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Are Conservatives "pandering" to Jews?

Dave Gordon - Wednesday, 23 September, 2015

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Imagine a Jew screaming from the mountain top that the Canadian government supports Israel far too much.

Andrew Cohen’s latest piece in the Ottawa Citizen did just that.

Pandering, it was called. And he cited examples to prove it.

This stuff’s actually getting old – with liberal columnists and Liberals kvetching for years that Conservatives are ostensibly acting more Zionist than most Jews.

MP Jason Kenney was implicitly criticized in Cohen’s piece, unbelievably, for wishing the Jewish people a happy New Year and a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Liberals have also offered a litany of holy day greetings over the years.

But when a Conservative says “shalom!” to Jews, it’s “pandering.”

It was also noted in Cohen’s piece that Kenney’s made frequent visits to synagogues.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, of course, has visited countless mosques across the country– often attracting a slew of controversy.

But it’s “pandering” only if it relates to Conservatives, and Jews.

Cohen believes, moreover, that Jews are more and more voting singly on the Israel issue.

Are they unconcerned about the economy, taxes, ISIS, terrorism, or even crime?

Cohen – with magical insight to the Canadian Jewish mind – thinks so.

“It is about Israel, all the time,” he states.

Further, Stephen Harper must be wrong, he contends, especially given how other nations of the world so easily criticize Israel - while Harper has the chutzpah to criticize those who attack Israel.

Since when does the relative popularity of a position dictate its goodness?

Indeed, true to his word, Harper doesn’t simply “go along to get along.”

Israel was not always an issue. All parties supported it,” Cohen writes.

Have “all parties supported” Israel? Not so fast.

Some examples:

  • Stephen Harper removed $30 million in funding of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian government in one of his first acts as Prime Minister. In contrast, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion demanded that funding increase.
  • In 2001, Liberal Deputy Prime Minister John Manley opposed putting Hezbollah on the terrorism list, based on the flawed notion that it does some charity work.
  • Former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the one-time associate foreign affairs critic, said that he favoured removing Hezbollah from Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. That same MP said he believed Israel indulged in “state terrorism” against Lebanon.
  • In December 2002, the Liberals finally got around to listing Hezbollah as a terror group. The Conservatives had been pushing the issue for years.
  • When it came to Israeli-Arab negotiations, PM Chretien said in 2000: “Palestinians should use the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence as a bargaining chip during peace talks.”
  • In 2006, Liberal MP Ken Dryden bumbled through a press conference when asked — twice — whether he agreed Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon.
  • Former MP Omar Alghabra had condemned CanWest newspapers for labelling groups like Hamas and Hizbollah “terrorist” groups; he supported an Arab conference on a Montreal campus whose stated mission was the elimination of Israel; and Alghabra has called for the total abolition of Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
  • In 2002, Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish went on a trip to the Palestinian territories, funded by Mississauga-based Palestine House. She said in the Arab press: “They [Jews] have no business being there [Israel].” Liberal MP Colleen Beaumier joined Parrish. Arab press reports her saying: “The acts of Sharon and the acts of the Israeli government are acts of terrorism.”

That’s just a partial Liberal record on the topic. The NDP’s is worse.

“All parties supported Israel”?

Cohen’s main argument is that the Harper government goes to extraordinary lengths to woo Jewish votes.

However, such an obsession could only be useful in four ridings: Mount Royal, York Centre, Thornhill, and Eglinton/Lawrence.

The other 334 ridings have such a statistically insignificant Jewish population to make “pandering” useless.

Let’s look at York Centre.

That riding holds about twenty per cent of Jews.

That’s about thirteen per cent or so of eligible voters, sixty per cent of those bother to show up on Election Day.

Now, at seven per cent of the riding actually being Jewish voters, about half or so tend to side with Liberals.

All this effort at “Jewish pandering” for roughly three per cent of votes? Had no one at Conservative HQ bothered to look at the numbers?

It’d surely be easier to pander to Canada’s one million Muslims (due to triple in 15 years), versus the 300,000 Jews.

It’s almost as if … as if this has little to do with votes, and more to do with standing for what’s right, even at great political cost?

Can’t be!

-with files from Andrew Lawton


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