Few politicians would dare ignore an organization like the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), which Chief Executive Bernie Farber says has more clout in the halls of power than most minority groups even though it represents only 360,000 people across the country.
"We have come to a point in the 21st century where at least in the halls of government, and I think very much in the mainstream of Canadian life, we are viewed as part and parcel of Canadian polity," Farber says.Now, I'm no Order of Canada winner like the sagagious Mr. Arnold, but I suspect the reason it's more "Zionist" in 2010 than it was in 1919 is because there was no Jewish state that required defending from hateful Lefty/'Slamists back in 1919.
That influence, Farber says, comes from a willingness to speak out on human rights issues affecting all minorities, not just the Jewish community.
However, the CJC – an umbrella group of Jewish organizations across Canada – has narrowed its focus in recent years, according to at least one of its longtime members.
"They seem to be spending more time in relation to Israel than in relation to anything else," says Abraham Arnold, who has been active in the CJC for more than 50 years.
Arnold, a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the Jewish community and human rights work, laments what he sees as the evolution of the group from a messy grassroots organization to a "top-down" group that does not encourage the same level of debate he remembers from past, raucous plenary meetings.
While obviously gaining in influence in the halls of power by putting forward an increasingly strong and singular voice, Arnold says, such gains come at the cost of waning influence at the grassroots level and an increasingly tenuous connection to its roots. "They wanted to be more than a Zionist organization in 1919 (when the CJC was founded), " he says...
Just a hunch, mind you.
Also, the above excerpt, brief as it is, manages to several things wrong:
- It lowballs the Jewish population of Canada.
- The CJC has not "narrowed its focus in recent years" If anything, it's broadened it to take in such "non-Zionist" concerns as "poverty" and "Darfur".
- The CJC is not an "umbrella group." It, along with other groups, like the Canada Israel Committee, falls under the umbrella of an organization called CIJA.