ישראלים המבקשים לברר פרטים על הליך קבלת תושבות קנדית, נתקלו בנציגי חברת פרו איי.סי.סי שניסו להונות אותם. כך נטען בכתבה במדור הכלכלי של עיתון הארץ – דה מארקר. עוד נטען בכתבה כי נציגי החברה טוענים שהם עוזרים בבקשות לתושבות מטעם שגרירות קנדה, ומוכנים לעזור לישראלים אם ישלמו חמש מאות ושמונים דולר, ויעבירו להם את פרטי כרטיס האשראי שלהם. משגרירות קנדה בתל אביב נמסר בתגובה כי לחברת פרו איי.סי. סי אין קשר למשרד ההגירה, פליטים ואזרחות, וממשלת קנדה רואה בחומרה כל ניסיון להונות בתחום האזרחות או ההגירה. אם מישהו מציג עצמו כנציג השגרירות או משרד ההגירה ומציע מעמד הגירה או אזרחות בטלפון זו הונאה. מחברת פרו איי.סי.סי לא נמסרה תגובה לעיתון הישראלי.
בשבועות האחרונים מופיעה מודעה בפייסבוק מטעם פרו איי.סי.סי ובה ההצעה לבדוק זכאות לאזרחות קנדית. ישראלים שנכנסים ללינק מקבלים לאחר זמן קצר שיחה טלפונית, המוצגת באפליקציות לזיהוי שיחה כשיחה משגרירות קנדה, ובה אדם המציג עצמו כעובד שם ומסביר את המשמעות של הגשת בקשה לתושבות. עיתונאית דה מארקר השאירה את פרטיה באתר החברה ונציגה התקשר אליה. הוא הציג עצמו בשם וויליאם סאנלי עובד פרו איי.סי.סי, מבלי לציין שהחברה אינה שייכת לשגרירות קנדה. סאנלי פירט את ההיתרונות בהגירה לקנדה, מערכת הבריאות המתקדמת, לימודים בחינם, עזרה בפתיחת עסק ועוד.
לשאלת הכתבת מדוע נוקטת השגרירות הקנדית בגישה פרו-אקטיבית ומגייסת אנשים ממדינות אחרות לעבור אליה, טען סאנלי, כי קנדה מבקשת להגדיל את האוכלוסייה במדינה ומקבלת בכל חודש שבעה עשר אלף תושבים חדשים, העונים על דרישות מסוימות. בהן: גיל, רמת השכלה, ניסיון תעסוקתי ואנגלית ברמה גבוהה. לאחר שהכתבת ענתה על מספר שאלות סאנלי הודיע לה כי היא עומדת בדרישות, ועליה למלא טופס שישלח אליה דרך האימייל, ולשלם מייד חמש מאות ושמונים דולר. סאנלי הפעיל לחץ על הכתבת והודיע לה כי התחיל כבר בהליך הרישום שלה, ואם היא תעצור אותו, היא תאלץ להמתין כשנה, עד שתוכל להגיש בקשה חדשה. לדברי סאנלי אם הכתבת לא תפעל מייד להגשת הבקשה להגירה היא תסומן על ידי השגרירות, ולכן תאלץ להמתין שנה תמימה להגשת בקשה חדשה.
בשגרירות קנדה בתל אביב מסרו כי הם פתחו בבדיקה בנושא פעילות חברת פרו איי. סי.סי. בשגרירות ביקשו לציין כי אלה המבקשים להגר למדינה נוטים לעתים קרובות להסתמך על יועצי הגירה, שיעזרו להם לטפל בנושא. עם זאת הם עלולים ליפול לידי נוכלים. ממשלת קנדה החליטה להשקיע השנה מיליוני דולרים, כדי להגן על האזרחים והמועמדים להגירה, כדי שלא יפלו במלכודות של הנוכלים. עוד נמסר כי משרד ההגירה לא מעניק יחס מיוחד למי שפועל להגר באמצעות יועץ, וזה לא מבטיח להם דבר. כל הטפסים הנחוצים להגירה נמצאים באתר משרד ההגירה ואפשר להוריד אותם ללא תשלום. גם רשימת יועצי ההגירה החוקיים נמצאים באתר. אגב חברת פרו איי.סי.סי לא נמצאת ברשימת היועצים המוסמכים לטפל בהגירה לקנדה.
בדקתי את האתר של פרו איי.סי.סי ומצאתי שמשרדי החברה ממקומים ברחוב הייסטינג 1021 בוונקובר. פרו איי.סי.סי מציגה עצמה כחברה מובילה עם רקורד מוכח בתחום ההגירה, והבאת מהגרים לקנדה מכל העולם. מהגרים שהם אנשי מקצוע מיומנים, אנשי עסקים, סטודנטים וחברי משפחה. בחברה מציינים עוד כי הם ליוו כבר אלפים שהגרו לקנדה. בדף החברה בפייסבוק מפורסם כי יש לה כששת אלפים וחמש מאות “לייקס”.
Ludicrous as it may sound, it is difficult for some people to understand what Jews are. To be Jewish is to be part of a peoplehood. To adhere to Judaism means one practises the religion of the Jewish people. Yet one can be Jewish and not practise Judaism. This may be called variously humanistic Judaism, cultural Judaism or any number of other imaginative descriptors.
At root, Jewishness is both a peoplehood and a religious identity, sometimes overlapping, sometimes not. This is problematic because it means Jews do not fit neatly into the categories the world likes to assign people. This becomes increasingly difficult as the world moves further toward communicating even complex ideas in 140 characters or less.
Writing in Haaretz Monday, Joel Braunold, executive director for the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Middle East Peace and a former leading member of Britain’s National Union of Students, says the antisemitism being exhibited by members of the U.K. Labor Party and the NUS stems at least in part from leftists’ refusal to see Jews as a national group and instead narrowly defining Jews as adherents of a religion.
Braunold makes some insightful observations about how self-identified anti-racism activists can treat Jews differently. In one instance, he writes, an ostensibly anti-racist group distributed flyers lamenting the Holocaust’s toll on Roma, homosexuals and members of other groups, while not mentioning the Shoah’s Jewish victims. They are doing Jews a favor, Braunold says some have told him, by not falling into the Hitlerian trap of defining Jews through racial categorization.
Dejudaizing the Holocaust, obviously, is appalling. Yet there is a far more common approach employed almost universally by people condemning antisemitism. It is the seemingly well-intentioned habit of condemning antisemitism and then carrying on to list many other forms of discrimination. In other words, while it is fully acceptable – as it should be – to condemn anti-black racism when it occurs in the United States or elsewhere without numerating a laundry list of other forms of racism that are unacceptable, it seems almost impossible for many people, including some elected officials, to condemn antisemitism without subsequently providing an exhaustive list of other bigotries that deserve denunciation.
It is hard to argue that this is a sign of ill will. After all, every opportunity to condemn discrimination of every kind is a good opportunity. But when it seems anti-Jewish animus is the only one that cannot be singularly condemned, it should raise questions. We can condemn Islamophobia, misogyny, historical and contemporary treatment of indigenous Canadians, inequality of minorities in Western societies, the historical wrongs perpetrated on Chinese and Indian immigrants (or would-be immigrants who were prevented from entry) to Canada and all range of other victims, yet condemnations of antisemitism seem to need qualifiers.
It may be precisely that Jewishness is confusing to some – is it a religion or is it a national identity? – that allows people to behave the way they do toward Jews. I can’t be racist, one might say, because Judaism is a religion and I should be free to criticize religion.
There is also, in contemporary Canada, a stream of anti-religiosity. “Imagine there’s no countries … and no religion too,” John Lennon sang in an anthem of a generation of dreamers.
In addition to antipathy toward religion, there is a stream of anti-nationalism at play. Some of the criticism of Israel stems from the dream of a post-national world, where, to quote Lennon again, there is “nothing to kill or die for.”
And yet, many who subscribe to some variation of this quest for an ideal post-nationalistic world by targeting for elimination the one state of the Jewish people, a people whose statelessness was the primary reason six million were able to be murdered seven decades ago, should be an obvious indicator of misplaced priorities. Especially when many of these same activists support Palestinian national self-determination, but not the Jewish version.
In his Haaretz piece, Braunold posits a unique motivator for some of the attitudes we see on the left toward Jews. It may not be the magic key that explains it all, but it is a part of the puzzle.
To some, it was a (peace) camp reunion. To others, it served notice that peace with the Palestinians has returned to its place atop the agenda of Israel’s political left following its dalliance with socioeconomic issues. To the more than 2,000 participants in Haaretz newspaper’s Israel Peace Conference held last week at Tel Aviv’s David InterContinental Hotel, it was an elegant opportunity to mingle with the iconic stewardship of days past – topped by Shimon Peres – while honing the movement’s agenda among those poised to embrace the next wave of leadership, such as opposition head and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and activist-turned-politician Stav Shaffir, who personifies the bridge from social activism to the politics of peace.
The history of the Israeli Peace Conference was itself microcosmic of the fortunes of the movement it supports. The idea began amid optimism born of word of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace mission, according to conference chief executive officer, journalist Akiva Eldar. “The original idea was to push [Israeli] Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to say ‘yes’ to Kerry but, around April, everything came to a halt,” he told this reporter.
“We kept pushing it off, finally setting it for July,” said Eldar, senior columnist for Al-Monitor. But, by the time the date rolled around, a new set of obstacles had presented themselves in the form of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens followed by the killing of a Palestinian youth. The atmosphere became more toxic to the point where key Palestinian participants, chief negotiator Sa’ib Erakat and businessman Munib Al-Masri, pulled out of the conference. Yet, the decision was made to continue as planned. According to Eldar, “We decided we don’t give veto power to terrorists on both sides.”
Mira Sucharov’s debate with Max Blumenthal is on CPAC.
In a previous blog post on haaretz.com, I discussed what appears to be an increasing chill factor in our Jewish communities. By way of example, I mentioned a then upcoming debate on the topic of whether Israel is and can be a “Jewish and democratic state” between prominent anti-Zionist Max Blumenthal and me, a liberal Zionist. Given the event sponsors (Independent Jewish Voices), many in the audience were primed for Blumenthal’s points – a scenario that makes supporters of Israel uneasy. But, unlike a “hasbarah” activist or a right-winger or even a centrist, we liberal Zionists tend to be both emotionally connected to Israel and critical of Israeli policies. So, on the heels of that event, here are some reflections on what happens when a liberal Zionist debates an anti-Zionist.
When it comes to Israeli democracy, liberal Zionists focus on what is possible. From the government actions of the day, anti-Zionists infer absolute limits.
There were times in the debate where, after I had addressed the central question, namely whether Israel’s Jewish and democratic character are mutually exclusive, Blumenthal would imply that we need to move away from pie-in-the-sky ideals and toward how things actually are. But, as with any experiment in nation building, I see Israel’s democracy as a work in progress. The contradictions need to be seen for what they are: temporary challenges to democracy, and requiring key legal reforms that Israel’s supporters and concerned citizens must continue to push for. Which brings me to my next point:
In collaboration with the Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library, the Jewish Independent will be reprinting a series of book reviews by Robert Matas, formerly with the Globe and Mail. He has chosen My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (Speigel & Grau, New York) by Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit as the first in the series. My Promised Land has been listed as number one on the Economist’s best books of 2013, is a winner of a National Jewish Book Award and is included on the New York Times’ list of 100 notable books of 2013.
Israel is an incredibly strong country. Its high-tech start-ups spur economic growth while most of the world is trying to sidestep a financial meltdown. Its democratic institutions remain vibrant, while its neighbors disintegrate. Its military, backed up by nuclear power, effectively has stopped any attack on the state over several decades despite virulent opposition to its existence.
Yet the fault lines in Israeli society steadily widen. Internal divisions that threaten the country spread out in all directions. The rumblings of unrest are becoming louder and more frequent, from the occupied territories, the Arab Israeli communities, the ultra-Orthodox enclaves and the non-Ashkenazi underclass.
Ari Shavit, in My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, offers a fascinating window into the country at a crucial time in Israel’s history. Based on family diaries, private letters and interviews and discussions with hundreds of Jews and Arabs over a period of five years, Shavit, a leading Israeli journalist and television commentator, has written a book with the potential to change understanding of the seemingly intractable problems confronting Israel.
This book is not for those who believe Israel requires the unquestioning support of Diaspora Jews. With brutal honesty, Shavit describes episodes in Israel’s history that many would like to remain untold, or at least to be discussed only in hushed whispers within the family. But his account of the life stories of numerous people including Aryeh Deri, Yossi Sarid and others who played pivotal roles in the development of the country is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about Israel.
In a nutshell, Shavit concludes that Israel is vulnerable and will remain vulnerable as long as Israeli cities and farms exist where Palestinians once lived. He argues that ending the West Bank occupation will make Israel stronger and is the right thing to do, but evacuating the settlements will not bring peace. The crux of the matter is that all Palestinians who were expelled – not just those in the West Bank – want to return home and will settle for nothing less.
He is pessimistic about the future. Israel can defend itself now, but he anticipates eventually the hand holding the sword must loosen its grip. Eventually, the sword will rust.
“I have learned that there are no simple answers in the Middle East and no quick fix solutions to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I have realized that the Israeli condition is extremely complex, perhaps even tragic.”
Despite his critical eye on events of the past century, it is difficult to label Shavit’s politics. He was an active member of Peace Now and a vocal critic of the settler movement. But he praises Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for confronting Iran. “I have learned that there are no simple answers in the Middle East and no quick fix solutions to the Israeli Palestinian conflict,” he writes. “I have realized that the Israeli condition is extremely complex, perhaps even tragic.”
Shavit explores 120 years of Zionism through vividly written profiles of numerous people beginning with his great-grandfather, Herbert Bentwich, who came to Jaffa on April 15, 1897, on a 12-day trek to explore the land as a home for the Jews. At that time, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, populated mostly by Bedouin nomads and Palestinians serfs with no property rights, no self-rule or national identity.
“It’s quite understandable that one would see the land as a no-man’s land,” Shavit writes. Bentwich would have to turn back if he saw the land as occupied, Shavit adds. “But my great-grandfather cannot turn back. So that he can carry on, my great-grandfather chooses not to see.”
Israel was settled and continues to be populated by people who do not see others who are right in front of them. The early Zionists bought land, often from absentee landlords, and ignored those who had worked the land for generations. Herzl’s Zionism rejected the use of force. But as the number of Jews escaping European antisemitism, a new breed of Jew arrived.
Shavit describes how kibbutz socialism, with its sense of justice and legitimacy, displaced indigenous Palestinians. Jews who were godless, homeless and, in many cases parentless, colonized the land with a sense of moral superiority. “By working the land with their bare hands and by living in poverty, and undertaking a daring unprecedented social experiment, they refute any charge that they are about to seize a land that is not theirs.”
Tracing the development of the state, he identifies in painful detail the Palestinian villages that were wiped out and replaced with Jewish settlements. Transferring the Arab population became part of mainstream Zionism thinking during the riots of 1937, as Zionists confronted a rival national movement. David Ben-Gurion at that time endorsed the compulsory transfer of population to clear vast territories.
“I do not see anything immoral in it,” Ben-Gurion said. By the time of the War of Independence in 1947/48, Palestinians who did not leave voluntarily were, as a matter of routine, forcibly expelled from their homes and the buildings demolished.
Shavit delves deeply into the sad history of the Lydda Valley, where Jewish settlements began in idealism but evolved into what Shavit describes as a human catastrophe. “Forty-five years after Zionism came into the valley in the name of the homeless, it sends out of the Lydda Valley a column of homeless.”
In the new state’s first decade, Israel was on steroids, absorbing nearly one million new immigrants, creating 250,000 new jobs and building 400 new Israeli villages, 20 new cities and 200,000 new apartments. The new Israelis had little time for Palestinians, the Jewish Diaspora or even survivors of the Holocaust. As it marched toward the future, Israel tried to erase the past. The miracle was based on denial, Shavit writes.
“The denial is astonishing. The fact that 700,000 human beings have lost their homes and their homeland is simply dismissed.”
“Ten-year-old Israel has expunged Palestine from its memory and soul, as if the other people have never existed, as if they were never driven out,” he writes. “The denial is astonishing. The fact that 700,000 human beings have lost their homes and their homeland is simply dismissed.”
Yet the denial was essential. Without it, the success of Zionism would have been impossible. Similar to his great-grandfather, if Israel had acknowledged what had happened, it would not have survived, he writes.
He recounts how the settlements in the West Bank have changed the course of Zionism. They began as a response to a fear of annihilation but evolved into an aggressive movement to dislocate Palestinians and prevent peace agreements. Shavit is convinced the settlements will eventually lead to another war. The settlements are an untenable demographic, political, moral and judicial reality that harms the entire country, he writes. He believes occupation must cease for Israel’s sake, even if peace with Palestinians cannot be reached.
With similar intensity, Shavit offers insight into the Masada myth of martyrdom and reports on how Israel developed nuclear power. He maintains that nuclear deterrence has given Israel decades of peace. He exposes the cracks in Israeli society with thought-provoking portraits of prominent figures from the ultra-Orthodox and Sephardi communities.