A headline, February 22, on the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) website – and presumably in the new print edition of the paper – jumped out at me. “46 per cent of Canadians negative toward Israeli gov’t: poll,” it read.
The poll in question was a survey conducted by EKOS Research on behalf of two organizations and two individuals well known for their opposition to the State of Israel and for their support of the goals of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel; organizations and individuals whose actions have sought to delegitimize the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
Like many polls, the questions in this one were designed specifically to elicit the kind of responses the sponsoring organizations and individuals were looking for and could interpret – or misinterpret – for their own purpose.
For example, the lead question in the poll was, “Generally speaking, do you have a positive or negative opinion of the Government of Israel?”
A plurality of 46 per cent said they had a negative view of the Israeli government, while 28 per cent said they had a positive view and 26 per cent said their view was neither positive nor negative.
The CJN quoted a spokesperson for one of the anti-Israel organizations, who said, “The poll shows that 46 per cent of people polled, who had an opinion, had a negative view of Israel.”
Actually, the poll showed nothing of the sort. The poll did not ask about views of Israel – only of the government. The spinmeister knew this, but was purposefully misinterpreting the results.
To be sure, a recent poll I saw showed that 48 per cent of Israelis had a negative view of the Israeli government, while 43 per cent had a positive view. So the negative view of the Israeli government is even higher in Israel than it is in Canada.
And a poll in the United States released on February 23 showed that the current U.S. president had an approval rating of just 38 per cent (and a disapproval rating of 55 per cent), while here in Canada, a January poll showed an approval rating for the current prime minister at 48 per cent (and a disapproval of 42 per cent).
The CJN also quoted Martin Sampson, director of communications and marketing at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who correctly asserted, “The questions appear to be designed to elicit answers that support the perspectives of the anti-Israel activists who funded the research.”
How someone views a country – one’s own country or another country – is not the same as how one views that country’s government.
Opposition to specific government policies or to a particular government, or its leaders, is basic to democracy. And that distinguishes Israel from virtually every other country in the Middle East.
Eighty years of the Bulletin
As Saara Mortensen, the archivist at the Ottawa Jewish Archives details on page 3, all of the editions of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin in the Archives’ collection have been digitized.
Issues from 1937 to 2009 are already available for all to access, conduct research and enjoy at www.archives.org/details/ottawajewisharchives. Issues from 2010 to the present will be added to the site in the coming months.
This means that all 80 years of the Bulletin are now online as all issues we’ve published since September 2007 are in the Library section of the Bulletin website. www.ottawajewishbulletin.com
We’re tremendously excited about this project, which the Archives undertook to mark both Canada 150 and the 80th anniversary of the Bulletin.
It’s a big step forward for us and for researchers.
Previously, the only way for researchers to find something in an old issue of the Bulletin was to visit the Archives and work with the archivist in looking at an old issue. Now, anyone can do it more quickly and efficiently from any computer with Internet access.
Thank you Saara, the Ottawa Jewish Archives, the City of Ottawa Heritage Funding Program 2016, and the Ottawa Jewish Historical Society for making this happen.