Friday, 19 February 2010

Gerry Caplan satirises the Rights & Democracy affair

Gerry Caplan's column in the Globe and Mail has taken on the Harper government's patronizing attempt to pander to the Jewish community for several months now.

Stephen Harper and the Jewish question published in December examined the irony of Jewish neoconservatives cozying up to evangelical anti-Semites, the Tory 10%ers accusing opposition parties of anti-Semitism and the cancellation of Kairos' grant.

His followup, Is the Harper government playing the anti-Semitic card? hammered the point home:

Real enemies of anti-Semitism do not throw the term around recklessly.

In the United States, the leading Jewish neoconservatives made an unholy alliance with evangelical Protestants whose ultimate vision was a Jew-free world–-Hitler's demented goal finally realized. What they had in common was support for the state of Israel–at least for the moment.

Are Canadian Jews now going to be seduced by a government that uses anti-Semitism for political reasons? That maliciously accuses decent men and women of being anti-Semitic? That identifies legitimate, democratic criticism of Israeli governments with anti-Semitism?
Caplan's latest piece, What every office needs to succeed in Harper's Canada is a biting satirical look at the attack on Rights & Democracy "because it thought Palestinians should have the same rights as all other people" and the bizarre inquisition by Haperite appointee Jacques Gauthier into the religious proclivities of R&D staff.

In a confidential evaluation of the organization's late executive director, Mr. Gauthier pointedly noted the perhaps telltale absence of Jews on staff, apparently a serious dereliction of duty.


How Mr. Gauthier learned that no Jew was employed by R & D is not yet clear. Suspiciously enough, R & D does not ask the religion of its employees. Often in the past Jewishness has been established by what's discreetly called the urinal test, although this technique doesn't really apply to women while also failing to distinguish telltale characteristics among Muslims, Jews and certain African ethnic groups. Mr. Gauthier brought a private investigator into the R & D office last year, although he was introduced as "a business associate" and his function wasn't explained. Bitter R & D staff, believe the stranger was expected to lead the urinal patrol in order to determine Jewishness. Isn't that what a private eye is for?

Businesses, NGOs and other institutions that are now frantically beating the bushes for unemployed Jews have a major challenge ahead of them. The first problem is that the Jewish employment rate is notoriously high. Many complain that you can never find a Jew when you need one. Then there's the vexing question of whether one is enough, a question that has befuddled Canadians for many decades.

It is understood that the Harper government is about to set up a special Number of Jews Bureau, to be known as the NUJ. It will report to Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for smearing anyone who disagrees with his cheerleading support of the Israeli government. The new bureau will be tasked with devising a formula to determine the necessary number of Jews each group needs on staff to meet the new criteria, and will house the inspectors who will be going from organization to organization across the land counting the number of Jewish employees. It is anticipated that synagogues will be exempt from inspection.

Among the trickier issue the NUJ must quickly deal with is whether the Jewish quota applies to the government. Believe it or not, it seems that no one knows for certain how many Jews sit in the government caucus or the cabinet, and there are too few urinals to do a test.

Mr. Kenney is not only responsible for the electoral seduction of Canada's credulous Jews. He is also Mr. Harper's main weapon in the wooing of Hindus, Sikhs, Persians, Koreans, Eastern Orthodox Christians, carefully selected Muslims, and countless other minorities. Here is where the new system faces certain tricky issues. How many Jews must your average mosque or Hindu temple or church employ to meet the government's new Jewish criteria?

And what will Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims think if they must hire Jews but other organizations need not hire, say, Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims? After all, they might reasonably ask, how many Punjabis etc. etc. etc. does the B’nai Brith, for example, employ? Mr. Harper's entire ethnic strategy might be jeopardized if this sensitive issue is not handled delicately.

The obvious answer, of course, is perfectly consonant with one of Canada's great conceits – our multicultural character. Yet in truth, outside public transportation and some malls, our many communities remain substantially segregated. Here is the means to make mythology reality. Every Canadian organization would have to have at least a certain number of employees from each of our ethnic/racial/religious/cultural groups. It's a magical solution for Canada's serious unemployment problem, since a good number of the unemployed happen to be members of these groups.

One downside of this solution is that Jewish organizations are expected to complain bitterly that the government has begun listening to other interests. Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenney are expected to discuss this conundrum later this week.
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