Thursday, November 11, 2010

Full text of The Ottawa Protocol.

Amidst all the rumours circulating about Harper's new anti-semitism initiative, I've been waiting to get a chance to actually read the thing before commenting. Kady O'Malley posted it yesterday on CBC's "Inside Politics" blog.

The document seems to have a number of glaring inconsistencies, most notably its preamble that simultaneously declares that "criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic" while in the same paragraph declaring that any said criticism, unless accompanied by a criticism of others, is. As well, it declares that discussion about the wisdom behind the creation of the nation is, by very nature of questioning whether or not the nation should exist, anti-semetic. It also posits that no matter what the nation of Israel does, any action it takes cannot be compared to that of the Nazis, else... you guessed it: anti-semetism. In addition, it seems to suggest that criticism of the scope of the Israeli lobby on other governments is also now to be considered anti-semetic.

The (despite the cosmetic denial of doing so in the preamble) conflation of the nation of Israel with the Jewish people as a charter protected minority and the vague way in which the new prohibitions regarding discussion of the nation are worded raise some serious questions. Is questioning the way Israel exists with its current borders to now be considered anti-semetic? Is comparing the barbaric profiling and treatment of Palestinians that occurs within Israel with some obvious historical examples going to be a punishable offense? Is there a particular reason why this one nation is now to be legally distinct from those affiliated with other religious groups that fall under the same charter protections, and if so, why?

What this efforts seems to do is take many of the misconceptions that conservatives have regarding hate-speech laws and which they routinely complain about and enshrine them in a very narrow context, bizarrely doing with the nation of Israel the same things many conservative inaccurately claim the hate-speech laws that they oppose do with other charter-protected groups.

Ironically, this effort by Harper's Conservative government shores up one of the very perceptions the document itself seeks to prohibit voicing criticism of: the influence of the Israeli lobby.

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