Gil Troy is an American academic. He received his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and is a professor of History at McGill University.
The author of eleven books, nine of which concern American presidential history, and one of which concerns his own and others' "Jewish identity," he contributes regularly to a variety of publications and appears frequently in the media as a commentator and analyst on subjects relating to history and politics. Twitter: @GilTroy. Website: www.giltroy.com.
Thu Sep 15, 2016 3:25 pm A Useless Nihilist Seeks Asylum - By Gil Troy
A Useless Nihilist Seeks Asylum
By Gil Troy
Canadian Jewish News
September 13, 2016
Gilad Paz, a useless nihilist
An Israeli leftist who supports boycotting his own country has applied for asylum in Canada, claiming that because some Israeli officials denounce the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, he needs refuge. “I said that I’m persecuted as a BDS activist due to the general threats by ministers [Gilad] Erdan and [Arye] Deri,” Gilad Paz told Ha’aretz from his new home in Montreal, where, I guess, no public disputes ever take place and no ministers ever denounce positions dissidents take. Paz has a hearing on Sept. 29.
If I were a satirist, I wouldn’t be brave enough to make up this absurdity – who would believe it? Beyond the fact that most serious human rights activists in Israel have never even heard of this guy, the Israeli left remains loud, proud and free. Read the anger that Ha’aretz spews daily. Watch how many Israeli academics ingratiate themselves with Europeans by knocking their own country with outlandish criticisms. Beyond that, note that Israel’s political culture, while famously fragmentary and volatile, certainly compares to a burkini-banning France, to a Trumpificacious America and to a French-first Quebec. In fact, Paz’s case is less compelling than an Anglo Montrealer applying to the United States for asylum in flight from Quebec’s language police, and no American judge would take such idiocy seriously.
Alas, in our topsy-turvy world, filled with people anxious to believe the worst about Israel, many will respect Paz’s claims. To use words like “persecution,” and “asylum” and “refugee” in a conversation about the free-spirited debates of Israeli democracy demeans refugees who genuinely need asylum. Those of us lucky enough to live in democracies that pass what former Soviet Refusenik Natan Sharansky calls the public square test – can you denounce your leader publicly and avoid jail or worse – should never compare the occasional discomfort we might feel when debating with the suffering dissidents experience in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and other dictatorships.
Beyond fuelling the irrational demonization of Israel, Paz’s cry reflects the one-way, crybaby politics of the left that is afflicting college campuses. The right has its own pathologies, but too many leftists bash wildly, then whimper anytime anyone pushes back. To use the ridiculous language of the modern spoiled student activist, too many on the left like Paz commit macro-aggressions such as singling out Israel for a boycott campaign, then whine about “micro-aggressions.” They will libel the Jewish state and the Jewish People, and some will encourage anti-Semitism, but they get offended and go legal if someone looks at them skeptically. Whatever happened to free-wheeling, vigorous debate? Why do so many radicals demonize Israel, the United States and conservatives, among other favourite targets, then seek asylum if anyone dares to disagree with them?
This nonsense goes way beyond “useful idiots,” the phrase wrongly attributed to Vladimir Lenin. These people are useless nihilists. The only impact they have is negative. Calling for a boycott against Israel or asking for asylum when you are not being persecuted doesn’t hurt Israel, a stable democracy whose economy has only grown in the last few years. But wild charges and angry campaigns do hurt the cause of peace, undermining any hopes of building the trust necessary for compromise.
Inevitably, the people who are going to most bash Paz and his false asylum claims will come from the right – or be called conservative. Wouldn’t it be great to hear from some leftists embarrassed by this useless nihilist? Shouldn’t other Israelis who fight Israel’s policies in the West Bank denounce Paz, and the whole counterproductive BDS campaign? This fear of anyone breaking ranks in the Mideast debate is so tedious.
Meanwhile, because the world has gone mad, no one should assume that Paz won’t win. The message must go forth to those responsible for Paz’s immigration file: Israel’s democracy is alive and well, and as rollicking – and frustrating – as ever.
Gil Troy is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, just published by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin's Press. His next book will update Arthur Hertzberg's The Zionist Idea. He is Professor of History at McGill University. Follow on Twitter @GilTroy