Resisting McCarthyism: From the “PC Wars” to the “New Antisemitism”

Resisting McCarthyism: From the “PC Wars” to the “New Antisemitism”

This essay examines two waves of neo-McCarthyist attacks on free speech and academic freedom: the 1990s campaign against “political correctness,” and (in greater detail) contemporary attempts to silence human rights activists who call for the application of international law in support of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and oppression. Resistance here takes the primary form of analytical understanding of the motives involved, of the parallel rhetorical inversions deployed in both cases, and of the political and legal tactics being used in the current attempt to reconfigure human rights solidarity as a form of “new antisemitism” (and hence as hate speech). Since the author has been closely involved in resisting both forms of neo-McCarthyism, the essay draws repeatedly on his own past interventions.

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The Toronto Transit Commission vs. International Law

A version of this short text was sent to the Toronto Star on October 21, 2013 as a letter to the editor, but ignored. It was first published as “Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Rejects Ads Concerning the 'Disappearance of Palestine',” Centre for Research on Globalization (2 November 2013),; published with the present title by Independent Jewish Voices Canada (2 November 2013),


On October 21, 2013, the Toronto Star reported that the Toronto Transit Commission had decided to reject ads submitted by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME). A principal features of the ads is a sequence of four maps (which closely resemble the maps provided in the Wikipedia article on Palestine, and those which have appeared in similar transit ads in cities including Boston and Vancouver). These maps show the accelerating disappearance since 1947 of land held by Muslim and Christian Palestinians in historic Palestine.

According to CJPME, after draft designs were sent to the TTC in June 2013, the transit company and ad agencies tried in various ways “to prevent the ads from being posted. Designs were 'lost,' employees told to 'drop the ads,' emails and calls ignored.”1

In September, a letter from CJPME's legal counsel, noting a 2009 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that forbade transit authorities from blocking political ads, demanded that the TTC respect CJPME's right to post these ads.2

In announcing the TTC's rejection of the ads, spokesperson Brad Ross is reported to have given reasons that reflect a sad level of ignorance. According to Ross, CJPME's ad copy indicates that the process of Palestinian dispossession has involved unfairness and illegality. However, he said, “There is no finding in our legal opinion of illegality around loss of land under international law ... no court, no tribunal has ruled on loss of land being illegal.”3

This claim is false and misleading.

The July 9, 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice on Israel's so-called Separation (or Apartheid) Wall has a direct bearing on the ongoing Israeli appropriation of Palestinian land. Recalling that the UN Security Council “described Israel's policy of establishing settlements in [the Occupied Palestinian Territory] as a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the Court found that Israeli settlements on occupied land, which by now have a population of some 600,000 people, “have been established in breach of international law.”4

In regard to Israel's occupation regime and the related destruction of private property, restrictions on freedom of movement, and confiscation of land and of water resources, the Court found Israel to be in contravention of Article 2, paragraph 4 of the UN Charter and General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), which make the acquisition of territory by force illegal; as well as the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and repeated UN Security Council resolutions.5 Does this not suggest unfairness, as well as illegality?

It is no less absurd of Mr. Ross to suggest that honest and non-inflammatory statements of historical fact may lead to the incitement of hatred. The real fear of opponents of CJPME's ads is that Canadians may become aware that our own government has been supporting and facilitating intolerable Israeli policies of land theft and colonization. They are afraid that Canadians, acting out of common decency, will instead take a stand against injustice and oppression.

Michael Keefer is Professor Emeritus in the School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph.



1  See “Please express your disagreement with the TTC decision: More Info,” CJPME,

2  Ibid.

3  Tess Kalinowski, “TTC rejects controversial Middle East as campaign,” Toronto Star (21 October 2013), See also Ali Abunimah, “Toronto transit bans 'Disappearing Palestine' ad claiming risk of anti-Jewish violence,” The Electronic Intifada (24 October 2013),

4  “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” International Court of Justice (9 July 2004),

5  Ibid.   

Responding to Terry Glavin's Smear

Terry Glavin made a defamatory reference to my Israeli Apartheid Week public lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine” (University of Guelph, March 7, 2012), in an article he published in the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and the Vancouver Sun on March 10. My letter responding to this defamation was published by both newspapers—as “Words were misinterpreted,” Ottawa Citizen (14 March 2012),; and in abbreviated form as “Attack on critics of Israel distorts, ignores facts,” Vancouver Sun (14 March 2012), available at The other correspondence reproduced here has not previously been published.


The newspapers integrated into Conrad Black's media empire received a hard right-wing stamp from Black and the editors he hired—an ideological slant that remained unchanged when his Canadian holdings passed into the hands of Israel Asper's CanWestGlobal chain, and that has persisted in the mutation of that chain's ownership into something calling itself Postmedia.

With honourable exceptions, journalists writing for this chain have learned that their job description includes an element of ideological police-work, which involves seeking to discredit people of opposing viewpoints by any means available. Terry Glavin, who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, and whose articles are often carried by other Postmedia newspapers, has made himself an expert in this kind of work.

On March 7, 2012 I delivered a public lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine,” as part of Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of Guelph. (That title, as I made clear in my lecture, echoes the title of a book by Israeli scholar and peace activist David Shulman, Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine.) The online poster advertising the IAW event was noticed by Glavin, who incorporated a defamatory reference to my lecture into an article, “The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” published by the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and by the Vancouver Sun on March 10.

I reproduce here my correspondence with the Vancouver Sun, which may be of interest for what it reveals about the difficulty, once one has been smeared by newspapers in this chain, of exercising what used to be known as the right of reply.

I will not offer any recital, beyond what is contained in the correspondence, of the vicious inanities contained in Glavin's article: anyone interested in the full details of his text can look it up on the Ottawa Citizen's website.

One of the subjects on which Glavin exposed his ignorance and vented his hatred was the Israeli attack, in international waters, on the humanitarian relief vessel Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international flotilla that was seeking peacefully to break Israel's illegal blockade of the Gaza strip.

I chose in the letter I sent for publication in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun to mock Glavin's stupidities; it remains a fact that the nine civilian peace activists who were murdered by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 were shot a total of thirty times, and that five of the victims, as The Guardian reported, “were shot either in the back of the head or the back.”1


1. Letter to the Editor, Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)

To the Editor:

Terry Glavin's shillelagh-swinging is a treat to watch, even when it's oneself he's trying to whiff with his little cudgel (“The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” March 10, 2012).

What other journalist could consign opponents to “The Zombie Octoplex” and produce scoops at the same time? Who'd have guessed that the rights and liberties Arab activists struggle for across the Middle East are “already guaranteed” by Israel? The news will be a relief to the anemic women and stunted children of the blockaded Gaza strip, and to the Palestinian prisoners held without charges and dying on hunger strikes in Israeli jails.

Glavin tells us the Mavi Marmara's humanitarian aid mission was a “disgraceful hoax.” Let me guess: zombies again? Is that why Israeli commandos used head shots on “so-called peace activists” they killed?

A third example exposes Glavin's method. My Israeli Apartheid Week lecture, the online poster said, would reveal in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign “a humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict.” With a wave of the Glavin shillelagh, this becomes “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.”

When they're not zombies, peace activists are neo-Nazis; human solidarity is a hoax; and the blockaded are free. How clever!

Michael Keefer
Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph


2. Second letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)

To: The Editor, Letters Page, The Vancouver Sun


I sent you a letter early this-morning, responding to Terry Glavin's smearing of me in the article “The pseudo-left marches away from reason” that you published on March 10.

Although my letter is within the 200-word limit that you specify, and although you very clearly owe me a right of reply, I have not yet heard back from you.

My letter points out three flagrant falsifications in Glavin's column.

The third of these falsifications appears in the paragraph Glavin devotes to me. Let me explain to you why Glavin's words are defamatory as well as false.

The University of Guelph's Israeli Apartheid Week organization advertised my March 7, 2012 lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine,” in an online poster. That poster, which Mr. Glavin very clearly read, stated that my lecture would argue “that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign offers a humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict.” But Mr. Glavin informs your readers that I delivered “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.”

The statement that I used that last word is of course false. But are you aware of the word's implications?

“Judenrein” (meaning “cleansed of Jews”) is a term that was used by the Nazis to describe the goal of a murderous antisemitism that culminated in the Shoah.

“Judenstaatsrein” (meaning “cleansed of a Jewish state”) is a polemical coinage invented by supporters of the policies of the state of Israel as a means of smearing opponents of those policies. The claim that is made by people who deploy this word is that criticisms of Israeli policies amount to a devious continuation of the antisemitic project of the Nazis. Nazi antisemites wanted a world that would be “Judenrein”; their successors (call them what you like: neo-Nazis or new antisemites) now supposedly want a world that would be “Judenstaatsrein”—and the continuity of their hatred is implied by the resemblance of the two words.

I hope you understand now, if you didn't before, why Mr. Glavin's statement that I myself used that word is a defamatory smear.

I hope you understand as well that I regard this as a very serious matter.

Your newspaper, by publishing Mr. Glavin's article, has defamed me. I expect from you a right of reply—by which I mean that I expect you to publish my letter, in its entirety.

I would like to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Keefer

p.s. I am appending to this letter a copy of my 'Letter to the Editor'.


3. Third letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 12, 2012)

From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 2:06 PM
To: Valerie Casselton, Executive Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Nicholas Palmer, Senior Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Harold Munro, Deputy Managing Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Fazil Mihlar, Editorial Pages Editor, The Vancouver Sun 
Subject: Defamation

Dear Valerie Casselton, Nicholas Palmer, Harold Munro, and Fazil Mihlar,

On March 10, The Vancouver Sun published an article by Terry Glavin, “The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” a short paragraph of which was devoted to me.

Mr. Glavin's remarks included a statement that is both false and defamatory.

Early on March 11, I sent a 'Letter to the Editor' to the address In that message, sent from my g-mail account, I provided my home address and telephone number; and in a follow-up message sent several minutes later, I gave you my University of Guelph email address as well.

When by yesterday evening I had not heard back from The Vancouver Sun, I sent a follow-up message to the same address (

Mr. Glavin stated in his article that I had delivered “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.” His wording implies very clearly that I used the word “Judenstaatsrein” (which, by the way, Mr. Glavin evidently believes to be a noun rather than an adjective).

I did not use the word, and in my follow-up message I explained very clearly why Mr. Glavin's ascription of it to me is defamatory as well as false.

Having given this explanation, and having indicated that I regard this as a very serious matter, I am, frankly, astonished not to have heard back from The Sun.

I would now like to have a prompt assurance that this matter is being dealt with in a manner consistent with professional journalistic standards and common decency.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Keefer
Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph

p.s. I append a copy of my follow-up letter, and of the original Letter-to-the-Editor.


4. The Outcome

At 5:08 p.m. on March 12, I heard from Fazil Mihlar, the Vancouver Sun's Editorial Pages Editor: “Dear Prof. Keefer: This is the first I am hearing of this; will read and get back to you.” Mihlar wrote again ten minutes later to say that “We will run the letter in its entirety in wed's paper.” The Sun didn't quite come through on this promise: the letter appeared on March 14, 2012 in a slightly abbreviated form, though with my mockery of Glavin largely intact.

In the mean time the Ottawa Citizen, which whom I had a similar but briefer correspondence, published my letter without changes, though with a stultifying headline: “Words were misinterpreted.” (It would seem that in the mental universe inhabited by the Citizen's editorial staff, a gratuitous insinuation of neo-Nazi antisemitism counts as “misinterpretation.”)

A satisfactory outcome? Hardly—even if it was a small pleasure to see language diverging from the uncritically pro-Israel party line appearing, however briefly, in two Postmedia outlets. For it would seem that Terry Glavin himself had the pleasure of knowing he had got away with yet another smear.

“Dieu me pardonnera,” wrote the poet Heinrich Heine: “c'est son métier.” Terry Glavin's métier has become the production of vicious libels. But perhaps, in his ongoing practice of this debased sub-journalism, Glavin may make the mistake of smearing someone who has the leisure and the inclination to press libel charges.

I was content to mock Glavin's idiocies in the same Postmedia outlets where he makes his living; before too long, some other recipient of his abuse may feel inclined to impose a more substantive penalty.




1  Quoted by Moustafa Bayoumi, “Introduction,” in Bayoumi, ed., Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict (New York: OR Books, 2010), p. 3.     

A Double Bouquet for Catherine Chatterley

The first short piece reproduced here appeared in the Winnipeg Jewish Review (23 November 2010), The two footnotes in the present version have been added to the text. The first of these provides information about the Ottawa conference, hosted by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA), at which the article by Catherine Chatterley to which I objected was first presented, and about my participation in the press conference held at the same time on Parliament Hill by Independent Jewish Voices to protest against that conference.

In August 2010, my book Antisemitism Real and Imagined, which assembled an array of texts by human rights activists and human rights organizations as well as my own contributions, had been praised by Gerald Caplan in the Globe and Mail as “important,” “timely,” and “indispensable.” It is perhaps not surprising that Chatterley's article attempted to smear me as exemplifying what she called “Antisemitism Denial” (a concept that chimes obliquely with “Holocaust Denial”).

Together with my response, the WJR printed a rejoinder by Chatterley that contained another much nastier oblique smear. But the WJR's response to a letter from Professor Joanne Naiman reproaching Chatterley for the tone and content of her second text—it printed two absurd letters from hardcore Zionists in Canada and Israel, together with a shrill editorial—dissuaded me from wasting any further time in attempting to reason with such people.

In August 2014, however, the exposure by the American website Common Dreams of hasbara smear tactics reminiscent of Chatterley's behaviour prompted me to write a sequel analyzing her reply to me. This text, the second one provided here, has not previously been published.


1. Right of Reply: A Response to Catherine Chatterley (2010)

I applaud Dr. Catherine Chatterley’s statement (in her November 15, 2010 article on “Campus Antisemitism”) that debates over subjects like antisemitism, Israel, and Palestine “must be self-reflexive, reasoned, and accurate,” and that we need to avoid ad hominem attacks, so as to “encourage intelligent discussion and debate that employs meaningful, ethical, and accurate language”—the italics are Dr. Chatterley’s—“to describe what are truly difficult, complex, and contested histories.”1

But Dr. Chatterley abandons her own standards of ethics and accuracy when she refers to me as exemplifying what she calls “Antisemitism Denial.” It is not unduly sensitive to hear in these words a deliberate echo of “Holocaust Denial”—and therefore a vicious ad hominem attack. Dr. Chatterley’s claim that I have “gone on the assault against antisemitism as a contemporary problem, arguing that there is no such thing and comparing this so-called phantom to the ‘real’ antisemitism of the past,” goes beyond mere inaccuracy: it is a flagrant falsehood.

In addition to my work in other fields, I am the editor and part-author of Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (Waterloo: The Canadian Charger, 2010). This book includes texts by eleven Canadian scholars and human rights activists (a majority of whom, as it happens, are Jewish), and by the leaders of seven human rights organizations. Far from minimizing the reality of contemporary antisemitism, these texts recurrently express concern that uncritical support for the state of Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights could feed a renewal of antisemitic prejudice and hatred in this country.

My own contributions, which make up just over half of the book, include an extended analysis of the statistical evidence relating to antisemitic incidents and hate crimes. My study of UK government figures, Statistics Canada data, the annual incident-report tallies published by the Community Security Trust (CST) in Britain, and B’nai Brith Canada’s annual audits of antisemitic incidents, led me to conclude that the CPCCA’s claims of an alarming resurgence of antisemitism in Canada are untrue, and B’nai Brith’s figures seriously inflated.2 But after noting that police statistics show a declining trend in hate crimes, I wrote that “I am not suggesting that we should find anything very reassuring about the data analyzed in this chapter: Jews are indeed being disproportionately targeted by hatemongers.”3

Readers of my contributions to the book will find many further examples of a lively concern over real present-day antisemitism—together with a strong critique of the deceptions practiced by those who imagine that they can get away with smearing advocates of international human rights law by labelling their criticisms of Israeli policies as instances of a “new antisemitism.”

As for Dr. Chatterley: If she genuinely wishes to earn a reputation for responsible, accurate, and ethical scholarship, she will have to begin by making some effort to live up to her own ideals.

Michael Keefer
Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph


2. Dr. Chatterley's Scurrilous Sequel: A Further Response, August 2014

A reply by Catherine Chatterley which appeared in the same November 23, 2010 issue of the Winnipeg Jewish Review made it clear that the scurrilous overtones of her first reference to me were not accidental—and that her commitment to the ethics of scholarly discussion is, as one might already have suspected, a pious fraud.

Dr. Chatterley began by quoting, to no obvious effect, from comments I had made about my book Antisemitism Real and Imagined in an interview with Mordecai Briemberg on the Redeye program of Vancouver Public Radio,4 in one of my public lectures during a book tour across western Canada in September-October 2010,5 and in an interview with Jack Etkin on a community television program in Victoria, BC.6 “In your public discussions about this book,” she wrote,

you make a distinction between what you view as real antisemitism and the new antisemitism, which you call a “rhetorical shell game” and rhetorical trickery.” You say that real antisemitism is a “toxic prejudice,” now largely on the wane in Canada, and that the new antisemitism is “not new and it's not antisemitism” but it makes “use of this history of suffering, this history of martyrdom, in a way that is at the service of unacceptable political positions.” You argue that in 1973, when “real antisemitism was in rapid decline ... leading figures in the Anti-Defamation League [tried to] redefine antisemitism to incorporate criticism of the State of Israel, and to use that as a way for providing public support ... to hold on to the conquered territories, the occupied [Palestinian] territories.”7

The point of this unfocused sequence of quotations may seem opaque: the matters alluded to are all exhaustively documented in the final three chapters of Antisemitism Real and Imagined. The only distortion appears in the last sentence, which alludes not to any argument originated by me, but rather (as anyone doing scholarship in the field should know) to my repetition of plain facts that had been laid out five years previously by Norman G. Finkelstein in his book Beyond Chutzpah,8 and that have remained unchallenged since then.

However, Dr. Chatterley's purpose became clear when, having provided links to the lecture and the interviews from which she quoted, she wrote (in italics) that “The two public comments below your discussion on the last site clearly illustrate the consistencies between old and new, or classic and contemporary, antisemitism.”

Following the link that Dr. Chatterley gave, which takes the reader, not to the original online posting of the television interview I did with Jack Etkin of ICTV Victoria in early October 2010, but rather to an unauthorized reproduction of it at Wide Eye Cinema,9 one discovers that the first two comments on my interview which appear at this internet site are vehemently antisemitic—indeed, neo-Nazi—in tone. These semi-literate rants, posted on October 24 and November 1, 2010, by 'paschn' and 'Annie Ladysmith' respectively, attribute the murder of “tens of millions” (in the second comment, “60 millions of white Christains” [sic], plus a further “10 millions of the same in the Ukraine, hung up to trees after torture”) to the “Jew treachery” of the “Bolshevik Revolution.” In the words of 'Annie Ladysmith', capitalized by herself for emphasis, this was “HOLOCAUST BY THE JEWS.”10 There's none of the “sophistication” here that Chatterley and other Zionist ideologues—among them, Prime Minister Stephen Harper11—have ascribed to the so-called “new antisemitism.” As the commenters' linking of Jews and Bolsheviks makes plain, this is “old” or “classic” antisemitism of the Joseph Goebbels variety.12

Dr. Chatterley's point was obvious enough. She was implying (with what she perhaps believed to be cunning indirection) that if these comments represent the old antisemitism, then my television interview exemplifies the new antisemitism whose actuality I was challenging. It need hardly be said that in asserting the existence of “consistencies” between my interview and the deranged ranting of neo-Nazis, Dr. Chatterley was not trying to “encourage intelligent discussion and debate that employs meaningful, ethical, and accurate language.

For her polemical purposes, neo-Nazis like these two commenters are useful idiots. In some instances, however, comment posters of this sort turn out to be useful idiots of another kind: hasbara agents whose deliberate function is to litter the internet with antisemitic filth, for the precise purpose of enabling slander tactics like those of Catherine Chatterley.

Such a pattern might seem improbable. But in August 2014, an investigation conducted by the news website Common Dreams revealed that more than a thousand inflammatory antisemitic comments posted at the site during the preceding two years, under dozens of different screen names, had all been authored “by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.”13 One of the masks this man adopted, the African-American identity of 'DeShawn S. Williams', cemented his antisemitic street creds by posting not just at Common Dreams, but also at the white-supremacist Vanguard News Network, where his more than 1,400 posts included over 200 comment-thread exchanges in which 'Williams' “encouraged the malevolence of Frazier Glenn Miller, the neo-Nazi [who is] accused of killing three people whom he believed were Jews outside a Jewish community centre and retirement home in Kansas in April [2014].”14

This hyperactive Harvard man, now a graduate student at a midwestern university, appears to have devoted more effort to sleazy hasbara work than to his studies. When he was not inciting Vanguard's antisemites to acts of violence, he was posting neo-Nazi rants in the comments sections of the Common Dreams site, most frequently under the screen name 'HamBaconEggs'—and at the same time, entering into earnest debates with that persona under the screen name 'JewishProgressive'.

The aim of this shadow-boxing was of course to show up Common Dreams as a website that had itself to blame for attracting antisemitic commenters, for the simple reason that it published articles that were themselves antisemitic. In one exchange, 'JewishProgressive' wrote:

I stopped posting on this site and others like it a long time ago, as it became increasingly clear to me that genuine anti-Semitism and their purveyors were becoming tolerated and, at worst, embraced by so-called progressive communities [....]
I would challenge anyone to find a Common Dreams article relating to African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, or LBGT people containing the volume of hateful, venomous garbage found in the comments section of this article. Sadly, I would offer the additional challenge of finding any CD article relating to Israel that doesn't contain copious amounts of Jew-hatred.15

In another posting, once again in debate with his alter ego 'HamBaconEggs', 'JewishProgressive' declared more emphatically:

Common Dreams and Stormfront: the web's foremost hubs of unapologetic anti-Semitism. True progressives don't support this sort of rank Jew-hatred, even though it's become increasingly conflated with legitimate criticism of Israel.16

What then about the comments on my interview to which Dr. Chatterley referred readers of the Winnipeg Jewish Review? One might well suspect that the “hateful, venomous garbage” of 'paschn' and 'Annie Ladysmith' came from a single keyboard and IP address. I do not mean to imply that Catherine Chatterley—'Lady Chatterley', I am tempted to call her, in ironic deference to her less than flawless manners—and 'Annie Ladysmith' could be one and the same person. The neo-Nazi author of both comments could well be someone from Ladysmith, South Africa, or the Gulf Islands village of Ladysmith, BC—or possibly even someone actually named 'Annie Ladysmith'.

But while Dr. Chatterley has, one must hope, been spared the multiple-personality disorder that afflicts 'HamBaconEggs', a.k.a. 'JewishProgressive' and 'DeShawn S. Williams', she is playing a less elaborate form of the same dirty game. Someone else may have written the neo-Nazi filth that she found posted at a site that reproduced my interview, but she is the one who turned it into a smear by claiming to find “consistencies” between my interview and comments that at no point intersected with anything I had said. 

* * * *

Two other features of Dr. Chatterley's response might also be of passing interest. She of course did not acknowledge, much less apologize for, the initial misrepresentation to which I drew attention. But her rejoinder exposed a derisory lack of scholarship when, to display her understanding of “the global resurgence of antisemitism, which is in fact a very serious problem,” she wrote:

The most obvious example is the leader of Iran, who routinely threatens the nuclear destruction of the Jewish State, which constitutes incitement to genocide and is a clear violation of international law.17

This sentence drew a rebuke from Joanne Naiman, Professor Emerita of Sociology at Ryerson University, who wondered politely what sources Chatterley might be relying on, and quoted recent news reports which make it clear that “the Israelis and Americans know full well that Iran does not yet have nuclear weaponry,” and that “it is Israel and the U.S. that are routinely threatening Iran militarily, not the reverse.”18

The Winnipeg Jewish Review promptly published stern but foolish rejoinders from David Matas, B'nai Brith Canada's Senior Honorary Legal Counsel,19 from Professor Elihu Richter of the Hebrew University-Hadassah in Jerusalem, who is also active in an organization called Genocide Prevention Now,20 and from the WJR's editor, Rhonda Spivak:21 these contributed some heat to the discussion, but no light.

Despite the rhetoric of Matas, Richter, and Spivak, Dr. Chatterley's sentence does indeed contain compounded stupidities. Although there's evidence that the former President of Iran to whom she was referring, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is indeed an antisemite, he was not the leader of that country (a position held rather by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). Akbar Ganji wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2008 that “Despite all the attention he receives, Ahmadinejad does not even rank among Iran's top 100 leaders over the past 30 years [...]. Ahmadinejad is only as powerful as he is devoted to Khamenei and successful in advancing his aims.”22

Moreover, the statement that Dr. Chatterley was remembering—made in a speech Ahmadinejad delivered in October 2005, and subsequently repeated in variant forms—was mistranslated in the Western press, and misrepresented as a threat of military action, a threat to literally wipe Israel off the map. It was in fact no such thing, but rather a re-statement of a supposed prophecy.

Ahmadinejad reminded his audience that the Imam Khomeini, the founding leader of Iran's theocracy, had said that the Shah of Iran's “regime must go,” had predicted the end of “the rule of the East” (the USSR), and had said that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “must go” amid unprecedented humiliation. To this sequence of fulfilled prophecies of regime changes Ahmadinejad added a fourth as yet unfulfilled one: “The Imam said (Imam ghoft) this regime (een rezhim-e) occupying Jerusalem (ishghalgar-e qods) must vanish from (bayad [...] mahv shavad) the page of time (az safheh-ye ruzgar).”23

Arash Norouzi, whose transliteration and translation of the Farsi I have borrowed, noted that “Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war.”24 Jonathan Steele of The Guardian, who is well enough informed to know that Ahmadinejad had misquoted Khomeini, saying “page” instead of “stage of time” (the Farsi words safheh and sahneh also rhyme),25 likewise judged that the sentence is not a military threat,26 and found support in the reference to the fall of the Shah's regime for the view that Ahmadinejad was talking “about regime change, not the end of Israel.”27 University of Michigan Middle East scholar Juan Cole was of the same opinion, remarking that the Khomeini quotation “does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all.”28

Given Dr. Chatterley's taste for ad hominem smears, it is perhaps necessary to remark that Arash Norouzi and Juan Cole, my main sources on this translation issue, are not supporters of the Iranian regime. Cole has written that he despises “everything Ahmadinejad stands for, not to mention the odious Khomeini, who had personal friends of mine killed”; while Norouzi, after citing a statement of the Iranian president to the effect that “History shows us that oppressive and cruel governments do not survive,” commented that “With this statement, Ahmadinejad has also projected the outcome of his own backwards regime, which will likewise 'vanish from the page of time'.”29 But along with their contempt for the Iranian theocracy, both writers also share a commitment to truth.

As Karim Sadjadpour has observed, the consistent position of the Ayatollah Khamenei has been “that Iran's goal is not the military destruction of the Jewish state or the Jewish people....” In Khamenei's own words, in June 2005, “[the] solution to the issue of Palestine [...] is to hold a referendum with the participation of all native Palestinians, including Muslims, Jews and Christians, the Palestinians who live both inside and outside the occupied territories. Any government that takes power as a result of this referendum [...] will be an acceptable government....”30 In his speech at Columbia University in September 2007, Ahmadinejad echoed this position: “What we say is that to solve this 60-year problem, we must allow the Palestinian people to decide about its future for itself. [....] We must allow Jewish Palestinians, Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians to determine their own fate themselves through a free referendum.”31 But to supporters of the Zionist project who believe that full rights of citizenship in Israel must continue to be reserved for Jews alone, a democratic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is anathema.

However unpleasant some of Iran's public discourse may be, and however violent its suppression of internal dissidence, Dr. Chatterley was wrong in claiming that Ahmadinejad threatened Israel with war, or with “nuclear destruction.” Any such threat, moreover, would have been toothless, for as U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly acknowledged, Iran has no nuclear weapons and (whatever its ambitions may have been more than a decade ago) no nuclear weapons program.32 

* * * *

One last issue raised by Dr. Chatterley's rejoinder remains to be discussed. In 2010 she became the founding director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA)—from which position she declared, in a 2011 op-ed on disputes over the allocation of exhibition space in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, that “Subjective feelings are influencing [the Museum's] content and design choices rather than objective historical and legal reality and this does not bode well for the international reputation of this institution.”33 She rightly reproached the Ukrainian Civil Liberties Association for its interventions in that debate, which included the distribution of antisemitic postcards. But it does not bode well for the future of CISA, as a centre whose professed aim is to support research, that its director has shown so little respect for the ethics of scholarship in her own public pronouncements—and that in the closing paragraphs of her rejoinder to me she revealed a strangely deficient understanding of the very issues CISA was founded to study.

Dr. Chatterley objected there to my statement that the texts by scholars and human rights activists that I had published in Antisemitism Real and Imagined “recurrently express concern that uncritical support for the state of Israel's systematic violations of Palestinian human rights could feed a renewal of antisemitic prejudice and hatred in this country.”

Her first reason for objecting is a foolish and dishonest non sequitur: “First, I do not know anyone who actually supports human rights violations in the Palestinian territories or anywhere else.”34 The range of Dr. Chatterley's acquaintanceships was not a matter I had raised—but she is mistaken. A moment's attentiveness to the Socratic injunction Gnothi seauton35 would show her that she knows one such person rather well.

In a situation in which Jews were being violently persecuted, with the facts authenticated by human rights organizations and agencies of the United Nations, we would not hesitate to declare that any scholar or public intellectual who denied that human rights violations were taking place was by that act lending support to their continuation.

Consider, in this light, the essay on “Campus Antisemitism” in which, while accusing me of “Antisemitism Denial,” Dr. Chatterley argued that

The seriously flawed accusations that underpin IAW [Israeli Apartheid Week] events must be addressed head on by reasoned academic presentations given by leading scholars. [....] What we need [...] is high quality academic programming that both unpacks and counters the Israel Apartheid propaganda that we see on our campuses and actually engages with the difficult and contested reality of the conflict.

[....] Students care about racism and human rights [...]. As a result, they are easily and actively mobilized against those labeled racists and human rights violators, for whom there is little sympathy in our contemporary culture. IAW relies on the lack of public and student knowledge about Israel and the complex history of the Middle East, and it also depends upon the widespread ignorance about the system of Apartheid and the history of South Africa.36

She is claiming, in an essay whose title implies that IAW events foment antisemitism,37 that only people befuddled by propaganda and false labelling could believe Palestinians to be victims of systematic policies of racism and human rights violations. It follows that she is a supporter of and apologist for Israeli policies of internal discrimination and of violent oppression in the occupied territories—policies that have been correctly identified, by South African legal scholars among others, as involving the crime of apartheid, defined under international law as a crime against humanity.38

Secondly, Dr. Chatterley says,

antisemitism is not a form of normal human hostility or even a function of normal human outrage, both of which are inevitable human reactions to war and conflict. This is precisely why criticism of Israel is not by definition antisemitic.

Antisemitism is never a legitimate reaction to the behaviour of Jews, either as a collective or as individuals. Antisemitism is the product of a conspiratorial ideological way of thinking about Jews that relies on a belief in the actual existence of “Jewish power and its evil machinations for control.” To understand the nature and motives of antisemitism one does not study Jews or their behavior but those who manifest this antisemitic mindset.39

Let's be clear: no form of racism is ever legitimate; and whatever the boundaries of “normal” hostility or outrage might be, most of the manifestations of antisemitism that go beyond sullen prejudice into hurtful action fall outside them. But Chatterley's thinking here is coarse, and tells against the point she would like to make.

Set aside the fact that serious historians and sociologists study all aspects of such matters, perpetrators and victims alike. Set aside the fact that throughout nearly all of the long and atrocious history of antisemitism it has been obvious to even the most blinkered antisemites that, whatever fantasies they might entertain about “the synagogue of Satan” or some demonic conclave of Jewish Elders, the Jewish communities they were assaulting were largely powerless and unable to defend themselves, whether against judicial persecution or mob violence.

Delusions about Jewish power and machinations did become a significant part of antisemitic discourse during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;40 and as the historian Tom Segev has shown, Chaim Weizmann made astute use of such beliefs prior to and during World War I in the maneuverings that culminated in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.41 During recent decades, however, Jewish elites have come to exercise a very considerable degree of actual power, in the United States especially.

That power may to a considerable degree be permissive or derivative in nature—based, that is, on a combination of geopolitical calculations by Western political elites which find Israel useful as a proxy and assistant in their own imperial ventures; of religious beliefs, ranging from the colonial impulses of Christian Zionists since the mid-nineteenth century to the apocalyptic fanaticism of present-day Christian fundamentalists; and of guilt, stemming from memories of institutionalized antisemitism and of the failure during World War II to mitigate the Shoah by any timely intervention.

Western political elites have found it convenient to have an Israel that is also a Spartan garrison-state, militarized to the hilt, nuclear-armed, and bristling with advanced weaponry. They are happy to make use of Israeli technologies of surveillance, policing, and population control. They don't seriously object to Israel's seizure and colonization of Palestinian land and resources, or to its increasingly bloody-minded treatment of the rightful owners of that land and those resources. If anything, they find the political interventions of Zionist organizations, pressure groups and ideologues congenial, because these prod their populations, for the most part, in directions they have already decided upon themselves.

If I am right in thinking of the power exercised by Western Jewish elites in support of the actions of the state of Israel as at least partially permissive or derivative, that doesn't make it any the less real as power, any less dangerous to its primary victims, the Palestinians42—or for that matter, any less dangerous, in a secondary manner, to Jewish communities worldwide.

Among people who have studied such matters, it is patently obvious that there is a direct connection between the recurrent surges of violence against Palestinian civilians by the state of Israel—let us call it the “behaviour” of the Jewish elites who govern that state—and corresponding surges in antisemitic incidents acts in Western countries.43

Dr. Chatterley's apparent denial of any such connection is a further sign that her scholarship is no less shoddy than her ethics.




1  Catherine Chatterley, “Campus Antisemitism: Combating Israel Apartheid Week on Campus—Thoughtful Engagement Required,” Winnipeg Jewish Review (15 November 2010), That article offers the text of a paper Dr. Chatterley delivered at the Ottawa conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA), November 7-9, 2010, an event hosted by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). I was in Ottawa at the same time, and as I said in my “Statement at the Independent Jewish Voices Press Conference” on Parliament Hill (8 November 2010): “The conference is being held under false pretences because the CPCCA and the ICCA are not so much concerned with real and actual antisemitism as they are with extending the definition of antisemitism to encompass any systematic criticism of the state of Israel's systematic violations of international law in its oppressive occupation and colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. [....] [T]he CPCCA is attempting to create a climate of opinion in which Canadian defenders of Palestinian human rights and exponents of the universal principles of international law can be smeared as antisemites and disseminators of hatred.” For an account of the origins of the ICCA and CPCCA, see my Introduction to Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism (Waterloo: The Canadian Charger, 2010), pp. 12-18.

2  See Michael Keefer, ed., Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 165-77, 185-205. Prior to the publication of this book, suspicions that B'nai Brith Canada's annual tallies of antisemitic incidents are significantly inflated had been voiced by Gerald Caplan in the Globe and Mail and by Jonathan Kay in the National Post. Their suspicions are understandable, given such statements by B'nai Brith as that the eighteen-fold increase in the number of antisemitic incidents recorded since the organization first began to tally them in 1982 reflects a corresponding worsening of antisemitic hatred in Canada (rather than, for example, a substantially increased effort devoted to tracking such incidents). My conclusion that B'nai Brith's figures are inflated arose primarily out of comparative study of the parallel tallies of antisemitic incidents kept since the early 1980s by the Community Security Trust (CST) in the UK.

3  Ibid., p. 191.

4  Interview with Mordecai Briemberg, “Antisemitism: Real and Imagined,” Redeye (Vancouver Community Radio), 14 September 2010. posted at,

5  Public lecture at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library, 25 September 2010,; Chatterley's link is to a reproduction of this video at

6  Interview with Jack Etkin, “Face to Face with Jack Etkin: #46. Professor Michael Keefer: Criticize Israel—Go To Jail?” ICTV Victoria, 7 October 2010, Chatterley provided a link to the reproduction of this interview at Wide Eye Cinema, http://wideeyecinema/?p=9534, where it is followed by three comments. The first two, posted on October 24 and November 1, 2010, are discussed below. The third comment, posted much later, in September 2011, is likewise antisemitic, but in a tone of arrogant pseudo-erudition rather than of neo-Nazi ranting.

7  “Dr. Chatterley's Response to Professor Keefer's Right of Reply,” Winnipeg Jewish Review (25 November 2010),

8  Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 21-27. Finkelstein devotes the entire first part of this book (pp. 21-85) to an incisive demolition of the ideology of the “new antisemitism.” My own critique of this ideology (which includes detailed citations of Finkelstein's work) can be found in the final two chapters of Antisemitism Real and Imagined (pp. 165-259).

9  See note 6 above.

10  Wide Eye Cinema, http://wideeyecinema/?p=9534.

11  In his address to the Israeli Knesset on January 20, 2014, Prime Minister Harper proposed that serious criticism of the policies and structures of governance of the state of Israel must be understood as impelled by “a mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain,” a translation into “more sophisticated language for use in polite society” of the “old hatred” that “led to the horrors of the [Nazi] death camps.” See “Read the full text of Harper's historic speech to Israel's Knesset,” Globe and Mail (20 January 2014),

12  The reference in these comments to supposed genocidal atrocities committed in Ukraine and blamed on Jews might suggest some connection to the organized and institutionally supported antisemitism now widely disseminated in Ukraine: see Per Anders Rudling, “Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence and Ideology,” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue canadienne des slavistes 48.102 (March-June 2006): 81-119; available online at The accusation, together with the Jew/Bolshevik motif, of hallucinatory numbers of Ukrainians “hung up to trees after torture,” is a marker of the historical layering of antisemitic hatred: in many medieval and more recent Christian devotional texts, the cross on which Jesus was crucified (after torture) is spoken of as a tree. The wording of the comments thus evokes the original blood libel of the canonical gospels (in which the Jews were said to accept guilt for the shedding of Jesus's blood), while also alleging a multiplication of that original crime that is suggestive of the reign of Antichrist prophesied in a long tradition of commentaries on the New Testament book of Revelations. A demonizing of Jews in apocalyptic speculations forms a consistent part of patristic, medieval, and more recent forms of antisemitism.

13  Lance Tapley, “The Double Identity of an 'Anti-Semitic' Commenter: Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel,” Common Dreams (20 August 2014),

14  Ibid.

15  Ibid.

16  Ibid. Stormfront is a white supremacist and neo-Nazi website that describes itself as “the voice of the new, embattled White minority.”

17  “Dr. Chatterley's Response to Professor Keefer's Right of Reply.”

18  Joanne Naiman, “RE: Catherine Chatterley's Response to Dr. Michael Keefer,” Winnipeg Jewish Review (27 November 2010), Professor Naiman also described Chatterley's response as “shoddy” and “a weak piece of propaganda masquerading as academic analysis.”

19  David Matas, “To the Editor,” Winnipeg Jewish Review (1 December 2010), Matas declared that “Independent intelligence sources consistently over years have reported that Iran is developing nuclear weaponry.” Since this is the precise inverse of the truth, and U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies have in fact come to the opposite conclusion, “independent intelligence sources” must mean something like “PR flaks of Dick Cheney and Benjamin Netanyahu.” Matas proposed as authoritative an article by Gregory S. Gordon, “From Incitement to Indictment? Prosecuting Iran's President for Advocating Israel's Destruction and Piecing Together Incitement Law's Emerging Analytical Framework,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 98.3 (2008): 853-920. This article, an exemplary instance of “lawfare,” the deliberate perversion of international law in the interests of U.S. and Israeli political goals, fails to distinguish between critically established evidence and journalistic or governmental propaganda. Noting the judgment of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, Gordon attempts to counter this with the opinions of “Henry Kissinger and other experts” (864), and states, without further evidence, that Iran “is attempting to develop nuclear weapons for the ostensible purpose of annihilating Israel” (900). His treatment of translation issues (896-99) is comparably slipshod. And nowhere, in his concern with possible or prospective genocide, does he ask why legal precedents in the field should apply to the Iranian president—but not to U.S. and Israeli leaders, who have threatened to use nuclear weapons in first-strike attacks on Iran (with obviously genocidal consequences), and who actually possess such weapons.

20  Elihu D. Richter, “To the Editor,” Winnipeg Jewish Review (1 December 2010), Richter referred readers to the website of Genocide Prevention Now, where one finds, from 2012, his open letter, “Israeli Genocide Scholar Protests Israeli President Shimon Peres Opposing Military Action Against Iran,” This might seem an odd position for a scholar concerned to prevent genocide to take. In one of the footnotes in Antisemitism Real and Imagined (p. 258 n. 142), I commented on another genocide scholar who in 2009 recommended putting an end to what he called “Gaza's extreme demographic armament” by de-funding UNRWA and thereby starving the people of Gaza: see Gunnar Heinsohn, “Ending the West's Proxy War Against Israel,” Wall Street Journal Europe (12 January 2009), One would think scholars in this field ought to understand the difference between researching genocide and helping to provoke it.

21  On the same page, Rhonda Spivak provided several paragraphs of irrelevancies, focusing largely on the fact, revealed by Wikileaks, that authoritarian Arab states allied to the U.S. (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan, and Egypt) have also advocated pre-emptive war against Iran. What bearing she thought this might have on the issues raised by Professor Naiman is anyone's guess.

22  See Akbar Ganji, “The Latter-Day Sultan: Power and Politics in Iran,” Foreign Affairs 87.6 (2008): 46, available online at

23  See Arash Norouzi, “'Wiped off the Map'—The Rumor of the Century,” The Mossadegh Project (18 January 2007), I have altered slightly the Farsi word order to conform with the word order of the English translation; the original is as follows: “Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.” Claims that the Farsi verb rendered as “vanish” is active and transitive and hence deserves a more forceful translation (see Gordon, “From Incitement to Indictment?” 897-98) do not alter the fact that the sentence does not identify any agency that is to produce this effect of the vanishing of a regime—unless perhaps the divine will with which Khomeini was supposedly in touch.

24  Ibid.

25  Jonathan Steele, “Lost in translation,” The Guardian (14 June 2006),

26  Jonathan Steele, “If Iran is ready to talk, the US must do so unconditionally,” The Guardian (2 June 2006),

27  Steele, “Lost in translation.”

28  Juan Cole, “Hitchens the Hacker; And, Hitchens the Orientalist,” Informed Comment (3 May 2006),

29  Cole, “Hitchens the Hacker”; Norouzi, “'Wiped off the Map'.” (The name of Norouzi's website, The Mossadegh Project, is indicative of a commitment to secular democracy.)

30  Karim Sadjadpour, Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran's Most Powerful Leader (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2009), p. 20; available online at

31  “President Ahmadinejad Delivers Remarks at Columbia University,” Washington Post (24 September 2007),

32  See Rory McCarthy, “Israel considering strike on Iran despite US intelligence report,” The Guardian (7 December 2007),,,2224052,00.html; Gareth Porter, “Iran Nuke Laptop Data Came from Terror Group,” (1 March 2008),; “US believes Iran not trying to build a nuclear bomb,” Ynet (24 February 2012),,7340,L-4194307,00.html; John Glaser, “US, Europe, Israel Agree on Solid Intel: Iran Nuke Threat Far Off: Solid, in depth intelligence confirms with high confidence Iran has no weapons program, but peace is still rejected,” (23 March 2012), See also Ed Cropley, “Massive Diplomatic Leak Exposes Israel Claims on Iran: Mossad Contradicted Netanyahu 'Red Line' Speech,” Forward: The Jewish Daily (24 February 2015),

33  Catherine Chatterley, “The war against the Holocaust,” Winnipeg Free Press (2 April 2011),

34  “Dr. Chatterley's Response to Professor Keefer's Right of Reply.”

35  “Know thyself!”

36  Chatterley, “Campus Antisemitism.”

37  My own experience goes counter to this claim. I have been an invited speaker at Israeli Apartheid Week events on four occasions at three different Canadian universities. On those occasions anyone who spoke in defence of Israel was given a courteous hearing, and the organizers made it clear that any expression of antisemitism or any other form of racism would not be tolerated.

38  See Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 231-32. Israeli behaviour in the occupied territories has been denounced as not merely answering to the legal definition of the crimes of apartheid and of colonizing, but also as being genocidal in intention and effect: see, for example, Kathleen and Bill Christison, Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation (London: Verso, 2009), pp. 136-37. For discussion of this and similar opinions, see Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 234-38; and for indications of the increasing willingness of Israeli politicians, state agencies, and a large part of the Israeli public to accept genocidal discourse and implicitly genocidal treatment of the Palestinians as normative, see Max Blumenthal, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (New York: Nation Books, 2013), pp. 250-60, 278-84, 303-29, 353-64.

39  “Dr. Chatterley's Response.”

40  Close analogues to these delusions are provided by some of the Sherlock Holmes fictions of Conan Doyle, in which all of the criminal activity in London is ascribed to a single mastermind, Moriarty, “the Napoleon of crime”; and by a similarly conspiratorial mindset evident in the spy fictions of John Buchan, such as Greenmantle (1916).

41  Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, trans. Haim Watzman (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), pp. 38-50.

42  Middle Eastern Muslims in other countries have also been victims of the power exercised by organizations like AIPAC in the U.S. The Israel lobby was strongly supportive of the George W. Bush regime's invasion of Iraq, supported the bombing campaign that reduced Libya to chaos, continues to support the proxy war that has devastated Syria, and has agitated for a war of aggression against Iran.

43  See, for example, “Anti-Semitic attacks reach record UK high, Israel's Gaza offensive blamed—study,” RT (5 February 2015), Robert Cohen is one of many who have stated the obvious fact: “What's clearly nonsense is to claim that Israel's behavior plays no part in the political and cultural dynamic that is provoking growing racism against Jews. When things kick off in Israel and the Occupied Territories anti-Semitic attacks spike in Western Europe. When peace is being talked about, with real plausibility, anti-Semitism in Europe dies down.” Robert Cohen, “#JeSuisUnJuifBritannique,” Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East (18 January 2015),   

Statement at the Independent Jewish Voices Press Conference, Parliament Hill, Ottawa (8 November 2010)

At the invitation of Diana Ralph of Independent Jewish Voice's Steering Committee, I took part with her in the IJV press conference in the Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, at 9:30 a.m. on November 8, 2010. The press conference introduced a video produced by IJV, Defend Free Speech: The threat is from the new McCarthyism, NOT the new Anti-Semitism (, featuring statements by human rights lawyers, professors, experts, and activists: Alex Neve, Trevor Purvis, Terry Greenberg, Brian Campbell, Sid Shniad, Warren Allmand, Joanne Naiman, Kevin Neish, Khaled Mouammar, Barbara Jackman, George Galloway and myself. This press conference received coverage from Le Devoir, The Toronto Star, CBC, The Jewish Chronicle, The Daily Herald-Tribune (Grande Prairie, AB), The Hamilton Spectator, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, and Diana Ralph was interviewed by the Globe and Mail.

A conference has been held during the past two days on Parliament Hill by a group of MPs calling themselves the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA); they are hosting the meeting of a group called the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (ICCA) to which they have affiliated themselves.

I am here because I believe that conference is being held under false pretenses, and because it constitutes a threat to free speech and to the proper rule of law in this country—as well as a potential threat to Canada's already shaky standing as an upholder of international law.

The conference is being held under false pretenses because the CPCCA and the ICCA are not so much concerned with real and actual antisemitism as they are with extending the definition of antisemitism to encompass any systematic critique of the state of Israel's violations of international law in its oppressive occupation and colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the Palestine Freedom of Expression campaign has observed, “the CPCCA is not an equity initiative, but rather an attack on Palestinians and the global Palestinian solidarity movement.” I would prefer to say that the CPCCA is attempting to create a climate of opinion in which Canadian defenders of Palestinian human rights and exponents of the universal principles of international law can be smeared as antisemites and disseminators of hatred.

The CPCCA launched a parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism in Canada—whose report we are still waiting for six months after the announced date of its release—with inflammatory claims about a terrifying resurgence of antisemitism in this country, and in Canadian universities especially. These claims are refuted by the oral testimony given in the CPCCA's own inquiry by Canadian university administrators and by senior police officers. They are also more comprehensively refuted by the analyses contained in the book Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, copies of which are available here—and copies of which have been given to every MP and senator.

The book includes eloquent, incisive texts by eleven Canadian human rights activists and scholars—a majority of whom happen to be Jewish—and by the leaders of seven human rights organizations. It also includes my own extended analysis of the relevant hate-crime and antisemitic-incident statistics, and of the rhetoric and ideology of the so-called “new antisemitism” (a term which deliberately incorporates criticism of the state of Israel).

I'd like to emphasize, as I have in the book, that criticism of Israeli policies, and support for peaceful pressure to bring Israel into conformity with international law through a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, do not mean being “against” Israel. The great English poet William Blake said, “Opposition is true friendship.”

It is not an act of friendship to encourage Israel's passage down a darkening path of violence, oppression, and illegality. Nor are we friends to ourselves if we permit our own government to continue its disgraceful complicity in the oppression of the Palestinians.

The United Nations' rejection of Canada's recent bid for a Security Council seat should be a wake-up call: this country's international reputation is in tatters. The CPCCA's attack on human rights discourse and its attempt to discredit and even criminalize criticism of Israel's policies and actions are a direct threat to free speech and to the rule of law in this country.   

Smear Tactics of the National Post: Correspondence with Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay, February 17-21, 2010

On February 14, 2010 I gave an invited lecture on “Media Self-Censorship and the Threat of Government Censorship” at the Islamic Society of York Region's Crescent Centre in Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto. My talk received hostile coverage in the National Post in an article by Joseph Brean published on February 16—to which I responded in a letter to the editor, sent very early the next morning.

My ensuing correspondence with two National Post editors is of some interest for what it reveals about the ethics of this newspaper. Letters editor Paul Russell stated on February 17 that he would print my letter (though not until after the 18th), and Jonathan Kay agreed that I was owed a right of reply. In the interim, the National Post printed on February 17 a letter which attributed to me an opinion Brean's article had snidely insinuated must be part of my belief system—and on that basis made a direct accusation of antisemitism. On the afternoon of February 21, by which time it was obvious that my original letter had been flushed down the memory hole, I wrote again to Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay. The last text here is Paul Russell's two-sentence message of apology (if that's what it is).

Cyril Connolly wrote in The Unquiet Grave that “Imprisoned in every fat man a thin man is wildly signalling to be let out.” One might say, by analogy, that within each of these two editors of the National Post a person of some decency was making rather pallid efforts—not, alas, sustained—to make himself visible.


Smear Tactics of the National Post: Correspondence with Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay, February 17-21, 2010


1. Michael Keefer to Paul Russell (Letters editor), February 17, 2010

From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Wed 17/02/2010 1:42 a.m. 
To: Letters (National Post
Subject: Letter to the editor (responding to Joseph Brean's Feb. 16 comments on me)


Joseph Brean's report on my talk at the Islamic Society of York Region's Crescent Centre illustrates very neatly some of the points I made about systematic omission, distortion, and deception in the news.

Mr. Brean wished elsewhere in his article to insinuate that an Iranian video shown earlier in the evening had stupidly exposed warlike nuclear ambitions on Iran's part. Naturally, then, he avoided mentioning that one of my examples of media falsehood was the deployment against Iran of the same lies about WMDs that were used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq in 2003—this despite the 2006 US National Intelligence Estimates, which declared that Iran was at least a decade away from being able to produce key components of a nuclear weapon. (The IAEA's rigorous inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities have of course never found any sign of a weapons program.)

I referred also to scientific analyses, published in the online Journal of 9/11 Studies, which show unequivocally that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by planned demolition—and noted, as one of my examples of deception-by-omission, that the corporate media have avoided mentioning these very newsworthy studies. Mr. Brean also managed not to mention their existence.

As for the Toronto 18 group, its only two or three members who had dangerously fanatical ideas had been under close surveillance for years. The group as such was assembled by one police agent, given the idea of making bombs by a second, and provided with expertise, financial assistance, and materials by a third. Until Mr. Brean can propose a better name for this pattern of events, “police frame-up” will do just fine.

Michael Keefer


2. Paul Russell to Michael Keefer (and replies), February 17

Letters (National Post) wrote (Feb 17, 6:10 a.m.):

Thanks for your letter. It will be considered for upcoming editions
Paul Russell
Letters editor


Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 12:04 p.m.):

Dear Paul,

Thanks for your quick reply. 

My text is perhaps longer than you normally print in the letters column. However, I do think the National Post owes me the right to respond to Mr. Brean's remarks about me.

Would that fall more under Jonathan Kay's editorial responsibilities than yours? I'll send him a copy of my letter.

Michael Keefer

p.s. I note that for some reason the apostrophes have dropped out of my text in the form you have it. I'm re-sending it to you as an attachment to this message.


Letters (National Post) wrote:

I'm planning to run your letter, so no concerns. 


Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 2:32 p.m.):

Dear Paul, 
Many thanks. 


Letters (National Post) wrote:

Thanks, and FYI, there is no room tomorrow. 


3. Michael Keefer to Jonathan Kay (and replies)

Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 12:22 p.m.):

Dear Jonathan,

I'm attaching a copy of a letter I wrote in response to Joseph Brean's February 16 column, in which I received his unflattering attentions at some length.

I sent the letter last night to the Post's letters page, and received a very prompt response from Paul Russell. I've replied to him saying that I would guess my text is longer than the Post usually publishes on its letters page—but that I do think the Post owes me a right of reply.

I also guessed that right-of-reply issues might be your editorial responsibility, and said I'd send my letter to you: I've attached it to this message. (For some reason, all the apostrophes dropped out of the version that Paul has.

Best wishes, 


Kay, Jonathan (National Post) wrote (Feb 17, 12:30 p.m.):

Let me talk to the letters editor
I think you should have the right to respond ...


4. Michael Keefer to Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay (and reply), February 21

From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Sun 21/02/2010 4:29 p.m. 
To: Letters (National Post); Kay, Jonathan (National Post
Subject: Re: Letter to the editor (responding to Joseph Brean's Feb. 16 comments on me)

Dear Paul and Jonathan,

Unless I've been more than usually unobservant, the National Post hasn't run my letter. I would guess now, since we'll soon be five days on from the time I sent it in, that it's not going to be published in the Post. So much, then, for the right to reply.

I don't reproach either of you, but I do reproach whoever countermanded the good intentions you expressed in your notes to me.

In my letter, dated on the 16th but actually sent very early on the morning of the 17th, I replied just to Joseph Brean's article.

But let me draw your attention to the little twist the Post gave to the story by publishing on the 17th a letter from a person in Thornhill who asserted that Brean “quotes Michael Keefer as saying 9/11 was a planned demolition run by Americans (which was obviously a product of the all-powerful Zionist lobby in Washington).”

Most if not all readers will understand that sentence to mean that everything after “as saying” was actually quoted by Joseph Brean from the talk I gave. Not so: Brean didn't quote the bracketed words from me, for the very good reason that I said nothing of the sort.

Of course, without the implication that I blamed 9/11 on “the all-powerful Zionist lobby in Washington,” the direct accusation of antisemitism in the person-from-Thornhill's last sentence wouldn't work quite as smoothly. (Unless one has something plausibly antisemitic to start with, it's a long jump to the blood libel.)

The profound indecency here isn't Joseph Brean's—he was just doing his job, which seems to consist of repeated exercises in what I've termed “subtractive politicizing.” Nor should it be laid at the door of the letter writer with the Passover-Seder-hymn name, who's probably no more than a clever schoolboy.

The real indecency is on the part of a newspaper that amuses itself by dancing in the waltz-time of Two Smears-No Reply.



Letters (National Post) wrote:


I'm sorry, but while Jonathan and I generally supported the idea of running your letter, other senior editors had concerns with it, and hence its lack of publication. But thanks for your note and your observations about the other letter.

Paul Russell
NP letters editor


The Waterloo March 19th, 2008 9/11 Event: A Response

On March 19, 2008, I participated in a well-attended event devoted to 9/11 evidence, organized by the University of Waterloo's student Debating Society. The principal speakers were Kee Dewdney, Professor Emeritus of mathematics and computer science at Waterloo, who outlined his refutation of official narratives about cellphone calls from the hijacked airliners; and Professor Graeme MacQueen, co-founder of McMaster University's Institute of Peace Studies, who presented his and mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti's refutation of the official analysis of the destruction of World Trade Center 1. Richard B. Lee, University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, introduced the speakers; I was moderator for the question period. During the break before question period, I was confronted in a highly insulting manner by an audience member whom I later discovered to be Professor Jeffrey Shallit of Waterloo's Department of Mathematics.

Several days later, Professor Shallit sent the following message to the participants in the event:

Dear Colleagues:

I attend[ed] the “debate-that-was-not-a-debate” about 9/11 on Wednesday, March 19, at the University of Waterloo. I have written a series of critical blog posts about the event, which you can find at my blog I hope you will agree that I have been harsh in my criticism, but fair. If you feel that I have misrepresented what you said in any way, please let me know so that I can issue the appropriate correction. Of course, you are also welcome to comment directly on my blog. Or, if you prefer, feel free to send me e-mail and mention that you would like me to publish your response.

Regards, (Prof.) Jeffrey Shallit

I responded on March 25, 2008:

Dear Professor Shallit,

I am enclosing a response to you as an attachment to this message. You are welcome to post my text on your blog, provided you reproduce it in its entirety. I believe you owe me an apology for your grotesquely insulting behaviour to me on the evening of March 19th. Your language to me on that occasion had nothing to do with criticism, whether harsh or fair. Nor do repeated insinuations of Holocaust denial amount to an argument. Plato's Eleatic Stranger describes refutation as a blessing, “the chiefest and greatest of purifications” (Sophist 230d-e). I am perfectly willing to accept the blessing of refutation from those who think themselves wise or learned enough to bestow it—and I am no less willing to bestow the same benefit, perhaps more thoroughly, in return. However, I am not willing to accept abusive smears from you or anyone else.

Yours sincerely, Michael Keefer

Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph

Professor Shallit promptly changed his mind about publishing my response on his blog. We did meet for lunch, and civil conversation, some months later. But since his blog posts about the 9/11 event and about what he calls “denialism” remain online, it seems appropriate to publish this response.



Professor Jeffrey Shallit,
University of Waterloo,
25 March 2008.


Dear Jeffrey Shallit,

I am responding to your invitation to engage in discussion with you. I am doing so in part because of some passing remarks about me in your Recursivity blog. After doing me the small favour of giving readers of your blog links to two of my articles touching on 9/11 evidence, you have commented there on my very minor role in the 9/11 event organized by the University of Waterloo Debating Society on March 19th—and on your own role as well—in a manner that calls for some correction.

1. Civility and slander

Your behaviour to me prior to the question period on March 19th, in what you are pleased in your blog to describe as an argument, surpassed in coarse and slanderous insinuation, and perhaps also in sheer noise, anything that I have experienced in nearly four decades of life as an academic. I did not imagine, when you addressed me with such evident rage, interrupting me repeatedly in a voice that rose almost to a shout, and insinuating to my face that I was a Holocaust denier, that the ludicrously insolent person in front of me could himself be an academic—much less a senior professor in the university to which I had come as an invited guest.

I have since learned, with some surprise, that you are a distinguished mathematician. I have learned as well that you have done work as a public intellectual—in debates over evolutionary biology, in refutations of the inanities of creationist pseudo-science, and in criticism of the toxic antisemitism and neo-fascism of the supposed historian David Irving—that I both respect and heartily approve of.

There is all the more reason to let you know how grotesque an insult your insinuation of Holocaust denial is. I have, as it happens, traveled quite widely in Poland. During those travels, I have walked on what I regard as sacred ground. I have stood within the first of the Nazi gas-chambers in the death camp at Majdanek, and in the vacant spaces that are all that remain of synagogues in Lublin and elsewhere. I have meditated in the Old Synagogue in Kazimierz, next to Crakow. I have stood outside the cinema—once also a synagogue—in Kazimierz Dolny, and in the midst of the hillside monument of shattered gravestones, a kilometer outside that town, which is its only memorial to the 50 percent of its population who were murdered in the Shoah.

In mentioning these facts, I am not laying claim to any kind of spurious virtue-by-association-with-suffering. But I should like you to recognize—perhaps with some tincture of shame—the profound indecency of your insult, directed as it was to someone you had never met, and of whose work I suspect you knew nothing.

2. Logic

I note that in your blog you agree with an anonymous poster who suggests an analogy between “9/11 deniers and creationists.” You see “very strong parallels” between these two kinds of idiocy, but add that “the parallels are even stronger between 9/11 denialism and Holocaust denialism, and that’ll be the subject of a future post.”

Let us hope not. The logic involved in such a smear would disgrace a freshman. How would it go? “X and Y, who believe that highly placed people in the US government were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11, are also antisemites and Holocaust deniers. David Ray Griffin, John McMurtry and Michel Chossudovsky also believe that highly placed people in the US government were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11. Therefore, they too, and all other 9/11 sceptics as well, are antisemites and Holocaust deniers.” Golly! With logic like that, I could prove that Socrates had four legs and barked like a dog.

3. Civility again

I’d like to say something about a lesser issue of civility, and, in conclusion, about some matters of scholarship.

I wonder, first, what business it is of yours as a faculty member to contest so obstreperously the manner in which a student organization chooses to set up events that it holds on campus. Is there something in the constitution of the Debating Society that requires it to structure every event it sponsors as a contest of eristic rhetoric between two opposing sides? I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s any business of yours or mine to tell the members of the Society how to organize themselves. Academic freedom, as I understand it, is not merely a possession of tenured faculty, but a necessary condition for the proper functioning of a university, and hence something that students can also lay claim to, both inside the classroom and beyond it. That means, I believe, that people with the power and authority of faculty members should not be meddling in the affairs of student organizations.

Nor should faculty members take for granted the right to be among what, on March 19th, time constraints ensured could only be a very limited number of questioners at the end of the event. As moderator, I had in any case no inkling that you were a faculty member rather than, as I assumed, merely a very unpleasant member of the general public.

Yet despite your prior behaviour, had you been the first to raise your hand during the brief period of questions from the floor that I moderated, I would have recognized you as the first to ask a question. It so happens that half a dozen people, out of an audience of several hundred, were ahead of you. Nonetheless, when one of the speakers, your former colleague Professor Kee Dewdney, graciously intervened to ask that you be heard, I acquiesced—even though it meant that others lost their chance to speak.

4. Scholarship

Finally, some matters of scholarship. I find it amusing that a mathematician who has devoted some proportion of his recent energies to debates—very interesting debates, from what I’ve read—in evolutionary biology should so strenuously object to other scholars straying from the fields of their primary expertise. I tried to tell you on March 19th—but failed, due to loud and hectoring repetitions of your question about engineering expertise—that Professor Graeme MacQueen’s current work is not just interdisciplinary but collaborative: the study from which he read is being co-authored (as I believe he said in introducing it) with the mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti. I also tried, but failed, to let you know that large numbers of engineers and architects have gone on record as challenging the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Should you be interested, you can find more than three hundred of them listed at

I am surprised that you believe David Dunbar’s and Brad Reagan’s Debunking 9/11 Myths (2006) to be an adequate rejoinder to the writings of 9/11 sceptics. When you recommended it to the audience during the question period on March 19th, I was tempted for a moment to respond by holding up a copy of David Ray Griffin’s Debunking 9/11 Debunking (2007) which I had with me. But of course getting you, or the rest of the audience, up to date in your scholarship was not my role: it would have required me to mention, as well, Ryan Mackey’s monograph-length response to Griffin in the Journal of Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories, 1.4, together with articles in the Journal of 9/11 Studies, responses to Mackey that have appeared elsewhere, and perhaps also the materials published at WTC Demolition Analysis ( Hardly a moderator’s job, you might agree.

But I am led to wonder whether there is an adequate correspondence between the strength of your opinions on 9/11—in particular, the strength of your opinions about 9/11 sceptics—and the extent and thoroughness of your reading and research on the subject. I am drawn to this question by your apparent conviction that what you absurdly call “9/11 denialism” (wouldn’t “denialists” have to be people who claim that most or all of 9/11 never happened?) is a quasi-religious cult whose adherents share a common body of dogma. One doesn’t actually have to read very far to discover sharp differences of opinion among 9/11 researchers, as well as a willingness—at least among those whom I respect—to modify hypotheses in the face of new evidence and convincing counter-analysis.

I am myself more than happy to point out those errors that I am aware of in the two articles of mine that you linked to. The CounterPunch polemic, first published in November 2006, mentions a video in whose title Jeff King is incorrectly described as an MIT professor, and cites two people I would not now care to mention: Judy Wood, a professor of mechanical engineering whose 9/11 work I now regard as wholly groundless, and Eric Hufschmidt, who, as I was unaware at the time, is indeed the antisemite you imagine all 9/11 sceptics to be.1

The other essay, dating from August 2006, says things about philosopher of science Professor Jim Fetzer that I would not now repeat: my opinion that he had a “polite but formidable command of the facts” and also of “appropriate protocols of interpretation” has been at least partially refuted by Fetzer himself through his flirtation with no-plane and directed-energy-weapon hypotheses.2 Whether this weakens my argument about the bias and disinformation of the CBC program I criticized in that essay is for others to judge.

On some aspects of the 9/11 evidence, such as the Pentagon attack and the crash of Flight 93, I don’t feel that I have sufficient grounds for any firm opinion, beyond the obvious one that the US government has either withheld or lied about much of the material evidence. I don’t mind saying that I have found nothing on your Recursivity blog that would induce me to alter my views on these or other aspects of the 9/11 evidence.

Should you wish to publish this response on your blog, you are welcome to do so, provided that you reproduce it in its entirety. I will myself be circulating it to the organizers and the other participants in the March 19th event.

Yours sincerely, 
Michael Keefer
Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph




1  The reference is to my essay “Into the Ring with CounterPunch on 9/11: How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out on 9/11 Evidence,” first published on November 4, 2006, and available at, and also (with corrections to two footnotes, at my website).

2  See “Anatomy of a Hatchet Job: CBC Radio's 'The Current' and Scholars for 9/11 Truth,” Centre for Research on Globalization (29 August 2006),   

Criminalizzazione della critica d'Israele in Canada

This translation by Oscar Mina of my article “Criminalizing Criticism of Israel in Canada: A Hate-Propaganda Trojan Horse in Bill C-13,” was first published in Eurasia: Rivista di Studi Geopolitici (17 May 2014),


La campagna internazionale di boicottaggio, disinvestimento e sanzioni (BDS) contro Israele—quale mezzo pacifico di persuasione nei confronti di Israele ad abbandonare le sistematiche violazioni del diritto internazionale e le politiche di apartheid, espropriazione, colonizzazione e blocco nei territori palestinesi occupati—ha riscontrato ultimamente numerosi successi.1

Ad inizio febbraio 2014, The Economist sottolineava che la BDS “sta diventando una tendenza dominante,”2 mentre l’ex portavoce alla Knesset israeliana, Avraham Burg, scriveva su Haaretz che “il movimento BDS sta guadagnando terreno e si avvicina il momento […in cui] le sanzioni contro Israele diverranno fatto compiuto.”3

Il Primo Ministro israeliano Benjamin Netanyahu ha affermato che lui e i suoi alleati risponderanno con forza a tale tendenza. Alcuni resoconti relativi a una riunione del consiglio, dove si discussero le “tattiche”, mettono in luce le divisioni intestine più che la sostanza stessa della riunione: “Netanyahu indìce riunioni strategiche per contrastare i boicottaggi”—ma ha escluso di proposito alcuni Ministri più esperti:
“Ministri di sinistra tenuti fuori dalla seduta straordinaria del consiglio sulla BSD.”4 Tuttavia, sebbene la stampa israeliana sostenne “che ‘la discussione fu tenuta in segreto’, con un imposto ‘oscuramento televisivo’,” una delle fonti che riportarono il fatto diede un significato piuttosto preciso a ciò che accadde a porte chiuse:

A quanto pare, le idee discusse dai Ministri inclusero cause “in corti europee e nordamericane contro organizzazioni [pro-BDS]” e “azioni legali contro istituzioni finanziarie che boicottano gli insediamenti israeliani… e compagnie israeliane [complici]”. Vi è anche la possibilità di “promuovere leggi anti-boicottaggio in capitali amiche nel mondo, come Washington, Ottawa e Canberra” e, a tale scopo, “attivare la lobby pro-Israele negli Stati Uniti”.5

Questa specie di “guerra legislativa”, com’è a volte chiamata, non è una novità (né, si può aggiungere, lo è il concetto, altresì discusso in tale riunione, di sostenere la sorveglianza di organizzazioni pro-BDS da parte dei servizi segreti militari—la Shin Bet Security Service e il Mossad). È altrettanto evidente che la lobby pro-Israele ha mobilitato politici nelle “capitali amiche” di Washington, Ottawa e Canberra per molti anni.

Recenti sviluppi di queste iniziative hanno portato alle minacce perpetrate a Canberra, nel giugno 2013, da Julie Bishop—membro del nuovo governo australiano di Julia Gillard—secondo le quali “i sostenitori di un boicottaggio accademico di Israele” vedrebbero “sommariamente tagliati i fondi per la ricerca pubblica.”6 A Washington, è stata sottoposta all’attenzione del Congresso una legge chiamata “Protect Academic Freedom Act”, la quale negherebbe l’accesso a fondi federali “per college ed università che partecipano al boicottaggio di istituzioni accademiche o di studiosi israeliani.”7

E cosa dire del Canada, il cui Primo Ministro è l’amico più fidato del signor Netanyahu?8

Questo saggio stima che le revisioni del codice penale canadese, proposte dal governo Harper, contengono espressioni usate ad arte al fine di consentire procedimenti legislativi contro attivisti per la difesa dei diritti umani, esattamente come voluto dal signor Netanyahu e collaboratori.


1. Disegno di legge C-13 e relativi sotterfugi

Il disegno di legge (DDL) C-13, la legge che protegge i canadesi da crimini sulla rete, ha ricevuto una prima lettura presso la Camera dei comuni nel novembre del 2013. In una pagina web dedicata a “miti e fatti” del progetto di legge in questione, il dipartimento della giustizia rigetta il “mito” secondo cui “il DDL C-13 è un’antologia di diritto penale che tratta qualcosa di più del bullismo in rete”.

Il DDL C-13 non è un’antologia di diritto penale. Esso propone un nuovo reato di distribuzione non consensuale di immagini a contenuto intimo per affrontare il bullismo virtuale mediante strumenti legali autorizzati ad aiutare polizia e procuratori nell’investigare non solo il nuovo illecito proposto, bensì anche altri reati che vengono commessi via internet o includono prove elettroniche. […] Il DDL non contiene il vecchio e controverso emendamento del DDL C-30, relativo all’accesso illegittimo ad informazioni circa i firmatari e alla modifica dell’infrastruttura delle telecomunicazioni.9

Ciononostante, il dottor Michael Geist—preside Canada Research di Diritto informatico e commercio elettronico all’Università di Ottawa—osserva che in realtà il DDL C-13 conserva provvedimenti che permettono un maggior accesso illegittimo ad informazioni personali, ben oltre ciò che è previsto dall’odierno codice penale.10 L’avvocato penalista Michael Spratt stigmatizza il DDL come un “cavallo di Troia digitale per la sorveglianza statale”:

Gran parte del C-13 ha poco a che fare col proteggere chi è vittima [del bullismo virtuale]. Questo DDL espanderebbe a dismisura i poteri di sorveglianza dello Stato. Sacrifica la privacy della persona. Limita o elimina il controllo giudiziario. È incompatibile con la giurisprudenza della corte suprema. È un DDL pericoloso.11 (11

L’affermazione del Dipartimento della giustizia che “il DDL C-13 non è un’antologia di diritto penale” è evidentemente falsa. Come sottolinea un altro critico, Terry Wilson, sebbene promossa “come legge di prevenzione del bullismo virtuale, il DDL ha in realtà molto poco a che vedere con i bulli, inoltre prevede sezioni che vanno dal furto di cavi, dalla pirateria informatica, dalla sorveglianza, fino al terrorismo (il bullismo virtuale conta due pagine del DDL su cinquanta totali) […]. Il DDL include persino ‘crimini d’odio’…”.12

In questo senso, il DDL C-13 costituisce, ancora una volta, un cavallo di Troia. Il DDL aggiunge alcuni enunciati a quelle sezioni del codice penale relative alla propaganda dell’odio che sembrano, a giudicare dalle apparenze, non fare altro che conformare quelle sezioni ad altri testi paralleli—con molteplici documenti rilevanti in materia di diritto internazionale e con provvedimenti di condanna, successivi nel codice penale, dove già compaiono le stesse espressioni. Ma in questa parte del DDL C-13, v’è presumibilmente un secondo fine in atto, poiché si ha motivo di pensare che le nuove espressioni mirino, evitando ingannevolmente qualsivoglia dibattito pubblico sulla questione, a rendere penalmente perseguibili come incitamento all’odio il discorso e la difesa dei diritti umani – in relazione al trattamento oppressivo dei palestinesi da parte dello Stato d’Israele.

Questa visione dell’intento sottostante il DDL C-13 è sostenuta dal Primo Ministro Harper nel suo discorso alla Knesset tenuto il 20 gennaio 2014 (che verrà discusso più avanti). Essa trova poi supporto anche dal fatto che un’identica modifica alla formulazione del codice penale francese, implementata nel 2003 dalla cosiddetta legge Lellouche, ha permesso la condanna per incitamento all’odio razziale di ben venti attivisti francesi per i diritti umani.13

In Francia, il risultato è stato paradossale. La Francia è, come il Canada, un’Alta Parte contraente della Quarta convenzione di Ginevra del 1949—il cui primo articolo recita che “le Alte Parti contraenti s’impegnano a rispettare e a far rispettare la presente Convenzione in ogni circostanza.”14 Le persone condannate dalla legge Lellouche per incitamento all’odio razziale, partecipano ad un movimento consistente nel fermo ripudio dell’antisemitismo e di qualunque altra forma di razzismo.15 Questo movimento raccomanda un esercizio pacifico di pressione economica, allo scopo di persuadere lo Stato d’Israele a mettere fine alle molteplici e sistematiche violazioni del diritto internazionale, in particolare della Quarta convenzione di Ginevra, per la cui trasgressione Israele è stato ripetutamente condannato da commissioni e rapporti dell’ONU, nonché da agenzie indipendenti come la Human Rights Watch e Amnesty International. La realtà dei fatti è dunque inequivocabile: applicando la legge Lellouche e ridefinendo i suddetti attivisti in qualità di persone colpevoli di crimini d’odio, lo Stato francese ha simultaneamente violato il precedente impegno “a rispettare e a far rispettare” la Quarta convenzione di Ginevra “in ogni circostanza”.

Uno degli obiettivi del DDL C-13 sembra essere quello di mettere il Canada in una situazione simile, in piena violazione di uno dei principali strumenti del diritto internazionale.


2. Modifiche al significato delle sezioni 318 e 319 del codice penale

La sezione 12 del DDL C-13 propone svariate aggiunte, di minor entità, a quella parte del codice penale (sezioni 318-321.1) che porta il titolo di “Propaganda all’odio”. La sezione 12 recita come segue:

12. La sottosezione 318.(4) della legge è sostituita dalla seguente:
(4) In questa sezione, l’espressione “gruppo identificabile” rappresenta qualsiasi settore del pubblico distinguibile per colore, razza, religione, identità nazionale o etnica, età, sesso, orientamento sessuale o disabilità mentale e fisica.16

(Il grassetto indica la formulazione aggiunta all’attuale codice penale tramite il DDL B-13).

Queste aggiunte alla sezione 318 del codice penale, riguardante il reato di “esortazione al genocidio”, impattano anche su significato ed applicazione della sezione 319, riguardante il reato di “pubblico incitamento all’odio” e “intenzionale promozione dell’odio”, in cui—come enuncia la sottosezione 319.(7)—“‘gruppo identificabile’ ha lo stesso valore presente nella sezione 318”. Le clausole rilevanti della sezione 319 sono:

319. (1) Chiunque, attraverso dichiarazioni pubbliche, inciti all’odio contro quale che sia gruppo identificabile, dove tale incitamento risulti in una violazione della pace, è considerato colpevole di

(a) un’offesa incriminabile che prevede la reclusione per una durata di non più di due anni; oppure

(b) un’offesa incriminabile, punibile con una condanna sommaria.

(2) Chiunque, per mezzo di dichiarazioni, oltre ad altre forme di conversazione privata, promuova intenzionalmente l’odio contro quale che sia gruppo identificabile si rende colpevole di

(a) un’offesa incriminabile che prevede la reclusione per una durata di non più di due anni; oppure

(b) un’offesa incriminabile, punibile con una condanna sommaria.17

L’aggiunta più importante al concetto di “gruppo identificabile” risiede nella categoria d’identità nazionale, che non ha legami evidenti con il verosimile obiettivo del DDL C-13, ma che potrebbe essere percepita come legata ad un’altra agenda, enfaticamente pronunciata dal Primo Ministro Stephen Harper nel suo discorso alla Knesset israeliana nel gennaio 2014—ossia quella di ridefinire, come propaganda all’odio, la critica di politiche e comportamenti dello stato-nazione di Israele nei confronti dei cittadini palestinesi e degli abitanti dei territori palestinesi occupati.

Come evidenziò il principale quotidiano israeliano, Haaretz, in un servizio del febbraio 2014, le condanne per crimini d’odio promulgate in Francia, parecchi mesi prima, contro dodici attivisti per i diritti umani—sostenitori della campagna internazionale esortante al boicottaggio, disinvestimento e sanzioni (BDS) contro Israele—furono assicurate grazie alla legge Lellouche, la quale “estendeva la definizione di discriminazione oltre i previsti parametri di razza, religione ed orientamento sessuale, per includere membri appartenenti ai gruppi nazionali”.18


3. Legge Lellouche: un altro cavallo di Troia?

Intenzionalmente o meno, la legge Lellouche ha funzionato come una specie di cavallo di Troia. Il dottor Jean-Yves Camus ha osservato che questa legge, “approvata il 3 gennaio 2003, a seguito di un’ondata di violenza antisemita senza precedenti, permette ai giudici di imporre pene più severe nei confronti degli autori di violenze a stampo razzista, rispetto a quelle che riceverebbero normalmente nel caso di violenze simili non motivate da razzismo.”19 Come nota Haaretz, in un rapporto sulla criminalizzazione del movimento BDS in Francia, l’obiettivo apparente della legge—in un’epoca in cui l’apertamente antisemita e neofascista Fronte Nazionale di Jean-Marie Le Pen vedeva crescere il proprio supporto, specialmente nel sud della Francia—era di “rafforzare i valori repubblicani e contrastare le tendenze settarie”.

La legge passò nel 2003, poco dopo i successi strabilianti del Fronte Nazionale di estrema destra alle elezioni presidenziali.

La misura fu adottata per rispondere al clima sociale caratterizzato non solo da un crescente sentimento antisemita, ma anche da discriminazione antiaraba e xenofobia.20

Il “quadro dei motivi” che introduce la legge Lellouche al momento della presentazione all’assemblea nazionale, nel Novembre del 2002, fu esplicito nelle sue ripetute dichiarazioni che le aggiunte al codice penale proposte dalla legge erano prettamente volte a combattere la violenza di chiara matrice razzista:

“Violenze chiaramente razziste”, “atti di violenza volutamente razzista”, “violenze di carattere razzista”, “aggressioni di stampo razzista”.21 Sebbene il testo specificasse che la violenza razzista poteva essere sia “morale” che fisica,22 i due esempi suggeriti ai deputati dell’assemblea nazionale erano uno, nell’ottobre del 2002, “l’omicidio chiaramente razzista” di un giovane francese di origine marocchina nel nord della Francia; l’altro, ad inizio novembre, un’aggressione razzista rivolta contro giovani studenti di una scuola privata ebraica della tredicesima circoscrizione di Parigi.23 Ponendo l’attenzione sul fatto che in Francia esistono già leggi che si occupano di discriminazione razziale, incitamento all’odio o alla violenza e negazionismo dell’Olocausto, il quadro introduttivo definisce il fine della legge come tentativo di incrementare sensibilmente le pene imposte nei casi in cui gli attacchi a cose o persone siano di matrice razzista – come quando il razzismo si fa movente di atti di tortura e barbarie, violenza con morte preterintenzionale, atti che sfociano in mutilazioni o disabilità permanenti e, ancora, atti che comportano danno o distruzione di proprietà.24

Nonostante l’esplicita dichiarazione di intenti, la legge Lellouche è stata applicata in ben altra maniera—col pretesto che, in otto dei nove articoli, viene inclusa la categoria di “nazione” nella definizione di gruppi percepibili come vittime. Come osserva il servizio di Haaretz, la legge “è stata invocata ripetutamente contro attivisti anti-Israele. In Francia, hanno avuto luogo dieci processi contro sostenitori della BDS, iniziati per mano della legge Lellouche”.25

Pascal Markowitz, capo dell’unità legale della BDS, facente parte del consiglio rappresentativo delle istituzioni ebraiche di Francia (CRIF), è chiaro nel dare un giudizio al valore strumentale della legge Lellouche. Haaretz lo cita testualmente: “la legge è ‘ad oggi, la più efficace legislazione in materia di BDS’. ‘C’è stata una sola assoluzione, perciò le statistiche sono positive’, ha detto”.26 Ma in Francia, altri personaggi politici sostengono posizioni differenti sulla questione:

“Queste condanne sono irragionevoli,” si esprime a proposito del caso Nicole Kiil-Nielsen—membro francese del Parlamento europeo—durante una sessione straordinaria a Strasburgo nel 2011. “I governi non stanno facendo nulla per mettere fine all’occupazione illegale [dei territori palestinesi] da parte di Israele e la corte francese sta ingiustamente negando ai cittadini la possibilità di agire attraverso la BDS”.27

È essenziale capire cosa significhi, nel contesto odierno, “cavallo di Troia”. In ogni versione della storia antica, da Omero a Virgilio,28 il punto nodale è sempre lo stesso. Il cavallo vuoto fatto di legno fu uno sleale stratagemma utilizzato dall’armata greca che assediava Troia da dieci anni; ebbe successo perché il cavallo era un’ingannevole artifizio dalla duplice natura. Fingendo di disertare l’assedio, i greci lasciarono indietro l’enorme oggetto: la funzione manifesta più plausibile era quella di un’offerta fatta agli dei, che i troiani furono persuasi a trasportare all’interno della città come celebrazione per la loro presunta vittoria. Tuttavia, l’artefatto aveva una seconda funzione segreta—quale sleale espediente per portare un manipolo di greci armati entro le mura di Troia, cosicché costoro potessero poi aprire le porte di notte, quando il resto dell’esercito avrebbe fatto ritorno.

La legge Lellouche è servita come cavallo di Troia perché, quando fu promulgata, sembrò un mezzo verosimile ed appropriato per far fronte ad un aumento della violenza razziale in Francia, che coincideva con un brusco sollevamento a sostegno di un partito politico di estrema destra, incline a posizioni nettamente razziste. Ma da allora la legge viene usata per uno scopo alquanto diverso: criminalizzare le posizioni degli attivisti per i diritti umani, i quali affermano palesemente la necessità di rispettare e far rispettare le norme di diritto umanitario internazionale.


4. Inserimento di “nazionale” nelle sezioni 318 e 319: semplice “messa in regola”?

Secondo un rapporto di Paul McLeod dell’Halifax Chronicle-Herald, l’aggiunta della parola “nazionale” alle sezioni 318 e 319 del codice penale si deve, spiega il dipartimento della giustizia, al fatto di essere stata “adottata per uniformarsi alla formulazione di un protocollo del Consiglio d’Europa, un’organizzazione per i diritti dell’uomo”.29 Si fa qui riferimento al Protocollo addizionale alla Convenzione sulla criminalità informatica, riguardante l’incriminazione di atti di natura razzista e xenofobica commessi a mezzo di computer, adottato a Strasburgo nel gennaio del 2003. Nel capitolo I, all’articolo 2.1 di questo testo, la parola “nazionale” ricorre in una definizione dei gruppi percepiti come vittime di “materiale razzista e xenofobico”.30

McLeod afferma che alcuni esperti di diritto hanno inteso che la modifica è “probabilmente un mero emendamento di messa in regola al fine di portare il codice penale in linea con le formulazioni di altre normative”.31 La parola “nazionale” appare, infatti, in contesti similari, nel Patto internazionale sui diritti civili e politici dell’ONU (articolo 20) e nella Convenzione sul genocidio (articolo 2), sempre dell’ONU. Inoltre, il DDL C-13 adegua le sezioni 318 e 319 del codice penale alle disposizioni di condanna della sezione 718, che include già tutti i gruppi (identità nazionale, età, sesso e disabilità mentale e fisica) che non erano inclusi nella sezione 318.(4), ma che ora sono stati aggiunti.

Una decifrazione delle modifiche in chiave “riassestamento” risulta così totalmente plausibile.

Ad ogni modo, non vi è stata poi troppa meticolosità nella messa in regola. Nella sua forma attuale, la sezione 318 del codice penale, che definisce la giusta pena per il crimine di difesa o promozione del genocidio, è un testo alquanto particolare—dato che la relativa sottosezione 2, malgrado derivi chiaramente dall’articolo 2 della Convenzione sul genocidio dell’ONU, omette però le clausole (b), (d) ed (e) attinenti alla definizione di quello stesso articolo.32

David MacDonald e Graham Hudson sottolineano che quando il parlamento ratificò la Convenzione sul genocidio nel 1952, risparmiò il codice penale canadese da alcune delle clausole pertinenti all’articolo 2, in virtù del fatto che tematiche come quella dell’allontanamento forzato di bambini non sono rilevanti per questo paese. (Siccome il sistema canadese prevede l’esistenza di istituti scolastici gestiti dalla Chiesa, sotto la cui custodia vengono forzatamente trasferiti bambini indigeni, pare ovvio che l’ultima clausola dell’articolo 2 della Convenzione fu esclusa in cattiva fede). MacDonald e Hudson rilevano altresì che quando il parlamento adottò, nel 2000, la Legge sui crimini contro l’umanità e i crimini di guerra, inglobò lo Statuto di Roma della Corte penale internazionale del 1998 (che include la definizione completa di genocidio in seno alla Convenzione sul genocidio) all’interno della Legge canadese.33 La sezione 318 del codice penale è pertanto anomala nella sua forma corrente, in quanto la sua definizione di crimine di genocidio esclude clausole che, tuttavia, non sono parte della Legge canadese, a causa della loro assimilazione nella Legge sui crimini contro l’umanità e i crimini di guerra.

Uno scrupoloso riassestamento di questa parte del codice penale avrebbe di certo incluso le tre clausole omesse dall’articolo 2 della Convenzione sul genocidio.

Dico ciò non per dare contro all’interpretazione in chiave “riassestamento” dell’aggiunta della parola “nazionale” alle sezioni 318 e 319 del DDL C-13 del codice penale: come si è visto prima, tale spiegazione rimane totalmente credibile. Invece, ciò che l’esempio suggerisce è che gli estensori del DDL C-13 potrebbero non essere stati risolutamente concentrati sulla messa in regola.

Il discorso del Primo Ministro Harper, tenuto il 20 gennaio 2014 alla Knesset israeliana, ci porta ad una seconda lettura riguardo ai propositi dell’inserimento della parola “nazionale” nella definizione di gruppi potenzialmente vittimizzabili dalla propaganda all’odio. Nel suggerire che il discorso rivela, con un certo grado di chiarezza, il pensiero sottostante tale aggiunta al testo del codice penale, non intendo insinuare che la spiegazione primaria e manifesta della modifica come “messa in regola” sia rimpiazzata da questo secondo intento—poiché non è così che funzionano i cavalli di Troia.

Un cavallo di Troia è, per sua natura, sleale; ma questa slealtà può avere successo solamente nella misura in cui l’obiettivo primo e dichiarato del cavallo rimanga credibile.


5. Il discorso del Primo Ministro Harper alla Knesset israeliana il 20 gennaio 2014

Durante il suo discorso, il Primo Ministro chiese, in modo retorico, cosa sia oggi a minacciare società che, come Israele, abbracciano “gli ideali di libertà, democrazia e stato di diritto”. La sua risposta fu piuttosto ampia:

Coloro che aborrono la modernità, che minacciano la libertà altrui e che guardano con disprezzo alle diversità di popoli e culture. Coloro che, spesso cominciando con l’odiare gli ebrei, finiscono—la storia ce lo insegna—con l’odiare chiunque sia diverso da loro. Quelle forze che hanno minacciato lo stato di Israele ogni singolo giorno della sua esistenza e che, oggi—l’11/9 ne è la riprova—minacciano tutti noi.34

Ciò può sembrare approssimativo. Ma il Primo Ministro Harper continuò dicendo che “viviamo in un mondo in cui […] il relativismo morale dilaga incontrollato”.

E nell’orto di siffatto relativismo morale, possono essere piantati facilmente i germi di concetti ben più sinistri.

Così abbiamo assistito, negli ultimi anni, alla mutazione dell’antico male dell’antisemitismo e alla progressiva affermazione di una nuova tensione.

Tutti conosciamo lo storico antisemitismo.

Fu rozzo ed ignorante e condusse agli orrori dei campi di concentramento.

Certo, in molti angoli bui, ci persegue ancora.

Ma, in gran parte del mondo Occidentale, l’antico odio si è trasformato in un più sofisticato strumento di comunicazione delle società civilizzate.

Le persone non diranno mai di odiare ed accusare gli ebrei per i loro propri fallimenti o problemi del mondo; al contrario, dichiareranno il proprio odio verso Israele, trovando in esso soltanto la causa delle problematiche mediorientali.

Come un tempo venivano boicottate le aziende israeliane, oggi i capi di società civilizzate chiedono il boicottaggio di Israele.

In alcune sedi universitarie, argomentazioni intellettuali contro Israele mascherano debolmente le realtà sottostanti, quali la repulsione di professori israeliani e la molestia di studenti ebrei.

La cosa più vergognosa, è che alcuni definiscono Israele come stato-apartheid.35

A parere del il Primo Ministro, qualsiasi aspra critica di politiche ed amministrazione di Israele può essere solamente il risultato dell’odio antisemita da parte di persone alla ricerca di ulteriori mezzi con cui accusare gli ebrei. Dal resoconto traspare che gli ebrei, in veste di membri di un gruppo nazionale—in quanto cittadini di Israele, presenti o futuri che siano—, vengono accusati da questi nuovi antisemiti raffinati. Gli stessi ebrei canadesi sono vittima di tali accuse, visto che secondo la Legge del ritorno, anche coloro che non possiedono la cittadinanza israeliana sono comunque potenziali cittadini d’ Israele.

L’assunto che le critiche di Israele siano motivate da una “nuova tensione” antisemita, e che quindi possano essere legittimamente categorizzate e stigmatizzate come forma di propaganda all’odio, non è un’invenzione del Primo Ministro. Come scrive nel 2005 lo storico Norman G. Finkelstein, “l’accusa di neo-antisemitismo non è né nuova né riguarda l’antisemitismo”: è, piuttosto, un’ideologia plasmatasi nei primi anni settanta con il chiaro scopo di allentare la pressione sullo stato di Israele circa l’occupazione dei territori palestinesi di Gaza e Cisgiordania, conquistati da Israele nella guerra dei sei giorni del 1967.36

Le sezioni seguenti mostrano che l’ideologia e la retorica del “neo-antisemitismo” è stata decisamente rigettata da molti accademici e intellettuali pubblici ebrei contemporanei, di cui una parte significativa ha riconosciuto, nel dibattito etico interno alla comunità ebraica a proposito del trattamento dei palestinesi da parte di Israele, una ragione per appoggiare il crescente movimento di boicottaggio, disinvestimento e sanzioni contro Israele. Questa divisione intestina della comunità ebraica fornisce prove extra alla condanna delle affermazioni del Primo Ministro come fuorvianti e false. Si dimostrerà inoltre che l’etichetta affibbiata ad Israele quale stato-apartheid (che il signor Harper reputa “la cosa più vergognosa”) è stata effettivamente avallata da eminenti studiosi e personaggi pubblici sia in Israele che a livello internazionale – compreso il Sudafrica, ove esperti legali e funzionari pubblici possono tranquillamente affermare di sapere meglio del signor Harper cosa significhi la parola apartheid.


6. Rifiuto del cosiddetto “neo-antisemitismo”

Il neo-antisemitismo può essere brevemente definito come stratagemma retorico consistente nell’affermare che i tropi dell’antisemitismo, una delle cui funzioni è stata (e continua ad essere) quella di giustificare l’esclusione degli ebrei dal diritto di cittadinanza in qualunque paese abitino, vengono ora a ritorcersi contro la “collettività ebraica”, incarnata nello stato di Israele—con l’intento, questa volta, di impedire agli ebrei, intesi come collettività, di godere di pieni diritti di partecipazione alla famiglia delle nazioni. Lo scopo di tale atteggiamento retorico è di difendere azioni e politiche d’Israele, asserendo che i corrispettivi critici stiano esclusivamente fingendo di agire sulla base di princìpi universali quali giustizia e uguaglianza. In realtà, queste persone sono antisemiti che hanno “educatamente” riversato il proprio odio contro lo stato-nazione di Israele.

Ritroviamo le medesime dinamiche del suddetto stratagemma in tre istanze recenti, riguardanti attribuzioni di reimpiego di alcuni dei più crudeli tropi circa l’antisemitismo: “ebreo” come incarnazione di degrado, lerciume ed escremento; “ebreo” come presenza contaminatrice o avvelenatrice (specialmente di fonti d’acqua comuni); “ebreo” come assassino di bambini.37 Nel corso dei secoli, gli antisemiti hanno usato queste ripugnanti accuse, in particolar modo la terza (conosciuta come la “calunnia del sangue”), per sollevare violenze di massa e persecuzioni di stato delle comunità ebraiche.

Il primo di questi tropi fu usato contro il giornalista inglese Johann Hari quando, nel 2008, scrisse di non poter prendere parte ai festeggiamenti del sessantesimo anniversario della fondazione di Israele, a seguito degli accertati abusi nei confronti di palestinesi all’interno dei territori occupati—come lo scarico di acque di scolo non trattate su colture palestinesi dalla cima di insediamenti illegali sulle colline e l’embargo su attrezzature necessarie alla riparazione del sistema fognario di Gaza, con conseguenze potenzialmente devastanti per la salute. La Community Security Trust britannica (simile per certi aspetti alla B’nai Brith Canada) accusò Hari di “strumentalizzare la questione dei ‘liquami non trattati’ e della ‘merda’ israeliana per spiegare il perché non potesse festeggiare i sessant’anni dalla creazione di Israele” – lasciando così supporre ai lettori, siccome non venne fatta menzione del reportage di Hari né di riferimenti ad inchieste sul tema, di essersi cimentato in una vera e propria turpe apologia antisemita contro la collettività ebraica di Israele.38

Il secondo tropo fu introdotto dall’ex Ministro alla giustizia canadese Irwin Cotler in uno scritto sui “Diritti umani e la nuova anti-ebraicità”, pubblicato sul Gerusalem Post nel 2004. Egli dichiarava che “in un mondo in cui i diritti umani sono comparsi come la nuova religione secolare del nostro tempo, il ritratto di Israele [da parte dell’ONU] come metafora del violatore di diritti umani vale ad additare Israele quale ‘nuovo anticristo’, ‘avvelenatore dei pozzi internazionali’…”.39 Notevole il fatto che Cotler non offra alcuna prova di tali traslati antisemiti, adottati da chiunque all’interno delle commissioni ONU che egli attacca—ci si può solo rammaricare che un esperto di legge, famoso a livello internazionale per essere un difensore dei diritti umani, sia diventato ostile a questo discorso al punto da caricaturizzarlo come pseudo-religione pervasa di antisemitismo.

Il terzo tropo venne usato il 22 marzo 2009 da Jonathan Kay, quando protestò sul National Post che “dall’avvio della campagna di Gaza [Operazione Piombo fuso], le calunnie del sangue quali ‘massacro’ e ‘genocidio’ si sono susseguite spesso e volentieri”; lo stesso giorno Melanie Philips, scrivendo sullo Spectator, accusava il quotidiano israeliano Haaretz di calunnia di sangue per aver pubblicato la testimonianza di soldati israeliani rei di aver partecipato a crimini di guerra contro civili di Gaza.40

Comune a tutti e tre i casi l’intenzionale omissione di prove materiali relative alle accuse di illecito contro Israele: simili prove vengono puntualmente fatte sparire da un’inversione retorica che trasforma lo stato d’Israele da persecutore di palestinesi in vittima dei propri accusatori antisemiti; e che trasforma giornalisti o attivisti per i diritti umani—che raccolgono e denunciano prove su crimini di guerra e crimini contro l’umanità—in qualcuno che deve invece rispondere alle accuse di diffusione di odio antisemita.

In breve, la strategia retorica dell’ideologia di questo “neo-antisemitismo” è di allontanarsi tempestivamente da prove materiali per nascondersi nell’inversione retorica e nella diffamazione. Nel 2009, Yuli Edelstein, Ministro della Diplomazia pubblica e degli affari sulla diaspora, spiegò come approcciare il problema durante il Forum globale per la lotta all’antisemitismo a Gerusalemme. Le parole in maiuscolo sono sue:

Dobbiamo ribadire più volte questi dati di fatto—ESSERE ‘anti-Israele’ significa ESSERE ANTISEMITA. BOICOTTARE ISRAELE, I PROFESSORI ISRAELIANI e le aziende ISRAELIANE, non sono mosse politiche, sono atti di odio, atti di antisemitismo! L’isteria anti-Israele è isteria antisemita. Sono la stessa identica cosa.41

Massimi intellettuali israeliani hanno screditato l’ideologia da cui si genera codesta retorica “neo-antisemita”. Dei molti che si potrebbero citare, ne menziono solo due.42 Il filosofo dell’Università di Oxford, Brian Klug, scrisse in un saggio sul “Mito del neo-antisemitismo” che “quando ciascun antisionista è antisemita, non sappiamo più distinguere la verità—l’accezione antisemitismo perde di significato”.43 La filosofa e teorica letteraria americana Judith Butler, insistendo sul fatto che ci si debba “rifiutare di bollare l’istinto critico come antisemita o di accettare il dettame antisemita come attendibile sostituto della critica”, analizza con estrema lucidità la maniera in cui false accuse di antisemitismo “servono ad immunizzare la violenza di Israele contro la critica, rifiutando di tollerare l’integrità delle affermazioni fatte contro tale violenza”. Ha denunciato il bisogno di “un certo coraggio collettivo” per dar modo al pubblico di “dichiararsi fermamente contrario all’ovvia ed illegittima violenza…”.44

Un tentativo di riaccendere questa già rifiutata ideologia “neo-antisemita” fu intrapreso in Canada fra il 2009 ed il 2011 per mano di un gruppo di deputati—guidati da Irwin Cotler e dal Ministro della Cittadinanza, immigrazione e multiculturalismo Jason Kenney—che formò una Coalizione parlamentare canadese per la lotta all’antisemitismo (CPCCA). Il tentativo fallì. Le prove fornite da ufficiali di polizia ed amministratori universitari alla commissione d’inchiesta, rappresentata dalla CPCCA, confutano le affermazioni di quest’ultima secondo cui il Canada sta assistendo ad un incremento di incidenti antisemiti e che gli ebrei (specie quelli che sostengono Israele) vengono regolarmente perseguitati e molestati nelle università canadesi. La CPCCA, che inizialmente godeva di rappresentanza in ogni partito, perse l’appoggio dei membri del Blocco del Québec, i quali non approvarono il rifiuto della CPCCA di concedere spazio, durante le sue sedute, a gruppi per la difesa dei diritti umani aventi opinioni contrastanti con quelle dei principali organizzatori. La pubblicazione del rapporto finale della CPCCA maturò un ritardo di molti mesi dovuto a disaccordi creatisi, in parte, dallo scandaloso tentativo (per il quale Jason Kenney rifiutò di scusarsi) del Partito conservatore di danneggiare Irwin Cotler nella sua campagna di robo-chiamate e, in parte, dalla campagna diffamatoria che lo accusava, ironicamente, di prestare troppo poco sostegno a Israele. Seppure la CPCCA si premurò di non accettare alcuna presentazione d’istanza alla propria inchiesta che fosse critica nei confronti dei suoi stessi presupposti, diciotto di quelle petizioni furono pubblicate in un libro che uscì svariati mesi prima del tardivo rapporto della CPCCA e che fu consigliato dal Globe and Mail quale lettura estiva “per Tories desiderosi di imparare”.45


7. Il dibattito fra ebrei circa l’eticità del trattamento dei palestinesi da parte di Israele

Come si è detto sopra, molti professori ed intellettuali ebrei, sia in Israele che nel mondo, si sono schierati in ferma opposizione alle politiche israeliane di apartheid nei confronti dei palestinesi e alla continua colonizzazione dei territori occupati. In tali circostanze, assieme al fatto che in Canada e altrove si uniscono a queste posizioni anche vari cittadini ebrei attivisti, vi è un profondo rifiuto della ripetizione retorica “antisemita” del Primo Ministro Harper.

Come ci si poteva aspettare, le opinioni in Israele circa il significato delle parole di Harper non furono unanimi. In attesa delle dichiarazioni di Harper, Benjamin Netanyahu lo definì “un amico che sta sempre dalla nostra parte”.46 Altri israeliani, sebbene siano di certo una minoranza, la pensano diversamente. Uri Avnery, ex membro della Knesset, figura importante del (purtroppo vacillante) movimento per la pace israeliano, nonché rispettato giornalista a livello mondiale, rigetta il discorso di Harper come “ridicolo”.47

Due settimane dopo quel discorso, uno dei massimi sociologi in Israele, la professoressa Eva Illouz dell’Università Ebraica di Gerusalemme, pubblicò un lungo saggio su Haaretz che esplorava la profondità e l’importanza della divisione fra gli ebrei riguardo alla problematica morale del trattamento dei palestinesi da parte di Israele. Il titolo del saggio, “Quarantasette anni schiavo: una nuova prospettiva sull’occupazione”, è alquanto impressionante;48 lo studio della Illouz lo è ancora di più.

Illouz inizia ricordando che, ogni giorno, tre quarti delle notizie presenti su Haaretz “girano regolarmente attorno agli stessi due argomenti: persone che lottano per proteggere il buon nome di Israele e persone che si battono contro le sue violenze ed ingiustizie”. Poi menziona due sorprendenti caratteristiche di questa lotta: primo, benché ci si cerchi di infangare a vicenda, “il fango è lanciato da ebreo a ebreo”; secondo, “i valorosi combattenti per il buon nome di Israele dimenticano un fatto essenziale: le critiche a Israele negli Stati Uniti provengono sempre più da ebrei, e non da antisemiti”.49

Affermando che “se Israele viene certamente identificato fra le molte nazioni che registrano scarsi risultati in materia di diritti umani, ciò è dovuto al sentimento di vergogna e imbarazzo che gran parte degli ebrei in Occidente prova verso uno Stato che, con le sue politiche e i suoi costumi, non li rappresenta più”, Illouz cita l’osservazione di Peter Beinart secondo cui “gli ebrei sembrano essere divisi in due fazioni distinte…”.50 Diversamente dalle più comuni divisioni della storia, questa, dice la Illouz, è avvenuta a causa di un problema morale, e cioè quello del trattamento dei palestinesi nei territori occupati da Israele. Entrambe le parti affermano di dover rispondere ad imperativi morali. Quello che lei chiama il gruppo di “sicurezza come moralità” crede che “siccome gli ebrei furono le grandi vittime della storia e vista l’intrinseca vulnerabilità dello Stato d’Israele, accerchiato da un mare di nemici”, Israele “è doppiamente irredarguibile”. Il secondo gruppo, invece,

si basa su princìpi universali di giustizia, sottolineando che Israele si sta allontanando rapidamente dalle pacifiche, multietniche e pluralistiche democrazie del mondo. Israele smise di rappresentare una valida fonte di identificazione per questi ebrei, non perché essi odino se stessi, ma perché molti di loro hanno partecipato attivamente, a parole o con i fatti, alla liberazione delle rispettive società—cioè, all’estensione di diritti umani, economici e sociali ad una più vasta gamma di gruppi.51

Illouz sostiene, precisamente, che il miglior esempio di parallelismo storico utile a comprendere questa divisione comunitaria è dato dalla disputa del diciannovesimo secolo che ebbe luogo negli Stati Uniti intorno al tema della schiavitù.

Due elementi rendono convincente tale analogia. Il primo è suggerito dal sociologo di Harvard Orlando Patterson, “esperto di storia e sociologia della schiavitù”, secondo cui il fulcro della questione della schiavitù non è rappresentato dal fatto che le persone vengono comprate e vendute come proprietà, ma piuttosto dal fatto che esse vengono obbligate a sopportare condizioni di “dominazione permanente, violenta e personale” e “isolate dalla nascita e generalmente disonorate”.52 Illouz osserva che “quello che iniziò come un conflitto militare nazionale” fra israeliani e palestinesi

si è trasformato in una forma di dominazione dei palestinesi che sfiora le condizioni di schiavitù. Se concepiamo la schiavitù come condizione di esistenza e non come proprietà e commercio di corpi umani, la dominazione che Israele esercita sui palestinesi risulta aver creato il contesto di dominazione che definisco “condizione di schiavitù”.53

Come spiega in dettaglio, il contesto di dominazione include l’assoggettamento ad arresti arbitrari, incarcerazione e tortura; imposizione di un sistema legale kafkiano, alquanto diverso da quello che regola la vita degli israeliani; attacchi militari (che comprendono l’uso di palestinesi come “scudo umano”), violenza e distruzione di proprietà senza inflizione di pena nei confronti dei colonizzatori; rigorose restrizioni al movimento, accompagnate strangolamento economico; contenimento dei matrimoni e sistematica violazione della proprietà privata; imposizione di “un costante senso di disonore” su persone che “conducono una vita imprevedibile e discontinua, che vivono nel terrore ebraico e nella violenza delle milizie israeliane e che temono di non trovare lavoro, riparo o famiglia”.54

Il secondo elemento è la sconcertante ideologia predicante l’intrinseca superiorità ebraica rispetto agli arabi—totalmente analoga a quella delle dottrine fondate sulla Bibbia relative alla supremazia bianca propugnata da sostenitori della schiavitù nell’America del diciannovesimo secolo—adottata in Israele per giustificare l’assoggettamento dei palestinesi, oggi tendenza dominante circa il tema degli insediamenti. “Come i bianchi in Sudamerica,” scrive Illouz, gli ebrei d’Israele “si considerano evidentemente più virtuosi, superiori, civilizzati e tecnologicamente ed economicamente più avanzati rispetto agli arretrati arabi”; “parimenti alla controparte sudista del diciannovesimo secolo, i coloni hanno largamente santificato la loro terra attraverso predicazioni bibliche e credono, come i proprietari schiavisti, di eseguire la volontà di Dio”.55

Da professore responsabile, Illouz descrive con precisione sia le limitazioni di quest’analogia, sia—mediante ampie analisi e citazioni piene di dettagli sulle condizioni di schiavitù sopportate dai palestinesi e sul motivo della dominazione ormai radicato in Israele—il suo potere esplicativo.

Le sue conclusioni sono infatti convincenti. Israele, pur essendo “lo stato maggiormente preoccupato al mondo in materia di sicurezza,”

ha fallito nel tramutare il conflitto coi palestinesi in conflitto militare. Viceversa, è stato trasposto in un disastro umanitario che ha provocato una guerra morale ed un’incolmabile frattura in seno alla comunità ebraica. Le strategie di relazioni pubbliche dello stato non metteranno a tacere questa guerra morale.

Ciò implica un crescente isolamento internazionale:

L’Israele sta pericolosamente salpando dal vocabolario etico della maggioranza dei Paesi civilizzati di questo pianeta. A riprova di ciò sta il fatto che molti lettori giudicheranno inaffidabili le mie fonti poiché provengono da organizzazioni che difendono i diritti umani. Israele non parla più la comune lingua etica delle nazioni illuminate. E rifiutandosi di parlarla, si sta di fatto condannando all’isolamento.56

Dovrebbe dunque risultare ovvio quanto duramente il saggio della professoressa Illouz critichi le false pietà del discorso tenuto alla Knesset da Stephen Harper. Alla radice dei fatti, la dichiarazione di Harper che i critici delle politiche e dell’amministrazione di Israele siano per definizione antisemiti si dimostra sventuratamente falsa—qualcheduno auspicherà che il parallelismo, sviluppato in maniera così puntuale ed esauriente dalla professoressa Illouz, farà torcere il naso persino a qualcuno della sua (di Harper) stessa obliquità mentale.


8. La cosa più vergognosa di tutte… un stato-apartheid

Nella parte finale del saggio, Eva Illouz sottolinea che gli israeliani non realizzano l’entità della loro colonizzazione ed occupazione “perché la lingua stessa è stata colonizzata”. Molti Israeliani interpretano l’occupazione in quanto “terroristi e nemici; il mondo vede gente debole, nullatenente e perseguitata. Il mondo reagisce indignandosi alla persistente dominazione israeliana dei palestinesi, mentre Israele dileggia tale indignazione in quanto espressione di doppia morale…”. A causa di questa “colonizzazione” della parola, “la disputa che divide gli ebrei è più complicata della disputa sulla schiavitù, perché non esiste accordo nemmeno su come definire adeguatamente l’enorme iniziativa di dominazione creata nei territori”.57

In realtà, vi è un’intesa piuttosto diffusa sull’appropriatezza del nome—almeno circa i “princìpi universali di giustizia” pertinenti al divario, analizzati dalla professoressa Illouz.58

Il termine “apartheid” venne adoperato con distaccata accuratezza da Marwan Bishara, nel 2001, per descrivere ciò che Israele ha fatto nei territori occupati dai primi anni Novanta in poi: “ha diviso fisicamente e demograficamente la Cisgiordania e Gaza in isole di povertà o bantustan, mantenendo dominazione economica e controllo diretto su territori e risorse naturali palestinesi”.59 Fu poi riutilizzato nel 2006 dall’ex presidente degli Stati Uniti Jimmy Carter; utilizzo approvato nel 2007 dall’insignita del Premio Israele ed ex ministra dell’istruzione Shulamit Aloni.60 Nel gennaio 2010, Henry Siegman—ex direttore esecutivo del Congresso ebraico-americano ed attuale Presidente del Progetto USA/Medio Oriente del Consiglio sulle relazioni estere—scriveva che “l’inarrestabile” edificazione di nuovi insediamenti da parte di Israele “sembra essere finalmente riuscita a fissare l’irrevocabilità del progetto coloniale. Come conseguenza di tale 'conquista', che i successivi governi israeliani hanno inseguito per molto tempo con l’intento di precludere la soluzione a due Stati, Israele è passato dall’essere 'unica democrazia in Medio Oriente' a unico regime apartheid del mondo Occidentale.”61

Come rileva il dottor Jason Kunin, si fa pungente ironia sul fatto che mentre esponenti accademici—per non parlare di politici—condannino come inaccettabile ogni accostamento del termine “apartheid” a pratiche di furto di terreno, acquartieramento ed assoggettamento, separazione ed oppressione raziale di un popolo soggiogato che caratterizzano il trattamento israeliano dei palestinesi, “professori di diritto sudafricani—da cui ci si aspetterebbe una più diretta comprensione delle dinamiche dell’apartheid—non hanno esitato a descrivere il comportamento dello stato d’Israele, nei territori palestinesi occupati, come ‘un sistema coloniale che instaura un regime di apartheid’.”62 (Il suo riferimento è legato ad un articolo di professori e giuristi sudafricani pubblicato dallo Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa nel maggio 2009: Occupazione, colonialismo, apartheid? Una rivalutazione di diritto internazionale sulle politiche di Israele nei territori palestinesi occupati).63

Una delibera che veda lo Stato di Israele instaurare un regime di apartheid si ripercuote sul diritto internazionale—ove l’apartheid è definita come crimine contro l’umanità. È dunque poco sorprendente che il vincitore del Premio Nobel per la pace, l’arcivescovo Desmond Tutu, abbia osservato: “Alcune persone sono furibonde per il paragone fatto tra il conflitto israelopalestinese e ciò che accadde in Sudafrica…”. Ma Tutu andò avanti insistendo che “per quelli di noi che hanno vissuto gli orrori disumanizzanti dell’epoca dell’apartheid, il paragone non sembra appropriato, […] ma è pur necessario se vogliamo continuare a sperare che le cose cambino”.64

Il paragone non implica alcuna dichiarazione di identicità fra il regime di apartheid israeliano e quello avutosi in Sudafrica. Secondo Naomi Klein,

la domanda non è “Israele è uguale al Sudafrica?”, bensì “la condotta di Israele soddisfa i criteri internazionali che determinano cosa sia l’apartheid?”. Se si guarda a quelle condizioni che includono il trasferimento di persone, i diversi usi della legge, la segregazione ufficiale di stato, allora sì, quei criteri vengono soddisfatti—il che è diverso dal dire che è uguale al Sudafrica.65

Ma i sostenitori delle politiche di Israele cadrebbero in errore se pensassero di poter trovare consolazione od incoraggiamento nelle differenze tra i regimi di Israele e Sudafrica. Secondo Ronnie Kasrils, che fu uno dei molti ebrei sudafricani a combattere l’apartheid con onore e che, successivamente, diventò Ministro durante il governo Mandela:

Senza dubbio, noi sudafricani che combattemmo l’apartheid consideriamo, unanimemente, molto molto peggiori i metodi di repressione e punizione collettiva di Israele rispetto a qualsiasi cosa vissuta durante la nostra lunga e difficile lotta per la liberazione. I diffusi ed indiscriminati bombardamenti di Israele su aree popolate, con scarso riguardo per le vittime civili, furono assenti in Sudafrica perché il regime di apartheid si affidava all’economica forza lavoro nera. Israele rifiuta completamente un intero popolo e mira ad eliminare del tutto la presenza palestinese, non importa se in maniera collaborativa o tramite “trasferimento” forzato. È proprio questo che contraddistingue la maggior brutalità duratura di Israele rispetto all’apartheid del Sudafrica.66

Forse, alla luce dell’analisi di Eva Illouz, dovremmo integrare la voce “apartheid” parlando anche di “condizioni di schiavitù”. Ma che si accetti o meno quest’intensificazione del vocabolo, dovremmo ricordare qualcos’altro che viene evidenziato in un recente articolo dal professor Jake Lynch, direttore del Centro per gli studi sulla pace e sul conflitto dell’Università di Sydney. Come fa notare, il rapporto del South African Human Sciences Research Council che giudicava Israele quale trasgressore della Convenzione internazionale sulla soppressione e punizione del crimine di apartheid, dichiarava inoltre che tale sentenza obbligava i governi a “cooperare per mettere fine alla violazione, a non riconoscere l’assetto illegale scaturito da quest’ultima e a non porgere aiuto né assistenza allo Stato che se ne faceva artefice”.67

Non appare necessario commentare la visione del Primo Ministro Harper che giudica vergognosa l’applicazione del termine “apartheid” a ciò che Israele sta facendo. Uri Avnery potrebbe avere ragione nel credere che la miglior risposta a tali fanfaronate sia ridicola.


9. Conclusioni

Ma qualcosa che vada oltre il ridicolo risulta doveroso per far fronte ad un’evidente minaccia al diritto dei cittadini di protestare pacificamente e boicottare quando lo si reputi necessario ad attirare attenzione pubblica sul fallimento del nostro governo (e di molti altri) nell’onorare i propri obblighi in ambito di diritto internazionale.

Due passi paiono fondamentali per rispondere a ciò che ho definito un cavallo di Troia relativamente alle modifiche delle sezioni 318 e 319 del codice penale canadese, apportate dal DDL C-13. Il primo dovrebbe essere indiscutibile e può essere compiuto immediatamente. La sezione 12 del DDL C-13 (la sezione che contiene queste revisioni) può essere facilmente modificata al fine di includere la dichiarazione che “nulla in questa sezione dev’essere interpretato in contrasto con la responsabilità del Canada, ai sensi dell’articolo 1 della Quarta convenzione di Ginevra, ‘di rispettare e far rispettare’ quella Convenzione ‘in ogni circostanza’; né nulla in questa sezione dev’essere interpretato in contrasto con le responsabilità assunte dal Canada sotto altri strumenti di diritto umanitario internazionale di cui il Canada è firmatario”.

Il secondo passo che raccomanderei ai canadesi è di sostituire il governo che si imbarca in simili legiferazioni in stile cavallo di Troia con uno migliore.

Michael Keefer è professore emerito presso la School of English and Theatre Studies dell’Università di Guelph. Laureato presso il Royal Military College of Canada, l’Università di Toronto e l’Università del Sussex, è l’ex presidente dell’Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, membro del Seriously Free Speech Committee e socio dell’Independent Jewish Voices Canada.




1  Vedi, ad esempio, Michael Deas, “Norway’s pension fund divests from Israel’s largest real estate firm”, The Electronic Intifada (19 giugno 2012),; “Major US pension fund divests ethical fund from Veolia”, BDS Movement (22 novembre 2013),; “Veolia Campaign Victories: Total value of lost Veolia contracts: €18.122 billion ($23.97 billion)”, Global Exchange (febbraio 2014),; Asa Winstanley, “Dutch pension giant divests from 5 Israeli banks”, BDS Movement (13 gennaio 2014),; Elena Popina, “SodaStream Drops Amid Sanctions Over Jewish Settlements”, Bloomberg (3 febbraio 2014),

2  “Sanctions against Israel: A campaign that is gathering weight”, The Economist (8 febbraio 2014),

3  Avraham Burg, “What’s wrong with BDS, after all? Israel will be helpless when the discourse moves from who’s stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values”, Haaretz (3 febbraio 2014),; citazione del reverendo Robert Assaly, “BDS movement scores huge in Superbowl victory over Sodastream”, NECEF: Near East Cultural & Educational Foundation (20 febbraio 2014),

4  Herb Keinon, “Netanyahu convenes strategy meeting to fight boycotts”, Jerusalem Post (10 febbraio 2014),; Gil Ronen, “Leftist Ministers Kept Out of Secret Cabinet BDS Session”, Arutz Sheva 7 (10 febbraio 2014), Il fatto che personaggi del calibro di Tzipi Livni vengano descritti come “sinistroidi” è sintomo di uno spostamento verso posizioni di estrema destra all’interno dello spettro politico israeliano.

5  “Israeli ministers discuss using lawyers and Mossad to fight BDS”, Middle East Monitor (10 febbraio 2014),

6  Jake Lynch, “Coalition plans to punish those who boycott Israel”, The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (25 giugno 2013),

7  Abdus-Sattar Ghazali, “Academic Freedom Act threatens academic freedom?”, OpEd News (16 febbraio 2014),

8  Campbell Clark, “Netanyahu calls Harper a ‘friend that always stands by us’,” Globe and Mail (19 gennaio 2014, aggiornato il 20 gennaio 2014),

9  “Myths and Facts: Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act”, Dipartimento di Giustizia Canadese (novembre 2013, modificato il 5 dicembre 2013),

10  Vedi Michael Geist, “The Privacy Threats in Bill C-13, Part One: Immunity for Personal Info Disclosures Without a Warrant”, Michael Geist (25 novembre 2013),; e “The Privacy Threats in Bill C-13, Part Two: The Low Threshold for Metadata”, Michael Geist (11 dicembre 2013),

11  Michael Spratt, “C-13: A Digital Trojan horse for the surveillance state”, iPolitics (28 novembre 2013),

12  Terry Wilson, “The Dangers Hidden in Bill C-13 ‘Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act’”, Canadian Awareness Network (23 novembre 2013),

13  “BDS a hate crime? In France, legal vigilance punishes anti-Israel activists”, Haaretz (15 febbraio 2014),

14  Quarta convenzione sulla Protezione delle persone civili in tempo di guerra. Ginevra, 12 agosto 1949,, Articolo 1.

15  Vedi, ad esempio, Omar Bargouti, “Besieging Israel’s Siege”, The Guardian (12 agosto 2010), “Creata e guidata da Palestinesi, la BDS si oppone ad ogni forma di razzismo, incluso l’antisemitismo, e si ispira a quei valori universali di libertà, giustizia e parità di diritti che motivarono le lotte anti-apartheid e per i diritti civili negli Stati Uniti”.

16  Bill C-13. An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act,

17  Codice penale (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46. Legge del 14-01-2014, ultima modifica al 12-12-2013, Justice Laws Website,

18  “BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 febbraio 2014).

19  Jean-Yves Camus, Racist Violence in France (Bruxelles: European Network Against Racism, 2011),, p. 4.

20  “BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 febbraio 2014).

21  “Proposta di legge che mira ad aggravare le pene per i reati a sfondo razzista e a consolidare l’efficacia del codice di procedura penale”, N° 350, presentato dai signori Pierre Lellouche e Jacques Barrot, deputati dell’assemblea nazionale (7 novembre 2002),, “Quadro dei motivi”.

22  Ibidem: “Morali o fisiche, le violenze razziste offendono non soltanto le persone che ne sono vittime, ma attentano altresì alla coesione nazionale e ai princìpi fondamentali della nazione”.

23  Ibidem: “Resta il fatto che il fenomeno può risorgere in qualsiasi momento, come lo testimoniano svariati casi recenti, particolarmente preoccupanti, come l’omicidio dichiaratamente razzista, del mese di ottobre, di un giovane francese d’origine marocchina in un dipartimento del nord, o l’aggressione di inizio novembre contro i giovani allievi di una scuola privata ebraica della XXX circoscrizione di Parigi, per il solo motivo di essere ebrei”.

24  Ibidem: “L’oggetto della presente proposta, senza aggiungere nuove incriminazioni al codice penale, prende in considerazione l’intenzionalità razzista e, dunque, aggrava pesantemente le pene per i colpevoli di attentato alla persona e alla proprietà in caso esse siano di matrice razzista. Questi aggravamenti delle pene vanno ad applicarsi agli atti di tortura e barbarie, alle violenze culminanti in omicidio preterintenzionale, mutilazione, infermità permanente o incapacità di lavorare, così come agli atti di distruzione, degrado e deterioramento della proprietà”.

25  “BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 febbraio 2014).

26  Ibidem.

27  Ibidem.

28  La prima versione dell’episodio del cavallo di Troia si trova nell’Odissea di Omero, libri IV. 271-89, e VIII. 492-520. La vicenda fu raccontata ancora da poeti successivi, fra cui Quinto Smirneo, in La Caduta di Troia, libri XII. 104-520, e XIII; e Virgilio, nella sua Eneide, libro II. 13-267.

29  Paul McLeod, “Hate law favours Israel, critics charge”, Chronicle-Herald (19 marzo 2014),

30  Protocollo addizionale…,, cap. I, art. 2.1: “Ai fini di questo Protocollo: ‘materiale razzista e xenofobico’ sta per ogni scritto, immagine o altra rappresentazione di idee e teorie che difendano, promuovano o incitino all’odio, alla discriminazione o alla violenza contro quale che sia individuo o gruppo di individui, sulla base di razza, colore, estrazione, identità etnica o nazionale, ma anche su base religiosa quando questa viene usata come pretesto per qualunque dei succitati elementi”.

31  McLeod, “Hate law favours Israel, critics charge”.

32  Nel Codice penale, 318.(2), “‘genocidio’ sta per ciascuno dei seguenti atti commessi intenzionalmente per distruggere, interamente o in parte, quale che sia gruppo identificabile, cioè (a) uccidere membri del gruppo, (b) imporvi, di proposito, condizioni di vita pensate per ottemperare alla sua distruzione fisica”.

L’articolo 2 della Convenzione sul genocidio dichiara che “genocidio sta per ciascuno dei seguenti atti commessi intenzionalmente per distruggere, interamente o in parte, un gruppo nazionale, etico, razziale o religioso, quali (a) uccidere membri del gruppo, (b) causare grave danno fisico o mentale a membri del gruppo, (c) imporvi, di proposito, condizioni di vita pensate per ottemperare alla sua distruzione fisica, totale o parziale, (d) imporvi misure intese a prevenire le nascite, (e) trasferire forzatamente bambini da un gruppo all’altro”. (Vedi Convenzione per la prevenzione e punizione del crimine di genocidio. Adottata mediante la Risoluzione 260 [III] A dell’Assemblea generale delle Nazioni Unite il 9 dicembre 1948,

33  David MacDonald e Graham Hudson, “The Genocide Question and Indian Residential Schools in Canada”, Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 45.2 (giugno 2012): 427-49,; vedi in particolare pp. 434-38. MacDonald e Hudson sottolineano che la Legge sui crimini contro l’umanità e i crimini di guerra del 2000 esclude esplicitamente la possibilità di procedimenti retroattivi per crimini di genocidio commessi in Canada prima del 1998.

34  “Leggi l’intero testo dello storico discorso di Harper alla Knesset d’Israele”, Globe and Mail (20 gennaio 2014),

35  Ibidem.

36  Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 21 sgg.

37  Seguendo l’esempio di Brian Klug, faccio riferimento a “ebreo” tra virgolette per rendere chiaro che ciò a cui ci si riferisce in questa frase è il personaggio di fantasia creato dallo stereotipare antisemita. Vedi Klug, “What do we mean when we say ‘antisemitism’?”, Conferenza plenaria presso il Museo Ebraico, Berlino, 8 novembre 2013, YouTube (21 novembre 2013), Klug cita il sopravvissuto alla Shoah Imre Kertész: “In un ambiente razzista, un ebreo non può essere umano, ma non può nemmeno essere un ebreo, poiché ‘ebreo’ è un appellativo ambiguo agli occhi dell’antisemita soltanto”.

38  Questo incidente è discusso in Michael Keefer, “Data and Deception: Quantitative Evidence of Antisemitism,” in Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (Waterloo, Ontario: The Canadian Charger, 2010), pp. 183-85. Vedi Johann Hari, “Israel is suppressing a secret it must face”, The Independent (28 aprile 2008),; Hari, “The loathsome smearing of Israel’s critics”, The Independent (8 maggio 2008),; e Community Security Trust, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2008 (CST, 2009),, p. 24 (corsivo nel testo originale).

39  Vedi Keefer, “Desperate Imaginings: Rhetoric and Ideology of the ‘New Antisemitism’”, in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 212-15; e Irwin Cotler, “Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness,” Jerusalem Post (5 febbraio 2004); disponibile presso SPME: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East,

40  Ibidem, p. 211; vedi Jonathan Kay, “Here is the difference between Israel and its Arab enemies”, National Post (22 marzo 2009),; e Melanie Phillips, “The Ha’aretz Blood Libel”, Spectator (22 marzo 2009),

41  Citato in Keefer, Antisemitism Real and Imagined, “Introduzione”, p. 15.

42  Altri che potrebbero essere citati sono: Shulamit Aloni, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Marc Ellis, Richard Falk, David Theo Goldberg, Neve Gordon, Amira Hass, Tony Judt, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Baruch Kimmerling, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappe, Harold Pinter, Yakov Rabkin, William I. Robinson, Jacqueline Rose, Israel Shahak, Avi Shlaim e David Shulman. (Molte di queste persone hanno anche sostenuto la BDS).

43  Brian Klug, “The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism”, The Nation (15 gennaio 2004),

44  Judith Butler, “The Charge of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and the Risks of Public Critique”, in Precious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004; Londra e New York: Verso, 2006), pp. 126-27.

45  Gerald Caplan, “A Mideast reading list for Tories willing to learn”, Globe and Mail (27 agosto 2010, aggiornato il 15 novembre 2010), Il libro Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism contiene, nella prima delle sue tre parti, undici petizioni da parte di professori ed attivisti per i diritti umani (si dà il caso che la maggior parte di costoro sia ebraica) e, nella seconda parte, petizioni respinte di sette organizzazioni per la difesa dei diritti umani; la terza parte è costituita da tre saggi dell’autore (la cui petizione alla CPCCA fu altrettanto rifiutata).

46  Campbell Clark, “Netanyahu calls Harper a ‘friend that always stands by us’”, Globe and Mail (19 gennaio 2014). Quest’affermazione fu fatta un giorno prima del discorso di Harper alla Knesset. Ma, come Netanyahu sapeva, le dichiarazioni di Harper facevano da eco a ciò che lui diceva da anni. Nel marzo 2014, Netanyahu dichiarò all’AIPAC che i sostenitori della BDS “dovrebbero essere contrastati perché sono contrari alla pace e perché la BDS è semplicemente sbagliata. Quelli che portano lo stemma della BDS dovrebbero essere trattati allo stesso modo degli antisemiti e dei bigotti. Andrebbero smascherati e condannati” (video riprodotto da Lia Tarachansky, “Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase”, The Real News [23 marzo 2014],

47  Uri Avnery, “Nothing New Under the Sun”, Gush (25 gennaio 2014),

48  Eva Illouz, “47 years a slave: a new perspective on the occupation”, Haaretz (7 febbraio 2014), Illouz è autrice di otto libri e più di ottanta articoli e capitoli di libri; i suoi lavori sono largamente tradotti, e hanno vinto importanti premi in Germania, Francia e Stati Uniti, compreso, nel 2013, il Premio Anneliese Meier della Fondazione Alexander von Humboldt. È anche presidentessa, dal 2012, della Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, accademia di belle arti del proprio paese.

49  Ibidem.

50  Ibidem. Illouz si riferisce al saggio di Peter Beinarts, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”, New York Review of Books (10 giugno 2010),; e probabilmente anche al suo libro, The Crisis of Zionism (New York: Times Books, 2012).

51  Ibidem.

52  Illouz cita queste espressioni di un’altra rispettata autorità internazionale in tema di schiavitù, David Brion Davis, il quale cita Patterson nel proprio libro Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Il libri di Orlando Patterson include lo studio classico Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982).

53  Illouz, “47 years a slave.”

54  Ibidem.

55  Ibidem.

56  Ibidem.

57  Ibidem.

58  I due paragrafi seguenti sono estrappolati dal mio saggio, “Desperate Imaginings: Rhetoric and Ideology of the ‘New Antisemitism’”, in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, p. 231.

59  Marwan Bishara, Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid (2001; seconda edizione, Londra e New York: Zed Books, 2002), p. 4.

60  Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006; New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007); vedi anche “Canada’s withholding funds from Palestinians ‘criminal’: Carter”, CBC News (9 dicembre 2006), http://www.cbca/ca/canada/story/2006/12/08/carter-israel.html; e Shulamit Aloni, “Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel”, CounterPunch (8 gennaio 2007), Aloni è anche autore di Demokratia ba’azikim [Democracy or Ethnocracy] (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2010).

61  Henry Siegman, “Imposing Middle East Peace”, The Nation (7 gennaio 2010),

62  Jason Kunin, “Freedom to Teach, Freedom of Speech: Israel-Palestine”, in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 58-59 n. 2.

63  Middle East Project of the Democracy and Governance Programme, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law (Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, maggio 2009), pp. 302; disponibile su

64  Citato da Ronnie Kasrils, “Sour Oranges and the Sweet Taste of Freedom”, in Audrea Lim, The Case for Sanctions Against Israel (Londra e New York: Verso, 2012), p. 109 (citazione dell’arcivescovo Desmond Tutu, “Realizing God’s Dream for the Holy Land”, Boston Globe [26 ottobre 2007]). Vedi anche “Palestinian ‘humiliation’ by Israel reminds Tutu of apartheid”, Mail & Guardian (10 marzo 2014),

65  “Trascrizione del seminario di Naomi Klein a Ramallah”, BDS Movement (10 luglio 2009),; citata da Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien e Paul Laverty, “Looking for Eric, Melbourne Festival, and the Cultural Boycott”, in Lim, The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, p. 200.

66  Ronnie Kasrils, “Sour Oranges…”, in Lim, The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, pp. 109-110.

67  Jake Lynch, “Coalition plans to punish those who boycott Israel”, The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), (25 giugno 2013). La sezione rilevante della Convenzione internazionale sulla soppressione e punizione del crimine di apartheid è l’articolo IV: “I paesi che aderiscono alla presente Convenzione s’impegnano a: (a) adottare qualunque misura legislativa necessaria a sopprimere e prevenire ogni incoraggiamento al crimine di apartheid e a simili politiche segregazionistiche o loro manifestazioni e di punire le persone colpevoli di tale crimine…”. Il testo è disponibile su