In this debate, who better to make the pro AND con arguments than Jenny Peto?
Jenny Peto, who is ethnically Jewish and says she isn't a Jew-hating polemicist:
"My thesis is not a Jew-hating conspiracy"*VS
Jenny Peto, the OISE Master's degree candidate (the following are just from the introduction to her thesis):
"the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West. I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state" (Abstract - pg.ii)
"the oppressive beliefs of my parents, teachers and religious leaders" (pg.2)
"I started to understand the violence that was necessary to establish the Israeli state and the violence required to maintain its existence as a Jewish-only state"** (pg.3)
"becoming an anti-Zionist Jew can be extremely painful because it requires Jewish people to stop seeing themselves as victims and to accept that by supporting Israel, they are supporting a brutally oppressive regime"(pg.3)
"As someone who had experienced violence and oppression within my own Jewish community, it was not very difficult for me to accept that Jews could be oppressors and by extension, that the so-called ‘Jewish state’ could itself be oppressive and violent" (pg.4)
"a fight against all forms of oppression, including Zionism"***(pg.5)
"Worldwide, the organized Jewish community works tirelessly to support the racist Israeli state and in doing so, aligns itself with oppressive forces in their own countries." (pg.6)
"My research is therefore aimed at answering the question of how can we explain the existence of a tremendous educational apparatus dedicated to teaching about the history of Jewish suffering within a mainstream Jewish community that is dominated by racist and Zionist ideologies?" (pg.6)
"Rather than asking the morally loaded question of why most Jewish people seem not to have learned from their history, I instead want to ask what are they learning from the history they are being taught? In other words, what are the effects of education projects that focus on Jewish victimhood? Given the privilege – and I would call this white privilege – now enjoyed by Jews of European descent, how and why has Jewish identity continued to revolve around victimhood? Who benefits from the construction of a victimized Jewish identity? " (pgs. 6-7)
"Having shown that Ashkenazi Jews are now privileged white people, I will then work to expose some of the tactics that are used to perpetuate the idea that Jews are inherently and forever victimized. There are a wide range of tactics used to (re)produce the ‘Jew as victim’, but I am going to focus on hegemonic Holocaust education because I believe that the Holocaust is central to these claims of victimhood." (pg 8)
"My work is based in the understanding that Zionism – the belief that Jewish people have a right to a nation-state built on top of the ruins of Palestine – is a racist, imperialist ideology that can only effectively be challenged through anti-racist, anti-imperialist theory and activism." (pg 10)
Debate result: In my opinion, OISE and the University of Toronto still have a lot of 'splainin' to do.
* Ms. Peto apparently fails to understand that I never wrote that her thesis is a conspiracy. I wrote that she alleges a conspiracy by Jews or to quote myself, which is something I seldom do, "One of the reasons that this matter is of concern to me is that the theses in question are not at their core simply critiques of Zionism, but their abstracts suggest a Jewish conspiracy" (The headline "Jew-hating Conspiracies 101" used in the National Post was catchy, but I can't take credit for it. That headline was written by the NP editor.)
** Ms. Peto misrepresents Israel as a "Jewish-only" state. While Israel is a Jewish state, the term "Jewish-only" suggests that only Judaism can be practiced there and that of course is blatantly false. All religions can be practiced without hindrance from the Israeli state and that includes Islam and Christianity. This is distinctly different from Islam-only states like Saudi Arabia, or states like Iran and Pakistan where religious minorities suffer the most extreme forms of persecution.
*** the cultural dictionary definition of Zionism, which Peto characterizes as a racist form of oppression, is "The belief that Jews should have their own nation; Jewish nationalism. Zionism gained much support among Jews and others in the early twentieth century, and the hoped-for nation was established in the late 1940s in Palestine, as the state of Israel. Zionism is opposed by most Arabs." The Random House definition is "a worldwide Jewish movement that resulted in the establishment and development of the state of Israel."