, and personal attacks and allegations of backstage bullying levelled at her by competitors that included a blood-magic-practicing Irish witch named Bambie Thug.

Instead of blindly cheering for Golan like many out-of-their-depth North American Jews did this year, I attempted to follow the example of the late Eurovision chronicler Sir Terry Wogan, and experience the contest in the appropriate manner: half-ironic enjoyment of the embarrassing performances and overly earnest pleas for peace and love as I struggled to understand the applications and misapplications of the overly complicated and inconsistent rules.

Before I started sneaking glances at social media clips of the spectacle as it played itself out, I had all my experiences as a veteran of scripted entertainment at the ready.

I drew on all my hardened political realist instincts to see me through this low-stakes, self-important affair, where the winner receives a microphone made of glass as a trophy.

I watched with increasing amusement as Israel’s enemies tried to seriously claim that opposing Golan amounted to the sort of “cultural boycott” that brought apartheid-era South Africa to its knees.

But somewhere around the time that vocally anti-Israel Dutch singer Joost Klein—with his idiotic mop of blond hair and his silly overly-large-shoulder-pad costume—was disqualified for threatening a member of the production staff backstage, an unexpected change came over me. Once I allowed myself to get caught up in the ridiculous narrative of Eurovision, I realized that I had finally crossed the threshold where I could no longer take seriously any of the allegations thrown at Israel by anyone who is not directly participating in the conflict. Whether it was the non-binary Swiss singer who eventually won the thing or the pathetic attempts by Canadian politicians and activists to get on that all-important ‘right side of history’, all the outsiders blathering on about genocide completely stopped mattering.

The war in Gaza and the fate of Israel will ultimately be decided by the people there. Whatever I or any other Jewish Canadian feels about the situation means as much as how any of us feel about some cringey song contest: York Region District School Board claiming “political connotations” were the reason for not using a Star of David on a calendar that acknowledged every last Jewish holiday alongside a menorah symbol, and Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce getting involved to reinstate it. The relative differences between how encampments at universities across the country are being handled. What various Ontario MPPs are wearing at Queen’s Park, and who did or didn’t exit in solidarity with rogue politicians sporting a keffiyeh.

If we are genuinely afraid of what outcomes might result from any of these dust-ups, if we regard any of these performances as having any potential impact on our lives, then the enemies of Israel have won a propaganda and psychological victory beyond their wildest dreams.

The situation in Gaza is nothing short of hellish. The world might be forever altered and damaged by what has taken place there, and what is still yet to come.

But the throngs of rabid fans and haters who are trying to normalize anti-Jewish bigotry under the guise of principled opposition to what is happening are treating the conflict like some manufactured song contest. They are not, as Greta Thunberg said outside the Eurovision venue, “teaching the world how to react.” They are not, as anti-Zionist rabbi David Mivasair said from the UofT encampment, bringing about an Olam Haba free of capitalism and racism.

They have put their lives on hold, damaged their career prospects, humiliated themselves for the entertainment and derision of thousands, all because of the false promise of a better world no different than those cynically repeated by the promoters of a music competition, hosted to sell advertising space, that will be forgotten as soon as a newer, brighter distraction presents itself.

They want to be the heroes of their own story, the people about who the songs are sung, so badly, that they let themselves treat the illusion coming through their screens as something real.

Don’t let yourself be fooled the same way.

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.