Last night, in reaction to this story about a Tory mail-out sent to ridings with large Jewish communities, the following exchange took place.
Robert Silver, 7:41 p.m. - Tim owes Omar Alghabra an apology
Earlier this evening on CTV's Power Play, my co-blogger Tim Powers made the following comment:
"I mean we only had [last]October Omar Alghabra, the Liberal MP from Ontario, saying things that apparently are somewhat in line with anti-Semitism so it's important to point this out."
I have known Omar since the 2006 leadership campaign and consider him a close friend. I say with absolute certainty as someone who both knows Omar and happens to be Jewish that he doesn't have an anti-Semitic bone in his body.
I know Tim is ultra-partisan and feels the need to follow the party line at all times, but falsely accusing a good man of being an anti-Semite when there is no basis in fact for the accusation is beneath Tim and he owes Omar an apology.
Tim Powers, 9:10 p.m. - Buckley and Buchanan redux
Rob's clip of my statement comes from a discussion of what Mr. Alghabra is quoted as saying in the Jewish Tribune.
Omar Alghabra, federal Liberal candidate for Mississauga-Erindale, has gone on record defending Judge Richard Goldstone's conclusions, which accuse Israel of committing war crimes. According to Alghabra, "the lack of accountability for war crimes and possible war crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point." (October 6, 2009)
Perhaps Mr. Alghabra could explain what he meant by his comments in the Jewish Tribune. Does he support Goldstone? Because the impression created is not one that is flattering to supporters of Israel.
I equate this to the William F. Buckley examination of Pat Buchanan back in the 90s. National Review devoted entire issue to it.
The conclusion he made was that though he did not believe Buchanan was an anti-Semite, he believed that things Buchanan said were anti-Semitic.
Do I think Omar Alghabra is an anti-Semite? No. But his comments well... you follow the argument.
Robert Silver, 9:33 p.m. - What Omar actually wrote
Since this blog started 15 months ago, I have avoided writing about Israel and the Middle East by self-imposed rule. I'm not going to change that now.
Here is the blog post by Omar where the Jewish Tribune took their selectively edited quote from that Tim referenced.
If you read the blog post in its entirety and conclude that there is anything about it that is even remotely anti-Semitic (which is very, very different from disagreeing with the conclusions) then I define aniti-Semitism very differently than you do.
I just don't think the "A-bomb" should be thrown around lightly. I have never heard Omar make an anti-Semitic comment in my life and I stand by my argument, Tim, that your partisanship is blinding you here and leading you to say and now write things that are without foundation, are hurtful to a good man and deserving of an apology.
Tim Powers, 10:43 p.m. - Only Liberals may question Liberals
I challenged Omar's words, Rob, and the impression that they left with the Jewish Tribune.
Certainly, I have been clear that I don't view Omar as an anti-Semite. But his commentary is fair game. What I do find unfortunate is, in defence of your friend, you opt to frame my commentary as that of a blind partisan, therefore rendering any critique invalid before it even begins. A delimiting approach to a serious issue, but not a new one.
Therefore if it is only Liberals - sanctimonious, open-minded, not really partisan or otherwise - who can offer an opinion on Liberals who, to put it politely, make questionable remarks related to Israel, anti-Semitism, etc., then let my designate be my friend Warren Kinsella. He recently questioned the presence of alleged anti-Semitism on the popular Liblogs site. Warren wrote, "I've written to the Liblogs folks and asked them to remove me from their list. Anti-Semitism - which someone manifested there today, and which I know Liblogs condemns - is something I cannot abide."
Questioning questionable comments is something I will not apologize for doing, particularly on a subject as important as this one - even if I am the terrible, rabid partisan Rob has in his sights.
(Photo: Omar Alghabra in his Mississauga-Erindale riding in July, 2006. Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)