Monday, January 12, 2009

The UN, the media and antisemitism

The best thing about the General Assembly of the United Nations is that it’s almost always ignored. This was brought home to me recently when I was scanning the reader comments on a story about Israel in the Globe and Mail.

Among the usual accusations that the Jews control the media and similar “criticism of Israel” as they like to call it, one reader complained that Israel had kicked out the UN human rights rapporteur.
It was the first I’d heard of it. A minute’s research showed that Press TV played the story big, but then Press TV is owned by the antisemitic regime in Iran. The Israeli media covered it of course, and so did other media that pays special attention to Israel. But the Canadian media ignored the story.
Why? Two reasons I think. First, because the media mostly ignores international antisemitism. Second, because when it comes to human rights, the UN has no credibility. The UN Human Rights Council is a club for the world’s worst human rights abusers, and Richard Falk, the rapporteur whom Israel kicked out, embodies the UN’s perverse perspective.
Falk believes international law gives Hamas the “right of resistance.” But while giving Hamas a pass, Falk compares Israelis to Nazis, a comparison so far removed from reality that it can only be understood as Jew-baiting – the 21st Century equivalent of calling Jews “kikes.”
Mind you, Falk isn’t deluded only about Israel. He also suspects that the U.S. inflicted the September 11 terrorist attacks on itself. Any day, I’m expecting to read that Falk believes the moon landing was faked, too.
Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN General Assembly, condemned Israel for expelling Falk. But then d’Escoto has his own Jewish problem. In September, president Ahmadinejad of Iran gave an antisemitic rant at the UN, saying that “Zionists” (meaning Jews) control the money supply and secretly rule “some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.”

Barack Obama, president-elect of the U.S. condemned Ahmadinejad’s words as hateful and antisemitic. Miguel d’Escoto President of the UN General Assembly reacted rather differently: he embraced Ahmadinejad in a warm hug. (That’s Ahmadinejad and d’Escoto in the photo.)
But d’Escoto doesn’t just embrace the Jew-hatred of others. Every year at the end of November, the General Assembly mourns the creation of Israel with a “UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”
This year, the General Assembly went beyond even its usual Israel-bashing when d’Escoto called for an organized boycott against Israel to force it into submission and accused Israel of “crucifying” the Palestinians.
D’Escoto, I should note, is a Catholic priest who’s been suspended by the Vatican – but for his political activities on behalf of Nicaragua’s corrupt governments, not for the kind of religious antisemitism rejected by the Vatican and embodied in accusations of Jews crucifying people.
Mostly, the media ignored d’Escoto’s capers, just as it ignores the Human Rights Council’s squirrely rapporteur, just as it ignores almost everything coming out of the UN’s General Assembly, because really, who can take the place seriously?

But Ahmadinejad is serious. He’s the president of a bellicose nation on its way to acquiring nuclear weapons, and the world media widely reported Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN. For the most part, though, the media gave no hint that his speech was infused with Jew-hatred.

The CBC focused on Ahmadinejad’s complaints of U.S. “bullying,” a complaint likely to gain approval from the CBC’s audience. The Toronto Star’s Olivia Ward began her report by claiming that Ahmadinejad took “a high moral tone.” It was left to the more rightwing CanWest media to report Ahmadinejad’s antisemitic ranting.

It seems the Iranian regime’s Jew-hatred doesn’t fit the agenda our more left-leaning media. Even the Globe and Mail carried an AP story that stated merely that Ahmadinejad “criticized Israel.”

Such bleaching of reality seems to be what passes for objectivity in the media these days. Thus, for example, did the BBC report in Mumbai that “gunmen” (not “terrorists” of course) were “holding people captive in an office block.”

To report that these “people” were Jews and that the “office block” was the only Jewish community centre in a city of millions of Hindus might remind viewers that the “militants” subscribe to a genocidal Jew-hatred. The BBC evidently felt that would be too real, not their sort of objectivity at all.

Note: This piece previously appeared on the Engage Forum (, on Dust My Broom (, and in the January 6, 2009, Jewish Tribune (, a community paper published weekly by B'nai Brith Canada.
You can find a collection of my pieces at the Engage Forum here:

Friday, January 9, 2009

CUPE’s progressive disease

He’s probably Canada’s most prominent Israel-basher: Sid Ryan, President of CUPE, Canada’s largest union. The Jewish Tribune reports that at a recent anti-Israel protest, Sid said, “Jews have no right to be there [in Israel] in the first place” (

Contacted by the Tribune for clarification, Sid said that the conflict with Hamas wouldn’t be happening if not for “Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands for the past 60 years.” That is, since 1948 when the State of Israel was established.

It’s not really a surprise that Sid apparently considers Tel Aviv occupied Arab territory. Back in 2006, CUPE’s Ontario branch passed a motion to boycott Israeli goods and called for an end to “the occupation.” I pointed out at the time that the people who framed that resolution consider all of Israel occupied. (see “CUPE’s Ally,”

Also, CUPE sends a representative to the annual Cairo Conference where Islamist terrorists sit down to discuss strategy with the “anti-imperialist” left (see: A World Movement of Terrorists and Lunatics Groups such as Hamas and al Qaeda prefer murder, CUPE prefers boycott, but they're agreed in their loathing for the Zionist entity.

Sid’s latest antic is a call for CUPE to "ban Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities” (

Maybe someone should tell Sid that blacklisting people because of their nationality breaks Canadian anti-discrimination law.

Or has discrimination become a progressive cause?

Perhaps. Sid at any rate seems to like comparing Israelis to Nazis, which in my books is just plain Jew-bating.

And maybe someone should tell Sid that CUPE doesn’t represent full-time faculty at Canadian universities, so CUPE can’t ban Israeli scholars.

Or have delusions of power become another progressive cause?

Perhaps, or perhaps just a progressive disease - one leading to blindness to reality and the atrophy of all moral sense.

Notes: Terry Glavin has a great piece on Sid Ryan here:
This piece previously appeared on the Dust My Broom blog (
You can find a collection of my pieces here:

A world movement of terrorists and lunatics

June 21, 2007, Toronto

Once a year radical Islamist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Jamaat al-Islamiya (an official al Qaeda franchise best known for murdering 71 tourists in Egypt in 1997) gather in Cairo. At this conference, they sit down to talk strategy with the worldwide “anti-imperialist” left. And every year, there’s a Canadian contingent.

This year, according to the Ottawa Citizen, the Canadian Arab Federation was there represented by Ali Mallah, who also represented the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Mallah has attended four out of five of the past Cairo Conferences on behalf of CUPE.

The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) was in Cairo, too. Hopefully they were hearing about Palestinians in Lebanon so they could learn what actual apartheid looks like. But not likely – at this conference, honesty was blacklisted.

The CAIA’s sister organization Not In Our Name – Jews Against Israel's Wars was also in Cairo, doubtless waving safe-conduct passes.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Cairo attendee “Suzanne Rice” (apparently a misidentification of Suzanne Weiss of Not In Our Name) enthusiastically declared: “What we saw in Cairo were the first signs that a world movement is beginning to come together.”

Wonderful. Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda and the rest of the witch’s brew of Islamist terrorists are dedicated to fighting America, extinguishing Israel and killing Jews. That CUPE and other Canadian groups seek out such associates says ugly things about them.

The Cairo Conference Declaration was big on Hezbollah’s “heroic resistance” to the “Zionist entity.” (Yes, that’s the term they use.) The conference also praised Hamas’s “refusal to surrender to … the Oslo agreements” and called for “a revival of the Intifada and the weapon of resistance.” In other words: peace no, human bombs yes.

The conference also urged boycotts against the Zionist entity. Not surprisingly many international attendees agitate for such boycotts in their own countries. John Rees of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) was in Cairo. In Britain, the SWP and similar far left types are behind the proposed British academic blacklist of Israeli scholars and universities.

In Canada, CUPE Ontario infamously passed an anti-Israel boycott resolution last year. And the Coalition Against Israel Apartheid is boycotting Chapters/Indigo because Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, the majority shareholders, provide scholarships to former Israeli soldiers.

Not In Our Name endorses the Apartheid Coalition’s boycott of Chapters and they both applaud CUPE Ontario’s boycott of Israel. Indeed, the relationships among these groups is positively incestuous. For example, Rafeef Ziadah, an Apartheid Coalition activist, spoke at the CUPE convention that voted to boycott Israel.

The Apartheid Coalition is especially close with CUPE Local 3903. This local represents contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate assistants at York University, a group that just happens to have more to do with lunatic politics than with traditional unionism.

Local 3903 was one of the sponsors of CUPE’s anti-Israel boycott motion, and on its website, Local 3903 promotes the boycott and provides links to the Apartheid Coalition and to an article by Adam Hanieh, a doctoral candidate at York and a member of both CUPE and the Apartheid Coalition.

CUPE Ontario is developing: “an education campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state” in consultation with Palestinian and “human rights” groups. Given CUPE’s pilgrimages to the annual Cairo Conference, I wonder who they’re consulting.

Of course Hamas is busy lately. When they’re not firing missiles at Israeli civilians, they’re murdering fellow Palestinians – throwing Fatah supporters from rooftops and executing them in front of their wives and children, all in aid of Hamas’s bloody coup in Gaza.

With Hamas so heavily engaged, I suspect the Apartheid Coalition is helping CUPE develop its mis-information campaign.

The Apartheid Coalition and Not In Our Name are even closer. In an article in the Socialist Voice, Suzanne Weiss of NION identifies herself with the Apartheid Coalition and explains their relationship:

“In Canada, we have built a broad alliance … called the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), uniting … fighters against Zionism. CAIA has a Jewish sister organization called Not In Our Name (NION).”

Groups such as NION provide cover to the lunatic left. Since these Jews compare Israel to Nazi Germany, maybe it’s kosher to call Jews Nazis. Since these Jews brand Israel with the apartheid label, perhaps Jewish nationalism somehow is inherently racist. Since these Jews claim that Israel creates antisemitism, perhaps Jew-hatred is justified.

But in fact the politics of Jews who hate Israel are just as anti-Jewish as the politics of their gentile comrades. What, after all, can you say about people who make common cause with Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda – groups that aren’t shy about their desire to kill all Jews everywhere?

They call themselves “Not in My Name.” I say, Amen: Israel has nothing to do with such people and such people have nothing to do with the Jews.

P.S. OPIRG (which I think stands for the Ontario Fascist Interest Research Group;) provides this list of some of the Canadian participants in the Cairo Conference:

The Canadian Peace Alliance
The Toronto Coalition to Stop the War
The Canadian Arab Federation
The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
Not In Our Name - Jews Against Israel's Wars
Artists Against War
Venezuela We Are With You Coalition
The Toronto-Haiti Action Committee
The Toronto-Egypt Solidarity Campaign

Note: Earlier versions of this article appeared in the June 21, 2007, Jewish Trbune (, a community paper published weekly by B'nai Brith Canada, and in the Engage Forum (

You can find a collection of Brian’s pieces here:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CUPE's Ally

June 15, 2006, Toronto.

It’s bad enough that among all the nations of the world CUPE Ontario chose to boycott a liberal democracy – the only democracy in the Middle East. But to clarify exactly where it stands on the political compass, CUPE has also aligned itself with a Palestinian group that is pro-Hamas.

It hasn’t been much noted, but in its anti-Israel resolution, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario commits itself to creating an educational campaign “with Palestine solidarity,” a group represented at the CUPE convention by one of the leaders of the Toronto wing, Rafeef Ziadah.

The CUPE motion adopts the language and positions of Palestine solidarity, most obviously in the attempt to smear Israel an illegitimate, apartheid state and in the demand for the "right of return." This doesn’t refer to a right for Palestinians to settle in a future Palestinian state. It’s a demand to turn Israel into an Arab state by giving automatic citizenship to the 4 million grandchildren of Palestinians displaced during Arab wars against Israel.

CUPE also adopts the term "Israeli state" from Palestine solidarity. The group uses only the adjective “Israeli,” not the noun “Israel,” which names a state they wish to eradicate. In other words, "Israeli state" is an updated synonym for "Zionist entity” but it’s meant to be more broadly acceptable and, perhaps, by rhyme, structure and association of ideas to recall the phrase "Nazi state."

(Similarly, the deligitimization of Israel as an “apartheid state” just repackages the old “Zionism is racism” canard. The accusation applies a blatant double-standard, as only Jewish nationalism is criminalized, and behind the double-standard stands a long history of branding Jews as intrinsically criminal.)

Alongside of not recognizing Israel, Palestine solidarity regards all of Israel as occupied territory. Similarly, the CUPE resolution refers to "the occupation of Palestine.” Likely most of the delegates believed this was a reference to the occupied West Bank, but the framers of the resolution doubtless had in mind all of Israel.

Still, while not understanding every word of the resolution, when they voted unanimously to approve the "right of return” and to condemn Israel as an illegal, "apartheid" state, all 896 delegates surely understood they were voting in favour ending Israel’s existence. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has been widely quoted as saying that CUPE hasn't taken into account recent political developments such as the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the election of the terrorist group Hamas to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Quite the contrary is true. The people who crafted this motion consider the Hamas victory a good thing, the peace process an instrument of apartheid, and President Abbas a traitor. At least this is the position of Rafeef Ziadah and Palestine solidarity.

In a March 4, 2006, article published in the magazine Left Turn, Notes From the Global Intifadah and on the international Palestine solidarity website, Ziadah and Adam Hanieh, another leader of Palestine solidarity in Toronto and a CUPE member, set out their views. They write about: “The overdue end of the Oslo process and its attempt to narrow the ‘Palestinian question’ to a state-building project in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” That is, as opposed to a Palestinian state in all of “historic Palestine.”

They write:

Hamas' victory is a striking indictment of this so-called "peace process."
Promoted with the deliberate deceit of Western governments and the corporate
media, the myth of negotiations was fully shared in by the leadership of the
Palestinian Authority (PA), most particularly by individuals such as
Palestinian President Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Prime Minister Abu Ala.

The PA leadership came to represent submission and surrender under the banner of peaceful negotiations and empty condemnation of violence. Indeed, immediately prior to the Legislative Council elections, Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal pointed out that "the experiment of fifty years taught us this road was futile" and Hamas would not continue to deceive the Palestinian people with this "political fiction."

Note the reference to the “empty condemnation of violence.” Palestine solidarity fully supports terrorism and applauds Hamas’s violent “commitment to the national struggle.” Palestine solidarity saves its derision for such "political fiction" as the idea of peaceful coexistence.

On the other hand, while CUPE Ontario does represent 200,000 workers at the bargaining table, it doesn't in any way represent the politics of its members. Most CUPE members would be appalled if they understood their union was allying itself with the suicide bombers.

Indeed, in the past few weeks, CUPE’s anti-Israel motion has been widely condemned. On the Michael Coren show (a Toronto TV talk show), Sid Ryan, the president of CUPE Ontario, responded by berating the “Jewish lobby.” Challenged by host Michael Coren to say who precisely he meant, Ryan had no reply, but simply asserted that “this lobby will not push me one inch, not one inch.”

So who is this “Jewish Lobby” that’s trying to push around Sid Ryan? Of course, there are the major Canadian Jewish organizations, such as B’nai Brith which has issued a “manifesto” denouncing the CUPE resolution. To date, thousands of Canadians, Jewish and non-Jewish, including many CUPE members have signed the manifesto.

The “Jewish Lobby” is also CUPE local 265, which withdrew from CUPE Ontario in protest. The “Jewish Lobby” is Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Autoworkers, Canada’s largest private sector union, who wrote an op-ed for the Toronto Star disagreeing with the CUPE resolution. The labour movement, Hargrove argued, should encourage peace “with calls for genuine dialogue and exchange, not by finger-pointing and boycotts.”

The “Jewish Lobby” is columnists such as Rex Murphy in the Globe and Mail who denounced CUPE for smearing Israel with the apartheid label, Jonathan Kay in the National Post, who characterized CUPE’s stance as bigotry, Naomi Lakritz in the Calgary Herald who called CUPE antisemitic, and of course Michael Coren, a personal friend of Sid Ryan’s, who described his union’s resolution as shameful and suggested Ryan’s talk about “the Jewish lobby” might be described as racist.

In short, the “Jewish lobby” in Canada is like the “Israel lobby” described by Mearsheimer and Walt in the United States: it includes everyone who happens to disagree with anti-Israel bigots.

I previously published this article in the June 15, 2006, Jewish Tribune and on the Engage Website, where you can find a collection of my pieces, including this one: