Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko vs. David Solway on the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs

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* Québec Solidaire MNA (Member of the National Assembly) Amir Khadir, who was instrumental in fueling the boycott, remains extremely popular in his riding, a fact that does not consort with CIJA public affairs director David Ouellette’s assurance that Khadir no longer constitutes a problem. Khadir’s extreme left and anti-Israel party’s influence appears to be growing steadily, leading many observers to fear that the party might gain more seats in the next election.

* It must be admitted that the CQI contributed financially to the anti-boycott demonstration, but, according to my sources, the sum in question was relatively negligible compared to what the counter-demonstrators spent out of their own pockets. The modest amount donated by the CQI would appear to serve the interests of its leaders far more than the cause which they ostensibly support.

* The claim that the boycott of Naot has little or no impact is manifestly spurious. To argue, as Poupko does, that the protestors are now “the butt of jokes” and therefore not to be taken seriously is, I’m afraid, arrant nonsense. The consequence of their activities is no joking matter, as my recent interview with Naot personnel made abundantly clear. On Saturday, December 17 of this year, the demonstrators prevented the manager of Naot from setting up a display stand in front of the establishment. They have also obstructed Naot business during the annual St. Denis Street “vente-trottoir” (sidewalk sale). Moreover, the proprietor of a small jewellery shop beside Naot deplored the harm the PAJU demonstrators were doing to her own business. It bears remembering that the Israeli Consulate in Montreal was obliged to move owing to a persistent PAJU campaign that disrupted adjacent offices and tenants. If even the Consulate was unable to renew its lease, what could a small firm like Naot do faced with an eviction notice?

* After having misleadingly taken credit for deterring PAJU from boycotting Le Marcheur, the CIJA abandoned Naot the moment that PAJU decided to concentrate its activities against a clearly Jewish and Israeli commercial concern, which Le Marcheur was not. It’s an easy thing for the Rabbi’s friends to stand up for a native French Quebecker like M. Archambault who was being molested by a pack of radicals and who enjoyed the sympathy of a large part of his community. It’s far riskier to defend a Jewish-owned store that sells an Israeli brand, given the fact that the store is located in what is considered as the most anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian district in the province, one which elects an Israelophobe like Amir Khadir to the National Assembly.

* As Poupko remarks, the Montreal City Council did indeed condemn the boycott campaign; however, the boycotters were plainly unimpressed. They are still picketing and may yet succeed in their efforts to bankrupt the store. Poupko also states that the Parliament of Quebec denounced the campaign, but fails to mention that the resolution was blocked from debate by Khadir.

* Poupko’s math is risibly pre-kindergarten. He asserts that the demonstrators have dwindled to no more than five people, “the few remaining boycotters.” This is false accounting. On the aforementioned Saturday, the PAJU gang occupied sixty feet of public space and hoisted three gigantic banners. Further, Poupko’s claim that the “QIC continued to mobilize grassroots support” for Naot is entirely dubious; the contrary seems more likely the case, as a letter by one of the anti-protestors, Nicole Allio, to the Canadian Jewish News attests. As a participant in the anti-boycott manifestations, she has no doubt that CIJA is pursuing a “laissez-faire policy when thugs are promoting the economic boycott of Israeli goods.” She continues in the unabridged text of her letter: “In London, the most important Ahava store was forced to close due to the continuous harassment of ‘anti-Israel-apartheid’ demonstrators. Does Del Negro hope to see Naot closing its doors soon—so that the anti-Semitic harassment of storekeepers will go away and CIJA can claim victory?” Le Journal de Québec columnist Eric Duhaime has also drawn a parallel between the forced closure of Ahava and the threat that weighs upon Naot. It isn’t rocket science to predict that should Naot go under, the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel campaign will gather momentum and other such vulnerable establishments will be targeted. Indeed, PAJU has also been picketing Montreal’s Indigo bookstore which is Jewish-owned and stocks Israeli-authored books, and which has sponsored the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. PAJU’s self-declared mandate is to advance “justice and sustainable peace in the Middle East” by accusing Israel of apartheid practices, a boilerplate canard. But its real agenda is to launch an anti-Zionist crusade and in the process to create a local domino effect: the Israeli Consulate, Indigo, Naot…Regrettably, it appears that our canonical organizations and community leaders are not paying attention.

To conclude. Rabbi Poupko professes to be “shocked,” shocked, at my “slanderous accusations” against Luciano Del Negro. He also finds it “extremely disappointing” that I would “resort to outrageous accusations to tarnish the reputation of an organization [the CIJA] that proudly and effectively defends the interests of Canadian Jews everyday [sic].” For my part, I am neither shocked nor disappointed, being way past that. I am merely reconfirmed in my rueful expectation of seeing the strategy of “cowardly” appeasement—to quote Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler’s denunciation of CIJA—adopted by many of the official organs that presumably represent the Jewish community.

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  • StephenD

    So what is the Rabbi running for office? Sounds like a typical politician. Show up for a photo op and claim victory due to his support but ignore the ramifications when it isn't in the spot light.
    With friends like this….

  • mrbean

    Canada is fertile ground for anti-Semitism, report says
    July 11, 2011

    TORONTO (JTA) — Canada is fertile ground for anti-Semitism, especially on university campuses, a parliamentary committee has concluded. After two years of hearings, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism in a report released last week called on the federal government to do more to fight anti-Semitism in Canada, which it said is rising, due partly to increased hostility toward Israel. Over 10 days of hearings between November 2009 and February 2010, the coalition's 22 members, consisting of lawmakers from all federal parties, heard from 74 witnesses, including federal and provincial politicians, diplomats, university administrators, academics, chiefs of police, journalists and other interested individuals.

  • Ben

    Anti-Israel Jews often declare their high moral standards that demand "Israel`s criticism". But we see more and more Jewish organizations of pseudo-friends of Israel as the J Street who hide their activity.Their shyness tells everything about moral standards.

  • Brassard25

    Poupko doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. I've already been to the anti-boycott protest and I saw from my own eyes that the PAJU is still threatening Israeli shops on the St-Denis street. By claiming that they are not threatening anyone by their action, it looks like Poupko and his friend from the CIJA David Ouellette have no clue about what's going on on the ground. By the way, David Ouellette and Del Negro from the CIJA have done no action against the PAJU. The main reason why they left the shoes shop Le Marcheur is because they have found a better target, not because David Ouellette was there. In fact, he was smoking with his friend Patrick a few meters away from the group Les Amis Québécois d'Israël who were protesting against the PAJU. He was absolutely useless and his presence was only to be updated about the situation. It appears that Mr. Ouellette, by writing this article under the name of "Rabbi Poupko", wants to protect his job and his salary by taking advantage of other people's actions against the Israeli boycott.

  • Nicole Allio

    I used to be a fan of Rabbi Poupko but I couldn't have imagined that one day he would write an article on the demonstrations taking place on St-Denis Street. He has not seen personally what is happening on the street and relies on erroneous interpretations of the situation. Has Rabbi Poupko been hired to defend CIJA's questionable reputation as Jewish agencies' budgets and performances are being reviewed by CJA? It is both offensive and laughable for those of us who are actively fighting anti-Semitic actions where they take place – on the streets – to see David Ouellette described as a good strategist. His reading of the political climate in Quebec is 100% wrong – and it does not take long to understand that his recommendations are detrimental to the well being of the Quebec Jewish community. I hope Rabbi Poupko gets back to his knitting, commenting on what he knows – and not tarnishing his name trying to save his friends' tarnished reputations.

  • Brassard25

    Actually, I'm part of Les Amis Québécois d'Israël and I've already been three times to the anti-PAJU protest on the St-Denis street. I saw David Ouellette smoking cigarettes with his friend Patrick. He was only there as an observer and he never really participated. When Rabbi Poupko claims that David Ouellette and his organisation CIJA are the ones who successfully defeated the PAJU on the St-Denis street, it is absolutely wrong. Today, the PAJU is still protesting in front of Jewish shops and they are still a threat to many merchants. What is Mr Ouellette doing against them? Nothing. They are bashing the only people who are actually protesting (Les Amis Québécois d'Israël) and they wrongly claim that the PAJU is not threatening people anymore. I really doubt that they are aware of what's going on on the ground. I think that David Ouellette wants to protect his job, his salary and his reputation, nothing more. By doing so, he harms the Israli cause and he works agains the interests of the Jewish community. Some people are doing is job with more efficiency and they aren't paid for that. They are spending their own free time to protest against the PAJU and to support the merchants who are victim of the BDS campaign.

  • guest

    The 'official ' Jewish orgs (with the exception of B'nai Brith under Frank Diament) are basically doing what needs to be done to 'look good' , keep their 'reputations' up, and stay 'relevant'. Sadly, this lip service falls short of what reality calls for.

  • http://www.amitiesquebec-israel.org/ JMGelinas

    Rabbi Poupko's article is really unfortunate and irresponsible. It is wrong and unrealistic to claim that the PAJU's boycott campaign against Israeli products on St-Denis' street is over. The battle is, to the contrary, far from being a done thing, and claiming “victory” as does rabbi Poupko (or those who might have pen the article for him) is not only a lie, but it is also a call for delivering the targeted Israeli store to the hands of the racist thugs who harass it since almost a year.

  • Georgette

    I am outraged that Rabbi Poupko could write such comments! It is obvious he does not have his facts straight. David Solway is right. M Del Negro has not rebuked the accusations from M Mathieu because they are true. CIJA takes the credit for «solving» the «buycot» on St Denis street. It is still going on! I invite anyone to come on Saturdays from 13:00 to 15:00 in from of Naot and you will see the Paju with their Palestien flags and hateful propaganda stopping buyers from entering the shop! M Kadir incited and led a mob to parade in from of the store this summer. He is more popular than ever. So Rabbi Poupko do your homework and get your facts right!

  • http://www.amitiesquebec-israel.org/ JMGelinas

    Also : what the Rabbi Poupko says is totally inaccurate. As a piece of evidence that confirms that PAJU's harassment is far away from being a solved problem, one may want to read what Madame Ginette Dubé wrote us about her recent visit to the Naot store on December 17, 2011: « I was there this afternoon and there many PAJU thugs who were standing right in front of the Naot store. They occupied all the public space and loudly shout hateful anti-Israel songs. » Defending Israel needs mobilization of people in the streets every time it is needed and face the enemy. We must not fear those thugs and we should make them to understand that we won't give up the fight and that they don’t scare us at all.

  • henery25

    I prefer to visit the blogs that are raising some serious issues and this is the best post i ever read. I want to know more about this topic and hope to get some thrilling posts soon. Thanks for it

  • aspacia

    MKULTRA BRAINCHIPMAN go away, no one bothers with your childish rants. What a f!@k fool

  • aspacia

    Regardless of what Israel does, what land she cedes, what humanitarian aid she gives, Muslims will always attack her and attempt to murder all infidels, especially Jews.