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Canada: A plainly stupid proposed hate crime law

That PM Harper is a one-eyed Israel booster is nothing new, but the anti-hate crime he proposes to bring in in Canada borders on the stupid, and as Robert Fisk writes - in this piece in The Independent - most likely counter-productive.

"I’ve never been keen on boycotts. The one against Italy for invading Abyssinia didn’t work. Nor did the arms blockade on Spain. I’m still not sure that boycotting South Africa really brought down apartheid. I rather suspect that the old racists simply realised they were hopelessly outnumbered by the blacks of South Africa and that the game was up.

And I’m still unconvinced that boycotting Israel, even though it frightens the  right-wing crazies in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, will achieve a two-state solution, human rights for Palestinians, etc. I’m free to refuse to buy products from Jewish colonies in occupied Arab land (I do not buy them), but, when I visit Israel, I stay at the King David Hotel in west Jerusalem, visit the Tel Aviv gallery of art and buy Israeli-published books. Some Israeli academics support a boycott of their own country. They may be right in doing so.

But in Canada – and I had to literally rub my eyes when I read this – the totally pro-Israeli Conservative government of Stephen Harper intends to list the boycotting of Israel as a “hate crime”. This is not only ludicrous, stupid, pointless and racist because it assumes that anyone opposed to Israel’s vicious and iniquitous policies of land-grabbing in the West Bank is an anti-Semite, but it is also  anti-democratic. Those who believe in non-violence have always espoused boycott movements on the grounds that economic pressure rather than bombs is a moral way of putting pressure on a country that violates international law.

Yet Harper, who would surely be elected to the Knesset if he were an Israeli, went so far as to suggest on a recent visit to Jerusalem that merely to criticise Israel can be a form of anti-Semitism. The newly retired Canadian Foreign minister John Baird (normally a fairly sane guy) has described Canada’s Boycott Israel movement as “the new face of anti-Semitism”. In January, he actually signed an official agreement with Israel to fight the Boycott Israel organisation, known locally as the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) group. Steven Blaney, who rejoices in the title of Canada’s “Minister of Public Safety”, says that boycotts of Israel cannot be separated from anti-Semitic hate speech and the recent attacks against Jews in France."

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