Reviewed by Jim Miles
(The Canada-Israel Nexus. Eric Walberg. Clarity Press, Atlanta, Georgia. 2017.)
For a complex and critical examination of the relationship between Canada, Israel, Judaism, and Zionism, Eric Walberg’s new work The Canada-Israel Nexus provides a challenging perspective.
It is challenging in several ways. Primarily, the most important ideas are the critical lines of thought towards the impact of Zionism within Canada. This includes the influences on the media, academics and academia, and the political. The latter mostly affects Canada’s foreign affairs position as a sycophant of the U.S. empire, but in many ways as a leading vocal supporter of Israeli Zionism and its colonial-settler policies.
Throughout the book, comparisons are made between Israel’s recent colonial-settler actions through its settlements, military law, and other civic aspects (education in particular), and the actions previously of the Canadian government towards its indigenous populations. While being different in particular details, the overall actions are very similar, especially considering Canada’s recent very public acknowledgement – both domestically and at the UN – of its own attempts at cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The first chapters cover the historical developments. First, that of Canada and its history of dispossession, Christianization, residential schools, (the last two were still ongoing through the Twentieth Century), assimilation and broken treaty promises towards the indigenous populations. Next, a brief outline of Jewish Zionist history covers the creation of Israel and its rise to a militarized nuclear power extending empire into a Middle East riven by war created by those supporting that extension.
Two longer chapters cover the history of Jewish people in Canada. The essential story is that of a self-isolating community being the ‘ragpickers’ of the communities, rising quickly to be behind the scenes power players in politics and the media. Today, the pro-Israeli stance has been successfully entrenched in Canada’s political from all political parties (except for the Greens, who in spite of their leaders’ rhetoric, have supported a position supporting BDS).
In what will probably prove to be the most controversial sector, Walberg discusses the Canadian right-wing activists who have denied the Israeli narrative and how they have been silenced by the courts and media. He extends the idea of holocaust to cover other mass killings, in particular that suffered by Russia during WW II, and the “ongoing slow-motion holocaust against the Palestinians.” Both Russia and the Palestinians as terrorists are both highly maligned in Canada’s press and political realm with the U.S. and Israeli imperial viewpoints being strongly supported.
A final look is taken concerning the parallels between the two ‘native nations’ of Canada and Israel. Humanitarian law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, oil, pipelines, water resources, laws and the courts, education, and religious theology all carry similarities. The more recent actions defining or redefining antisemitism and Israel’s ongoing hasbara efforts (the act of explaining – now more broadly defined in its context at manipulating public attitudes towards Israel) reflect the impact of global dissidents against imperial hegemony supported by Canada and Israel.
The Canada-Israel Nexus is a thought provoking and challenging work, an important addition to the discussion of Canada’s relationship domestically with its own indigenous population and its foreign policy relationship with Israel and the greater imperial games of the west.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor and columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.