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September 02, 2011

United Church of Canada Peace Activist at Anti-Semitic Rally

Karin Brothers at Rally 2copy.jpg

At first glance, it seems reasonable to give Karin Brothers (pictured above), a member of the social justice committee of Bloor Street Church in Toronto, Canada, the benefit of the doubt and assume that she made a terrible mistake when she agreed to speak at an “Al Quds” rally that took place a few days ago (Aug. 28).

How was she to know that one of the speakers at the rally would call Israel a “parasitical Zionist state” and that another would describe Israel as a cancer that must be killed? People say crazy things at rallies all the time, and her mere presence at this rally (documented in footage recorded by the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs posted below), doesn’t mean she agrees with such terrible statements.

Who knows? Maybe she really is disgusted by the people who displayed Hezbollah’s flag at the rally! And the picture of Ayatollah Khoemeni? Maybe she didn't see it!

There’s just one problem. She has apparently said some pretty ugly stuff about the Jewish control of the media that feeds into the notion that Canadian and American Jews who support Israel undermine democracy.

Speaking at An-Naja University in Nablus in 2006, Brothers reportedly hinted that the Jewish lobby controls media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. An-Najah’s website describes her presenation as follows:

The reasons for this one-sided coverage are hinted by Karin Brothers, a housewife actively engaged in documenting the conflict. “The Jewish lobby is indeed very powerful, not only in the US but also in Canada”, she says. “A significant amount of electoral money comes from the Jewish community, to the extent that right after the massacre of Jenin, about 96% of Congress was in favour of Israel. They created something like an Israeli solidarity vote to support Israel. It’s at that moment that Israel’s lobby showed their muscle”. She has no doubt about the influence of the Jewish community both in politics and within the media: “Any politician would be targeted if he turned his back on Israel.”

Jenin was not a massacre but a pitched battle in which more than a score of Israeli soldiers were killed in a terrible battle in 2002. By asserting that the Jewish lobby came to Israel’s defense in the aftermath of an Israeli-perpetrated massacre (that didn't happen), Brothers is portraying Jews as a “well organized and infinitely malign political entity.” (That phrase is quoted from Bernard Harrison’s 2006 text, The Resuregence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion.)

The hostility implicit in Brothers' 2006 message seems to dovetail quite nicely with the message offered by the other speakers at the rally a few days ago in Toronto.

This raises an important question: Exactly what is she doing on Bloor Street’s social justice committee?

CAMERA contacted Rev. Martha Ter Kuile of Bloor Street United Church to confirm that Brothers was in fact a member of the congregation. Rev. Ter Kuile confirmed "that Karin Brothers is a long time member of the congregation of Bloor Street United Church, and participates as a volunteer in our Social Justice Committee. She is a tireless worker for a just peace in the Middle East, through many different organizations."

As far as the question posted by the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs in its video (Does Karin Brothers speak for the United Church?), Rev. Ter Kuile stated she does not "except when she is speaking within the limits" of a policy document approved by the denomination at its General Council in 2009. The document, by the way, affirms the Amman Call which supports the Palestinian right of return, which would mean Israel's dissolution of Israel as a Jewish State.

To be sure, neither the United Church of Canada, nor Bloor Street Church in Toronto should be blamed for Brothers’ appearance at the Al Quds rally.

But then again, neither institution is a stranger to controversies such as this. In 2009 the General Council of the United Church of Canada was a venue for some ugly accusations against Canadian Jews. And in 2005, the Bloor Street Church hosted a talk by Sabeel’s founder Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, who has used anti-Jewish polemic from the New Testament to assail the Jewish state.

It’s not as if Brothers’ fellow members at Bloor Street Church and in the United Church of Canada gave her any warning if they should decide that she did indeed cross the line with her appearance at the rally.

Here is the video produced by the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs:

Posted by dvz at September 2, 2011 04:21 PM

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