Reviving the Radical Critique of Religion
When we think of the alliance of church and state, we tend to think of Constantine and Christianity, Holy Russia and the Prussian Empire. In more recent times, we may think of the theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Israel, or George Bush’s de facto fundamentalist regime. Few of us think about Canada.
The New Israel Lobby in Action
This is not about Jews. It is not about race, ethnicity or religion. It is about power. The new Israel lobby in Canada – the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) – has enormous power, derived from abundant resources, corporate connections, political associations, elaborate and able organization and a cadre of dedicated activists. Since its inception several years ago, this hard-line lobby has used its power, first, to gain political hegemony and impose ideological conformity on the matter of Israel within a heretofore diverse Jewish community, and second, to influence government decisions and shape public opinion regarding Israel – ostensibly in the name of all Canadian Jewry. From the outset, a primary focus of this lobby’s attentions has been the university campus, alleged centre of anti-Israel sentiment, conveniently construed as anti-semitism. Over the last two years, the lobby has by various means attempted to pacify these campuses and bring them into line, particularly Concordia and York. While the lobby has made some significant gains, at York their effort has been stalled.
In our day, all that seems to remain of the historical struggle between the competing visions of socialism and capitalism, between the collective interest and the individual interest, is the euphemistic “public sector” versus the “private sector.” But while most of the vitality has been drained from this revolutionary residue, some meaning yet remains unspoken, suggesting rival conceptions of society. So, locating our institutions in one or the other of these categories, public or private, carries a larger significance and merits our close attention.