Yesterday, Bloc Québécois MP Richard Marceau wrote an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen on the occasion of Holocaust Education Week. Speaking of his conversion to Judaism, he writes it has heightened his sensitivity to racism and injustice. Though he lingers on neo-Nazi Jew-baiting and the spread of virulent antisemitism in the Islamic world which crosses the pale of mere hostility to Israel, Mr. Marceau also calls himself a “pro-Palestinian Zionist”. A Pro-Palestinian Zionist, though odd-sounding, is by no means a rare bird. If supporting the Palestinians’ claim for an independent Palestinian state next to Israel (and not in its place), if contesting the parts of the security barrier that disrupt Palestinian peasants’ lives and livelihood, if opposing the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is tantamount to being a pro-Palestinian Zionist, then Mr. Marceau, right or wrong, is actually in the company of millions of Israelis, Diaspora Jews and other friends of Israel.
Yet in answer to this position, all pro-Palestinian Montreal activist Ron Saba manages to offer is a scornful rant. Marceau’s credibility, it would appear, is stained by his membership in the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Friendship Group. His loyalty to his party and independence of action are questioned because donors from Westmount and Hampstead (hint, hint) supported his electoral campaign. But mostly, what stands out from this drivel is that unless you do not entirely demonize Israel as a racist state, if you do not accuse Israel – against all evidence to the contrary -of being an apartheid regime and what not, then you cannot pretend to talk in the name of human rights. This of course is the stuff of radical discourse. And because radical discourse is always based on oversimplification and outright lies it tends to reveal itself as devoid of sense. This is also the reason why decent people from all walks of life – including Arabs and Muslims themselves – increasingly tire of buying the radical Palestinian narrative which will not settle for anything less than hatred and the destruction of Israel while running contrary to any hope for a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. So why are pro-Palestinian activists in Montreal still trying to sell this stale dish?