Sunday, November 12, 2006

The AIPAC-ization of Canada

From an article in Canadian Dimension by Daniel Freeman-Maloy (referring to the United Israel Appeal Federations Canada, or UIAFC; my emphasis throughout in red):

“Irving Abella, a past president of UIAFC’s Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and co-founder in 2003 of a university faculty ‘Israel advocacy’ organization in Toronto, once remarked, ‘Domestic interest groups succeed only when the policies for which they are lobbying are those seen by the government as in the country’s best interests’ or, put differently, when their interests are made to converge with the government’s political agenda and class orientation. Strategically and institutionally, UIAFC is geared towards doing precisely that.

In UIAFC literature this strategy is referred to as the ‘shared values’ model for advocacy. According to this approach, similarities between Canadian and Israeli policy are highlighted and built upon. Advocacy for a Canadian-Israeli alliance is part of a push for tightening relations with the United States framed in terms of the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Given UIAFC’s composition, embedding its pro-Israel agenda in an alliance with Canadian establishment interests and the United States comes all too naturally.”


“Towards the end of 2002, UIAFC brought together a meeting of the Jewish community’s leading tycoons to mount a response. These included a range of powerhouses from within the federation system from CanWest Global CEO Israel Asper to Gerry Schwartz, CEO of Onex; from NHC Communications Inc. CEO Sylvain Abitbol to Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo/Chapters Books. In the coming months, approximately twenty of corporate Canada’s leading Israel advocates were brought together to co-ordinate a policy offensive under UIAFC’s auspices. This corporate board formally established itself as the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA).

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and Canada-Israel Committee (CIC) simultaneously had their budgets doubled and their leaderships put under the direct oversight of CIJA’s tycoons. Campus Hillels and allied organizations, for their part, were brought together and flooded with funds through a CIJA instrument called the National Jewish Campus Life (NJCL) initiative.

Meanwhile, the style and structure of the U.S. federation system’s American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was brought north of the border. AIPAC functions through a system of political action committees, or ‘PACs.’ For Canada, a Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy Public Affairs Committee, CIJA-PAC, was formed. As Canadian Jewish News reporter Paul Lungen explained, ‘AIPAC plays an advisory and mentoring role for CIJA-PAC.’ From 2003 on, CIJA-PAC’s leadership attended each annual AIPAC conference. But was different from its mentor, its reliance on the ‘charitable’ dollars from the federation fundraising campaigns prohibiting it from participation in partisan politics.

In 2005, this changed. In May of that year, according to the Canadian Jewish News, AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., ‘included a one-day event … aimed at helping Canadian and European communities develop the kind of grassroots organizational strength that AIPAC has shown over the years.’ As early as 2004, CIJA officials had already said that the ‘ultimate goal’ of the Canadian PAC should be ‘to act as a partisan entity that would support candidates.’ Some months after the May, 2005 AIPAC tutorial, just in time for the Canadian federal elections, CIJA-PAC was disbanded to make way for an organization more suited to this work.

This organization was founded in November, 2005, as the Canadian Jewish Political Action Committee (CJPAC).”

Some prominent members of the Canadian Jewish community disagree with the insane tycoon positions of the official Canadian Jewish organizations.  The Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians applied for affiliation with the Canadian Jewish Congress, as is its right, but was rejected on the basis of a secret by-law (documents here in pdf form), one that presumably prohibits moral positions being taken by Canadian Jews!