Ed Morgan   Letter 04   12-Feb-2004   Spreading poison about Canadian Jews
"They're spreading poison about American Jews.  Many of the people spreading this poison are Jews themselves, a relatively small group that wants to convince everybody (or at least everybody in power) that the great bulk of us think the way they do, which we don't." � Bruce Jackson


Ed Morgan
Chair, Canadian Jewish Congress (Ontario)
Faculty of Law
University of Toronto
84 Queen's Park
Toronto, ON      M5S 2C5

Ed Morgan:

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) history web page at www.cjc.ca/template.php?action=history&Language=EN gives the impression under the heading "Mission Statement" that the CJC is democratic and expressive of the will of Canadian Jewry:

Canadian Jewish Congress is the democratically elected, national organizational voice of the Jewish community of Canada.  It serves as the community's vehicle for defence and representation.

However, only two plenary meetings are mentioned � one in 1919 and one in 1934 � and details are provided only of the first:

The first meeting of Canadian Jewish Congress was held on March 16 to 19, 1919. It was attended by 209 delegates and over 2500 spectators.

What is missing from the CJC web site account is a list of the plenary meetings, if any, since 1934, especially the most recent; a disclosure of the number of delegates attending each meeting; what powers the delegates exercise; and a description of the democratic mechanisms by which delegates are selected and by which executive positions are filled.

The reason that it is important for the Canadian Jewish Congress to disclose this further information is that at present the CJC projects the impression that it is not at all representative of Canadian Jews (and that therefore its reliance on democracy is questionable).

For example, in my letter to CJC Executive Director Bernie Farber of 24-Dec-2003, Bernie Farber runs into Max Silverman, it was noted that Bernie Farber let fall two symptoms of reflexive mendacity � and yet among the Jews of my acquaintance, I have never detected any similar handicap.

Or, in my letter to you of 20-Jan-2004, I described CJC participation in The Martin-Luther-King-Was-A-Zionist Hoax, and recollected the load of other failed hoaxes that the Canadian Jewish Congress carries on its back � and yet among the Jews of my acquaintance, I have never detected any proclivity to perpetrating hoaxes.

And in my letter to you of 28-Jan-2004, Canadian Jewish Congress Fanaticism Infects the University of Toronto, I complained of the CJC laboring to suppress free speech, and of its hoping to unleash the criminal law on those who deviate from a CJC-defined single-truth view of history, exactly the sort of hope which Noam Chomsky condemns as the "familiar Stalinist-fascist doctrine that the State has the right to determine historical truth and to punish deviation from it" � and yet among the Jews of my acquaintance, I have never detected any inclination either to suppress free speech or to impose any Stalinist-fascist monitoring of historical truth.

Again, in my letter to you of 06-Feb-2004, Fine words plus lousy deeds equals hypocrisy, I complain of the CJC expressing its reluctance to receive government services denied to others when in fact the CJC and its sister organizations give the appearance of being close to the only ethnic or religious groups to ever receive Canadian Human Rights Commission support for "hate messaging" complaints � and yet the Jews of my acquaintance are indistinguishable from any other peoples in their predisposition to hypocrisy.

In short, my encounters with the CJC are totally at odds with my experience of the Jewish people, such that I am drawn to the conclusion that the CJC is not at all representative of Canadian Jews, and in fact works contrary to their wishes and in disregard of their welfare, from which it follows that the most credible and sustainable complaints of anti-Jewish "hate messaging" would be ones filed by individual Jews against the Canadian Jewish Congress.

My thinking, then, parallels that of Bruce Jackson in his CounterPunch article below, Jews Like Us, in which he goes so far as to argue that Jewish leadership can be so unrepresentative of the Jewish people, and at the same time so odious, as to be responsible for "spreading poison about American Jews."

It would appear, then, that you are faced with two options:

Lubomyr Prytulak


Irving ABELLA, National Honourary President, CJC, Department of History, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3
Bernie FARBER, Executive Director, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2
Mary M GUSELLA, Chief Commissioner, CHRC, 344 Slater Street, Ottawa, ON  K1A 1E1
Moshe RONEN, Chair Board of Governors, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2
Len RUDNER, Director of Community Relations, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2


April 18, 2003

This Much is True: We Remember

Jews Like Us


They're spreading poison about American Jews.

Many of the people spreading this poison are Jews themselves, a relatively small group that wants to convince everybody (or at least everybody in power) that the great bulk of us think the way they do, which we don't.  Some non-Jews, like Pat Buchanan and other less-rabid but no less invidious bigots, but find it a good way to stereotype us: Jews all think alike, dontcha know.  It's weird and freaky when militant right-wing Jews can hook up with old-fashioned anti-Semites to stereotype the rest of us, but these are weird and freaky times.

The basic tenets of the present poison seem to be these:

  • American Jews support Israel's policies whatever they are;

  • American Jews believe the settlements in the Occupied territories are a God-given right;

  • American Jews believe Ariel Sharon has peace on his mind but can't get there only because evil Palestinians keep blowing themselves up and forcing him to respond by blowing up or driving tanks through their families' houses and orchards;

  • American Jews think all issues of world peace must be subsumed to Israel's security, as defined by the Israeli government;

  • American Jews favor current U.S. unilateralism and have contempt for the United Nations because it is full of mean little countries that don't like Israel.
And most important of all: any American Jew who rejects the aforementioned is a "self-hating Jew."


Could any goy have thought that one up? "You disagree with my politics, therefore you are a self-hating Jew.  The problem, the ethical issues, the guilt are all yours."  Freud would have danced all over it.

You respond, "No, man, you're WRONG about all of it.  Let's go over the facts."

They listen, politely, or not, and at the end they say,"See? I told you, you're a self-hating Jew."

True-believers of whatever stripe find ratification wherever they look.  In the court where the conclusion is foregone, all facts serve only to convict.

I first heard the phrase "self-hating Jew" in Greenwich Village in the 1980s when a group from the Jewish Defense League, Meyer Kahane's militant organization, stood in the street yelling it at William Kunstler's house.  I looked out the window, saw the bared teeth and raised fists and thought that they looked and comported themselves very much like Hitler Jugend, missing only the armbands.

Kunstler's comment on them was, "Pay them no mind.  They don't know what they're talking about.  That's the silliest thing to call me.  I don't hate myself.  Everybody knows I love myself."

I went out of the house and before I'd even stepped from the doorway to the top of the steps they were yelling "Self-hating Jew! Self-hating Jew!" at me.  I yelled back, "But you don't even know if I'm Jewish."  They didn't care.  They kept yelling "Self-hating Jew" until I reached the police barricade at Christopher Street, whereupon they started yelling at the house again.


I'm not making this lunatic stuff up and neither am I waxing rhetorical.

All reliable studies and surveys show that the great majority of American Jews, whatever the level of their support for Israel itself, oppose unilateralism, think the United Nations an important forum, favor a Palestinian state, are opposed to the settlements in the Occupied Territories, oppose Sharon's militancy, are sickened and appalled by the images of Israeli tanks destroying homes, villages and vineyards, and are desperate for the killing and dying on both sides to stop now.  Not after every potentially suicidal Palestinian is wiped out.  Not after the world is made perfect.  Now.

The neocon and radical right, though a numerical minority, have politicians running scared.  One example of that is New York Senator Charles Schumer, who recently told students at an upstate Catholic military school that he was now in favor of pre-emptive wars.  "Pollster John Zogby said Schumer's tough posture is a political move to appeal to pro-war upstate voters and elements of the Jewish community in New York City," wrote Buffalo News Washington bureau chief Doug Turner.  Zogby "said polls show a majority of Jewish voters nationally and in New York State oppose war with Iraq.  'But the loudest voices in the Jewish community, the hard-line conservatives who favor the war, are politically the strongest,' Zogby said.  'I think he's bidding for the Likud vote,' Zogby joked, referring to the party of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

Given the evidence of those surveys, why do Schumer and otherwise sensible members of Congress act as if these bullies of the right represented even a large minority of us?  Maybe for the same reason they continue to base U.S. Caribbean policy on the hysterical voices of the small Cuban exile community in Miami.  Remember how Al Gore (D.), Dan Burton (R) and so many of the rest fell over one another trying to be politically correct and make political capital in the Elian Gonzalez soap opera three years ago?  They're terrified of groups of middle-class people who scream at them and they think such screamers are more likely to vote and write checks than people who speak softly or rationally.

More and more I hear that those militaristic Jews in and advising the Bush administration � such as Paul Wolfowitz inside the White House and William Kristol on the outside � prove where Jews are at, politically.  Nonsense. That only proves what political stripe of Jews are in favor in the Bush White House.

Wolfowitz and Kristol are Americans who are Jewish and who are part of the American Conservative Right.  Why single them out as Jews and then blame the rest of us Jews for them?  Most of us don't like or agree with those ideologues either.  Blaming the rest of us for them is like blaming the Methodists for Dick Cheney or Baptists for John Ashcroft.  It's not the religion that made those people what they are.  Wolfowitz, Kristol, Cheney and Ashcroft would be the way they are if they were Zoroastrians.


In spring 2001, I started working on a book the working title of which is "Jews like us."  I thought it might be useful to give some of the Jews who don't scream a chance to say what they think about being Jewish in America now.  I stopped working on the book when everything got cranked up after 9/11, but I've started doing interviews again.  I have basically one question I ask everybody: "You say you're Jewish.  What do you mean by that?"

The responses are astonishing in their variety.  I'm continually amazed at the huge range of stories, opinion, and analysis.  The only generalization I can make about it is this: hardly any of it comes close to the militant neocon line.  Sure, there are some groups in which the ideology is locked down tight and some individuals for whom Sharon's version of Israel's security needs transcends all reason and decency.  But that's the minority.  Painting us all with the Wolfowitz-Kristol brush, saying, in effect, that our considered political and ethnical opinions are worthless, is just today's trendy way to be anti-semitic, no matter who is doing it.

There is an ever-growing number of organizations of American Jews trying to get the word out that the press and politicians should look beyond the noisy minority.  (Links to the web sites of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, Not in My Name, Jews Against the Occupation and Brit Tzedik v'Shalom are listed below.)  Thus far, they seem to have made little impact.  Their activities get almost no coverage in the press and few members of Congress consider them the same kind of threat as the militant right or the neocons.

Perhaps they've been too polite.  Perhaps they will have to start making the same kind of noise that has so frightened Chuck Schumer and so many other powerful people in Washington.  Perhaps they will have to remind those politicians that they also vote and write checks, and that of all the things you can accuse us Jews of there is at least one that is true: we remember.

Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel

Not in My Name

Jews Against the Occupation

Brit Tzedik v'Shalom: Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Bruce Jackson is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture at University of Buffalo. He edits Buffalo Report.

His email address is [email protected].

Originally posted at counterpunch www.counterpunch.org/jackson04182003.html