Ten Reasons Harper is Not Good for Jews

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A letter for Canadian Jews thinking about their vote

Stephen Harper has wrested some Jewish votes away from the Liberals by scaring us into thinking his party is good for us.

But is Stephen Harper actually good for Jews? If we know our history, the answer is no. Here are ten reasons Harper is not good for Jews:

1. We are not ‘old stock’ Canadians. Harper accidentally let slip his true racism in the fall election debate. I don’t know about you, but if Harper’s three ‘types’ of Canadians are ‘new, and existing, and old stock’ Canadians, I am certainly not ‘old stock.’ We all know who he is talking about, and it ain’t us.

2. Harper loves white rural racists more than he loves you. Harper’s biggest base is rural voters who love guns and the bible. You can see this in his policies, meant to appeal to this voter base, like scrapping the long gun registry to appeal to his gun-toting fans. He scrapped the long form census to mollify paranoid fundamentalist Christians who argued the government was spying on them by asking census questions. These are Harper’s true and original loyal base of followers, the people Harper actually cares about. The only Jew these fundamentalist voters have ever known is Jesus. And they think we killed him.

3. Fundamentalist Christians want messed up things for Israel. Harper is an evangelical  Christian. Whatever his personal beliefs, his base are the Christian right. Creationists who ‘love’ Israel do not love it for the same reasons Jews do. This brand of fundamentalists ‘love’ Israel because they think Israel is bringing about a final ‘great war’ which they believe will bring about the second coming of the Messiah, after which all the Christians are supposed to ascend to heaven to be with Jesus. They don’t much care what happens to us after that. They expect Jews to accept Jesus as our lord and saviour or be damned to hell on earth. This is who we want as our allies?

4. Harper is authoritarian. Sit up and take notice, fellow Jews. This man is not safe. We have learned to be aware of and on the lookout for authoritarians who centralize power in their own hands. He creates a tip line to tell us to spy on our neighbors. He creates a McCarthyesque “enemies list” of members of civil society. Scandals never before seen in Canada plague his time in office, from Robocalls to Gerrymandering to the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. He forces his party to vote as a bloc, he shuts down parliament at a whim, he controls all party communication, he stops scientists  from publishing their results, he controls which questions journalists  are allowed to ask, he has made it possible to revoke citizenship, and he has drastically militarized this country. He is cosy with the JDL. He undermines democracy at every turn. Harper has put Jews, their children and grandchildren at risk of losing our citizenship under Bill C-24, since we are eligible  for dual citizenship.  Now he hires a spin doctor to direct hate against a scapegoat. What other signs of a proto-fascist do you need to wake up and smell the dictator?

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5. Harper is bad for your health. Under Harper, our cherished medical system goes bye bye. He has been against public health care since he was young, when he was part of a group that advocated eliminating public health care. And last year, he changed the formula for financing health care. As health care is already ripping at the seams because of underfunding, the system will collapse with this new formula in the next few years. We are all going to have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses so insurance companies can make a buck. When you need to go to the doctor, do you want to just hand them your health card and focus on health and family? Or do you want to worry about maxing out coverage, or getting cut off if they decide you have a prior condition? Do you want to sap your savings for every emergency? Do you want your grandchildren to get quality care when they need it, or do you want an American style system where kids don’t get to go to the doctor because insurance premiums spike after every broken bone? That is the Canada Harper wants, one where you feel scared about whether you can go to the doctor.

6. Harper is bad for your dinner. Harper is rapidly deregulating food safety standards in Canada. The reason we’ve seen people getting sick from Listeria outbreaks from meat packing plants, for instance, is because Harper has cut health inspections and loosened health regulations across the board. Harper believes meat packers and fruit growers should just oversee themselves, and that is literally making us sick. Shouldn’t that smoked meat sandwich come from a federally inspected plant?

7. Harper is actually bad for the economy. Harper’s actual record on the economy is terrible. We have been through two recessions on his watch. Household debt is up. Personal incomes are down. Inequality is way, way, way up. Harper’s austerity agenda has done nothing but produce insecurity.  The middle class is slipping, while the wealthiest have accrued an absurd share of the pie. And let’s get one thing straight: the American subprime mortgage crisis that caused the economic crash in the US happened because of the absence of government oversight and regulation. Banks bundled mortgages and tossed them around like tennis balls at an amateur sports match, which they were only allowed to do because the government wasn’t watching. Harper believes in the same doctrine of deregulation that was behind the American economic collapse. He wants to do the same thing here that we saw crash the American economy.  Don’t believe his weasel words. The only reason Canada did better than the US in the economic downturn is because Harper had not had enough time to deregulate the Canadian economy.

8. Harper hates immigrants. Last I checked, we are immigrants. Scapegoating against another group will eventually come back and bite us. If the laws he’s passed since coming into power were in effect when my grandparents came, I wouldn’t be here and neither would any of my family.  We forget our origins to our peril. I remember the ‘none is too many’ laws; that dead boy on the beach could be any of us. Harper is scapegoating people of colour and putting Jews in the middle. Any time the people in power try to use us to redirect anger away from themselves, it has backfired on us.

9. He is an international joke. Canada’s foreign influence has diminished significantly under Harper. He has been found in contempt of parliament  twice, a first in Canadian history. He has terrible credibility internationally, and his term has been plagued by embarrassing scandal  after scandal. Being ‘supported’ by a war-mongering, climate-destroying ideologue does not help Israel win allies and may be leading young Jews increasingly away from any identification with Israel.

10. He leads a vicious pack of wolves. One of the reasons Harper keeps such a tight muzzle on his own party is that some of his back benchers would like to say out loud what Harper is too crafty to say. These members of his crew are virulently and openly anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-women, nut jobs from the far right fringe alberta netherworld. Believe me, these guys hate Jews as much as they hate women. Harper shuts them up because if we heard what they really believe, we’d stop voting for his farkakte party. And we should stop voting for them now.

In short: Harper is not good for Jews.
He sends Rosh Hashanah postcards with apples and honey, just like he sends Christmas cards to Christians, sends Ramadan greetings to Muslims, and sends Vaisakhi greetings to Sikhs. He is  cynically luring votes from immigrant communities, including ours.

Jews have gained enough strength that he knows he needs to keep on our good side. He knows which way the wind blows.

But he is only our ally when we are strong.

That’s not a true friend.

Deep down we know that if the political winds blew another way, he would betray us to make his friends happy without so much as a tear.

He is not on our side. He says what we want to hear now because he is currying favour to win votes, but he is an opportunist. He doesn’t consider us part of his club; he just wants us while he can use us.

Harper is lying. Ever seen The Lord of the Rings? Harper is Saruman, the evil wizard who pretends to be good. When he whispers to you he sounds trustworthy, but he is pretending to be on our side.

Push him, and he’ll turn against us the same way he has turned this country against Muslims for his own personal gain. Wake up. Pay attention.

Vote Liberal. Vote NDP. I don’t care. Vote, then get organized. Get this dictator out, before it’s too late.

This year, I say: for the love of all that is holy:  anybody but Harper.

(Brought to you by a dispersed group of Jews who are terrified of the direction this country is going and hope to pull it back from the brink. We are not part of any group or organization. We live in cities across Canada from coast to coast – Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and places in between – and we have a range of personal Jewish identities, some religious, some secular. We are male and female, professionals, parents, and community organizers. The age range of contributors is 25-65, with most of us in our mid 30s. This piece was discussed and written collaboratively online over several weeks.)

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