Friday, March 27, 2009

Attack Of The Giant Zionist Bus Drivers From Mars

I am completely at a loss to understand the plot of this movie.

Mabel Elmore is a woman known outside a circle of Vancouver New Democratic Party activists, trade union committee members and "anti-war" rally attendees for one thing, and one thing only. It was an interview she did with her StopWar pal Derrick O'Keefe for a Vancouver website that ended up going completely viral (it started here) because of her account of the valiant battles she was obliged to wage against "vocal Zionist" transit union members in the course of her workplace peace-and-justice activism.

The interview never made it clear exactly why she felt obliged to engage in "battles" with vocal Zionist union members, let alone soft-spoken Zionist union members, but nevermind. Elmore goes on to win the NDP nod in Vancouver Kensington after a hotly-fought and really nasty contest, and to nobody's surprise, the newspapers recall the Zionist-bus-drivers hilarity.

This prompts NDP leader Carole James to tell Elmore to dash off some sort of apology for maybe having said something several years before that might have sounded vaguely antisemitic or something. That's not the word that immediately springs to my mind as the right one to describe Elmore's strange interview statements, but on with the movie. In her apology, Elmore said her mistake was that she didn't know what the word Zionist meant, and was unaware the term was so "loaded," and maybe it carried some antisemitic freight "in the North American context," but she was sorry if anybody got offended.

By this time, I'm totally lost. And I'm not the only one. The whole thing causes Carole James to blow her gasket in as dignified a way as it's possible to do in front of a bunch of television cameras. James also hints a bit sternly that maybe heads would roll in the party's candidate-vetting department. I should say so. Elmore even passed Bill Tieleman's smell test, and he's supposed to be one of the smarter ones.

By this time, Elmore's NDP friends are starting to publicly pile on James. Then a letter appears in the Georgia Straight that begins "As Jewish British Columbians," proceeds to set out their definition of what Zionism means, and then asserts that they are angry and disapppointed and offended. Not with Elmore (who says she's not even sure what a Zionist is, remember) but with Carole James, and also with a variety of Zionist individuals and organizations in Canada and elsewhere, and also with the media, and several other things, plus that ratbag Avigdor Lieberman. And Elmore's troubles are all part a big cover-up of some kind, besides.

Great. Thanks for stopping by and clearing things up.

Anyway. Now Charlie Smith, the Georgia Straight's clinically overworked editor, blows his own gasket, rushes to Elmore's defence, and then trashes not just James but the journalists who got onto the story. Then Smith says it's really all about Iraq.

Iraq? Elmore didn't even mention Iraq in her famous interview. Iraq was a war that Canadian soldiers weren't even involved with anyway. Nevertheless, Charlie writes: "The war in Iraq was illegal. Elmore was correct in trying to prevent Canadian kids from getting killed and wounded in this illegal war. And I have no doubt that she probably encountered opposition from vocal Zionists in her workplace."

Now that's a hell of a plot twist. Is it really possible that Elmore, who didn't know what a Zionist was, had to do battle with Zionist workers who were, by various strategems and for some unexplained reason, conniving against her efforts to ensure that Canada would not be lured into the American war in Iraq, which would have put Canadian kids at risk of injury and death, and that for her efforts she was obliged to endure what she herself called a "backlash"?

O'Keefe, Elmore's StopWar pal, says that's just about right. O'Keefe, now the editor of the accurately-named Rabble webzine, weighed in this week by piling on Carole James and calling her nauseating, and in a mere three-paragraph letter to The Vancouver Sun (at the bottom of his Rabble post) he manages to allege that the controversy is really part of a media censorship plot against "an open and honest discussion of the Middle East," repeats the canard of Israeli "apartheid," and then defends Elmore on the grounds that "Zionists in her union made it challenging to do work opposing the war against Iraq."

I give up. Unless maybe this explains it.

And now, from the Babble page at O'Keefe's Rabble, here's the headline of the month:

Invisible U.S. Death Machines Spy On Canadians From The Air.

Declassified photo of Zionist bus driver testing secret bus-stop death ray trap:


Blogger Bill Horne said...

Khaled Abu Toameh's piece that notes the campus hardliners are primarily non-Palestinian reminded me of a term used in some of the clunky, awkward anti-racism workshops of the early 1990s (at least, in Vancouver): "white flight".

I think it was meant to describe the phenomenon in which white anti-racist activists avoided white people as much as possible. I don't know if it was an attempt to be cool or to pretend they weren't white, but they sure were a grim lot.

A Nica friend in Managua gave me be a better parallel with what's going on in the present situation. He observed that many of the internationalistas from the US (aka Sandalistas) were "more Sandinista than the Sandinistas".

There are indeed times when people will take up the causes of others with blinding passion. Or cultures, e.g. the Cape Bretoners who aim to be more Scottish than the Scots.

Being of that extraction, I can feel the attraction, but it's easy to get carried away...sometimes by invisible death machines flown by pilotless drones! Beam me up!

10:24 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Terry, absolutely correct. Already there are posts whining about how you can't "criticize israel without being called anti-semitic" in relation to this story (see tieleman's blog) even though this particular story and Elmore's original remarks had nothing to do with criticizing israel. As i noted in my response to one poster, the response is so reflexive now that it is used irrespective of the issue. Makes it very hard to take any of it seriously, and you have to laugh or else you'll cry at the stupidity.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Bill and Vildechaye:

Your observations confirm my belief that there is no "political science" text, and certainly very little in the literature about the geopolitics in the Middle East, that will help explain the current weirdness. If it's thorough intellectual analysis we'd be wanting it would probably have to draw from the discipline of anthropology, maybe most helpfully the study of urban legends, mass delusions, collective hysteria, and so on.

I have to confess to a morbid fascination with it all, anyway. When pseudo-left apologetics for antisemitism form the basis of pseudo-left arguments against people who have been so impudent as to point out the ubiquity of pseudo-left apologetics for antisemitism, you know something really fascinating is going on.

The "you can't criticize Israel without being accused of antisemitism" canard is now approaching the status of matzos with the blood of Christian children in the recipe. In this kind of Crazyland, evidence doesn't matter, and facts don't matter, and this is where the parallel between Canadian "debates" about Israel/Palestine and Afghanstan show themselves in stark relief. It doesn't matter that Afghans were overjoyed by their liberation from the Taliban, and remain overwhelmingly in support of the necessary presence of foreign troops in their country by all the empirical evidence of polling data. It doesn't matter. The "anti-war" cultists, which is not and never was anti-war, will not be shaken from their convictions that they are the true friends of the Afghan people, and they know what's best for the Afghan people.

As the mass delusions stoked by the lunatic fringe allows the fringe to gravitate to the centre of what was once the liberal left - and in Elmore's case, to a candidacy in the NDP - sooner or later, it will bring the whole house down.

Maybe Carole James and the party leadership will quickly notice this danger and deal with it fast, but I am afraid I'm not very optimistich that this will happen.

11:54 AM  
Blogger thebookmistress said...

Just proves my contention that, for the knee-jerk left, "Zionist" simply means "yucky thing/person I do not like". They are sincerely shocked when actual people with actual Zionist views take this personally.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

They are even more shocked when people with not especially pronounced Zionist views also fund this utterly astonishing.

You are correct. "Zionist" in the usage Elmore employed it is meant as a pejorative, a bad word, a mean thing. 'Help! I am being oppressed by Zionists', she says, and all her silly friends rush to her defence, and the next thing you know it's all 'See, you can't critize Israel without being called an antisemite.'

The fastest way to attract warm and wide attention to one's views these days is to say: 'The Zionists are trying to stifle my views!'

If you point out that nobody's views are being stifled, and that maybe something else and maybe even nasty is at work in such claims, you get: 'See! The Zionists are trying to stifle my views!'

There should be a board game.

3:35 PM  

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