Published on One Democratic State, June 18, 2021
B’nai Brith Canada’s mission statement on its website clearly states “We are dedicated to eradicating racism, antisemitism and hatred in all its forms, championing the rights of the marginalized, while providing basic human needs for members of our community.”
B’nai Brith Canada’s statement of June 18 also affirms that “hatred must have no place in Canada, which is a multicultural and democratic country based on equality of – and respect for – all citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion. We affirm our sacred commitment to that principle.”
A major report released in April 2021 by Human Rights Watch, an international human rights advocacy group based in New York, found Israel guilty of “committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
It is noteworthy that the international community considers the crime of apartheid as the second gravest crime against humanity after genocide.
Israel’s Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish Peoplestipulates that the State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish People; that the exercise of the right to national self-determination is unique to the Jewish People; that the State shall only encourage and promote the establishment of Jewish settlements; that the State shall be only open for Jewish immigration.
This blatantly racist law asserts “Jewish supremacy” and officially entrenches the segregation, racism, and systemic inequality that have been practiced, since Israel was created in May 1948, against two million indigenous Palestinian Christians and Muslims who make up 22% of Israel’s citizenry.
Israel is not a state for all its citizens. It is a state for “the Jewish People”, most of whom have no birthright connection to it. So one can be a citizen of any country in the world yet, as a Jew, enjoy full rights in Israel, rights that apartheid Israel denies to us Palestinians, the indigenous people of this land.
Notwithstanding these indisputable findings, B’nai Brith’s undemocratic championing of Israel’s “Jewishness” continues to be entrenched.
David Matas, B’nai Brith’s Senior Honorary Counsel, labelled the United Nations Human Rights Council report that exposed Israel’s human rights violations of the Palestinian people as “unfounded attacks” against the world’s only Jewish state.
Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s CEO, blames the Palestinians’ refusal to accept a Jewish state as the main cause of the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.
Remarkably, the inherent contradictions in B’nai Brith’s stated mission of “eradicating racism” and its commitment for “equality of all citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion,” on the one hand, and advocating for the Jewishness of Israel, on the other – which, by definition and law, provides inferior rights to its indigenous Palestinian non-Jewish citizens – has practically gone unnoticed by most Canadian politicians and mainstream media.
By adopting such a mindset, B’nai Brith Canada has only emboldened Jewish supremacists in Israel who view the two million indigenous Palestinian non-Jewish citizens of Israel – let alone the five million indigenous Palestinians under occupation and the six million indigenous Palestinian refugees in exile – as a “demographic threat” to Israel’s Jewishness that must be controlled or ethnically cleansed.
B’nai Brith’s championing of Israel specifically as a “Jewish state” directly and indirectly conflicts with the notion that states should represent and treat all their citizens equally, which is at the heart of Canadian democracy.
Such a framework obviously thwarts a citizen’s sense of belonging to a state defined in terms that exclude them. More centrally, this formulation privileges Jewishness — even of non-citizens — over citizenship of non-Jews in some important ways.
For example, a Jew or a convert to Judaism who is not a citizen, with no relatives in Israel, and no direct connection to the state or to the land, has the automatic right to citizenship, and to assets bestowed by the state to go along with it, while a relative — even a spouse — of a non-Jewish Palestinian citizen of Israel does not have a similar right.
Similarly, B’nai Brith’s CEO Michael Mostyn may move to Israel and obtain citizenship because he is a Jew while I am denied that right because I am a Christian Palestinian, even though I was born there and my family has lived there for centuries.
As a Christian Canadian I would vehemently oppose any law in Canada, passed by the Christian majority in Parliament, that defines Canada as a Christian state thus relegating an inferior status to non-Christians; that only promotes the establishment of Christian settlements; and that Canada shall be only open for Christian immigration.
People who believe that Canada is a multicultural and democratic country based on equality, must stand for states that belong to all their citizens equally, not ones that belong to one group of citizens at the expense of others.
Israel, a state that possesses nuclear weapons and whose military is more powerful than Canada’s, is able through force and violence of excluding and oppressing its Palestinian citizens by defining itself as a “Jewish state.”
However, B’nai Brith Canada, and any organization which prioritizes the fight for equality and eradicating racism, must not embrace and advocate for what inherently contradicts the cherished values of human rights and equality it wants to defend and promote in Canada.
Khaled Mouammar is a Christian Palestinian Canadian who was forced to flee his hometown Nazareth in 1948. He is one of the founders of the Canadian Arab Federation and a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Award from the Governor General of Canada in 1977.