It’s Only Getting Worse

While anti-Semitism is nothing new, in the years since the Holocaust it had fallen totally out of fashion. Gone were the days when you could disparage your Jewish neighbour or work associate. Many Jews mistakenly believed that the scourge of Jew-hatred had simply been eradicated, that we were safe from antipathy forevermore. This is the mindset that makes what is currently happening on North American campuses all the more jarring. While we in North America look at news reports out of Europe, where Jewish persecution is flourishing and growing unabated, we breathe a sigh of relief and whisper, “At least we are safe.” We here at Canary Mission are bearing witness to the fact that anti-Semitism does very much exist in North America, and the front lines of this fight are on college campuses nationwide. Jewish students are being targeted in disproportionate numbers. Swastikas and racist epithets are being spray-painted on Jewish fraternities. Jews are being accosted at Hillel events and while handing our Birthright flyers. Open debate is being stifled, and replaced with what can only honestly be described as hate- fueled rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people.

          Many people are quick to point out that most of the venom is directed toward Israel. They believe that Israel is the obstacle to their peaceful coexistence with their fellow students and professors, and since they themselves aren’t particularly attached to Israel, it doesn’t affect them. Yet it only takes a cursory glance at the news to realize that Israel is being used as the scapegoat for unbridled Jew hatred. It is as if the anti-Semites of North America are aware that anti-Semitic rhetoric is off-limits, so they replace it with anti-Zionism to make it more palatable. 

          This tactic masks the true alarming spread of Jew-hatred on college campuses. Along with the unwitting aid of anti-Zionist Jewish-run organisations, anti-Semites find cover in speaking their darkest feelings about Israel and by extension, the Jewish people. Images given to those who support Israel echo the darkest aspects of classical anti-Semitism- Nazi imagery and swastikas, Jews with humped backs and large noses, assertions that “the Israel lobby” controls the government, media and financial institutions. These are all well-worn anti-Semitic scripts, with “Israel” replacing “Jew” for the new millennium. 

          While the bulk of the campus Jew-hatred is coming from one camp, many other North Americans are able to air their long-held grievances against Jews, now that “enough time has passed” since the Holocaust. Jews and Israel are constantly compared to “the Goliath”, while Palestine is seen as “the underdog,” while Israel remains a tiny Jewish speck in a very unfriendly neighborhood. Students feel buoyed by the support they receive from like-minded activist professors, while pro-Israel or Jewish students feel stifled, in fear of grade retribution. Social media and online blogs and sites have replaced the mainstream media, giving a frightening anonymity to anyone who wishes to demonise Israel and Jews by extension. In this Wild West of the internet, false images are disseminated and retweeted faster than one can type. In a world where the Jewish and pro-Israel communities are dwarfed by the anti-Semitic communities in the Middle East, Europe and even North America, it’s impossible to even try and keep up with the sheer volume of online anti-Israel materials that exist. 

          And if we think that this anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Western rhetoric will stay confined to the ivy-covered buildings of the university, we are fooling ourselves. One need only look over to the ill-named Arab Spring in the Middle East, or the constant wave of Islamic terror gripping Europe to realise that, uncontested, North America is not immune to the threat. Without a thorough wake-up call, and a true understanding of what we face, we are threatened by the same fate. It is true what they say about history, “We who do not learn from it are doomed to repeat it.”

         This is yet another reason why Canary Mission is such a vital tool in the war against the spread of Western hatred. It gives a face and a name to the agitators, professors, students and professionals who spend their time demonising the Jewish people, the one Jewish state in the world, and the values of democracy that the Western World holds most dear.

Imagine this scenario…

  Imagine this scenario. You’re watching a link someone’s posted to their Facebook or Twitter feed. On the screen in a huge mass of red, green and black flags, kheffiyehs of every color, and placards screaming “Apartheid!” and “Murderer!” It’s the usual scene of an anti- Israel rally, complete with chanting and an Imam whipping those assembled into an anti-Israel frenzy. The camera pans to a college- aged girl in the crowd, eyes ablaze, spittle coming from her lips, clearly enraged. She has just spotted a guy across the street in a kippa, silently holding a large Israeli flag with a proud and stoic expression on his face. She is blinded by fury at this point, and screams at him “Back to the ovens to finish the job! Allahu akhbar! Hitler was right!” It makes the blood boil to think of such a scene, let alone watch it unfold.

      Now imagine this same girl a few years later. She has finished her degree in Anthropology and is looking for a job in academia, or business, or anywhere, for that matter. She comes to her interview nicely dressed and groomed, and well-mannered, if a bit shy. Her resume reflects her impressive GPA, the time she spent teaching kids to read, and her summers visiting family in the Middle East. There is no mention of the three years she spent as president of SJP, on the board of her university’s MSA chapter, or spearheading the BDS movement on her campus. There is no link to her videos showing her spewing venom at pro-Israel students. There are no pictures of her wearing Islamic Jihad regalia or speaking at a conference entitled “Zionism is Racism.” There is no indication that she spent the better part of her college career dedicating her extracurricular hours to organizations aided, abetted and funded by internationally-regarded terrorist organizations. 

      In this day and age of the internet, researching potential employees is easy. One can google a name or search someone on Facebook and have access to a prospective employees private life. But all too often, when there are fifty prospective employees, so many resumes to wade through, and candidates that are seemingly highly qualified, intensive background research might fall by the wayside. And this is a problem. Without missions like ours, there is no accountability. There is no recourse for spending endless hours relentlessly calling for the destruction of Israel, organizing die-ins and fake checkpoints, publicly sympathizing with terrorists and posting violent and racist content to one’s wall or feed. It is all too easy to graduate from an institution and “clean house” on anything one might deem “objectionable to a possible employer.” And then these individual wipe their own slates clean. All that’s left is their time on student council, their semester as a Teaching Assistant. Maybe they’ll leave their time as a member of SJP on their Timelines, the way one would their fraternities or their involvement with the campus Hillel.

        But SJP is not Hillel, and the BDS movement is not a fraternity. They may hold bake sales and have dance parties, but they also host terrorists and organize boycotts and rallies. They leave mock eviction notices and threaten opponents. They do this with the blessing of their like-minded professors and the tremendous financial support of people they do not even know, people who are using them to make American universities unwelcoming and unsafe for Israel-supporters and Jewish students.

       Our job is to hold these people accountable. We need to ensure that the hate they espoused so freely doesn’t get swept under the rug. To show them that there are consequences to violent and hateful actions.

Welcome to Canary Mission

The pro-Palestinian lobby is way ahead of the pro-Israel movement. Way ahead. Years if not decades ahead. Does this mean that we should just save our time and money and devote our energies to something more worthwhile, something that will bare more obvious fruit? After all, what is a pro-Israel post that gets five thousand views on YouTube, when compared to one speech by Imam Malik Ali to almost the same number of people at a single Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) rally in California?

I am not writing this from a fatalistic point of view, rather from a curious one. Is it not curious that pro-Israel activists like David Horowitz and Lee Kaplan keep at it at all? Do they not see what others see? That there is a raging fire of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment growing in America and their splashes of pro-Israel rhetoric is only singing the ground at best?

It is curious that this viewpoint turns the whole slant of the pro-Palestinian lobby on its head. Their obvious and consistent angle is “the victim.” By playing the victim they occupy the coveted position of “underdog.” This is the strongest position one can be in terms of rallying support from people who are not in-the-know, because there is a hard-wired tendency in the human being to root for the underdog by default. Thus the world does not need much information to get started with an anti-Israel gripe – just see the cries and screams of the victim, and immediately the tendency is to start rooting for them.

The curious thing is, that now, the pro-Israel voice occupies the place of the underdog in the public-opinion realm. The Saudi-funded, Muslim Brotherhood-orchestrated millions-strong anti-Israel lobby is technically the strong one, and the tiny pro-Israel voice, the struggling underdog. So why do we not see reams of people turning their heads, changing their sides and rushing to the pro-Israel lobby to defend the unlikely choice?

The reason is, for the pro-Israel movement, being a victor has been branded as synonymous with being an abuser. Thus the work of the pro-Israel lobby is a subtle one. The subtle truth is that the pro-Israel movement is the underdog, but their position in the media is being framed as the abuser. This is the clever work of the anti-Israel lobby, and the reason the pro-Israel movement is so behind.  In order for the pro-Israel movement to make ground, it will take a reframe of the foundations, of the assumptions people make about the entire dynamic of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In this world of fast answers, quick clicks and instant rewards, people want to be able to go ahead and not have to think too much. And the fast, blunt and hyper-emotional screams of the pro-Palestinian lobby are just that.

So why are we doing this? Because maybe one person will look again and realize the subtlety. The spirit of the true underdog is alive and well in the pro-Israel movement. Welcome to Canary Mission.

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