Tonight, the Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver, Canadian Boat to Gaza, Independent Jewish Voices and a few other groups will come together to address the topic Stolen Land: First Nations and Palestinians at the Frontline of Resistance. The obvious intention is to equate the history of colonial settlement in North America, Canada in particular, with the actions of Israel toward Palestinians.
The concept is flawed at its core, of course, because, as the Palestinian narrative often does, it portrays the Jews as colonial occupiers of Arab land, while denying the legitimacy of ancient and modern claims to the Jewish homeland. The logical failure here is that such a narrative recognizes the legitimacy of a 200-year-old land claim, but not a 2,000-year-old land claim, which seems like an arbitrary position.
Nevertheless, there is a larger issue here. The anti-Israel movement insists on appropriating the historical experience of other people and using it in an attempt to fortify their narrative. The most obvious example is the apartheid libel, which tries to paint Israel as the ideological descendant of South African racism. This is offensive not only to Israelis. It debases the experience of black South Africans who suffered from genuine apartheid.
Even more egregiously, the anti-Israel movement routinely uses the imagery of Nazism and the Holocaust against Israel, attempting to equate the victims of the Third Reich with its perpetrators. This deliberate rubbing of salt in Jewish historical wounds is common and, as we discussed in this space last week, the objective is clearly to inflict pain rather than to resolve grievances.
This is a deliberate strategy of the anti-Israel movement, which apparently finds its difficult to make a legitimate case of their own and, therefore, co-opts the historical experiences of others. As another example, last summer, when people in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere in the United States were protesting police shootings of young African-Americans, the “pro-Palestinian” movement attempted to infiltrate that movement as well, trying to portray Israeli soldiers and police in the same light as American killer cops.
The event this week has a similar purpose. Not satisfied to let Canada’s First Nations people tell their stories and have their experiences validated, the “pro-Palestinian” activists want to elbow their way in and demand that Palestine get equal time (at least).
An infinitely more constructive approach can be seen in the remarkable story of a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who traveled across Canada as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, sharing his story of survival and accomplishment after tragedy. (See the story “Survivors helps others.”)
There are ways to positively advance First Nations experiences, the Palestinian experience and the Jewish experience in order to create a more understanding and tolerant world. The organizers of this week’s event – and the anti-Israel movement more broadly – do not seem interested in that sort of progress, in that sort of world.