What’s behind this Canadian Zionist’s provocative publicity stunt at Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock?

Canadian Lauren Isaacs caused much resentment among Palestinians (and the entire Muslim world) when she unfurled a “Herut Canada” flag at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in June. In response, she claimed she was just visiting Jerusalem with her mom. But behind her apparent touristic naivety lies a right wing Canadian organization with an explicit objective. 

By PETER LARSEN*

A Jewish Canadian tourist in Israel feigned surprise at the hostile reaction from Palestinians and Muslims from around the world, after she posted on line a picture of herself holding up a Zionist flag on June 11th in front of the 1400-year-old Dome of the Rock, an important symbol of the Muslim religion in Jerusalem.

In response to the anger, Isaacs told the Canadian Jewish News I think that’s ridiculous. I was not provoking anyone. And I did not intend to incite anything. Holding a flag doesn’t incite anything. It’s prideful. It’s, celebratory, it’s happy. Everyone should hold their flags with pride.”

Isaacs naive claim to not want to “incite” is hard to believe. Does she really believe that “everyone should hold their flags with pride”? If a Palestinian were to happily wave a Palestinian Flag in front of the Wailing Wall, would Isaacs also see that as simply “prideful”. Or would it be incitement? How long does she think the Palestinian would last before Israeli security (or outraged Jewish civilians) swarmed in?

No Innocent

But Ms. Isaacs is no innocent tourist. She is the newly appointed Canadian director of a Toronto based organization called Herut Canada. Ms. Isaacs’ FB page tells us that she came to Herut from a previous job at Hasbara Fellowships Canada, an organization that “brings students to Israel and trains them to be effective pro-Israel activists on college campuses.”

Two weeks after her provocative stunt at al Aqsa, a bullhorn-toting Isaacs was back in Toronto leading “a small loud contingent” of pro-Israel activists attempting to disrupt a demonstration protesting the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century.”

According to its website, Herut Canada “promotes Aliyah and supports the right of Jewish communities to live and thrive throughout all of the land of Israel, including in Judea and Samaria.”

In other words, Herut Canada is a pro-settler organization, encouraging Jews from around the world (including Canada) to move to Israel and settle, including in the West Bank. Isaacs must know full well that Canada, in line with the UN Security Council, agrees that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal and against international law.

Towards the end of the British Mandate – when the alliance of British imperialism and Zionist colonialism, having served its purpose, was beginning to undergo the strains which finally led to its dissolution – the paramilitary and terrorist Zionist organisations (which Britain had respectively aided and condoned for decades) turned against the British garrison and British civil authorities in Palestine.
On 22 July 1946, Etzel (better known as Irgun) blew up the southern wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which housed the central offices of the Mandate government and the British army headquarters. In what Dominique Lapierre, co-author of the book O Jerusalem, calls “the first massive terrorist political action of modern history,” 91 people were left dead and hundreds wounded. The tactical aim included the destruction of truckloads of compromising secret documents seized on June 29th. “It was these records that the Resistance Movement plotted to destroy.” Commander Sneh (Commander-in-Chief of the Haganah since 1940) approved the plans and their execution. Nevertheless, the Jewish Agency, fearful of world opinion, hastily condemned the act and declared their ally of two hours before – the Irgun – an outfit that shamed the Jewry of Palestine. This marked the ignominious end of the open so-called “united Hebrew resistance movement” which, however, covertly continued on a clandestine basis. – TS

Herut was founded as an Israeli political party in 1948 by Menachem Begin, who had previously been leader of the Irgun an underground terrorist organization. Under Begin, the Irgun attacked both British colonial administrators and Palestinians in an effort to drive them out of Palestine in order to found a Jewish State.

Begin was no stranger to violence, either before or after the creation of the State of Israel. The Irgun claimed not only British Mandate Palestine but also all of today’s Jordan for a new Jewish state. (See the Irgun crest.)

Today, Herut supports the Zionist idea that Jews from anywhere in the world, be it Canada or Russia, can move to Israel and become citizens, while the Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 are prevented from doing so because they are not Jewish.

A provocative publicity stunt 

Its hard to classify Ms. Isaacs’s action as anything other than a crude publicity stunt aimed at raising the profile of her organization among Jews in Canada. And perhaps at provoking a Palestinian reaction.

It seems to have worked in part. She got full coverage in the Canadian Jewish News which reported Ms. Isaacs’s claim she has received “death threats” over her actions, although that remains unverified.

Canadians (Jewish and otherwise) should recognize that this action comes at a time when Israeli police control the access to the Dome of the Rock and the al Aqsa Mosque, and often prevent Muslims from praying there. Her action was both disrespectful and deliberately provocative.

*Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) encourages and promotes a thoughtful discussion among Canadians on the Israel/Palestine issue, including a well informed and sensitive discussion about solutions. CTIP encourages serious people who disagree with any column to make comment. Disagreements respectfully offered are welcome. To learn more about what CTIP does, contact us atchair.ctip@gmail.com.

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