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Criticism of Israel—or of Green Party leader Annamie Paul—is not antisemitism

A rebuttal to former Green Party of Canada President Paul Estrin

Canadian Politics

Green Party leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference in Ottawa. Photo courtesy Green Party of Canada.

The National Post declined to publish the following rebuttal by author Kim Goldberg to last week’s NP Comment by former Green Party President Paul Estrin alleging “Jew-hatred” in the party.

Former Green Party of Canada President Paul Estrin made several untenable claims in his July 8 opinion piece in the National Post titled “Annamie Paul and the anti-Semitic wolves washed in green.”

Foremost among them is his claim that party leader Annamie Paul and her former adviser Noah Zatzman were and are the target of “anti-Semitic attacks” from within the party.

Criticism of Israel’s misdeeds is not anti-Semitic. And criticism of Ms. Paul’s poor leadership and Mr. Zatzman’s defamatory remarks is not anti-Semitic just because they happen to be Jewish (as am I).

In fact, this claim that criticism of anyone or anything Jewish is defacto anti-Semitic is itself a form of antisemitism. Such a broad and weaponized application of the term, swung like a cudgel to smite all critics, renders it meaningless for the real instances of antisemitism that do remain in the world.

Meanwhile, members of the Green Party have been subjected to defamatory public attacks from Mr. Zatzman in recent weeks, as well as from Ms. Paul’s shadow cabinet appointee Richard Zurawski.

On May 14, in a public Facebook post, Mr. Zatzman accused the party’s MPs of “appalling antisemitism” based solely on their public statements that month that were in accord with party policy on Israel. And he vowed to work to defeat them.

It was an egregious public assault on the party’s small caucus from the leader’s own adviser—an act that, in any other federal party, would have resulted in the staffer being fired the next day. But Ms. Paul said nary a word then or since on the subject of Mr. Zatzman’s statement. Nor did she fire him.

On June 1, after 150 of us signed an open letter to Ms. Paul demanding she dismiss her adviser, Mr. Zatzman made yet another public post on Facebook calling the 150 of us “the country’s worst anti-Semitic actors including a few neo-Nazis.”

Given that a great many of my pre-Second World War relatives were slaughtered in the Holocaust, it is completely unacceptable to me to have any portion of my party donations paying Mr. Zatzman’s salary when he calls me an anti-Semite and possibly a neo-Nazi. And it is just as unacceptable to have any portion of my donations paying the salary of a party leader who tacitly endorses this obscenity with her silence.

Consequently, I am donating to my Green MP’s re-election campaign through his direct local website, bypassing the central office of the party so that none of my funds will be spent on those who assault me. Apparently many other party members and supporters are making a similar decision and are donating directly to their own local Green candidates, thereby starving the party’s central office of funds until the leadership crisis is resolved.

On June 11, party member Richard Zurawski made a public statement on his personal Facebook page calling the majority of party members who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement part of “the BDS terrorist group within the GPC.”

Four weeks later, Mr. Zurawski was rewarded with a position in Ms. Paul’s shadow cabinet, where he remains despite much internal protest from the wide swath of party members he has termed terrorists.

In his commentary piece, Mr. Estrin claims there is a “witch-hunt targeting their leader, which has been driven by extreme elements within the party…”

Yet who is being falsely smeared with the vocabulary of “terrorist,” “neo-Nazi,” and “anti-Semitic?” And who is the leader condoning with her silence, and even rewarding in Mr. Zurawksi’s case?

For that matter, why has this leader, who has been quick to allege antisemitism and racism, not seen fit to create a shadow cabinet post for Indigenous affairs as her predecessor did? In fact, there is not a single Indigenous member among her newly minted shadow cabinet of 23 positions.

Kim Goldberg is an author and a Nanaimo member of the Green Party of Canada.


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