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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bernie Farber's cognitive impairment

This is going to be one of those supercilious, parochial pieces referring to a blog piece written about still another blog posting, so if you're on-board for something as superfluous, keep reading...

The Huffington Post just published an article by the former head of the now defunct Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, who is also a failed Liberal Party candidate for a seat in Ontario's provincial legislature.

Farber's article is all about taking issue with another Huff Po piece written by Frank Dimant, the current head of the Jewish advocacy organization B'nai Brith. In Dimant's piece, he notes that Canadian Jewish voter sentiment has moved from the Liberal Party to the Conservatives in the last few years, largely, he asserts, on the basis of the Harper government's strong support for Israel.

Among other prognostications, Dimant wrote that "There is already a movement that wants to neutralize Jewish support for the Conservative Party and the mantra is that all three parties have the same agenda regarding Israel, a two-state solution, so why do we have to support the Conservatives? In a well-orchestrated campaign we will soon begin to see a new Jewish agenda being proposed by some, which will advocate that Jewish community adjust its focus to Aboriginal issues, child poverty, health care and social housing."

Apparently very sensitive to criticism of the Liberal party and the potential shift against Israel it will take if his choice for leader takes the helm, Farber lashed out at Dimant, accusing the B'nai Brith head of launching an "attack on Canadian Jews who would dare identify themselves as Liberals."  

It doesn't require a particularly close reading of Dimant's article to observe that no such attack is there, only a challenge to Conservatives to retain the Jewish vote and noting the politicized environment within that community.

Distorting things further, Farber spends a great deal of ink regarding his assertion that Dimant "insinuates that there is something "new" about Canadian Jews taking an interest in Aboriginal issues, child poverty and social housing. "

For Farber to actually be correct, it would necessitate the term "adjust its focus" meaning the same thing as beginning something "new."

He then digresses into the Jewish community's interest in social justice as manifested in Aboriginal rights, social housing, etc. All that is good and fine, but as is not uncommon for him, Farber completely missed (or obfuscated) the point of the matter.

It is no secret that an interest in Israel and its well-being is of major importance to a large segment of Canadian Jews. But that interest is certainly not to the exclusion of other concerns, and Dimant's point was that the Liberals in the Jewish community would be trying to readjust priorities in order to serve the party's electoral interests. A point that Farber's piece seems to unwittingly confirm.

Interestingly, Dimant even didn't challenge the idea that the "mantra" of all parties is to take an equal stand on Israel, though the facts would suggest otherwise. The Conservatives have taken a strong, unequivocally pro-Israel stance, the New Democrats have two Deputy Leaders, Libby Davies and Megan Leslie, who are openly hostile to Israel, and the Liberal Party falls somewhere in between, although perhaps leaning slightly towards Israel more than the Palestinian side.

But as Mitch Wolfe described in yet another Huff Po piece, that may change significantly assuming Justin Trudeau, whom Farber has endorsed,  becomes the Liberal Party leader. Under Trudeau, there is every indication the Liberals will be even less favorable to the Jewish state. Justin Trudeau's brother Alexandre, who has the distinction of being his sibling's senior policy adviser, has cooperated with Iran's state propaganda service to make a pro-Iran, anti-Israel documentary, which clearly reflects his sentiments on the middle east situation.

Perhaps Bernie wanted to garner favor with his political party by changing the subject to deflect from his party selling Israel down the river. On the other hand, maybe he simply didn't understand Dimant's article.

The latter may indeed be the explanation. Last month on twitter, Farber implied opposition to a Toronto City Council motion giving amnesty to illegal immigrants was "racist." When I challenged him on that, his responses became incoherent, suggesting he didn't actually understand the issues he was discussing.

Bernie has every right to extol the supposed virtues of his political party and his chosen candidate. He has every right to promote the Liberal Party and his candidate as being the best choice for Canadian voters, though many would disagree. But Farber is perceived by some as a spokesperson for, and representative of Canada's Jewish community. This is very problematic when someone who has such little apparent regard for free speech is being presented as a community leader. He may represent the Liberal Party and the Justin Trudeau faction within it, but the only Jew on whose behalf Bernie Farber speaks is Bernie Farber.

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