This past summer, news outlets reported grisly news to Canadians: the remains of thousands of indigenous children were discovered on the grounds of residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
The remains of well over a thousand children have been discovered, which led to widespread soul searching, and the creation of a new national holiday on September 30, Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
But even on the darkest and most introspective days for Canada, anti-Israel activists seem to never miss an opportunity to condemn Israel.
On September 30, the official Twitter account for Israel’s Embassy in Ottawa posted the following tweet in support of the Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
On Canada’s first #NationalDayforTruthandReconciliation, we stand with all Canadians in commemorating and honouring those impacted by residential schools. #TruthandReconciliationDay pic.twitter.com/c7YVul6k3y
— Israel in Canada (@IsraelinCanada) September 30, 2021
In response, the Israeli Embassy was met with a barrage of anti-Israel posts and vitriol, accusing the Jewish state of being a colonialist enterprise and of committing genocide against Palestinians.
Of course, such baseless accusations against Israel are nothing new; in fact, they are the mainstay of anti-Israel rhetoric, but the relentless abuse present on the Israeli Embassy’s Twitter post revealed an ugly habit of the anti-Israel movement, namely, its shameless hijacking of native and indigenous struggles for their own self-interest.
In recent years, anti-Israel detractors have attempted to portray Israel as a colonizer and the Palestinians as the native, indigenous people of the Levant, but despite the utter lack of truth behind these claims, these arguments are deployed in a cynical attempt to erase Israel’s three millennia of Jewish history.
In fact, even in topics unrelated to native issues, condemnation of Israel and the attempt to co-opt the indigenous struggle in Canada to support the anti-Israel cause seems to find its way in.
Recently, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) hired activist Desmond Cole to take part in a discussion on anti-Black racism, but he took the opportunity to veer off course, and instead asserted that “conversations about First Nations reconciliation can’t take place without first addressing Palestinian freedom.”
The shameless hijacking and appropriation of native and indigenous issues to the Palestinian cause has only one purpose – to rob the Jewish people of their ancient history in their historic homeland.
And while there’s no question that Jews have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years, with archaeology bearing repeated testimony to their longstanding presence in the land, this attempt to rewrite history has not ceased.
From an academic perspective, this anti-Israel strategy accusing the Jewish state of having no history is fanciful enough, but that is entirely separate from the exploitative attempt to link native and indigenous struggles in Canada with anti-Israel causes, which demonstrates the contempt with which this cause sees native rights in Canada.
Rather than making a simple and straightforward statement of support for the indigenous community of Canada – still reeling from the discovery of children’s remains only mere months ago – the anti-Israel cause has evidently decided that forcing its own narrow agenda into the current struggles of indigenous Canadians is somehow acceptable.
Contrast that selfish and contemptuous approach with the Twitter post from Israel’s Embassy in Ottawa – a plain statement in recognition of the Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
We remained silent yesterday out of respect for all commemorating Canada’s first #TruthAndReconciliation Day.
Today, we speak up against the sickening responses from those who appropriated the tragic legacy of residential schools to further their own interests.
Shame on you. pic.twitter.com/ruzia2Nx6Y
— Israel in Canada (@IsraelinCanada) October 1, 2021
While many Canadians may be shocked by this kind of co-opting of the indigenous struggle to support the anti-Israel movement, in reality this strategy is nothing new. The anti-Israel movement has long sought to graft itself into other movements utterly unrelated to it – a ploy at intersectionality – including the LGBTQ+ movement and Black Lives Matter.
Whether anti-Israel activists continue to attempt to co-opt other movements to further the demonization of Israel depends largely on whether they are allowed to disseminate misinformation without meaningful challenge from the general public, including on social media, and by the news media alike.
Just as Desmond Cole was challenged when he attempted to implant Israel into a conversation about anti-Black racism, those voices who seek to piggyback on the news coverage of Day for Truth and Reconciliation to further their own campaign of anti-Israel disinformation should be unequivocally called out for doing so.
Hijacking such an important day for one’s own goals is selfish enough, but, like the trolls on the Israeli Embassy’s Twitter account, using such a solemn day to propagate hatred and intolerance is an entirely new level of contempt for the very concept of tolerance.