Canadian Leaders Standing Tall Against Israel Apartheid Week

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.