Friday, December 5, 2008

What should the Govenor General do?

I'm no constitutional expert, but I believe the GG can do just about anything she wants, and the arguments are really about what she should do.

If the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc defeat the govt in January, Harper will ask for a new election and Dion will ask for a chance to govern with a Liberal-NDP coalition propped up by the Bloc.

Some say she should order a new election because (a) it's her job to follow the prime minister's advice - an argument that doesn't persuade me - or (b) because it's traditional for Canadians to elect their govt. and we sure haven't elected this coalition - an argument I find far more persuasive.

Others say the GG should give the coalition a chance because, while we elect our members of parliament, it's up to our MPs to elect the govt, and if Dion's coalition can command a majority among the MPs, the coalition deserves a chance to govern. I also find this argument persuasive.

However, the coalition isn't requesting just one chance - they're actually requesting two: a govt led by Dion until May and then a govt led by whoever replaces Dion after May. This is absurd.

In our system, when a new leader replaces a sitting Prime Minister, he must call an election to get a mandate from the people.

So I'm okay with the GG calling a new election should the govt fall in January. Personally, that's what I'd prefer. But I'm also okay with her giving the coalition a chance, but only provided they pledge to hold an election within six months of getting a new leader, as convention demands.

Could the GG require such an undertaking? Absolutely. At this point, she holds all the cards. For the sake of our democracy, she should play them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Macmillan encyclopedia recycles old lies

Next time your kids look up ‘Zionism’ in an encyclopedia, they may read that Israel is a racist state based on an ideology akin to Nazism. This article, recycling the old lie that Zionism is racism, appears in the new Encyclopedia of Race and Racism published by Macmillan Reference U.S.A.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) notes that Noel Ignatiev, the author of the article, “has no track record of scholarship in Middle Eastern or Jewish studies.” (See here: Earlier versions of Ignatiev’s Zionism article appear in an obscure rag called Race Traitor and in Counterpunch, a self-described “muckraking” magazine notorious not just for Israel-bashing but for antisemitism.

The Macmillan Zionism entry shows none of the objectivity and scholarship you usually find in an encyclopaedia, but it does have everything you’d expect from an article in Counterpunch: it’s tendentious, offensive and wrong.

Perhaps worst of all, the entry conflates Zionism and Nazism. Ignatiev claims that Zionism: “shared the [Nazi] belief that the Jews were a racial community based on blood.” Beyond the obvious falsehood here (i.e., that Zionists see Jews as a race), Ignatiev is implying that Zionists used the same language of race and blood as the Nazis and shared the same outlook as the Nazis. Indeed, he goes on to claim that Zionists “collaborated” with the Nazis.

Why in the world did the editors choose Ignatiev to author this encyclopedia entry? This incident damages Macmillan U.S.A’s reputation and the reputation of its parent company, Gale, Cengage Learning. It doubly damages their reputation since it raises an obvious question: As the author of the Zionism article has an anti-Israel track record, how many other entries were written by someone with a political agenda?

Underlining the scandal, no other form of nationalism appears in the Macmillan encyclopedia, only Jewish nationalism. The name for this kind of practice might be found under D for discrimination.

Worse, the AJC reports that John Hartwell Moore, the encyclopedia’s editor-in-chief, defended the Zionism entry by suggesting that Zionism is racist because it embodies an idea of racial superiority based on the idea of Jews as a chosen people. That is, Moore defended the modern slander that Zionism is racism by reaching for an older anti-Jewish slander that Jews think of themselves as superior. But although these notions of ‘chosen-ness’ as meaning superior and of Jews as a race have been widely spread by antisemites, they have no basis in Jewish reality.

For starters, early Zionists were a secular lot, and in the unlikely event that they had wanted to borrow a theological concept, they wouldn’t have picked chosen-ness, the idea that God set apart the Jews for particular religious obligations. After all, the Zionist project was about making the Jews a normal nation with our own country, not a people set apart in any way.

The lies Ignatiev peddles in his Macmillan entry aren’t new. They originated during the Cold War when the Soviets decided to use antisemitism in their efforts to orient the Third World against the West. Soviet propagandists manufactured the notion that Jewish nationalism is inherently racist and that Jews are the new Nazis, then spread this manure to Communists around the world and taught it to a generation of potential Third World leaders.

Mahmoud Abbas, for example, the current president of the Palestinian Authority, received his doctorate at a Soviet institution by writing a pseudo-academic thesis on supposed Zionist collaboration with the Nazis. For good measure, he added some Holocaust denial to his thesis, claiming that numbers killed were grossly exaggerated.

I suggest that Macmillan replace its entry on Zionism with an article on the durability of antisemitic myths. The Soviet Union has collapsed into the dust of history but its propaganda lives on. It's even managed to worm its way into an encyclopedia published by a hitherto reputable company.

In an attempt to quiet its critics, Macmillan has announced it will add alternative perspectives on Zionism to the on-line version of encyclopedia alongside Igantiev’s propaganda piece ( But treating lies and truth as equals subverts the very idea of knowledge. And an encyclopedia is supposed to be a compendium of knowledge – not a hodgepodge of knowledge and nonsense.

Academics especially, but ordinary people too, need to insist to Macmillan Reference and its parent company, Gale Cengage Learning, that an entry on Zionism simply has no place in an encyclopedia of racism.

Your concerns on this matter might be addressed to: Hélène Potter, director new product development for Macmillan Reference USA:, or to Frank Menchaca, executive vice president of Macmillan Reference USA:

Note: This piece also appeared in the Engage Forum:

And in the Jewish Tribune:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The UN – Curse or Blessing?

“Canadians love the idea of the United Nations, but know little about it,” said Dr. Adam Chapnick in a recent lecture at Beth Tikvah’s popular Lunch and Learn program. Chapnick explained that in surveys Canadians consistently rank second or third among the countries of the world in our support for the UN.

Given that the General Assembly often seems obsessed with denigrating Israel, I find the Canadian enthusiasm for the UN worrying. Not Dr. Chapnick. He suggested that most Canadians pay no attention to anti-Israel reports issuing from the UN. “It goes in one ear, out the other,” he said. The General Assembly’s many anti-Israel resolutions may embolden anti-Israel propagandists, but they don’t change how anyone sees Israel.

Currently an Assistant Professor of Defence Studies and Deputy Chair of Education at Canadian Forces College, Dr. Chapnick has a particular interest in the history of Canada’s involvement with the UN and the place the UN holds in our national mythology.

Chapnick pointed out that the vast majority of resolutions regarding Israel are passed by the General Assembly, not the Security Council and that the General Assembly was designed to be powerless.

According to Chapnick, President Roosevelt, one of the principal architects of the UN, envisioned the General Assembly as a forum where “small countries can vent.”

Chapnick suggested that the UN’s Human Rights Council is similarly irrelevant. He described the UN’s old Human Rights Secretariat as an “embarrassment,” a club for some of the world’s worst human rights offenders. The reformed Human Rights Council is just as bad, he said, and because it lacks credibility, it lacks influence.

Chapnick argued that the United Nations is a blessing as well as a curse, even for Israel. He stated that Israel will never be elected to a seat on the Security Council because of “the General Assembly’s racist bias.” However, in the United States, “Israel has an ally on the Security Council that looks out for Israel’s interests.”

Also, Chapnick explained that the UN’s primary purpose is to prevent a third world war, and, he argued, in this, the UN has been successful. Moreover, he pointed out the UN’s usefulness in disaster relief efforts, such as the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and in disease eradication programs, such as the elimination of polio.

Ultimately, Chapnick said that blaming the UN is a mistake. He suggested that the UN is a place where countries gather to talk. What gets done and doesn’t get done in the world is up to individual countries, which can and do act without UN authorization. Even Canada acts without the UN’s blessing, he said, such participating in NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo.

When the UN supports them, countries use the UN “to cloak themselves in legitimacy,” and when the UN doesn’t support them, they ignore it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Geographic amnesia

CAMERA has recently pointed out that media outlets habitually refer to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, as if Israel is the only country that borders Gaza. But Egypt lies to the south of Gaza, and where the Egypt-Gaza border runs through the town of Rafah, there is an important border crossing. The CAMERA piece gives a full backgrounder here:

Back in February 2008, I wrote a piece for the Jewish Tribune about the bias demonstrated in the media's amnesia about Gaza’s Egyptian border. Too frequently, the media portrays Arabs and Islamists as amoral agents, no more responsible for their actions than polar bears. Thus, for the media, the Egyptian blockade simply doesn’t count. Only Israel’s actions are up for judgement.

I’ve posted by my piece from the Tribune, “Egypt blockades Gaza,” below.

Egypt blockades Gaza

You likely never heard a word about Egypt’s blockade of Gaza. But from June 2007 to January 2008, the Egyptian-Gaza border was continually closed.

The seal wasn’t watertight. The Egyptians opened the border on occasion. Also, so many tunnels go between Rafah in Egypt to Rafah in Gaza that smugglers need a subway map to find their way around. But although guns, explosives and missiles travel readily under the border, food, fuel and medicine didn’t have such an easy time crossing the border up top.

Not a peep from the media. But as soon as Israel sealed its border with Gaza for a couple days, you heard all about it – that is, you heard all about Israel, but still next to nothing about Egypt.

“Israel blocks fuel supply,” said the Toronto Star. “Israel closes Gaza's borders,” reported the BBC. “Israel agrees to ease blockade,” the CBC chimed in a bit later.

The EU declared that Israel was “collectively punishing” Gaza. No mention of Egypt, though the Rafah border had been closed for seven months, not a couple days.

Virtually alone among the world’s media, the Associated Press accurately referred to “Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza.” But otherwise the media suffered geographic amnesia. They’d simply forgotten Gaza’s southern border.

In an article on its website, the BBC claimed that although “Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 … it still controls the territory's borders and supplies.” Except for Gaza’s Egyptian border, the BBC should have added, but did not.

The media remembered the Gaza-Egypt border when Hamas blew it up and hundreds of thousands of Gazans flooded into Egypt. But even while reporting on how Hamas broke Egpyt’s blockade, the media refered to Israel’s blockade.

For the media, the Egyptian blockade didn’t count. Only Israel’s actions were up for judgement.
This sort of double-standard isn’t unusual. The media watchdog group, Honest Reporting (HR) recently released an analysis of the BBC’s reporting of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the second half of 2007.

HR found that in stories about Palestinian attacks, the headlines never named the aggressors. The BBC preferred headlines such as “Rocket injures dozens in Israel” (

That is, BBC headlines report Palestinian attacks in the same way they report the weather: as something that just falls out of the sky.

“On the other hand” Honest Reporting stated, “in 63% of articles addressing Israeli military operations, the headline was much more clear and direct … (e.g.: ‘Israel strikes kill six in Gaza’).”

An unintentional racism is at work here. When it comes to political conflicts, the media often portrays Arabs and Islamists as amoral agents, no more responsible for their actions than polar bears.

On the other side of the double standard, the media judges Israel as hyper-responsible. No one would dream of asking why Canada doesn’t supply fuel to the Taliban. But it’s front-page news when Israel holds up Gaza’s fuel supply.

Israel-haters take the double standard one step further: they hold Israel responsible for Palestinian crimes.

For example, the Guardian newspaper carried a video that allowed 12 seconds to reporting the recent suicide attack in Dimona, gave another 12 seconds to a representative of Abbas’s government, who condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for it. Then, for the benefit of the hardcore anti-Israel faithful, the Guardian got to the meat of the report: a 72-second clip of a Hamas official justifying the attack.

Murdering a 73-year-old woman in a shopping mall and wounding 11 others was a “normal response to this shape of collective punishment,” the Hamas official said. It was a “resistance operation” against the “occupation.” That is, against Jews occupying their own homes in Israel; there are no Israelis in Gaza.

The Dimona suicide bombers are just the latest reminder of why Israel and Egypt need to blockade Gaza. However, the bombers reportedly crossed into Egypt from Gaza, then infiltrated into Israel throught the Sinai, once again illustrating how poorly Egypt guards its border with Gaza.

Perhaps Israel would be smart to create an arms control line just north of the Egypt-Gaza border. Then, if Egypt likes, it can unite Rafah. Put a few trains in the tunnels and Rafah will have a better subway system than Toronto.

In any case, it will have nothing to do with Israel. Whatever the media may imply, the Palestinians and Egyptians aren’t polar bears. They’re responsible for their own crimes, their own failings, and their own futures.

This piece was originally published in the Jewish Tribune here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jack Layton endorses Canadian Dementia

On its website, Canadian Dimension quotes New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton praising their magazine as: “Thoughtful, persistent, challenging, unflinching.”

Uh-huh. James Petras regularly contributes to Canadian Dimension and is a member of its editorial collective. He writes about how Jewish bankers and the “Zionist power configuration” control America’s foreign policy. Terry Glavin comments: “Petras will also explain how the culprits behind last year's 'Mohammed cartoons' conniptions, which involved embassy-burnings and riots and at least 139 deaths, were - you guessed it - Mossad agents” (

With Petras in mind, Jack might add another word to his description of Canadian Dimension – a word that starts with: "anti".

Conspiracy theorist Prof Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa is another member of Canadian Dimension's editorial collective. The Ottawa Citizen ran a piece on Chossudovsky that begins thus:

“A Jewish group has filed a complaint to the University of Ottawa against one of its professors after the discovery of content on his website that blames Jews for the terrorist attacks on the United States, and claims the numbers who died at Auschwitz are exaggerated. The website,, also reprints articles from other writers that accuse Jews of controlling the U.S. media and masterminding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

The neo-Nazi Adelaide Institute has the rest of the article posted here: ttp://

Also check out a short piece about Chossudovsky’s nutty conspiracy theories that I wrote for the Jewish Tribune and also published on the Engage website here: And speaking of conspiracy theories, Barrie Zwicker, dean of the Canadian 9/11 Truther movement, is yet another member of Canadian Dimension’s editorial collective.

Hmm, with Chossudovsky and Zwicker in Canadian Dimension’s editorial collective, maybe Jack should consider the term “tinfoil hat.” Indeed, Canadian Dimension goes so low that if Jack has a modicum of decency, the magazine would leave him speechless. The current issue (Sept / Oct 2008) includes an article concerning the attempt by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid to bring their brand of visceral Israel-hatred into Canadian high schools.

CAIA favours the terrorist group Hamas and rejects Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas because he would negotiate peace with Israel. In the CAIA’s peculiar vocabulary, the idea of two states living side by side in peace is “apartheid.” Thus, the CAIA praises:“[the] Palestinian people for decisively rejecting Israeli Apartheid through the election of Hamas” (

By setting up a high school division of their group, the CAIA hopes to indoctrinate Canadian kids with their vision of a Middle East without Israel, a project that Canadian Dimension reports on enthusiastically.

Right now, Jack Layton is running to be Canada’s next Prime Minister. He won’t make that goal, but his party will win seats, and with the Liberal Party in freefall, the NDP might possibly form the official opposition.

However, if Jack wants Canadians to take the NDP seriously, he has to stop appealing to the political fringe. You can’t endorse an extremist rag like Canadian Dimension one day, then ask Canadians to make you Prime Minister the next.
This piece is also published on the Engage Forum here:
And on Dust my Broom, here:
You can find a collection of my pieces here:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The lunatic fringe goes mainstream

I will remember the 2008 Canadian election as the one in which three candidates were asked to step down over alleged antisemitic remarks. As the election in which a whole slew of lunatics stood for MP under the banners of supposedly mainstream parties.

First to be forced out was John Shavluck, a Green Party candidate, formerly a member of the Marijuana Party. In the midst of a semi-coherent rant against the United States (the usual stock in trade on his blog) Shavluck referred to: “your governments complicate [i.e., complicity in the] attack on your shoddily built Jewish world bank headquarters. you know 'the 2 towers'" (

There was never anything especially Jewish about the twin towers of the World Trade Center, except to people who believe Jews – and especially Jewish bankers – rule the world and to people who believe the Jews instigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks for their own nefarious purposes. The Green Party had the good sense to kick Shavluck out as soon as a blogger uncovered this posting and before the mainstream media even picked up on it.

Shavluck wasn’t the only former Marijuana Party member forced to step down during this election. As part of an apparent policy of courting the political fringes, Jack Layton had cultivated the stoner constituency. (See here, for example: And this election, two former members of the Marijuana Party ran as NDP candidates.

Dana Larsen was the first to step down after a blogger uncovered shows he’d done for Pot TV, including one that featured him driving while stoned on LSD ( The other former Marijuana Party candidate stepped down soon after when people realized (a bit slowly on the uptake) that he, too, took drugs.

For myself, I was more concerned about Larsen’s politics. He was campaigning against “deep integration.” Within the sliver of sanity on this issue, some people oppose harmonizing regulations between Canada and the U.S. because they fear it will result in reduced sovereignty for Canada and in greater power for corporations.

Usually though, people who talk about “deep integration” see it as a secret plot for an American take-over of Canada. The NDP official website expresses the paranoia succinctly with a map of North America coloured all over with the stars and stripes of the American flag.

The NDP shares this paranoia with the 9/11 Truthers, another fringe group Jack Layton has cultivated. At a Calgary book signing, a member of the Calgary 9/11 Truth cornered Jack for an impromptu interview. A forthright politician might have said that, while some people may have gravitated toward truther ideas in all innocence, the notion that the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job represents the politics of bigotry: it’s a product of virulent anti-Americanism, antisemitism, or both.

Jack said nothing of the kind. Instead he volunteered that Barrie Zwicker – dean of the Canadian Truther movement – is a close friend. “I have all the [Truther] materials, which we study, ” Jack said. He added he was glad that, like the NDP, the 9/11 truth movement opposes deep integration (

Not surprisingly, the NDP had a Truther candidate running in this election: Bev Collins, former president of the paranoid fringe Canadian Action Party. Last year Collins wrote an article predicting that the American take-over of Canada would be complete by 2010. “Are you ready for your children to be drafted under Bush's army?” she asked.

“To bring about this merging of Canada, US and Mexico,” Collins wrote, there may be: “Another false flag terror attack (” In Truther talk, the original false flag operation was the attacks of September 11, apparently carried out by Arabs but secretly directed by the Americans themselves or, in the antisemitic version, by the Israelis / Zionists / Jews.

Lesley Hughes, another 9/11 conspiracy enthusiast, ran for the Liberals. She was asked to step down after a blogger discovered an article she’d written repeating the myth that Israeli businesses broke their leases to vacate the World Trade Towers just before the terrorist attack (

Given that Hughes was a regular contributor to Canadian Dimension Magazine and a member of its editorial collective, nothing that came out of her mouth should have surprised anyone. Canadian Dimension is the magazine of the Canada’s lunatic fringe and publishes people such as James Petras, who believes the “Zionist power structure” directs American foreign policy.

Indeed, the only surprising thing in the whole affair was that Hughes ran for the Liberals and not the NDP, given that Jack Layton had enthusiastically endorsed Canadian Dimension. (See here:

After the Liberals gave Hughes the boot, there were calls for the NDP’s truther candidate Bev Collins to step down, too. But as Collins hadn’t made any antisemitic comments, Jack stood by her.

Jack’s wooing of the political fringes resulted in other questionable candidates running for the NDP, as well, such as El-Farouk Khaki, the NDP candidate for Toronto Centre.

Earlier this month, a young Muslim was convicted of belonging to an Al Qaeda–inspired terror cell that had acquired enough bomb-making material for several truck bombs. Khaki claimed the youth’s conviction just shows that in Canada, “Everybody who is Muslim who is accused of anything terror related is presumed to be guilty until proven innocent."

Khaki was a founding director of the Canadian Muslim Union – not exactly a moderate organization. According to the CMU: “As far as 9/11 and terrorism is concerned, those are well designed illusions, intentionally created to keep the simpletons of the world busy in irrelevant debates while the American imperialists take care of the real business of destroying others.”
The CMU claims the people plotting "the real business" are “Zionists, some Christian and others Jewish” (

Another NDP candidate was Andrew McKeever. The Liberals demanded he step down after uncovering charming comments he’d made in a facebook group; such as: “Answer a direct f**king question you c*nt…. You are prejudiced and you are ignorant. You are a moron” (

But the NDP stood by McKeever until his comments on his MySpace page came to light, where among other things, he says: “I like the part in Schindler's List when the guard starts waxing the prisoners” (

As the prisoners McKeever so enjoyed being waxed in this Holocaust film were Jews, the Liberals labeled McKeever's remark antisemitic and again called for him to step down. This time he did, doubtless after a strong push from the NDP leadership (

So many certified members of the lunatic fringe ran in this weirdest of all Canadian elections that it would take another 1,000 words to enumerate them all. But in closing I must mention the Liberal candidate David Orchard.

Orchard is a kind of minor cult figure in Canada, particularly among the anti-American crowd. In his zeal to pin crimes on the U.S., Orchard has labelled the invasion of Afghanistan – in which Canada participated – a “supreme international crime,” comparable to the Nazi invasion of Europe. Presumably, then, Orchard considers the Canadian government of the time a bunch of war criminals. But that government included the present leader the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion.

Now, the Liberals have always been a big tent party, a party that includes a wide diversity of views, but how Dion could bring himself to sign Orchard’s nomination papers is beyond me. Unlike Layton, Dion hasn’t actively wooed the political fringes, but with people like David Orchard and Lesley Hughes running for the Liberals, it looks like Dion doesn’t understand the difference between a big tent and a circus tent.

Note: You can also find this piece on the Engage website here:
And you can find a collection of my pieces here:

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Soul of the NDP

When the NDP decided to support the antisemitic Durban II conference, word went out from party headquarters: "Find me some Jews who support Durban!" Which wasn't hard. Dozens of Canadians with a Jew or two in their family history are willing act as character witnesses to anyone who wants to wipe Israel off the map.
Once upon a time progressive politics were about progress – relieving poverty, creating jobs and ensuring universal health care. Now you can favour the whole social welfare program and still be labelled a rightwing neo-con. Why? Because these days, being progressive means looking at America and Israel as the enemy.

Nowhere is this change more apparent than in the New Democratic Party’s flip-flops on the United Nations’ Durban II conference. Billed as an anti-racism conference, Durban I turned into an antisemitic circus. With luminaries of repression such as Libya and Iran organizing the conference, Durban II promises to be even worse. Our Conservative government declared Canada will have nothing to do with it. To their credit, the Liberals concurred and so did the NDP – at first. Then activists within the NDP – the people who stand as candidates, campaign in elections and attend party conferences – revolted.

Yes, the purpose of Durban II is to demonize Israel and that’s exactly why many in the NDP want Canada to attend. Stacy Douglas, who until recently was the NDP candidate for Scarborough-Agincourt, is a good example of the type.*

Douglas wrote an open letter to party leader Jack Layton imploring him to support Durban II. In her letter, Douglas doesn’t even pretend the conference has anything to do with countering racism around the globe. Rather, she sees Durban exclusively as an opportunity to smear Israel as an “apartheid” and “colonial” state.

Possibly, Douglas doesn’t even know that Durban II was meant to have a more legitimate purpose, as she writes that the conference “is about investigating various countries' roles in propping up [Israel’s] apartheid state practices.” (

Douglas also supposes that Durban II, (which will be held in Geneva), is to take place in South Africa, and that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are Israeli citizens. (They’re not. That’s why they need a Palestinian state.)

Her idiocy extends to the conference’s problem with Jew-hatred. She asserts: “Some are concerned that by attending the conference they will be branded as anti-semitic.”

That’s wrong of course. At Durban I, people were distributing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other tracts more commonly found at neo-Nazi book fairs. Durban II promises to feature similar open Jew-hatred. That’s why Canada won’t attend – we don’t want to hold hands with racists. But for Douglas, it seems, if they loathe Israel, that’s good enough for her.

The NDP has a nasty history of anti-Israel invective. In 2002, at the height of the Palestinian terror war against Israel, Svend Robinson, then the NDP foreign policy critic, travelled to the West Bank to show his solidarity with that old murderer, Yasser Arafat.

For her part, Alexa McDonough, the previous leader of the NDP, accused Israel of “terrorism” and smeared it with the “apartheid” label.

Sid Ryan is another prominent Dipper, having run for the NDP in three provincial and two federal election campaigns. Even more importantly for the NDP, Ryan leads the Ontario wing of Canadian Union of Public Employees, the country’s largest union. Ryan may also be Canada’s most promiment Israel-basher. In 2006, he led CUPE, Ontario, to become one of the few organizations in Canada to pass an anti-Israel boycott motion (see:

In Canada’s just announced federal election, the NDP is running Samira Laouni as its candidate for the Montreal riding of Bourassa. Laouni works with the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), an organization that calls on Canada to remove Hezbollah and Hamas from our list of terrorist organizations. The CIC’s stand is perfectly understandable, given that the organization’s president, Mohammed Elmasry, has in the past endorsed terrorism, saying that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets.

The president of Laouni’s riding association was Hayder Moussa. The National Post reports that Moussa is also vice-president of the Association des Jeunes Libanais Museulmans de Montreal, an organization that plays Hezbollah’s war anthem on its web site. According to the National Post, Moussa was asked to resign from his position with the NDP “after the party learned of a controversial poem he had written, in which he was accused of labelling non-Muslim women as promiscuous drunks.” (

Given the prevalence of anti-Israel elements in the NDP, it’s no surprise that the party reversed itself and came out in favour of Canada attending Durban II.“I’m encouraged they finally saw the light,” said Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation and a former NDP candidate (

But then eight NDP members of parliament, including deputy leader Thomas Mulcair, staged a counter-revolt and forced party leader Jack Layton to reverse course once more.

The NDP’s latest official stance is that Canada should participate in Durban II, but only if the UN can guarantee that antisemitism won’t be tolerated at the conference. Of course, with Iran helping to plan the conference, no such guarantee can be forthcoming. And in articulating the NDP’s new position, Jack Layton said nothing about the certainty that one of Durban’s main purposes will be to vilify Israel. Why not?

Certainly, some Dippers understand that, like Canada, Israel is a liberal democracy and a force for progress in the world. Unfortunately, a majority of NDP activists see Israel as Satan incarnate.

Consider the resolution passed at the 2006 NDP national convention damning Israel’s actions during the Second Lebanon War. Beyond condemning Israel, the resolution supported Hezbollah’s pretext for war, calling on Israel to immediately quit the Sheba Farms area (which Hezbollah claims for Lebanon, though Israel captured the territory from Syria when Syria invaded Israel in 1967). Passing over Hezbollah’s history of murdering on order from Iran, the NDP resolution touted Hezbollah as a legitimate political organization and called for it to have equal standing with the legal government of Lebanon at a peace conference.

According to the Globe and Mail, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, NDP MP for Winnipeg North, asked: “Is it not important to recognize that Hezbollah is also a terrorist organization?” ( Other delegates responded with boos, and 90 per cent of them voted for the resolution.

We’ll never see Jack Layton object to Durban II on the grounds that its purpose is to demonize Israel. He can’t. For 90 per cent of NDP activists, opposing the only democracy in the Middle East is what being “progressive” is all about.

The honour role - NDP MPs who forced their party to abandon its support for the antisemitic Durban II conference:

Dawn Black (New Westminster)
Dave Christopherson (Hamilton Centre)
Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Brian Masse (Windsor West)
Thomas Mulcair (Outremont)
Penny Priddy (Surrey North)
Peter Stoffer (Sackville Eastern Shore)
Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North)

*Stacy Douglas stepped down from the NDP candidacy to pursue her doctorate in Britain. Simon Dougherty is the NDP candidate for Scarborough-Agincourt in the current (Oct 2008) federal election.

Other versions of this article appeared in the September 4, 2008, Jewish Tribune, a community paper published weekly by B'nai Brith Canada, and on the Engage website hereYou can find a collection of my pieces on the Engage website here

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Palestinian incitement

One of the joys of summer camp is learning silly songs and chants. In Gaza, the kids at Hamas run summer camps learn a different kind of chant. “Kill!” shouts the instructor. “Kill,” the kids shout back. “Slaughter! Blow up! Charge!”

Then the children double-time out to the drilling square, where they learn martial arts, practice taking prisoners and putting mock guns to their heads, and are taught to hate Israel and America.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” a journalist asks one of the campers, in a report carried on Israel’s Channel 10 ( “A holy warrior,” he replies.

Hamas is running 300 such camps this summer, attended by 50,000 children.

Islamic Jihad runs similar paramilitary summer camps for 10,000 children. At the Islamic Jihad camps, the kids play at firing terrorist missiles. An Islamic Jihad operative assured Ynet news that the children were not exposed to real rockets but to ones made of plastic (

Another Gaza camp, run by Popular Resistance Committee, doesn’t make do with toys. Britain’s Sky News reports that children as young as ten are drilled with AK47s and run “an obstacle course, crawling under barbed wire and leaping through hoops of fire while their instructors fire live bullets overhead.” The children also practice ambushing a car and executing the driver (

The Canadian media haven’t reported this. Indeed, outside Israel, the media pays little attention to Palestinian incitement against Israel – with exceptions of course. Canada’s mainstream media all reported on the Hamas television show for pre-schoolers “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” which used a Mickey Mouse look-alike to teach hatred of Israel and America and belief in eventual Islamic domination.

Evidently, aiming Jihadist propaganda at such young children was sufficiently vile to catch the media’s attention. But vicious propaganda is the norm, not the exception, in the Palestinian territories.

The New York Times gave its readers of glimpse of this last April with a front page story by Steven Erlanger that detailed some of the raw Jew-hatred preached in Gaza mosques and broadcast on Hamas television (

Erlanger had been the Times Jerusalem bureau chief for four years, but significantly, he waited until he was leaving to show the true face of Hamas. Could be he didn’t feel safe writing about it earlier.

Certainly, reporters tread carefully around “militants.” In 2004, David Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor, explained that his news agency avoids words such as "terrorist" so that its reporters in the field "can be protected" ( That is, they don’t call terrorists, terrorists, because if they did, the terrorists might kill them.

The New York Times article, while unsparing of Hamas, went easy on President Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. This points up another reason the media doesn’t report on some incitement. Who wants to say nasty things about a Palestinian who actually favours peace?

However, while not as bad as Hamas, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite hatred. In July, the PA’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, printed three wholly invented stories of Israel conducting Nazi-like experiments on Palestinian prisoners (

Meanwhile, WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, carried a ludicrous report of Jews sicking giant rats on Jerusalem’s Arabs. Twice as big and breeding four times as fast as regular rats, these super rats are immune to poison and, somehow, are seen only by Arabs, presumably having been bred to leave Jews alone (

Other media may not report on Palestinian incitement because it doesn’t fit their ideological blinders. The British newspaper the Guardian, for example, includes Seamus Milne, an apologist for Hamas, on its editorial board. Milne describes Hamas as a “pluralistic” organization ( Meaning, I suppose, that Hamas murders Palestinians, as well as Jews.

The Guardian’s sympathy for this terrorist organization can also be seen in the list of “Useful Links” it gives readers on its “Israel and the Palestinians” page. One link is to the web page of Hamas’s military wing. These would be the people who pass out sweets when they succeed in blowing up a busload of Jews (

The media may also avoid reporting on Palestinian incitement because they feel it wouldn’t be fair. A few years ago, CBC television devoted a news segment to Israel’s complaints that the Palestinian Authority was inciting hatred: broadcasting music videos that glorify suicide attacks, airing Friday sermons calling Jews the descendents of apes and pigs, and so forth.

Apparently to balance the report with some bogus Israeli equivalent, the CBC found a bit of graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem saying “Kill the Arabs.” The news segment also included a long interview with PA spokesmen asking, who’s to say what’s incitement and what’s legitimate criticism? And, hey, I guess that’s right. From the viewpoint of an Israel-hating fanatic, what could be more legitimate than killing Jews?

But mostly, I suspect the media doesn’t report on Palestinian incitement because it’s not new; it’s never-ending. On “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” the Mickey Mouse character has long since been murdered, shot in the back by an Israeli agent.

The mouse was replaced by a bumblebee who told his young audience to "follow the path of Islam, of martyrdom and of the holy warriors." The bee was martyred earlier this year and replaced by Assud the rabbit who told children in his first episode: "I, Assud, will get rid of the Jews, Allah willing, and I will eat them up" (

It’s a pity the media doesn’t report more on Palestinian incitement. Land can be negotiated, but I fear this blind hatred of Jews and of Israel may have killed any chance of peace for another generation at least.
A slightly shorter version of this article appeared in the August 14, 2008, Jewish Tribune (, a community paper published weekly by B'nai Brith Canada.