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Friday, November 8

Zionist Paper Declares the Bankruptcy of CIJA and its Puppets
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"Shimon Fogel, explains in an Oct. 1 Canadian Jewish News article that CIJA’s advocacy approach is “evidence-based and empirically tested,” as if matters of human affairs are science projects with definitive outcomes and that the Canadian public is little more than so many lab monkeys."
"Not only that, the original ads were conceived and funded by groups representing Jewish community members of a different political bent than the “mainstream.” To cry antisemitism under these circumstances is not only hyperbolic but unbecoming of an agency that claims to be the umbrella for a diverse community, even if those voices fall outside of the general consensus views on Israel."
"The message we receive, at times like these, reflects an elitist view that the opinions of the rabble who are likely to be swayed by ads on public transit are insignificant to the bigger objective, which seems to be convincing those opinion leaders who domatter..."
"CIJA abandoned any pretense of being a democratic, representative body, adopting instead a structure more resembling a monarchy."
"The messages from CIJA and the local federation on this matter were too confused to reflect such a coherent approach. They first urged the public to mobilize against supposedly dangerous ads that had the potential to provoke anti-Jewish animus and make Jewish transit riders feel threatened. At the same time, we were urged not to worry about the ads, as they were innocuous." "We see no evidence of a smart, effective plan and certainly no satisfaction, even fleeting."

"Jewish Independent" Editorial

Leadership void in the community

Nov. 1, 2013

Vancouver transit users have received wildly mixed messages on the Middle East recently. And the local Jewish community has received wildly mixed messages on the messages themselves.
The saga began when a group of anti-Israel activists came together to pay for an ad campaign on buses and transit shelters depicting Israel as a usurper of Palestinian lands. The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Pacific Region, tried to prevent the ads from running by warning TransLink that they could incite antisemitism. After failing to convince the transit company to ban the ads, the organization(s) – in all honesty, we’re not clear where the federation system and CIJA overlap, and where they don’t – reversed tack and declared that the ads would have effectively no impact on public opinion. Nonetheless, in the same community update, they supplied the e-mail addresses of several TransLink personnel, encouraging community members to “express your displeasure directly with TransLink.”
When it appeared that no organized public campaign would counter the deceptive anti-Israel ads, a Los Angeles-based Zionist group, StandWithUs, jumped into the vacuum. The StandWithUs ads comprise two posters: one proclaiming that Canada and Israel have “shared values and freedom” and another, more bizarrely, portraying a sort of mirror image of the anti-Israel ads, except with a shrinking Israel, beginning with the “Ancient Jewish Kingdom,” circa 1000 BCE, progressing through the Mandate of Palestine, in 1920, to Israel today.
Digging back 3,000 years to win an argument about contemporary politics is a stretch, and the use of terminology like “kingdom” in a debate where Israel is accused of imperialism is not helpful. Our ancient ancestors may have controlled a huge swath of the region millennia ago but, in 2013, who really cares? Even the 1920 map is dubious, given that there was no consensus that a Jewish homeland would encompass the entire area of the post-Ottoman mandate. In a complex discussion, both sides can find convenient and inconvenient facts, but they do little to elucidate or persuade. Both the pro-Israel and the anti-Israel ads are overly simplistic to a fault.
In defending what is effectively a do-nothing approach, the national head of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Shimon Fogel, explains in an Oct. 1 Canadian Jewish Newsarticle that CIJA’s advocacy approach is “evidence-based and empirically tested,” as if matters of human affairs are science projects with definitive outcomes and that the Canadian public is little more than so many lab monkeys. We cannot confirm whether such empirical evidence actually exists, since we have yet to get it from the bureaucracy of Zionist Officialdom.
We have never been among those who believe that Jewish community decisions should be made based on whether the general public, including potential antisemites, might be irked. Still, just look at the stereotypes this misadventure has reinforced: the “official” voice of the Jewish community tries to censor an ad campaign in ways that bear striking resemblance to the allegation that our modus operandi is to “silence” any criticism of Israel. And we do so based on the far-fetched premise that the ads could incite antisemitism, diminishing our believability when a real threat arises.
Not only that, the original ads were conceived and funded by groups representing Jewish community members of a different political bent than the “mainstream.” To cry antisemitism under these circumstances is not only hyperbolic but unbecoming of an agency that claims to be the umbrella for a diverse community, even if those voices fall outside of the general consensus views on Israel.
CIJA’s refusal to engage in the public venue raises a larger question about their approach. The message we receive, at times like these, reflects an elitist view that the opinions of the rabble who are likely to be swayed by ads on public transit are insignificant to the bigger objective, which seems to be convincing those opinion leaders who do matter – in Toronto media and in the offices of Ottawa (certainly not in Vancouver, as we have to read the CJN to find out what CIJA is or isn’t doing, even when it’s a local story).
The mission of sustaining a genuine grassroots Zionist movement in this country seems to have fallen far down the list of objectives of our “representative” bodies. A few years ago, in the latest of many organizational upheavals, CIJA abandoned any pretense of being a democratic, representative body, adopting instead a structure more resembling a monarchy. But as monarchs worldwide are learning, even the most malevolent dictator needs to throw some bones to the dogs of public opinion.
This growing division between the wants of ordinary Jewish Canadians – we who fund these organizations – and what our unelected spokespeople tell us we need may represent a generational schism in our community. Increasingly, we can see an activist younger generation that wants to stand with Israel proudly and vocally – warts and all, i.e. thinking and speaking critically of some of Israel’s policies, including the treatment of its Arab citizens and its Palestinian neighbors – as opposed to keeping their heads down and not making trouble.
Perhaps this is too kind. The messages from CIJA and the local federation on this matter were too confused to reflect such a coherent approach. They first urged the public to mobilize against supposedly dangerous ads that had the potential to provoke anti-Jewish animus and make Jewish transit riders feel threatened. At the same time, we were urged not to worry about the ads, as they were innocuous. Since then, there has been nothing.
That is, until Fogel’s explanation/excuse for that nothing. We are not comforted by Fogel’s condescending assurances that, “If we can resist the instinctive temptation to lash out and hit back in favor of a tested, smart and effective strategic plan, we will achieve a great deal. And, unlike feeble emotional reactions, that satisfaction will be enduring.” We see no evidence of a smart, effective plan and certainly no satisfaction, even fleeting.
In fact, there is an enormous amount of dissatisfaction in our community over this issue and the larger failure of strategy and representation it represents. CIJA has bungled this entire matter and it is hardly surprising that, as a result, some of the peasants are revolting – and other organizations are stepping in to fill the leadership void.
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