Doorstep Postings: The emergence of the anti-Israel lobby in Canada

This is a special edition of the series of opinion columns written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

For the longest time, we’ve had to listen to the argument from certain quarters that the Jewish people—sorry, I mean The Israel Lobby—are too powerful. 

On the most recent episode of Canadaland‘s “Short Cuts” podcast, guest host Jonathan Goldsbie and Toronto Star columnist Shree Paradkar went on at length about the power of said lobby in Canada—and how hard it is to criticize Israel in print these days.

According to them, the mildest criticism of Israel’s policies produces violent backlashes, causing editors across the land to knuckle under. 

For most of the segment—which was, hilariously, juxtaposed with another discussion about the need to be careful and sensitive while talking about Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals during the World Cup—Goldsbie and Paradkar took pains to praise just how effective the Israel lobby is. How other activists could learn from them. What a contrast between Israel’s defenders and those who take a different view. 

Normally, we’d all roll our eyes at this display of projection and move on. But not this week. This week, it became clear on two fronts that the Israel lobby ain’t all its supporters and detractors think it’s cracked up to be.

First, we heard about how another great power—China—is apparently meddling openly in our elections, backing candidates who support that country’s interests, opening police stations on Canadian soil to track members of the diaspora, and targeting those who would speak out against them. 

The whole country got to see Xi Jinping dress down Justin Trudeau at the G20. Xi, we were told, would never have tried this with another world leader. Somehow, he arrived at the conclusion that he could bully our PM in front of everyone and get his way. 

And what was the reaction from Israel’s critics? Did they leap onto social media to decry this act of aggression by a foreign power? Did they write open letters, signed by whoever they could scrape together, defending the PM against Xi’s open display of bullying? Did they express solidarity with protestors within China, who are raising their voices against oppression in accordance with international law? Did they weep for those jailed and murdered by Xi’s regime?

I’m sure they would have—if only they weren’t so preoccupied with Israel.  

Then, as Kanye West was openly praising Hitler to Alex Jones, we heard that an all-party coalition of MP’s had a friendly little get together with the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Special guest Nazih Katatba, the general director of the Holocaust-denying, terrorism-celebrating Meshawar Media was in attendance. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, wearing a scarf with the word “Palestine” displayed prominently, spoke openly about how she received her “marching orders” from the permanent representative of Palestine to Canada. 

Now, reading all of the above might upset you. You might feel upset at the actions of the China lobby who does the horrible things Israel is accused of (with a fraction of the blowback). You might be aghast at the actions of the anti-Israel lobby, which is able to promote their message to some of Canada’s most powerful politicians, out in the open, despite the all-powerful Israel lobby! 

But then we have the example of our friends Jonathan Goldsbie and Shree Paradkar, who are legitimately impressed at the actions of a lobby they clearly have no love for. If they can be blown away by the crackerjack organization of the Israel lobby, can we not do the same for these organizations?

Maybe we could even learn a thing or two from them? Who knows!

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