Terry Glavin (photo from Terry Glavin)
A self-described “man of the left,” journalist Terry Glavin discovered he was an “accidental Zionist” during the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, when he noticed how the mood of the antiwar movement on the left was “almost hysterical,” and that it was not, in fact, antiwar, but rather pro-Hezbollah.
“There was something deeply toxic about the phenomenon that described itself as antiwar,” he told the Independent, adding that, irrespective of one’s viewpoint on Israeli policy, “if one was to choose the only principled, progressive position, it would have been to be on Israel’s side.” And, he noted, “Arab friends and Palestinian activists [have] gravitated towards the same idea.”
The Irish-Canadian said he has since “been associated with a sturdy defence of Israel in Canada,” in his columns, which have appeared in the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail, Georgia Straight and Ottawa Citizen.
Glavin will be among the speakers at this year’s FEDtalks on Sept. 22 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, helping to launch the Metro Vancouver Jewish community’s annual campaign.
In addition to his vast and varied published subject matter, Glavin’s work as a journalist has taken him around the globe. His talk will examine, among other ideas, what Canada could contribute for healing the world, as well as what it means to be an “accidental Zionist,” a phrase he said he borrowed from Martin Sampson of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
In his work, Glavin strives to clarify the clashes in Israel, to help people understand them better.
“It’s not an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war is with Hamas,” he said. “Who are the worst enemies of Palestinian freedom? It’s not Bibi Netanyahu. The most devoted committed enemy of Palestinian sovereignty, Palestinian liberty, rule of law, democracy, freedom are Hamas, Islamic jihad, Hezbollah and Tehran.
“Anyone who apologizes for them, reiterates their propaganda lines, is an enemy of the Palestinians and their freedoms.”
Having researched and written about the hatred of Jews and Israel, he concludes, “There is something unique about antisemitism.
“It’s not just another bigotry. This talk of Israel eliminationism – if it’s not antisemitism, what is it? It might not be Judenrein (free of Jews), but it’s Judenstaatrein, no Jewish state,” he said.
“The Jews are unique, entitled to a nation-state of their own … [as much,] if not more, than any other nationality on earth.”
The liberal left, moreover, has some self-reflecting to do, to know that “certain postures, certain habits of speech, are now unacceptable, and some obsessive preoccupations are no longer tolerated,” he said.
In his opinion, these statements include using the term Zionist as a pejorative, “a term of abuse”; saying that “Israel is the primary impediment to peace in the Middle East”; and claiming the “false idea that criticism of Israel is automatically antisemitic.”
Seeking to bust this latter myth, in a bulk email to journalist colleagues, Glavin asked if any of them could offer an example where a legitimate critique of Israel has been denounced as antisemitism.
“It didn’t exist,” said Glavin. “I could not find any reputable Jewish or Israel organization or individuals who ever introduced a legitimate criticism of Israel as antisemitic. It’s a canard.”
Meanwhile, another falsehood emanating from the left and from leaders of the Arab world, he said, is the idea that Israel is to blame for the region’s – and, sometimes, the world’s – ills.
“This is what one Arab dictator after the next has forced down the throats of generations of Arabs to explain their own destitution and dysfunction,” he said.
Some are rejecting that narrative, however.
“The people have begun to discover they’ve been lied to – that Israel isn’t the problem,” said Glavin. “The jackboot on [their] neck is Baathist, not Israel.”
For tickets to FEDtalks and information on all of the speakers, visit jewishvancouver.com/fedtalks2016.
Dave Gordon is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications around the world.