Do ‘Anti-Semitism Lessons’ in Canada Promote Jewish, White Supremacy?

By Yves Engler

Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a clever cover for defending Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East?

A recent 12-page Canadian Jewish News insert about Elizabeth and Tony Comper raises the issue.

According to the supplement, in 2005 the Bank of Montreal head and his wife Elizabeth started Fighting Anti-Semitism Together (FAST), a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders and prominent individuals. FAST sponsored a lesson plan for Grades 6 to 8 called “Choose Your Voice: Antisemitism in Canada”.

Over 2.4 million students in 19,000 schools have been through the FAST program. A year ago FAST added Voices into Action, an anti-racism lesson for Canadian high schoolers that devotes a third of its plan to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.

Unfortunately, FAST does not appear to be an example of business leaders struggling for social justice. Rather, it’s part of what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the “Holocaust Industry”, which exploits historical Jewish suffering to deflect criticism of Israeli expansionism. 

In its “What We Stand For” FAST calls on Canadians “to speak out against all forms of bigotry, racism and hatred”, yet the Compers’ were honoured guests at a 2009 Jewish National Fund fundraiser in Toronto. Owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian–Arab citizens who make up a fifth of Israel’s population. (What would we think of anti-racist activists who attend KKK meetings?)

In a 2006 article titled “BMO head slams one-sided Israel critics the Canadian Jewish News reported on FAST’s Quebec launch: “Singling out Israel for blame in the Middle East conflict, even by those of good faith, is fanning anti-Semitism, Bank of Montreal president Tony Comper says.

It may not be the intent, but the effect of condemning Israel alone is providing justification for hatred of Jews in Canada and internationally, Comper warned more than 400 business executives. … In underscoring the serious threat of anti-Semitism worldwide, Comper suggested that ‘a second Holocaust’ is possible if Iran acquires nuclear arms and attacks Israel.” In his speech Comper cited CUPE Ontario and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada’s support for boycotting Israel as spurring anti-Semitism.

FAST supporters include a who’s who of the corporate elite: President TD Bank, Ed Clark; CEO of CN, Hunter Harrison; CEO of Manulife Financial, Dominic D’Allessandro; CEO of Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin; president of Power Corporation, André Desmarais; President RBC Financial, Gordon M. Nixon and many others.

According to the Canadian Jewish News supplement, the Toronto couple also sponsored the Elizabeth and Tony Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa in Israel. The Center operates an online Ambassadors Program, which reports the paper, “gives students intellectual material and technical skills to combat online the global boycott, divestment and sanctions anti-Israel movement.”

The supplement was partly sponsored by Larry and Judy Tanenbaum. Larry was one of a half-dozen rich right-wing donors that scrapped the hundred-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress in 2011 and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli nationalism.

The Compers provided over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Established in 2008, Larry and Ken Tanenbaum gave the U of T five million dollars and helped raise more than ten million more for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.

Andrea and Charles Bronfman gave over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, which has close ties with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. In 1997 the Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create an Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies at the U of T. “Fifty years after its rebirth, the miracle of modern Israel is of broad interest,” said Charles Bronfman at the launch.

The long-standing Zionist family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia two years later. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also “instrumental” in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 multi billionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies’ conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the Institute as part of a “counterattack” against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.

The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill’s Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an “education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But, Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”

The individuals driving Jewish studies and anti-Semitism lessons in Canada overwhelmingly back Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East and encourage the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism.

Unfortunately, support for anti-Palestinian racism, along with colonialism and western imperialism, makes one question their “anti-racism” credentials.

– Yves Engler’s latest book is A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from Articles – Palestine Chronicle, and written by Articles – Palestine Chronicle. Read the original article here.

  • Hey Lisa, I really did want to address your comment. So how about rephrasing it and trying again?

  • Lisa Elliott

    Jew & white supremacy are contradictory. It’s not possible to be both. White supremacists say Jews should die so their inferior race won’t muddy the whites. Who do you think were the NAZIS???? WHITE SUPREMACISTS. The whole purpose of hating the Jews is that they are responsible for EVERYTHING, especially causing others to muddy the white race. You’re probably Holocaust deniers; which means your ideology is the same as the REAL white supremacists’.

    During British Mandatory Palestine, there lived Palestinian Jews & Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs have refused from the beginning to have a two state solution because they want it all. As if the Arabs don’t have enough of the ME. Do you even know about the Land for Peace deal, when Israel gave back 94% of land She won (including the Sinai Peninsula, almost three times the size of Israel) in defending against ALL the surrounding Arab countries when they tried to push Her into the sea?

    Ashkenazim are NOT Europeans. The whole Khazar theory is another white supremacist LIE pushed by WHITE SUPREMACISTS & Nation of Islam. Proven by DNA. Ashkenazi is a description of where some first century Judean peoples migrated. WHITE SUPREMACISTS & Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) BOTH claim they are the “true” Israelites. Both want to kill the Jews & all who are different & rule the WORLD. Not a sliver of land the size of NJ; but the WORLD. Get it? Norman Finkelstein is a self-hating Jew. He’s WIDELY quoted by REAL white supremacists. You hate Jews so much you listen to one man & a group of Arabs that historically want Jews dead & DENY THE HOLOCAUST? Maybe this is your way of stopping the teaching of the Holocaust because you hate Jews & don’t want your kids to know the truth? You dismiss MOUNTAINS of evidence because one Jew says what the REAL white supremacists want? If Canada seems to adopt white supremacists ways; they should think twice about projecting their own racism on the Jews.

    It’s “racist” to have Jewish studies be for Jews who are pro-Israel? It’ “racist” for Jews have a sliver of land the size of NJ, surrounded by Arabs who want only to kill them? Have you looked at a map recently? It’s “racist” to have a Jewish majority in the ONLY Jewish Nation in the world? How many Jews are living in Arab lands? How are they doing in those Arab countries? If there aren’t so many, where did they all go??? The DOUBLE STANDARDS here are deafening!!!

    Again. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Jews to be white supremacists. White supremacists’ purpose in life is to kill all the Jews. Jews are an inferior race to them. Yet you accuse them of being their murderers? You people are insane.

    You need to study some basic history. Jewish White Supremacy? You people don’t even makes sense. Canada is totally racist. When racism is against the Jews, it’s called anti-Semitism. It’s been going on for 2000 years. Maybe you should look it up before you tell Jews they have no rights to have their own studies, their own country. You people should be ASHAMED of yourselves.

  • Lisa Elliott

    Jew & white supremacy are contradictory. It’s not possible to be both. White supremacists say Jews should die so their inferior race won’t muddy the whites. Who do you think were the NAZIS???? WHITE SUPREMACISTS. During British Mandatory Palestine, there lived Palestinian Jews & Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs have refused from the beginning to have a two state solution because they want it all. As if the Arabs don’t have enough of the ME.

    And Ashenazim are NOT Europeans. Ashkenazi is a description of where some first century Judean peoples migrated.

    Why can’t Jewish studies be for Jews? Why can’t Jews have a sliver of land the size of NJ? How is it “racist” to have a Jewish majority in the ONLY Jewish Nation in the world? How many Jews are living in Arab lands? How are they doing? Why aren’t there more Jews in the Arab lands? DOUBLE STANDARD.

    The double standards here are deafening. You people need to study some basic history. None of it even makes sense. Canada is totally anti-Semitic. You people should be ASHAMED of yourself.