Citizen Action Monitor

Survey says Canadians reject “criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic”, but will we now say negative things about Israel?

Now that it’s clear Israel is not interested in a just peace, will mainstream media say negative things about Israel?

No 1898 Posted by fw, February 22, 2017

“So, you know it is very difficult in Canada… to have a candid discussion about violation of Palestinian rights by the government of Israel. No matter how severe those violations may be, no matter how long-standing. And the reason is quite simply because just about anybody who tries to have that conversation, in a candid way, with reference to the facts and the realities of international law, is branded by a small, but very vocal group of apologists… as being anti-Semitic and racist…. But people are, nonetheless, finding out more and more about the overtly racist elements within the Israeli government, through the independent media. I think that’s where they’re getting that information. And they’re relying less and less on organizations like Post Media, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, which cannot bring itself to say a negative thing about the State of Israel, no matter how bad it’s conduct may be.”Dimitri Lascaris, The Real News Network

In Part 1, of The Real News Network’s interview of Dimitri Lascaris and Earl Washburn, talking about a recent Ekos survey showing growing support among Canadian for the Palestinian cause, Lascaris discussed the implications of the poll results, Washburn, a senior analyst at Ekos Research Associates, reviewed the methodology of the survey instrument.

In this, Part 2 of 2, Green Party member Dimitri Lascaris, makes a compelling case that Canadians and their political leaders have been bullied by a very vocal group of apologists for the Government of Israel, including The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and B’nai Brith Canada,

Here’s a precis of Dimitri’s thesis.

The survey’s finding that most Canadians do not believe criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, may, at last, embolden people to talk openly about Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Successive Canadian governments, he notes, have been complicit in those violations, dating back to 1947, to the unjust partition of Palestine. Canadians, Lascaris argues, have an obligation to speak out to atone for the complicity of our government.

As for news coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue, Lascaris alleges that mainstream media has for too long tended to accept and repeat the Israeli mantra that it is threatened, is at risk of being wiped out by Palestinian “terrorists raining down rockets on us.” There are signs, however, that our media finally accepts it can no longer ignore that Israel is not interested in a just peace. For example: Israeli government officials are now openly declaring that the two-state solution is dead. But the racist tone to the internal Israeli government discourse remains unreported in our mainstream media.

Our mainstream media cannot ignore Israel’s Settlement Regulation Law, which seeks to legalize illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. To get the facts, to remain responsibly informed, Canadians are turning to online independent media for “real news”, not lies, not “fake news”. News that Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, is becoming uninhabitable, is real news.

Below is a repost of Part 2, featuring an embedded 11:35-minute video of the interview, and an abridged copy of the transcript, which omits the brief input of Earl Washburn, largely a repetition of what he said in Part 1. Subheadings, almost identical to the above precis, have been added to the transcript to highlight the main points of Dimitri’s thesis.

Alternatively, the full transcript of Part 2 is accessible by clicking on the following linked title to Part 1, and scrolling down to the end of the first part. The video for Part 2 is available at Survey Shows Support Growing For Palestinians Among Canadians (2/2)

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Survey Shows Support Growing For Palestinians Among Canadians (2/2) by The Real News Network, February 20, 2017

TRANSCRIPT

Kim Brown — Welcome back for part two of our conversation. You’re watching The Real News Network. I’m Kim Brown.

We’re joined with Dimitri Lascaris and Earl Washburn. They conducted a survey amongst Canadians, a survey entitled, Canadians’ views of the Israeli government vs.Canadian government policy toward Israel and Palestine. And they found some very interesting way [sic] about Canadians’ views towards this issue.

So, Dimitri, let me ask you, why was it important to ask people whether they thought criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic, and what were the results that you found?

The survey’s finding that most Canadians do not believe criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic may embolden people to talk openly about Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights

Dimitri Lascaris — So, you know it is very difficult in Canada — certainly Canada’s not the only western country where this is the case — it’s very difficult to have a candid discussion about violation of Palestinian rights by the government of Israel. No matter how severe those violations may be, no matter how long-standing.

And the reason is quite simply, because just about anybody who tries to have that conversation, in a candid way, with reference to the facts and the realities of international law, is branded by a small, but very vocal group of apologists — for the Government of Israel. For example, an organization called, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, another organization called, B’nai Brith Canada, and there are a few others — you know, [those critical of Israel] they’re immediately branded as being anti-Semitic and racist.

And nobody likes to have such a serious, and terrible accusation hurled against them, and so people are quite reluctant to have this conversation. And so, it was necessary, we thought, in order to test public opinion on that issue. Does the public actually agree, that criticism of the Israeli government is necessarily anti-Semitic? And clearly, virtually, no one in this country actually believes that. Eighty percent of the supporters of the right-wing conservative government do not accept the proposition that criticism of the Israeli government is anti-Semitic. And I think that this finding, should embolden people to have the conversation that really needs to be had about, the violations of Palestinian human rights.

Successive Canadian governments have been complicit in those violations, dating back to the unjust partition of Palestine

The Canadian government is very complicit, and has been for a long time, in those violations. It supports the government of Israel economically, militarily, and politically. Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson played a key role. He’s viewed as being a human rights champion, surprisingly within Canada. He actually played a key role in the unjust partition of Palestine, as did a former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, named Ivan Rand.

Canadians have an obligation to speak out, to have that conversation, to atone for the complicity of our government

And from that very moment, we’ve been promoting the Zionist project of the creation of a Jewish state, to the disadvantage of indigenous Palestinian population in that part of the world. And we have an obligation, a heavy burden, because of the complicity of the Canadian government, in the suffering of the Palestinian people, to speak out and to have that conversation.

By rejecting the view that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, Canadians have shown that they ready to speak up

And so, I’m very encouraged by the fact that the Canadian public just isn’t buying it. They aren’t buying the claim that those who criticize the State of Israel are anti-Semitic.

Brown — So, how much has media coverage of Israel/Palestine changed over the past few decades, in your opinion, or has it not really changed in Canada?

Mainstream media has for too long simply repeated the Israeli mantra that it is threatened, is at risk of being wiped out

Lascaris — You know, I haven’t seen much of a change until very recently. The narrative that predominates here, even to this day, and certainly has predominated for decades, is that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy. Even though it effectively disenfranchises a very substantial portion of the population, based on its ethnicity.

That Israel is surrounded by enemies, and is confronting on a daily basis, an existential threat, even though the dictator of Egypt, Sisi, and his predecessors were at peace with Israel, and essentially do as Israel likes, in terms of regulating the border of Gaza. Even though Jordan is at peace with Israel. Even though Syria’s such a mess, that it couldn’t possibly pose as a significant threat to the very powerful Israeli military. Lebanon’s military, including even Hezbollah, don’t have anywhere near the kind of firepower that the Israeli military has. Israel’s the only nuclear state in the entire Middle East.

By virtue of that alone, it is much better equipped to defend itself than any other state in the Middle East. But the narrative here is that Israel is threatened. Israel is on the verge of being wiped out, and we must do everything possible to protect the Middle East’s only democracy. That’s the narrative.

There are signs that our media finally accepts it can no longer ignore that Israel is not interested in a just peace

Now, I indicated at the outset, there’s been change. There have been, surprisingly, some quite critical articles appearing in the mainstream press over the last two to three months, about Israel’s human rights record. There was a piece in the Globe and Mail, by a well-known journalist named Gerald Caplan, in which he essentially compared, or suggested, that Israel may actually be an apartheid state, or on the verge of becoming an apartheid state. There was a similar piece in the Toronto Star, another mainstream organization that has a very wide readership. Again, there was a suggestion that Israel may actually be an apartheid state.

Israeli government officials are now openly declaring that the two-state solution is dead

This is remarkable for these types of sentiments to be recited in the mainstream media here. And I think that the reason is, is that it’s no longer become even remotely plausible, that the Israeli government is interested in a just peace. Because it is not only confiscating, illegally, huge swaths of the best land in the West Bank, and it only has annexed East Jerusalem illegally. Like, there are people now within the Israeli government, like the Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, who openly declared that the two-state solution is dead. They don’t want the Palestinians to have any state. They’re not even being subtle about it any longer; it’s just an open statement that key members of the government routinely make.

Meanwhile, Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, is becoming uninhabitable

And all the while, the suffering of the Palestinian people, for example, and particularly in Gaza, which the UN says is on the verge of becoming uninhabitable, there are 1.8 million people trapped in that enclave. It’s on the verge of becoming uninhabitable.

You know, it’s now become so obvious to the public, and to the media, and to the political elites of this country, that the government of Israel has no interest in a just peace. That they can’t, with a straight face, continue that narrative any longer. And I think that that’s why we’re starting to see this change in the tone, and the substance, of the reporting in the mainstream media.

Brown — And speaking of that, you know, the mainstream has been sort of changing over the last 25 years. Mainstream Israeli society has become more overtly right wing, chauvinistic, and jingoistic. So, how much of a shift in Canadian attitudes towards Israel/Palestine do you ascribe to the changes within Israeli itself? And how much do you think is down to people simply learning more about the reality of what has been happening over there?

The racist tone to the discourse in the Israeli government has not appeared in our mainstream media

Lascaris — Well, I think the part — there is absolutely an overtly racist tone to the discourse in the Israeli government now. For example, the Justice Minister shockingly posted something on her Facebook page not too long ago, which described Palestinian children as little snakes. The Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, whom I just mentioned, openly boasted once about how many Arabs he’s killed.

The Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, the one who was appointed in 2013, stated, and this is reported widely in the Israeli press, that Palestinians are not human, that they’re basically like animals. Those were the words that he used. That language, which is astonishing, it’s astonishing that any Western government purporting to be a human rights champion, and a democracy, would support a government whose ministers make those kinds of statements. That language has not yet appeared in the mainstream press here.

Our mainstream media cannot ignore Israel’s Settlement Regulation Law, which seeks to legalize illegal settlements

What is appearing, is talk about the Settlement Regulation Law, which, as I say, it seeks to legalize these illegal settlements. The statements, to the effect, that the two-state solution is dead. That’s getting into the press.

Responsibly informed Canadians increasingly rely on online independent media for “real news”, not lies

But people are, nonetheless, finding out more and more about the overtly racist elements within the Israeli government, through the independent media. I think that’s where they’re getting that information. And they’re relying less and less on organizations like PostMedia, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, which cannot bring itself to say a negative thing about the State of Israel, no matter how bad it’s conduct may be.

Brown — We have been speaking with Earl Washburn. Earl is a Senior Analyst at Ekos Research Associates. And he also played a crucial role in guiding, and designing, and analyzing, the survey behind this report.

We’ve also been joined with Dimitri Lascaris, who is a lawyer/journalist and activist, also a Board member here at The Real News.

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