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Canadian Leaders Standing Tall Against Israel Apartheid Week

Finally, some political courage and real leadership in response to hatred and bigotry.

by
Barbara Kay

Bio

March 4, 2010 - 12:00 am

In the aftermath of what emerged, against early predictions, as a wildly successful Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canadians are basking in an uncharacteristically bullish glow of national pride. With a stunning fourteen gold medals to the USA’s nine, Canadians are relishing their moment in the sun.

The road to this overflowing pot of Canadian gold was paved with a costly and therefore somewhat controversial “Own the Podium” funding program for athletes’ development and expenses. But $66 million of taxpayers’ money now seems a small price to pay for a formerly unassuming nation’s long-deferred sporting honor.

Hard on the winged heels of an inebriating Olympics that sought to ennoble the ideal, for two weeks anyway, of a mature global polity, with nation rivaling nation through positive, amicable achievement, there slouched into Canada (amongst other countries) a rough beast that shames the very idea of man as political animal: the annual eight-day immiseration known as Israel Apartheid Week (IAW).

IAW is something like a multi-site Olympiad itself, except that in this cheerless, failure-glorifying anti-Olympiad, the world does not come together. Instead, it is prised apart in a scapegoating orgy of thinly disguised Jew-hatred.

On this front, ironically without spending a cent, by dint of political courage and real leadership, Canadian politicians have begun in earnest to take ownership of a long-empty moral podium by addressing the escalating pathology of anti-Semitism fueling IAW and reaffirming Israel’s legitimacy — and more, Israel’s importance to Western interests.

Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) has for some years now been a well-oiled engine of hate belching toxic black smoke as it chugs in full-throated spate across a good part of the academic globe. It may have reached a tipping point of its own making in Canada (whose University of Toronto campus “boasts” the dubious distinction of having provided the venue for this continent’s first IAW).

Indications of this tipping point are not making their way to public podiums via the obvious spokespeople: university presidents and their boards of governors. Academics and their administrators — with honorable exceptions — have been traditionally timid about standing up to campus thugs, preferring to hide behind the rubric of academic freedom to allow hate speech, while refusing to exercise their own academic freedom to condemn it. They are almost always behind the curve on standing up to evil (in which regard see University of Oklahoma history professor Stephen Norwood’s 2009 book, a revealing and dispiriting account of American universities’ silence, and worse, during the rise of Nazified Germany: The Third Reich and the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses).

Indeed, a perfect example that brilliantly illuminates university administration pusillanimity in dealing with IAW bullying just occurred at Toronto’s York University, Canada’s most torrid of anti-Zionist and Jew-intimidating hotbeds. York canceled a pro-Israel IAW event, allegedly over “security concerns.” Why? At anti-Israel events, York pays for security since pro-Israel students do not incite violence, so security costs are low. At pro-Israel events, where anti-Israel violence or threat of violence invariably necessitates tough security, costs are higher, and therefore pro-Israel organizers must pay for the necessary additional security. The pro-Israel organizers rightly balked; the event was canceled.

The disparity was brought to public attention in a National Post op-ed by outraged U.S.-based Canadian conservative political pundit David Frum, who deftly deconstructed York’s staggeringly hypocritical double standard. Frum concludes:

Even when public speech is not an issue, Jewish students at York experience ethnically and religiously based intimidation and even violence. On the rare occasions when the university disciplines anyone for such incidents, it takes care always to penalize both the Jewish targets of harassment and the anti-Jewish culprits. The motive again is not fairness, but fear.

Just so. Fear, not justice, drives university administrations, and so these bodies are too often the last place to look for political boldness in dealing with organized bigotry. For too long, indeed, anywhere was the last place to look for political courage in staring down the obscenity of IAW. So it has come as a pleasant surprise to fair-minded Canadians that recently politicians of all stripes have felt emboldened to step up to the radioactive plate of expressed solidarity with Israel and/or expressed disassociation with Israel-haters.

In late February the province of Ontario’s legislature issued a denunciation of IAW. Progressive Conservative party legislator Peter Shurman, its promoter, stated:

The term Israeli Apartheid Week incites hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word “apartheid” in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa.

The motion received unanimous support from all sitting members of the provincial parliament (MPPs), including — and this surprised many Canadians — members of the staunchly socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), perennial scourge of the powerful and unconditionally supportive shoulder to the “oppressed,” including well-known terror-dealing grievance collectors.

The NDP’s elected members’ views on the Middle East range from merely hostile to virulently anti-Israel. So if provincial NDPers felt free to join in this motion, then the denunciation was not an aberration, but an indicator that the times they are a-changin’ in Ontario, Canada’s bellwether province.

In May, the Liberal premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, will lead a trade mission to Israel, the first Ontario leader to do so since 1998, a move that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago for any politician in that ultra-liberal province.

Not to be outdone, Michael Ignatieff, leader of the federal Liberal Party, the official government opposition, declared that IAW “should be condemned unequivocally and absolutely.”

Perhaps all these gestures reflect a cascade phenomenon rolling down from the summit. Last week in Ottawa, the nation’s capitol, Conservative MP Tim Uppal affirmed that he would be introducing a motion declaring “that this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.”

To cap it all, on February 12, in connection with the ominous approach of Iran’s nuclear weaponization, Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kent stated: “Prime Minister Harper has made it quite clear for some time now and has regularly stated that an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada.” In terms of support for Israel, it doesn’t get friendlier than that.

Perhaps I am over-optimistic in extrapolating a verdant spring from these elegantly swooping swallows, but I don’t think so. There are pendulum swings in all historical trends, and I believe we are witnessing one here in Canada.

Apart from rabid anti-Semites and true politicopaths, there would be a natural limit to how many times even the most “progressive” amongst our left-leaning elites can listen to the same frothing-at-the-mouth diatribes against Israel, the same demonstrably odious canards of “apartheid,” “terror state,” and “Nazis” leveled against a demonstrably democratic state, without feeling intellectually soiled by their complicity with the evil of anti-Semitism demonstrably fueling the IAW phenomenon.

One senses an air of the general public being fed up, causing a trickle-down of self-doubt to circulate among the reflexively Israel-bashing herd of political correctniks. One feels a turning in the zeitgeist, the dawning realization even among the dullest-witted sympathizers of the Palestinians that their so-called anti-Zionist militants in the IAW movement, who have never been at pains to disguise the anti-Semitism driving their political campaign, are finally becoming an embarrassment to their rank-and-file leftist shills.

Clinging to their tattered rags of political dignity, IAW’s erstwhile useful idiots are beginning to tire of dancing like trained monkeys to their zealous organ-grinder’s grotesque polka: “It’s about Israel, not Jews.” Fewer and fewer passers-by are attentive to that superannuated jingle, or throwing even small change into that rusty tin cup.

As a conservative Canadian of a certain age, I am habituated to a longstanding tradition of Canadian political reticence, even timidity, where support for Israel is concerned, and equally accustomed to witnessing frequent American boldness in beating against the current of political correctness in openly standing by Israel through tough times.

Today, a little confused, I must confess I am having difficulty adjusting to the new reality of Canadian leadership eclipsing America’s on the Israel file. I have rubbed my eyes a few times, but there they are: Canadian political leaders at the podium, wearing the gold medal for courage, integrity, and good judgment, and for this brief, shining moment at least, history is playing the Canadian national anthem.

Barbara Kay is a weekly columnist in the comment pages of Canada’s National Post newspaper.
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