In advance of the Canadian national elections that will likely be held sometime soon, the country’s currently-in-power Conservative party is sending mailers to households in heavily Jewish districts that claim Conservatives have a monopoly on pro-Israel sentiment—and, opposition Liberals say, strongly imply that their own party is anti-Semitic. The fliers accuse Liberal MPs of participating in “Durban I” (the 2001 U.N. conference on racism that’s long been a target of the pro-Israel right), and of being reluctant to classify Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, the Globe and Mail reports. They also call out Michael Ignatieff, the public intellectual-turned-Liberal party leader, for accusing Israel of war crimes in Lebanon in 2006.
The Liberals (along with other opposition parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party) have fired back, with Montreal Liberal M.P. Irwin Cotler, who’s Jewish, calling the mailers “totally misleading … it basically seeks to associate the Liberal party with anti-Semitism,” according to the Toronto Star. But the Conservatives have effectively shaped the Canadian political discourse on Israel, and the Liberals they’ve attacked—including Cotler and other Jewish parliamentarians—are denying or taking back any criticism of Israel they’ve ever made. (Cotler says he only went to Durban to defend Israel and that he supported last winter’s Gaza war; Ignatieff apologized long ago for his “war crimes” comment; Liberals were in fact the first to classify Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists.) The Conservative immigration minister, meanwhile, told reporters that anyone who’s read accusations of anti-Semitism into the fliers “is being completely over the top and mischievous.”
Opposition Decries Tory Attack Ads Sent to Jewish Voters [Globe and Mail]
PM’s Jewish Pitch Hits a New Low, Critics Say [Star]
Canadian Conservatives Woo Jews [Jewschool]
Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.