Brian Henry: When the NDP sounds like the Ayatollah
I would implore our federal New Democrats and their leader to look, for a moment, at some of their fellow travellers.
By: Brian Henry
It’s not every day that the leader of the NDP and the supreme leader of the Iranian theocracy say the same thing. But in a declaration from Tehran back on October 17, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Israel of genocide, and a day earlier in a speech in Parliament, Jagmeet Singh did the same.
From the Ayatollah, this is no surprise. The ayatollahs say this sort of thing all the time. Since its founding, the Iranian theocracy has seen the world through a haze of Jew-hatred. To the Ayatollahs, the Jews are the evil that lurks behind every enemy.
Which brings us back to Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP. In a prepared statement for a House debate on the situation in Gaza, delivered on Oct. 16, Singh added to that justification for killing Jews. He insinuated Israel was seeking “revenge,” exacting “collective punishment,” and sowing “the seeds of genocide.”
International law must be upheld and respected. Make no mistake, collective punishment is a violation of this law. Canada must insist that all those who broke these laws are held accountable, even those nations we have called friends. Canada must call for a ceasefire to end the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza immediately. We cannot allow for the continuing dehumanization of an entire population. When we stop seeing each other as human, when we stop believing that each life has value, this is when the seeds of genocide take hold.
Many well-meaning people call for a “ceasefire,” often without thinking through the implications. There was an effective ceasefire in place on Oct. 6. Hamas broke it, and Hamas has been explicit and vocal about its intent. It will continue to attack Israel. Seeking to destroy Hamas is not an act of collective punishment.
Unlike Hamas, the IDF is taking reasonable steps to minimize civilian casualties — unaided by the fact that Hamas hides military targets in civilian infrastructure, and has openly stated that it sees civilian casualties as a necessary sacrifice in the pursuit of its overtly genocidal agenda.
For weeks, Israel has been warning Gazans to move out of the north, to get out of the main battle zone, while Hamas has been ordering civilians to stay, to get martyred for the cause.
As for “genocide” or the seeds thereof, that word has a meaning: it doesn’t refer to civilian casualties, even lots of them. Genocide is the intentional elimination of a people. To date, there is no evidence that Israel is actively trying to wipe out all Palestinians, and, in fact, ample evidence to suggest otherwise. To accuse Israel of “genocide” even in this weak way is to commit an extraordinary libel.
Challenged by Ben Carr (Liberal member for Winnipeg South Centre) and by Melissa Lantsman (Conservative member for Thornhill), Singh declined to withdraw any of these accusations. Moreover, the NDP’s Foreign Affairs Critic, Heather McPherson, repeated them, adding that she wants to see “all crimes” — meaning Israel’s supposed crimes — investigated by the International Criminal Court.
The NDP claims to decry antisemitism, but comments like these feed it. The NDP repeats the lies which justify the murder of Jews and gives permission to anyone hostile to Jews or Israel to act out their hatred.
On Oct. 7, we saw what such acting out can mean. We saw Hamas’s homicidal glee — they recorded the exaltation with which they murdered and tortured. And in Canada, some celebrated Hamas’s atrocities. Not to mention the demonstrations in support of Hamas in all major Canadian cities and the statements of support from CUPE, student unions, and professors. Protesters continue to gather in their thousands on the streets of Canada, inspired by Hamas, chanting about Israel’s alleged genocide and for Israel to be replaced by a Palestinian state, “from the river to the sea.” Never mind what might happen to the seven million Jews living there.
The NDP says they’re against antisemitism, against terrorism, as are all normal, decent Canadians. But the NDP also wants to play both sides of the line. They also demonize Israel and court the anti-Israel vote and the anti-Jewish vote.
While I have no doubt that many if not most NDP supporters in Canada are fundamentally decent people who are not consciously engaging in antisemitic dog whistles, I would implore the NDP to look, for a moment, at some of their fellow travellers; the organizations and political leaders who also so casually throw around allegations of genocide and Jewish world dominance, like the Ayatollah Ali Khameni. Last summer, he said: “The Western powers are a mafia…At the top of this mafia stand the prominent Zionist merchants, and the politicians obey them. The U.S. is their showcase, and they’re spread out everywhere.”
This paranoia isn’t new. The original supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, wrote: “The Jews, may God curse them, are opposed to the very foundation of Islam and wish to establish Jewish domination throughout the world.”
We hear the same sort of paranoia from Hamas. In its foundational document, its Covenant, Hamas says:
The enemies have been scheming for a long time ... They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about ... They stood behind World War I ... and formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains ... There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.
According to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and other Islamist terrorists, the Jews are out to dominate the Muslim world, to kill them, to exterminate them — starting in Palestine. Hence, the regular accusations from Iran — going back decades — that Israel is committing genocide.
This is projection: Iran and Hamas see their desire to kill Jews and fantasize that Jews secretly hold a mirror image of this desire.
From the point of view of the likes of the Ayatollahs and Hamas, Jews are lethal; killing them is just pre-emptive self-defence, and accusing Israel of an imaginary genocide is both a projection of their desire to kill Jews, and a justification for doing so.
Of course, it can be perfectly reasonable to subject Israel to ordinary and consistent criticism of political policies and actions, but no mainstream political party in Canada ought to be throwing around rhetoric that echoes extremism. Hamas has shown the world what they mean. Singh should be careful to not sound too much like that which he claims to reject.
Brian Henry is ashamed to admit he’s a former card-carrying member of the NDP and one-time board member of the Etobicoke-Lakeshore NDP Riding Association. Currently he teaches creative writing and publishes the Quick Brown Fox blog. He’s a regular contributor to the TheJ.ca and has also contributed to the National Post, the Toronto Star, the (now defunct) Jewish Tribune, and the Engage and Harry’s Place websites in the U.K..
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