Hate Speech Laws to Shield Israel from Accountability?
by Diane V. McLoughlin, November 8, 2010
main website: mcloughlinpost.com
An international conference on anti-Semitism (the Inter-parliamentary Coalition Combating Anti-Semitism - ICCA) is taking place November 7 - 9th, 2010, in Ottawa, Canada. An *'Ottawa Protocol' is to be declared on the last day of the conference. One hundred parliamentarians from 45 countries are reportedly being hosted by the coalition's Canadian counterpart, the CPCCA (Canadian Parliamentary Coalition Combating Anti-Semitism.)
I have had difficulty ascertaining whether or not the conference is open to the media. There is a rumor going around that it is a closed event. I have been assured that the conference is closed to me, however, according to Fleishman-Hillard, a private public relations firm hired to vet enquiries regarding this publicly-funded event. Clues as to why the committee chose Fleishman-Hillard can be found on the PR firm's website:
'Fleishman-Hillard’s Ottawa office is a leader in helping Canadian and international companies shape the national agenda. We help influence public policy...and...fundamentally change public attitudes...[we] help clients influence what Canadians are thinking and talking about...We bring together all aspects of government relations, regulatory affairs, strategic communications, issues management and research services to help public, private and not-for-profit clients influence the audiences that matter to them most.' (1)
The Canadian government is providing almost $500,000 dollars to finance this event (1a), with the apparent aim of fundamentally altering law on an international scale. It appears to be all of a piece that the CPCCA would hide behind a PR firm, seeing as they actively excluded participation of such groups as Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East in CPCCA hearings; they have so far chosen not to release the CPCCA's final report, as well.
The goal of stamping out the embers of anti-Semitism - racist hatred of Jews - is noble. But why is the scope of discussion not broader, to reject racism and discrimination in all forms? For the fact of the matter is that
there are racist pinheads in every society, including amongst Jews themselves.
For instance, rabbis of a prominent religious school in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, published a 230-page book earlier this year entitled, 'The King's Torah' (Torat Hamelech)
which in part details under which conditions it is permissible to kill non-Jews, including babies.
According to these teachers, it is permissible to kill babies if it prevents them from growing up to be enemies. (1b)
The only time a human being could argue in defense of killing another groups' babies is when he believes his group is more worthy of life itself. These are teachers that shape the minds of the next generation, as they contemplate life while residing on ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land.
The ramifications of what may be the ICCA's true goal are profound, to whit: To silence criticism of
the State of Israel. I am deeply concerned that the ICCA and CPCCA intend to use the fight against racism as a shield to cover for it. To do so would cause Israel to be more vulnerable to attack by those it oppresses, not less so, by tightening the screws on non-violent resistance rather than concentrating on which choices might lead to a just peace.
The number-one declaration coming out of last year's ICCA conference (1c), is as follows (emphasis added):
'We today in London resolve that; challenging antisemitism Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity'.
Democratic societies believe it is imperative that people be free to say things that are unpopular or offensive to some, in order that we might maximize our opportunity to be acquainted with the unfettered truth.
When speech is free, what is true has the opportunity to shine bright against what ought to be exposed, challenged and isolated: falsehood. Messing with this fundamental law is a dangerously foolish gambit.
The ICCA, chaired by Canada's former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, calls criticism of Israel the 'new anti-Semitism'. One might note that one of the six identified on the ICCA's steering committee, Mr. Yuli Edelstein, happens also to be chief of public affairs for Israel, aka director of 'hasbara' (propaganda.) Edelstein is a Jewish settler on illegally occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. He, quite understandably under the circumstances, does not believe that 'settlements' - read colonization and ethnic cleansing - is any impediment to achieving peace with the Palestinian people. (1d)
If the drivers behind the ICCA-CPCCA initiative get their way, perhaps in future one could be fined or jailed for pointing out that the State of Israel is rife with discriminatory attitudes against its minority. Israel is, after all, a pluralistic society; over 20% of Israel's citizens are Arab.
Of course, it is also true that there are those within Israel, such as Israel's own foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who propose a solution to this thorny problem: A 'transfer' of Israel's Arab-Israeli citizens, in order to achieve maximum purity of the Jewish 'collectivity'. (2a; 2b).
At the beginning of the 21st century, aren't we bigger than this?
Apparently not. Israel's far-right coalition government has passed legislation this year that would require all future non-Jewish applicants applying for Israeli citizenship to swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish democratic state.
Ironically, as ultra-Orthodox Jewry reject nationalism, they themselves will be exempt from having to swear
this oath. (3a) (3b) (3c)
The fact is that there are many Jews both within Israel and without, including Canadian Jews, who vociferously object to the odious and malevolent mistreatment of the Palestinian people.
Regarding peace in the Middle East, my own view is that so much Palestinian land has been stolen and overrun by Jewish fanatics that the two-state solution has been rendered moot. (4) According to Jewish historian Ilan Pappe, the U.S. government thought so too, all the way back to 1948. (5; pg. 123.)
The population numbers, many may be surprised to learn, of Israeli Jews to Palestinians, are roughly equal: One group enjoys full legal rights and the vote, while the other does not. Within Israel, Arab-Israelis (also known as Israeli-Palestinians) are discriminated against throughout - jobs, education, housing, municipal services, health - you name it; in Gaza and the Occupied Territories, Palestinians have no rights, subsisting under brutal military occupation, or in squalid refugee camps in bordering states.
The Israeli-Palestinian problem emerged from the pogroms and centuries of horrific mistreatment of Jews in Europe and elsewhere - including, one notes, in Canada itself. The Palestinians have been defacto forced to pay for the crimes of others with their homes, land and lives.
By 1948, Jewish extremists instigated a deliberate military-precision ethnic cleansing program against a people who were inclined to peaceful coexistence with their Jewish neighbours. Methods included rounding up Palestinian males 13 years-old and up, to murder them in cold blood; biological warfare; creeping into villages in the dead of night to throw bombs in Palestinian homes as families slept; the genocide of entire villages; firing down upon stampeded Palestinians, leaving them as their only recourse to flee drowning, into the sea (ibid); that last is one of many ironies, as this is what Palestinians are accused of wanting to do to Israeli Jews.
In the end I think the biggest problem to overcome is Fear (combined with an historical sense of entitlement, and religious dogma).
A word about Gaza is in order. Palestinians in Gaza are scapegoated for the current impasse. Jews claim they 'gave up' land in Gaza; that from their 'sacrifice' all they got were rockets in return. This is a false representation of the facts.
The Palestinians in Gaza are refugees of the ethnic cleansing operations of 1948-49. The land modern-day Jews were dragged from in Gaza a few years ago for the most part did not belong to them. But the villages and homes in Israel belonging to Palestinians who languish in refugee camps in Gaza and Lebanon and Jordan have yet to be returned.
I personally would not argue with the theoretical position that painful concessions will have to be made on both sides to achieve peace. But peace cannot possibly be achieved without an honest accounting of who lost what; and that is not happening at all, so far as I can see.
I believe one bi-national state with equal rights for all is the peaceful and just solution moving forward. But I also believe that for some, on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, this is the most threatening thing to say of all. The one-state solution is, nevertheless, a view increasingly discussed. I have no dog in this hunt for a just peace other than compassion for those who suffer, along with a deep concern otherwise over the increasingly unstable state of global affairs. I am neither Jewish or Palestinian. I have been truly blessed in my friendships with both Jews and Palestinians; friendships which have deeply enriched my life.
If justice and peace can be equitably achieved in a two-state arrangement that both sides accept, then (an agnostic) hallelujah! But as it now stands, what those such as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu call a two-state solution, is one in which much of the best land stolen is never returned, in exchange for borders Israel continues to control with their miitary, barbed wire and watch towers.
Current negotiations themselves are entirely bogus, as the Palestinians are being illegally represented by a cabal whose electoral mandate was thin at best - if it ever existed at all - one which has long since expired.
If this intellectual envelope, 'the new anti-Semitism', is successfully pushed by the ICCA, then it begs the question, what might be the suggested remedy against those criticizing Israel's oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? Mere vilification? Or arrest and imprisonment - for daring to criticize the odious, murderous and racist policies of a state.
In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined Jews proposing shutting up criticism of a state, after what Nazi Germany wrought against them.
Shut up criticism of one state and other states are sure to follow, too, demanding the same legalistic papering-over of their own racist or discriminatory crimes; a cultural imperative, they will argue, and thus, beyond anyone's reach in trying to advocate for equality and justice for the marginalized and oppressed.
For anyone with a lick of common sense, this is a a bad bargain being hammered out in bad faith in the backrooms and corridors of power.
In short, if I were deemed worthy to attend and participate at the ICCA conference, I would loudly and proudly stand to affirm:
Down with anti-Semitism. Up with freedom - to advocate for justice, and to criticize the politics of any state, including the current apartheid condition of Israel.
(1) Ottawa - Fleishman-Hillard Canada - website;
(1a) Article: Government of Canada supports international conference on anti-Semitism:
(1b) 'Police release rabbi arrested for inciting to kill non-Jews'; Chaim Levinson; Haaretz; July 27, 2010;
*(1c) ICCA, The London Declaration; Feb. 17, 2009;
*Article, 'For the record: the full text of the Ottawa Protocol';
Inside Politics Blog (CBC); Kady O'Malley; Nov. 10, 2010;
(1d) Article: 'Israel struggles to combat image problem'; Jonathan Cook; Mar. 26, 2010; Middle East Online;
(2a) Interesting article discusses Lieberman's 'transfer' proposal, in the Philedelphia Jewish Voice, 'Population Transfer in Perspective'; 2006(?); Dr. Alex Grobman;
(2b) Also on Lieberman, Washington Post: 'Israeli Foreign Minister Breaks with Netanyahu Over Peace Talks'; Checkpoint Washington; Colum Lynch; Sept. 28, 2010;
(3a) ABC News, 'Israeli Cabinet Approves Loyalty Oath'; Simon McGregor-Wood; Oct. 11, 2010 ;
(3b) See, also, Haaretz, 'Cabinet approves loyalty oath, but only for non-Jewish citizens'; Jonathan Lis; Oct. 10, 2010;
(3c) See also, this cogent and intelligent discussion - Huffington Post's, 'Why This Zionist Opposes Israel's Loyalty Oath';Moriel Rothman; Oct. 21, 2010;
(4) Americans for Peace Now, 'Facts on the Ground'; c. 2010; an interactive map of Jewish settlements
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), otherwise referred to as the West Bank;
(5) Book: 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine'; Ilan Pappe; One World Publications Ltd.; 2006; 313 pgs.;
Website: Inter-Parliamentary Coalition Combatting Anti-Semitism (ICCA) ;
Canadian Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism (CPCCA)
Copyright 2010, Diane V. McLoughlin
All Rights Reserved.