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[PagenumbersintheprintedtextofAntisemitismRealandImaginedareindicatedinsquarebrackets.Thenotes
hereappearatthefootofeachpage;inthebooktheyarecollectedonpp.15864.Innote3,Ihavecorrected,in
squarebrackets,afactualerrorthatappearsinthatnote;Ihavealsoaddedanewnote23inordertocorrect
anotherfactualerror.(Thenewtextinbothcasesappearsinitalics.)Anearlierversionofthischapterwas
published in The Canadian Charger (3 September 2009), http://www.thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?
id=5&a=115.

[Index: Canadian politics, antisemitism, First Nations, Israel, Palestine]


[Date:April2010]

AntisemitisminCanada:
ADisgracefulHistory

AntisemitismRealandImagined(2010),Part3,Chapter1

MichaelKeefer

AlargemajorityofCanadianstakeprideinthedegreetowhichourcountryhas
becomemulticultural,hospitabletoimmigrationfromallpartsoftheglobe,andanti
racistinprincipleandpractice.StandupcomedianRussellPeterslooksforwardhappily
to a future in which, after a couple of generations of energetic intercommunal sex,
Canadianswillaverageoutinskintonetoagorgeousbrowncoloursomewhatlikehis
own,infact.(Whataprospect:grandchildrenasgoodlookingasRussellPeters!Canwe
hopetheyllbeassmartandfunnyaswell?)
Lets pause for a moment, though, to ask how well our desired selfimage

2
matches social reality. Have we actually managed to free ourselves from racism?
ChineseCanadians, HaitianCanadians, SomaliCanadians, JamaicanCanadians,
SalvadoranCanadians,AlgerianCanadians,PakistaniCanadians:allthese,togetherwith
peopleofmanyotherethnicities,couldtellgrimstories,ifwechosetolistentothem,of
encounterswithracisminourhousingandemploymentmarkets,inourworkplacesand
places ofleisure, andininstitutionallysanctioned behaviour byservants ofthe state,
rangingfromrefugeeboardpersonnelandthepolicetoourfederalgovernmentitself.
Notjuststoriesfromthedistantpast,butfromhereandnowaswell.
There are of course countervailing stories, both new and old, of acts of
spontaneous decency and generosity.1 But a country where First Nations people are
disproportionatelyrepresentedintheprisonsystem,wherepolicecaneffectivelymurder
nativemenbydumpingthem,inthedeadofwinter,onroadsidesoutsideprairiecities,
andwherepoliticianscanwithimpunityordermurderousviolenceagainstFirstNations
people nonviolently protesting against the theft of their land 2such a country has
unresolvedissueswithracism.
[148] In Europe, antisemitism is commonly described as the oldest and most
enduringformofracism.InCanada,however,thisshamefulprecedencearguablybelongs
toracismagainstFirstNationspeople,whichisanurgentproblemnotjustbecauseit
findsexpressioninstructuralaswellasovertviolence,butalsobecauseracistattitudes
are effectively legitimizing an ongoing appropriation of First Nations lands and
resources.AnotherproblemofgrowingintensityisIslamophobia,whichfindsexpression
inCanadanotjustinpublicsneersandactsofraciallymotivatedviolence,butalso,more
substantively,inactsofstatethecorruptionordefianceofthelawonthepartofCSIS,
1

Heresonefromseventyyearsago.MymotherinlawsfamilyimmigratedfromwhatisnowUkrainein
1936.Nataliewasfourteen.Totheendofherlifehereyeswouldfillwithtearswhensherememberedhow,
in1939,atatimewhenimmigrantsfromeasternEuropewerevigorouslydiscriminatedagainst,oneofher
teachersatHarbordCollegiateinToronto,MissMaySinclair,intervenedtopreventherfromentering
sweatshopworktohelpsupportherfamily.Recognizingthegirlstalent,MissSinclairpaidfromherown
modestsalarythefeesthatenabledNatalietomastertheartofdressdesignandbeginalongedforcareer.
2
NativelandatIpperwash,OntariowasexpropriatedbythefederalgovernmentduringWorldWarTwo
formilitaryuse.Ahalfcenturylater,exasperatedbythegovernmentsrefusaltoreturntheland,native
peoplepeacefullyreoccupiedit.OntarioPremierMikeHarrisisonrecordashavingorderedtheOntario
ProvincialPolicetoattacktheoccupiers.Althoughanunarmednativeman,DudleyGeorge,waskilledby
policegunfireintheensuingfusillade,Harrishasnothadtofaceanylegalconsequences.

3
theRCMP,andourfederalgovernment.3
It would be hard to argue that Jewish Canadians currently face problems of
comparableintensity.Andyettherearetwogoodreasonsforgivingcloseattentionatthis
momenttotheissueofantisemitisminCanada.
Thefirstisthatthisloathsomeprejudicehasaparticularlydisgracefulhistoryin
thiscountry,whichmustbeunderstoodifwearetoappreciatetheintensityofJewish
Canadiananxietiesoveranypossibleresurgenceofantisemitism.Thesecondisthatkey
membersofourfederalgovernment,togetherwiththeCanadianParliamentaryCoalition
toCombatAntisemitism,havebeentellingus,quiteforcefully,thatsucharesurgence,far
frombeingamatterofmerelyabstractconcern,isactuallywellunderway.
InthischapterIwillofferabriefhistoricaloutlineofantisemitisminCanada;in
thenexttwochaptersIwillanalyzeindetailtheparliamentaryinquiryscontextand
presuppositions,aswellaswhatatthisearlystageisknownofitswork.

****
Theworkofsocialhistoriansoverthepastthreedecadesintosubjectsincluding
theWorldWarIimprisonmentofUkrainianCanadiansasenemyaliens,theMackenzie
KinggovernmentsrejectionofJewishrefugeesfromNazismduringthe1930s,andthe
3

IamthinkingofsuchrecenteventsasRCMPcomplicityintheabductionandtortureofMaherArar,
CSISparticipationintheGuantanamointerrogationsofOmarKhadr,theHarpergovernmentsdefianceof
courtrulingsthatobligeittoseekKhadrsreleasefromAmericancustody,andthegovernmentsdirect
violationofArticles10and12oftheThirdGenevaConventioninorderingthetransferofprisoners
capturedbytheCanadianForcesintothehandsoftheIslamicRepublicofAfghanistan,whichisnota
signatoryoftheGenevaConventions.SeniorCanadianauthoritieshavebeenaware,since2007,thatmost
oftheseprisonerswerethentorturedafactthatmakesthesetransfersdoublyawarcrime.
[April2011:Thisnotecontainsasignificanterror:AfghanistanratifiedtheGenevaConventions
in1956,andaccededtothe1977AdditionalProtocolsIandIIin2009.Itremainsthecasethatcopious
evidencefromauthoritativesourcesofsystematictorturebyAfghanauthoritieswasavailabletoCanadian
militaryandcivilauthorities,whichnonethelessissuedstatementsdefendingAfghanagenciesand
individualsinvolvedintortureandassertingtheimportanceofthe'information'theysharedwiththe
Canadianmilitary,andinadditionleftunchangedasystemunderwhichtheCanadianmilitarydelayed
givinginformationabouttransferredprisonerstotheInternationalRedCrossforperiodsoffromthree
weekstoamonththusshowingactivecomplicitywiththeAfghantorturersintowhoseprisonsthese
peopleeffectively'disappeared'.Fordetails,seemyarticlePrimeMinisterHarperandCanadianWar
CrimesinAfghanistan,CentreforResearchonGlobalization(24April2011),
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24473,alsoavailableatthiswebsite.]

4
WorldWarIIdispossessionandimprisonmentofJapaneseCanadians,haseffectively
shatteredtheoldmythofCanadaasauniquelytolerant,peaceful,andjustsociety.As
AlanDaviesremarkednearlytwentyyearsago,theproudcomplacencyimpliedbythe
phraseCanadatheGoodhasbeendestroyed,andournationalselfrighteousnesshas
beenleftintatters.Thevileodourofoldhatredsstilllingersintheair,andantisemitism
isnottheleastoftheiracridfumes.4
Theearlyrecord,itmustbesaid,ismixed.AmongthefirstJewstosettlein
Lower Canada following the British conquest was Aaron Hart, a merchant who
establishedhimselfinTroisRiviresin1761.Oneofhissons,Ezekiel,electedtothe
legislativeassemblyinQubecCityin1807and1808,wastwicedeniedhisseatonthe
spurious grounds that the oath of office of someone who disbelieved in the New
Testamentcouldnotbevalid.Butin1832,guidedbythePatrioteleaderLouisJoseph
Papineau,theassemblypassedalawconferringon[149]Jewsthesamepoliticaland
civicrightsasothercitizensaninitiativethatwasnotfollowedinBritainandinthe
othercoloniesoftheBritishempireuntilmorethanaquartercenturylater.5
TheCatholicChurchinitiallywelcomedthechildrenofJewsintotheprovinces
francophoneschools,butreversedthispolicyinthelatenineteenthcentury,obligingJews
to make use of the Protestant anglophone schools. A substantial immigration of
AshkenaziJewsfromcentralandeasternEuropeledtoMontralbecomingforseveral
generationsanimportantcentreofYiddishliteraryculture. 6Atthesametime,however,
AlanDavies,ed.,AntisemitisminCanada:HistoryandInterpretation(Waterloo:WilfridLaurier
UniversityPress,1992),Introduction,p.6.OtherimportantstudiesofCanadianantisemitisminclude
IrvingAbellaandHaroldTroper,NoneIsTooMany:CanadaandtheJewsofEurope19331948(Toronto:
Lester&OrpenDennys,1982);PierreAnctil,LeRendezvousmanqu:lesJuifsdeMontralfaceau
Qubecdelentredeuxguerres(Montral:InstitutQubcoisderecherchsurlaculture,1988);andIrving
Abella,ACoatofManyColours:TwoCenturiesofJewishLifeinCanada(Toronto:Lester&Orpen
Dennys,1990).
5
ForabriefcommentonthiswellknownfactinrelationtorecentchargesbyMordecaiRichler,Irwin
CotlerandothersofacontinuingdeepantisemitismwithinQubecnationalism,seeNormandLester,Le
livrenoirduCanadaanglais,vol.1(Montral:LesIntouchables,2001),pp.1821.
6
SeePierreAnctil,WritingasImmigrants:YiddishBelleslettresinCanada,inHartmutLutz,ed.,What
IsYourPlace?IndigeneityandImmigrationinCanada(Augsburg:Wisner,2007);andA.M.Klein:The
PoetandHisRelationswithFrenchQuebec,inRichardMenkisandNormanRavvin,eds.,TheCanadian
JewishStudiesReader(Calgary:RedDeerPress,2004).Foraconvenientoverviewofthiscommunitys
relationswiththefrancophonemajority,seeIgnakiOlazabal,EthnicitetsocitnationaleauQubec.Les
relationsentreJuifsashknazesetQubcoisfrancophonesMontral,CahiersdelURMIS4(1998):21
36,http://urmis.revues.org/index370.html?file=1.
4

5
formulations of a nascent Qubec nationalism often included a strong element of
antisemitismsome of it no doubt an import from France, where for more than a
generationafter1894theDreyfusAffairpolarizedpoliticalopinionbetweenprogressive
democrats and a reactionary alliance of clericalmilitary nationalistsanti
Dreyfusards, who were almost inevitably antisemites as well, and whose direct
ideologicalheirswerethefascistsofActionFranaiseandofthecollaborationistVichy
regime.7
ThisearlypatterninQubecislooselyparalleledinEnglishCanada.In1890s
Toronto,forinstance,thereisevidenceofasignificantleveloffraternizationbetween
gentilesandthecityssmall,prosperous,andwellassimilatedJewishcommunity.But
historianStephenSpeismannotesanabruptshiftbetween1907and1911,corresponding
toaninfluxoflessprivilegedJewishimmigrantsfromeasternEurope:signsbegantobe
posted,forexample,excludingJewsfrompublicswimmingfacilities.8
Duringthe1920sCanadiannewspapers,bothFrenchandEnglish,stigmatized
Jewsasdangerousaliensinsinuatingthemselvesintopositionsofinfluence,whileatthe
same timeinconsistently, one might thinkdenouncing them as the brains of the
Communist movement.9 Gentiles Only signs wereposted inpublic placesin the
Toronto Island parks, for example. And antisemitic propaganda led, predictably, to
7

In1894AlfredDreyfus,anarmycaptainofJewishdescentattachedtotheFrenchGeneralStaff,was
convictedoftreasonforsellingmilitarysecretstoGermany,andsentencedtosolitaryconfinementinthe
penalcolonyofDevilsIsland.AlthoughevidencethatDreyfushadbeenframedsurfacedby1896,hewas
notexonerateduntil1906,andasHannahArendtremarked,thepoliticalimplicationsoftheDreyfusAffair
continuedtoresonateevenaftertheSecondWorldWar.SeeArendt,Antisemitism:PartOneofThe
OriginsofTotalitarianism(NewYork:Harcourt,Brace&World,1968).
8
StephenSpeisman,AntisemitisminOntario:TheTwentiethCentury,inDavies,ed.,Antisemitismin
Canada,pp.114,116.
9
Speisman,p.117.TherevolutionarySocialistPartyofCanadawasfoundedinBritishColumbiain1904,
andthesyndicalistOneBigUnioninCalgaryin1919;theCommunistPartyofCanadawasfoundedin
Guelph,Ontarioin1921.TheinconsistencynotedbySpeismanwasidentifiedbyJeanPaulSartreasa
standardcomponentofantisemitism:WearetoldinalmostthesamebreaththatbehindtheJewlurks
internationalcapitalismandtheimperialismofthetrustsandthemunitionsmakers,andthatheisthefront
manforpiraticalBolshevismwithaknifebetweenitsteeth.Thereisnoembarrassmentorhesitationabout
imputingresponsibilityforcommunismtoJewishbankers,whomitwouldhorrify,orresponsibilityfor
capitalistimperialismtothewretchedJewswhocrowdtheruedesRosiers.Buteverythingismadeclearif
werenounceanyexpectationfromtheJewofacourseofconductthatisreasonableandinconformitywith
hisinterests,if,instead,wediscerninhimametaphysicalprinciplethatdriveshimtodoevilunderall
circumstances,eventhoughhetherebydestroyhimself.Thisprinciple,onemaysuspect,ismagical.
Sartre,AntiSemiteandJew,trans.GeorgeJ.Becker(NewYork:SchockenBooks,1965),pp.3839.

6
antisemiticoutrages.
In1933,CanadianJewsweretraumatizedbytwoevents,againinToronto:Jewish
bathers at the Balmy Beach waterfront park were attacked by youths brandishing
swastikas;andabaseballgameatChristiePitsbetweenalargelyJewishandanAnglo
Saxonteamdevolved,aftertheinterventionofgangscarryingswastikasandshouting
Nazislogans,intostreetfightingthatwentonforsomesixhours.
Radical antisemitism in Qubec found expression in Adrien Arcands Parti
NationalSocialChrtien, aclericofascistNaziknockoffthatin1937establishedan
Ontariowing,theNationalSocialChristianParty.Inoneofhispoemsofthisperiod,the
greatMontralpoetAbrahamMosesKleinmockedArcandasabumblerwho,intrying
toformulateapartymanifesto,couldntgetbeyondthefirstsentence:baslesmaudits
Juifs!10
But while parties like Arcands NationalSocialChristians or the equally
antisemiticNationalistPartyofCanada,foundedinWinnipegbyWilliam[150]Whitaker
andA.F.HartParker,couldappropriatelybedescribedasfringeformations,theircentral
doctrinehadbecomemainstream.MostCanadiansnodoubtdisapprovedofthearson
attack,duringaSabbathservice,thatdestroyedaMontralareasynagogueinthesummer
of1937.AndyetsignsreadingNoJewsorDogsAllowedappeartohavebeenwidely
tolerated, as werepoliter versions ofthe samemessage like thenotice posted atthe
entrance to St. Andrews Golf Club in Toronto: After Sunday, June 20 [1937], this
coursewillberestrictedtoGentilesonly.Pleasedonotquestionthispolicy.11
ThedominantideologiesinEnglishandFrenchspeakingCanadaAngloSaxon
andQubcoisnativism,permeatedinbothcasesbyantisemitismmadeiteasyforthe
topfederalbureaucratresponsibleforimmigrationinMackenzieKingsgovernment,the
10

TheKleinpoemisHormisdasArcand,fromTheRockingChair(Toronto:Ryerson,1948).Sartre
proposedanexplanationfortheparallelinabilityorrefusalofFrenchantisemitestoformulatecoherent
politicalplatforms:AntiSemiticassociationsdonotwishtoinventanything;theyrefusetoassume
responsibility;theywouldbehorrifiedatsettingthemselvesupasacertainfractionofFrenchopinion,for
thentheywouldhavetodrawupaprogramandseeklegalmeansofaction.Theyprefertorepresent
themselvesasexpressinginallpurity,inallpassivity,thesentimentsoftherealcountryinitsindivisible
state.Sartre,AntiSemiteandJew,p.32.
11
JamesW.St.G.Walker,Race,RightsandtheLawintheSupremeCourtofCanada:HistoricalCase
Studies(Waterloo:TheOsgoodeSocietyforCanadianLegalHistoryandWilfridLaurierUniversityPress,
1997),p.186.

7
infamousFrederickBlair,toenforceapolicyofexcludingJewishimmigrants.Themost
notoriousconsequenceofthiswastherefusaloflandingrightsinMay1939totheMV
St.Louis,ashipcarryingover900JewishrefugeesfromHamburg.RefusedalsobyCuba
and the US, the St. Louis was obliged to sail back across the Atlantic; and a large
proportionofitspassengers,whohadagonizinglybeenwithinsightofasafehaven,were
returnedtocountriesinwesternEuropewhichwereoverrunbytheGermanWehrmachta
year later, in the blitzkrieg attack of May1940; more than 250 ofthem died inthe
Holocaust.12
Between1933and1939,Canadaacceptedonlysome4,000ofthe800,000Jewish
refugees who escaped from countries controlled by the Nazis. Australia, by way of
comparison, accepted 15,000,Britain 70,000,and the U.S.200,000. Inproportion to
populationsizes,CanadaacceptedonlyaboutonefifthasmanyJewishrefugeesasthese
othercountries.
TheantisemitismofthemajorityofCanadiansdidnotgounchallenged.Clerico
fascisticreaction,antisemitism,andthepoliticalconservatismthattoleratedboth,13were
vigorouslyopposedinQubecbygroupslikethewriterswhofoundedtheliberalcatholic
journal LaRelve in1934(RobertCharbonneauandClaudeHurtubise,togetherwith
JeanLeMoyne,Robertlie,andthepoetHectordeSaintDenysGarneau),andlater
CitLibrein1950(PierreElliottTrudeau,GrardPelletier,andothers); 14andinEnglish
Canadabyactivistsandwritersontheleft,amongthemthesocialists,progressivesand
social gospel Christians who in 1932 launched the Cooperative Commonwealth
Federation(CCF),adiluteformofwhosedemocraticsocialismsurvivesintodaysNew
Democratic Party. Liberal Senator Cairine Wilson, Canadas first woman senator,
intervenedpersistentlyonbehalfofJewishrefugees;andafter1940especially,someof
12

SeeSarahA.OgilvieandScottMiller,RefugeDenied:TheSt.LouisPassengersandtheHolocaust
(Madison:UniversityofWisconsinPress,2006),pp.17475.
13
Onoccasiontherelationshipmayhaveextendedtocovertsupport:ithasbeenchargedthatArcand
receivedcovertfundingforhisantisemiticnewspapersfromR.B.Bennett,ConservativePrimeMinister
from1930to1935;seeLester,LelivrenoirduCanadaanglais,vol.1,pp.25560.
14
DuringtheperiodoftheNazioccupationofFrance,LaRelvesassociatedpublishinghouse,ditionsde
lArbre,publishedpamphletsfortheFrenchResistancethatweresmuggledintooccupiedandVichy
France.AninterestinthepersonalistphilosophyofJacquesMaritainandEmmanuelMounier,sharedby
writersintheLaRelveandCitLibregroups,providesalinktoprogressiveCatholicsinEnglishCanada,
notablythenovelistMorleyCallaghan.

8
the Canadian churches made forceful efforts to alert Canadians to the horrors being
perpetratedbytheNazisagainsttheJewsofEurope.15
However,anappallinglevelofantisemitismremainedwidespread.Bylate1942,
informationaboutNaziexterminationistpolicieswasgenerallyavailable.Nonetheless,a
mid1943GalluppollthataskedCanadianstolistthemost[151]undesirablepotential
immigrantstothiscountryfoundJewsinthirdplace,afteronlyJapaneseandGermans.In
1946bywhichtimedetailedaccountsofAuschwitzandotherNazideathcampshad
beenpublicforwelloverayearthesamepollwasrepeated.Thistime, Jewswere
advanced to second place: only the Japanese were regarded as more undesirable
immigrants.16
****
During the postwar period, the institutional structures buttressing Canadian
antisemitismweregraduallydisassembled.Immigrationrestrictionswererelaxed(though
notuntil 1948!);this,followingthe Kinggovernments shameful denialofaccess to
refugees from Nazism, led to the interesting result that Canadas Jewish community
containsahigherproportionofHolocaustsurvivorsandtheirdescendantsthanisthecase
intheU.S.
Ontariohadbegundismantlingotherinstitutionalsupportsofantisemitismwith
the RacialDiscriminationAct of1944,whichbannedthepostingofsignsexcludinga
particularreligiousorsocialgroup.Duringthe1950s,thepracticeofwritingrestrictive
covenantsintopropertydeedsinordertopreventJewsorotherundesirablesfrom
purchasinghousesorcottages inparticularareasorneighbourhoodswassuccessfully
challengedinthecourts.17
However,othernolessintolerablepracticesremainedinplaceuntilatleastthe
15

SeeAlanDaviesandMarilynNefsky,HowSilentWeretheChurches?(Waterloo:WilfridLaurier
UniversityPress,1997).
16
Walker,Race,RightsandtheLaw,p.190;GeraldTulchinsky,CanadasJews:APeoplesJourney
(Toronto:UniversityofTorontoPress,2008),pp.40203.
17
SeeWalker,NobleandWolfvs.Alley,inRace,RightsandtheLaw.

9
early 1960s. McGill University limited Jewish admissions to 10%; the University of
Toronto required higher entrance grades from Jews than from other applicants; and
MountSinaiHospital,inoperationbythelate1950s,wasdeniedstatusasaUniversityof
Torontoteachinghospitaluntil1962.18
In other respects as well, antisemitism remained endemic. For example, Jews
werenotadmitted asmembers ofTorontos Granite Club,oroftheRoyal Canadian
YachtClub.AnotherclubontheTorontoislands,theQueenCityYachtClub,orQCYC,
wasformedinpartbypeopleexcludedfrom,ordisgustedwith,theRCYC.Thechildren
ofRCYCmembers,someofwhomIknew,calledittheJewCYC.Anduntilthe1970s,
thechildrenofgentileswerediscouragedbysomeoftheirhighschoolteachersfrom
enteringUniversityCollege(UC)attheUniversityofTorontoJewCollege,JewC,or
JewU,assomepeoplecalledit.
JewishCanadian writers played a considerable role in the delegitimizing of
antisemitism in this country. By the late 1960s noone with any interest in English
CanadianculturecouldignorethefactthatA.M.Kleinwasgenerallyacknowledgedas
thefinestEnglishlanguagepoetCanadahadproduced,andIrvingLaytonashismost
eloquentandforcefulsuccessor;orthatMordecaiRichler,AdeleWisemanandLeonard
Cohenstoodhighinanylistofthecountrysmosttalentednovelists.(Cohenwasalsoof
course a popular poet and singersongwriter whose early books and albums laid the
foundation of his huge presentday international reputation.) Other JewishCanadian
writers,[152]amongthemthepoetsEliMandelandMiriamWaddingtonandthenovelist
MattCohen,addedtoagrowingrecognition, inaperiodobsessedwithquestionsof
nationalidentity,thatCanadasJewishcommunityhadmadeacontributionoutofall
proportiontoitssizetoourculturalmaturationandselfdefinition.
Few Canadians who came to adulthood during the 1960s can have altogether
avoidedcontactwitharesidualandstillviciousantiSemitismthoughsincethatdecade,
theantisemitismthatwasoncemainstreaminCanadahasretreatedtothemarginsof
society. Those who now give public voice to this despicable prejudicemost often,
peopleassociatedwithfringeracistandneoNaziorganizationsexposethemselvesboth
18

Tulchinsky,CanadasJews,p.415.

10
topubliccontemptandtothepossibilityofcriminalprosecutionunderCanadashate
crime laws. But marginal though their opinions may now be, the cowardly acts of
antisemitesrangingfromslurs,vandalism,desecrationofcemeteriesandsynagogues,
tophysicalassaultsretaintheirpowertohurt.19

****
Lookingbackovermorethanfortyyears,Iamastonishedtorecallhowcasually
mycontemporariesbandiedabouttermsofracistincludingantisemiticabuse.20
Myownparentswerenotfreefromracistattitudes:asasmallboyinthe1950s,I
wasdiscouragedfromplayingwithLuigiandSavino,thesonsofourSiciliannextdoor
neighbours.(Whiletheprejudiceinthiscasemaybeenasmuchamatterofsocialclassas
ofethnicity,thereisnodoubtthatattitudestosouthernEuropeansin1950sTorontowere
stronglytingedwithracism.)
However,raciallyabusivelanguagewasforbiddeninourhome.Formymother,
anysneeringatthepeoplewhohadgivenusMendelssohn,Heine,andHeifetzwasoutof
the question; my father, more simply, taught us that to speak slightingly of people
disadvantagedinfactormerelybycommonopinionwasdishonourable.
Butononeoccasion,in1962,Irememberantisemitismcomingclosetohome.In
that year Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice was part of the Grade 9 English
19

ValuablestudiesofresidualantisemitisminCanadaincludeStanleyR.Barrett,IsGodaRacist?The
RightWinginCanada(Toronto:UniversityofTorontoPress,1987);WarrenKinsella,WebofHate:Inside
CanadasFarRightNetworks(Toronto:HarperCollins,1994);L.W.Sumner,TheHatefulandthe
Obscene:StudiesintheLimitsofFreeExpression(Toronto:UniversityofTorontoPress,2004);Richard
Warman,HateontheInternet,i.TheCanadianScene,in2005AuditofAntisemiticIncidents(Toronto:
LeagueforHumanRightsofBnaiBrithCanada,2006),pp.819;andMaryGusellaetal.,HateontheNet
/LahainesurInternet,CITC:CanadianIssues/ThmesCanadiens(Spring2006),http://www.chrc
ccdp.ca/pdf/HateOnInternet_bil.pdf.SeealsoBarbaraPerry,ReadingHate:HateCrimeResearchand
ScholarshipinCanada(UniversityofOntarioInstituteofTechnology,2006),
http://www.criminologyandjustice.uoit.ca/hatecrime/index.html.
20
TermsofracialandethnicabuseaimedatfrancophoneCanadians,aswellasCanadiansofJewish,
Chinese,Italian,Polish,LusoHispanic,Greek,andFirstNationsdescentwerepartoftheeveryday
discourseofTorontosnotsoinnocentschoolchildren,whoalsoknewracistepithetsforblacksandSouth
Asians,eventhoughsubstantialimmigrationfromSouthAsiaandtheCaribbeanwasstillinthefuture.In
addition,comicbookssetinWorldWarTwoandtheKoreanWartaughtustosidewithstubblebearded
AmericanheroeslikeSergeantRockagainsttheevilmachinationsofsquareheadedGermans,Japanese
withwirerimmedglassesandbadteeth,andhumanwavesofRedChinese.

11
curriculum. In my class it was badly taught, with no attempt to undo the plays
antisemiticstereotyping.(TheMerchant isonbalanceantisemitic,eventhoughA.M.
Kleintookthetitleofawartimebookofpoems,HathNotAJew,fromtheopeningwords
ofoneofitsmostfamousspeeches.)Aclassmate,emboldenedperhapsbyAntonios
viciousabuseofShylockorbyGrazianosvilejeeringinthetrialscene,developeda
briefhabitofcallingmeadirtyredheadedJew.21Thewordswerelessshockingthanthe
factthattheywerespokenmorethanonceinthepresenceofresponsibleadults,who
benignlyignoredthem.ThoughneitherJewishnorparticularlyredhaired,Iwasscruffy;
whenIencounteredmyyoungfriendawayfromadultcompany,hebecameabloody
nosedAngloSaxon.
[153]Itstruckmeatthetimethat,asPresbyterians,myfamilyhadgonesome
smalldistancetowardbeingJewish:mostoftheBiblereadingsinCalvinPresbyterian
ChurcheachSundayseemedtobefromtheOldTestament.Andindeedourchurch,led
bytheReverendDonaldHerron,wasengagedininterfaithecumenicaldialogueswith
RabbiGuntherPlautsHolyBlossomTemple.Asanelderofthechurch,thoughavery
casualChristian,myfathertookpartinthesediscussions.Heprofessedhimselfintrigued
bythetendency,asheclaimed,fortheJewstohavePresbyteriannameslikeMcGregor, 22
andthePresbyteriansJewishnameslikeKeefer.
Somefifteenyearslater,myfatherwasdelightedtohearofanencounterIhadin
anantiquarianbookstoreinEngland.WhenIwroteachequetopayformypurchases,the
booksellerbrusquelyinformedmethatIhadmisspelledmyname.
HisnamewasKiefferthespellingmyfamilyhaduseduntilthelate18thcentury.
Hisfamily,originallyfromStrasbourg,hademigratedtoEnglandin1850.Myancestors
leftStrasbourginthe1730sforNewJerseyfromwhichtheyweredriventoUpper
Canada after my quadruplegreat grandfather died in the late 1770s defending Long
21

Whyredheaded?Theremayhavebeenanoteinoureditionoftheplayalludingtoanearlystage
traditionofplayingShylockinaredwig.
22
IdoubttherewereanyactualMcGregorsinRabbiPlautscongregation.Myfatherscommentwas,I
wouldguess,ajokebasedonthefactthatMcGregorsHappyFootHealthSockswere(andstillare)
manufacturedandmarketedbyaTorontogarmentfirmownedbyoneofthecitysprominentJewish
families.Hisoppositenumbersintheinterfaithdialoguesmaywellhaveincludedamemberofthat
family.

12
IslandfromGeorgeWashingtonsarmy:thevictoriousrebelstoldhiswidowshewould
havetopackupandleaveherfarmnearPaulinskill assoonashereldersonturned
sixteen.
Andsoyouknow,therudeMr.Kieffersaid,thatwereJewish?
WeresomeStrasbourgKieffers(thebooksellersfamilyamongthem)Jews,and
otherStrasbourgKieffersgentiles?Itseemsunlikely.
Severalyearspreviously,oneofmybrothers,inStrasbourgonbusiness,tooktime
out tosearchthrough baptismal registers forevidence ofthe familys preemigration
history.Hefoundnothing.
Perhapshehadbeenlookinginthewrongplace.23
****
Thefullstory,ofcourse,mustincludesomefurtherelements.AsYvesEnglerhas
noted, Canadians played a decisive role in United Nations committees charged with
planningthefutureofPalestineonceBritainrelinquisheditsmandatein1948.LesterB.
Pearson, then undersecretary of state for External Affairs, chaired the U.N. First
Committee on Palestine, which in May 1947 established the United Nations Special
CommitteeonPalestine(UNSCOP),whosemajorityreportproposingthepartitionof
PalestineintoaJewishandanArabstatewaswrittenbyCanadianSupremeCourtJustice
23

May2011:thisanecdoterequirescorrection.MybrotherinformsmethatImisunderstoodthenatureof
hisresearchinStrasbourg:hewasindeeddisappointedinasearchfordocumentarytracesofour
ancestors,buthedidnotlookinthebaptismalregisters.SeveraldaysofmyownresearchinStrasbourgin
thespringof2011didincludeworkwithbaptismalregistersinthemunicipalarchives.Theoldest
survivingregisterisfromaparishinthecentreofthecitywhichincludesthestreet(theRuedesTonneliers
orKiefergass)wheretheguildofbarrelmakershadtheirguildhall;theearliestentriesinthisregisterare
fromthe1540s.Inthe1540sand1550sthenameKiefer(meaningbarrelmakerintheStrasbourg
dialectofGerman,ananaloguetothenameCooperinEnglish)appearsquitefrequentlyinthisregister,
bothasacraftidentification(withentrieslikeHans,einKiefervonKolmar)andasafamilyname.This
spellingispreservedbysomefamilies(notablythatofthepainterAnselmKiefer);thedoublefspelling
mayhaveemergedinlatercenturiestodifferentiatethenamefromtheHochdeutschwordKiefer
(meaningpinetree).InlatemedievalStrasbourgJewswerebarredfrommembershipincraftguilds:
apparently,then,JewscouldnotbeKiefers.Butwasthereapointatwhichthisantisemiticrulewas
relaxed?OrcouldsomeJewshavebecomeKiefersbyconcealingtheirreligiousidentity,inthemannerof
themarranosinSpain?SuchKiefersorKieffersorKeefers,ifnotexactlyJews,mightbedescribed(to
borrowaWoodyAllenjoke)asJewish.

13
IvanC.Rand.24 AccordingtoDavidHorowitz,firstgovernoroftheBankofIsraeland
firstdirectorgeneralofIsraelsministryoffinance,Pearsonwasadynamicforceand
pathfinder:
His influence, as one of the foremost figures at the U.N., was
tremendous.ItmaybesaidthatCanadamorethananyother[154]
countryplayedadecisivepartinallstagesoftheUNOdiscussionsof
Palestine. Theactivities atLakeSuccessofLesterPearsonandhis
fellow delegates were a fitting climax to Justice Rands beneficent
workonUNSCOP.25
TheCanadiangovernmentspositiondidnotstemfromanysuddenreversalof
antisemiticattitudes.Onthecontrary,CanadianantisemitismaligneditselfwithZionist
goals,forasIrvingAbella andHaroldTroperhaveshown,therewasaverydistinct
awarenessbothingoverningcirclesandamongthegeneralpublicthatJewishdisplaced
persons who could be redirected to Palestine would not be queuing up to get into
Canada.26 Geopolitical reasons appear to have been equally important: officials in
CanadasDepartmentofExternalAffairssharedWashingtonsinterestinestablishing
an independent, progressive Jewish state in the Eastern Mediterranean with close
economic andculturalties withtheWestgenerally andinparticularwiththeUnited
States.27
TothesefactorsonemightaddadeepseatedracismthatlededucatedCanadians,
whateverdegreeofscorntheymightfeelforJews,toregardArabswithadeeperand
moresettledcontempt.
Jewsmightbeineradicablyother,butforgentileswhosesignificanttrafficwith
themwasoftenprimarilythroughthemediationsoffiction,thatothernesswasinsome
24

YvesEngler,TheBlackBookofCanadianForeignPolicy(VancouverandBlackPoint,NS:
RED/FernwoodPublishing,2009),pp.5455.ThisandthefollowingparagraphareindebtedtoEnglers
analysis.
25
TareqY.Ismael,CanadianArabRelations:PolicyandPerspectives(Jerusalem:JerusalemInternational
PublishingHouse,1984),p.62;quotedbyEngler,TheBlackBookofCanadianForeignPolicy,p.55.
26
SeeIrvingAbellaandHaroldTroper,NoneIsTooMany:CanadaandtheJewsofEurope,19331948
(1982;rpt.Toronto:KeyPorterBooks,2000),p.278;quotedbyEngler,TheBlackBook,pp.5657.
27
DavidTarasandDavidH.Goldberg,TheDomesticBattleground:CanadaandtheArabIsraeliConflict
(Kingston:McGillQueensUniversityPress,1989),pp.31,137;quotedbyEngler,TheBlackBook,p.57.

14
sensedomesticatedorfamiliar.Consider,bywayofexamples,theformsofmitigated
othernessthatoccurinwellknowntextsthatmanyeducatedAngloCanadians ofthe
postwarperiodwouldhaveread.28
Fagin, in Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, is a grotesque stereotype of
cringingSemiticcriminality.Butheismoretobepitiedthanfeared,andoccupies a
recognizableplacewithinLondonsunderworldeconomy.Svengali,anequallygrotesque
JewishvillainwhofiguresinGeorgeduMauriers1890sbestsellerTrilby,hastheminor
virtueofbeingabrilliantinterpreterofEuropeanclassicalmusic. 29AndevenBleistein,in
T. S. Eliots blatantly antisemitic poem Burbank with a Baedeker, Bleistein with a
Cigar,isintimatelyengagedinthesocialrealitiesthepoetissatirizing.Jewsmightbe
caricaturedanddespised,buttheywerepartofthesocialimaginaryandavailablealso
tobeidealized, likethesaintlyMr.RiahinDickens OurMutualFriend,30 or,more
powerfully, the convincingly noble protagonist of George Eliots philosemitic novel
DanielDeronda.31
ThenextseveralparagraphsdonotrestuponanyassumptionthattheliterarytextsImentiondirectly

28

influencedsuchfiguresasLesterPearsonandIvanRand;theydopresupposethatBenedictAndersonis
correctindescribingnationsasimaginedcommunities(seeImaginedCommunities:Reflectionsonthe
OriginandSpreadofNationalism[1983;revisededitionLondon:Verso,1991),andthattoimaginethe
inherentlimitsofsuchacommunityinvolvesimaginingitsinternalandexternalothers.Membersofa
Canadiangoverningclassengaginginissuesofinternationalpoliticsdosowithintheframeworkofasocial
imaginary,anarrativeconstructtowhichwidelydisseminatedfictionscontributethroughtheirpowerto
narrate,ortoblockothernarrativesfromformingandemerging(EdwardSaid,CultureandImperialism
[1993;rpt.NewYork:Vintage,1994],p.xiii).
29
DuMauriersTrilby(NewYork:HarperandBrothers,1894),appearstohavebeenonesignificant
conduitthroughwhichattitudesandtropesoflatenineteenthcenturycontinentalantisemitismenteredthe
Englishspeakingworld.Thebookwaswidelyavailableduringtheimmediatepostwarperiod:between
1941and1948itwaspublishedbysixdifferentpublishersineighteditionsandreprints,withfourseparate
editionsappearingin1947.
30
ThisportrayalwasDickensdeliberateattempttoreversetheantisemiticstereotypingofOliverTwist.A
halfcenturyafterOurMutualFriendwaspublishedin186465,T.S.Eliotwouldwrite,inBurbankwith
aBaedeker,BleisteinwithaCigar(fromPoems[1920]),OntheRialtoonce./Theratsareunderneath
thepiles./TheJewisunderneaththelot(TheCompletePoemsandPlaysofT.S.Eliot[London:Faber
andFaber,1969],p.41).ButinOurMutualFriendMr.Riah,whoalsoprovidesaquietrefugeforthe
distressedheroineLizzieHexam,quitshismorallyintolerableworkasthefrontmaninamoneylending
businessthatisactuallyrunbyacrookedEnglishgentleman,FascinationFledgeby:underneaththegood
Jew,inthisnovel,istheratlikeEnglishman.
31
DanielDerondawasveryfrequentlyreprintedduringthequartercenturyfollowingitsfirstpublication
in1876,andiscurrentlyavailableinmassmarketpaperbacksfromfivemajorpublishers.Betweenthe
early1920sandtheearly1960s,however,itwasmuchlessfrequentlyreprinted:althoughsomeundated
cheapreprintscontinuedtoappear,theonlydatedimprintofthebookofwhichIamawareduringthis
periodwaspublishedin1932.

15
PrejudicedLittlewitsofthepostwarperiodmightentertainthemselveswiththe
quizzicalclerihew:Howodd/OfGod/Tochoose/TheJewsbuttheycouldhardly
avoidknowingthatthereexistedastrongrejoinderinthesamewhimsicalverseform:
Notodd/OfGod:/TheGoyim/Annoyim. 32AndCanadiangentilesofthetimewho
wouldrecoilatthethoughtofanyoftheiroffspringmarryingaJewmightfeelagrudging
respectforthefactthatmostJewishfamilieswouldhavebeenequallyhorrifiedbythe
prospect.
Arabs and Middle Eastern Muslims, however, were regarded as more [155]
radicallyother.33Canadiansmightknowthem,fromoneofthemostpopularfictionsof
JohnBuchantheimperialistideologue,novelist,intelligenceofficer,popularhistorian
andMPwhoendedhiscareerasLordTweedsmuir,CanadasGovernorGeneralfrom
1935to1940asululatinghalfsavages,exoticandbizarre,andastheendlesslygullible
objectsofimperialgeopoliticalmanipulations.34 Or,iftheyhadreadT.E.Lawrences
bestsellingRevoltintheDesert,orthefulllengthbook,SevenPillarsofWisdom,from
which it was abridged,35 they would know of Arabs, from Lawrence of Arabias
descriptionsofBedouinwarriorsliketheHoweitatwarchiefAudaabuTayi,asmore
fullybarbaricandmorecompletelymanipulablebutasnoblesavages,withmanyofthe
qualitiesofHomericheroes.Inapassagehelateradmittedwaspureinvention,Lawrence
ThefirstoftheseisattributedtoWilliamNormanEwer,aprominentleftwingEnglishjournalistfrom
the1920suntilthe1950s;thesecondtotheAmericanhumouristLeoRosten.
33
TheclassicstudyoftheradicalotheringofMuslimsandArabsinthewesternEuropeansocialimaginary
inscholarship,historiography,fictionandpoliticaldiscourseisEdwardSaid,Orientalism(NewYork:
Vintage,1979).
34
SeeJohnBuchan,Greenmantle(London:ThomasNelsonandSons,1916).Duringthe1940satleast
twentythreeeditionsandreprintsofthisnovelwerepublishedbyfivedifferentpublishers.Acentralmotif
ofthisracistandantisemiticFirstWorldWarspythrillerisBuchansclaimthatEnglishmenandScots
haveadistinctiveracialcapacitytoinsinuatethemselvesthroughimaginativeprojectionintothecultures
andbeliefsystemsofotherpeoples.Buchansprotagonist,DickHannay,successivelyimpersonatesa
SouthAfricanBoer,aGermanintelligenceagent,andanAmericancivilengineer;andSandyArbuthnot,an
orientalistandprotoT.E.Lawrence,vanishesintothebazaarsoftheMiddleEast,emergingastheleader
ofamysticalMuslimsecretsocietywhobecomesGreenmantle,thelongedforprophetofamovementof
apocalypticpurificationwithinIslam.
35
T.E.Lawrence,RevoltintheDesert(London:JonathanCape,andNewYork:GeorgeH.Doran,1927);
andSevenPillarsofWisdom:ATriumph(Privateedition,1926;NewYork:GeorgeH.Doran,1935).
Revoltappearedineditionsandmultiplereprintsfromfivepublishersin1927;bytheendofthe1940s,
SevenPillars(alargeformatandmoreexpensivebook)hadappearedinfourteendistinctpubliceditions
andreprintsfromfivepublishers.
32

16
reportedthatPrinceFaisal,thephysicallyslightmilitaryleaderoftheArabrevoltagainst
theOttomanEmpire,hadcollapsedinbattlefrenzy,foamingatthemouth,andhadtobe
carried from the battlefield. Auda, more fully Homeric, delights in epic self
dramatization, and although heis murderously efficient in his berserker heroism, his
Howeitattribehasbeendepletedbyhisinsatiablethirstforbrigandageandwar.
WhywouldCanadianleaderswhoseunderstandingoftheMiddleEasthadtoany
degreebeenconditionedbyfictionsofthiskindwanttoconcededemocraticrightsto
such peoplewhether to the teeming urban populations through whom Buchans
orientalistpasses,orthePalestinianandSyrianpeasantswhomLawrenceoccasionally
describes,andtheBedouinswhomherepresentsasresolutelysimpleminded?36
DiditperhapsoccurtoCanadiandiplomatstothinkthatthesettlementhistoryof
North America tells us what happens when Europeans (even partially othered
Europeans)settheirheartsonlandthathappensalreadytobeoccupiedbynoble,or
ignoble,savagessuchasthoseindigenouspeoplewhomDuncanCampbellScott,poet
andDeputySuperintendentoftheDepartmentofIndianAffairs,hadunsympathetically
calledaweirdandwaningrace[]readytobreakoutatanymomentinsavagedances;
inwildanddesperateorgies?37
YvesEnglerobservesthatCanadiansupportforapartitionplanopposedbyall
Arab states and organizations was not based on any concern for democracy: the
UNSCOPplangavemorethanhalfofPalestinetotheproposedJewishstatedespitethe
factthat,asIlanPapperemarks,Jewsmadeuponlyonethirdofthetotalpopulationand
owned just six percent of Palestine, and even within the areas assigned to them by
UNSCOPJewsownedonlyelevenpercentoftheland,andweretheminorityinevery
district.38
36

LawrencetellsofperformingfortheHoweitat,atoneoftheircommunalfeasts,aparodyofAudasmode
ofepicnarration.Hisaudiencetooksometimetogetthejoke:Lawrencewantsustobelievethattheyhad
neverpreviouslyimaginedthepossibilityofparodicdiscourse.FictiveelementsaboundinLawrences
memoir:hetookcredit,forexample,forthecaptureofAqaba,afeatplannedandcarriedoutbyAudaand
otherArableaders(withLawrenceinattendanceasanobserver).
37
QuotedbyRonaldWright,StolenContinents:500YearsofConquestandResistanceintheAmericas
(1992;rpt.NewYork:HoughtonMifflin,2005),p.321.ThefirstphraseoccursinScottssonnetThe
OnondagaMadonna.
38
IlanPappe,TheEthnicCleansingofPalestine(Oxford:OneWorldPublications,2006),p.34;quotedby
Engler,TheBlackBook,pp.5556.

17
Engler quotes Elizabeth McCallum, the Department of External Affairs only
MiddleEastexpert,andadissenterfromgovernmentpolicy,whoclaimedthatOttawa
supportedpartitionbecausewedidntgivetwohootsfordemocracy. 39Heremarksas
wellthatTheCanadianbackedU.N.partitioncontributedtotheforceddisplacementof
700,000900,000Palestinians[156]becauseitputthefateofmorethanamillion
PalestinianswholivedintheterritoriesassignedtotheproposedJewishstateintothe
handsofaZionistmovementthat,sincethe1930s,hadopenlydiscussedtransferring
theArabpopulation.40
****
Inrecent decades, Canadahasestablishedaninternational reputation asbeing
reliably,evenexaggeratedlysupportiveofIsrael.41
In1982,forexample,CanadajoinedIsrael,theUnitedStates,andCostaRicain
votingagainstaU.N.GeneralAssemblymotioncallingforIsraeliwithdrawalfromthe
Palestinianterritoriesoccupiedsince1967andthecreationofanindependentPalestinian
state. In1987,Canadawas the onlycountryattheQubecFrancophonie Summit to
opposearesolutioncallingforPalestinianselfdetermination.
The CanadaIsrael Free Trade Agreement of 1997 accepts Israels economic
boundaries as incorporating Gaza and the West Bank (in contrast to the European
Unions trade agreement, which makes a point of excluding the territories illegally
occupiedbyIsrael).Moreover,Canadahascontributeddirectlytotheinfrastructureofthe
occupation: for example, it was reported in 1998 that the Canadian Highways
InfrastructureCorporationheadedaconsortiumbuildinga$3billionhighwaydesignated
for the sole use of Jewish settlers, and forbidden to the Palestinians whose land it
traverses.
39

McCallumisquotedbyEliezerTauber,PersonalPolicyMaking:CanadasRoleintheAdoptionofthe
PalestinePartitionResolution(Westport,CT:GreenwoodPress,2002),p.94;quotedinturnbyEngler,
TheBlackBook,p.56.
40
Engler,TheBlackBook,p.57.ForevidenceofclearlyenunciatedZionistintentions,hecitesPappe,The
EthnicCleansingofPalestine,pp.8,2938.
41
ThefollowingexamplesaredrawnfromEngler,TheBlackBook,pp.5963.

18
In January 2008, Canada was the only member of the UN Human Rights
CommitteethatopposedaresolutioncallingforurgentinternationalactiontoendIsraels
economicblockadeofGaza(whichCanadahadbeenthefirstcountrytojoinin2006).
Shortly afterward, Canada signed an agreement with Israel to cooperate in border
management and security. Linda McQuaig very pertinently asked: Does this mean
IsraelwillbecomeinvolvedwithintelligencegatheringaboutCanadianMuslimsorother
Canadians supporting Palestinian rights? Does it mean Canada will help Israel inits
militaryoperationsintheWestBankorGaza?42
DuringIsraelsattackonGazainDecember2008January2009,Canadawasthe
onlymemberoftheU.N.HumanRightsCommitteethatvotedinsupportofIsraels
actions.
****
ThepresentsituationofCanadianJewsseems,inonerespectatleast,strangely
paradoxical. Franklin Bialystok has observed that during the 1970s a generation of
CanadianJewswhowerebornduringandaftertheSecondWorldWar,andwhogrewup
without the traditional neighbourhoods, secular organizations, or Yiddish that had
giventheirparentsandgrandparentslinkstoacommunityandacommunalpast,felt
rootless:
[157] For some, reestablishing the connection lay in a return to
religious observance. For others, it meant becoming involved in
Jewishcauses.Inthepost1967period,thesecausesincludedsupport
forIsrael,oppositiontoantiJewishpoliciesintheSovietbloc,and
combattingantisemitism.Incombination,theycreatedtheperception,
whetherrealorimagined,thatJewswerevulnerable.Itwasnotalong
stretch to reach back three decades in order to understand that
42

LindaMcQuaig,Mediacheerleadersmissstory:TheUShassucceededingettingCanadatotakethe
leadinanunpopularcounterinsurgencywarinAfghanistan,TorontoStar(8April2008);availableonline
athttp://www.lindamcquaig.com/Columns/ViewColumn.cfm?REF=68;quotedbyEngler,TheBlackBook,
p.60.

19
vulnerabilitymightleadtoextinction.43
Thatsenseofvulnerabilitymayalsohavearisenoutofdirectpersonalexperience,
inchildhood,ofantisemiticbullying,togetherwiththefeelingsofbetrayalpromptedby
recognitionthattheadultauthoritiesresponsibleforpreventingsuchbehaviourmayhave
quietlyencouragedit.
But is it not somewhat surprising, onethird of a century later, after decades
duringwhichthecasualbrutalityofantisemiticjeeringhasbeenrecedingfromcommon
experience,andduringwhichCanadiangovernmentattitudestowardsIsraelhavebeen
everything the most ardent Zionist could hope for, that much the same sense of
vulnerability appears to persistparticularly among those who are most passionately
supportiveofIsraeligovernmentpolicies?
ItismyimpressionthatthoseCanadianJewswhosefundamentalcommitmentis
to universal ethical principles of human rights and solidarity with the oppresseda
commitmentwhichmakesthemforcefulcriticsofIsraelipolicies,andoftenaswellof
thosefoundingprinciplesofIsraelwhichdefineitasastateinwhichnonJewsareatbest
secondclasscitizensfearotherthingsthanantisemitism.
Theyfear,asIdo,theincreasingconcentrationofmediaownershipinCanadaand
elsewhere,andacorrespondingriseinpublicmendacity;theyfear,asIdo,thecontinuing
declineofdemocraticinstitutionsanddemocraticgovernancehereandelsewhere(most
especially in the United States and Israel). They fear the consequences, in terms of
ongoingresourcewarsandgrowingdomesticauthoritarianism,ofhydrocarbonenergy
depletion;theyfearthatthestateofIsraelmayplayalargepartinprovokingsuchwars.
Theyfear,aswell,theimmediatepossibilityofdeepeningeconomiccrisis,andensuing
socialturmoil;andtheyfeartheconsequencesofrunawayglobalwarming,whichcould
result in major ecosystem and social collapses. But although some quantitative data
suggestthatresiduallevelsofantisemitismmaybehigherinCanadathaninFranceor
Britain,44theseJewsarenot,tothebestofmyknowledge,keptawakeatnightbyfearsof
43

FranklinBialystok,Werethingsthatbad?TheHolocaustEntersCommunityMemory,inMenkisand
Ravvin,eds.,TheCanadianJewishStudiesReader,p.287.
44
ThefigurespublishedbytheLeagueforHumanRightsofBnaiBrithCanadainitsannualAuditof
AntisemiticIncidentsareanalyzedinthenextchapter.

20
animpendingrepetitionoftheHolocaust.
WhyshouldproIsraelorZionistJewsfeelmoreanxiousinthisregard?Mightit
bebecausetheZionistideologyofaningatheringofJewstoanancestralhomeland 45
riskslosingitspersuasivenessunlessthediasporicconditionappearstobeoneinwhich
Jewsareperpetuallyvulnerableto[158]irrationalfitsofloathingandpersecutiononthe
part of gentiles? Or could it be because assertions of extreme vulnerability make it
possible to redefine Israeli aggressions as defensive actions, necessary for the
preservationofapeoplefacingconstantthreatstotheircontinuedexistence?
****
What might we conclude from even such an elliptical account of Canadian
antisemitismastheforegoing?
ItmaygivesomeinsightintothesensitivitiesofCanadianJewstoanysuggestion
ofarenewalofantisemitism,whilealsoremindingusofCanadasearlyandcontinuing
contributionstowhatremainsanintractablyoppressivesituationintheMiddleEast
whose steady worsening over the past four decades has contributed, many observers
believe,totheperpetuationofantisemiticattitudes.
Itmightalsosuggestthataparliamentaryinquiryintoantisemitismcouldhave
contributedsignificantly,inthe1950sor1960s,46tobringingCanadianstoashamefaced
recognitionofthedegreetowhichinthefirsthalfofthetwentiethcenturyourpublic
45

AsShlomoSandobservesinTheInventionoftheJewishPeople,trans.YaelLotan(LondonandNew
York:Verso,2009),thisisaconceptfraughtwithironies.Scholarlyhistoriansrecognizethestorythatthe
RomansforcedalargescaleexileoftheJewsinthefirstandsecondcenturiesoftheCommonEratobea
mythfromwhichitfollows,giventhatthereisnoevidenceofotherlargescaledisplacementsof
population,thatpresentdayPalestiniansareinlargepartthedescendantsofBiblicaleraJews.Duringthe
earlycenturiesoftheCommonEraJudaismwasaproselytizingreligion,achievingmassconversionsin
partsoftheArabianpeninsula,amongtheBerbersofNorthAfrica,andamongtheKhazarsofthenorthern
Caucasus.SinceNorthAfricanJewsappeartohavebeenincludedintheMuslimarmiesthatconquered
Spainintheearlyeighthcentury,andthereisevidencethattheearlyJewishcommunitiesofeasternEurope
wereformedbyKhazarsafterthedestructionoftheirkingdominthetenthcentury,thebiological
connectionofbothSephardicandAshkenaziJewstothehomelandismoretenuousthaniscommonly
believed.
46
SuchanInquirycouldhavesupplementedworkliketheReporttotheMinisterofJusticeoftheSpecial
CommitteeonHatePropagandainCanada(Ottawa:RogerDuhamel,1966).

21
discourseandpracticeshadbecomecontaminatedbyacontemptible,incendiary,and,in
thelastanalysis,exterminationistprejudice.
Fortyyears later,in20092010,itisfarfromclear that suchaparliamentary
inquirycanhaveanyhonestfunctioninacountrywhosegovernmentappears,inrelation
totheIsraelPalestineconflict,tohaveabandonedanypretenseofneutrality andany
pretenseofcommitmenttotheprinciplesofinternationallawthatoughttobeourguide.