Sunday, February 26, 2012

Canadian Government cuts funding to cheerleaders for murderers, the NDP objects

Fern Rykiss of Winnipeg, 1972 - 1989.
An event at Palestine House last year,
celebrated the release of her murderer,
along with the release of 100s of other
murderers and their accomplices.
Palestine House in Mississauga is the political and cultural centre for Palestinians in the Toronto area. It also helps recent immigrants with learning English and integrating into Canadian society. The government has been funding the centre for the past 18 years, including $950,000 in 2011.

That funding has now ceased. “The government of Canada should not be funding groups that promote extreme positions – particularly under a program designed to promote social cohesion,” Kasra Nejatian told the Jewish Tribune. 

As an example, Nejatian, who is the director of strategic planning for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, cited a Palestine House event that celebrated the release of hundreds of convicted murderers from Israeli prisons. The prisoners were released as part of the ransom paid to the Hamas terrorist organization to free Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas had kidnapped some five years earlier.

Nejatian noted that one of the released terrorists, Abd al-hadi Rafa Ghanim, had Canadian blood on his hands; he was convicted of murdering Dr. Shelley Volokov Halpenny of Vancouver and 17-year-old Fern Rykiss of Winnipeg, along with 14 others in a terrorist attack on an Israeli bus in 1989.

A volunteer at Palestine House defended the event in a telephone interview. “As if we are not entitled to celebrate the political prisoners, as the other side celebrated Shalit. At the same time, we are happy.”

“Palestine House also has a history of associating with people who run afoul of Canadian law,” Nejatian continued. “For example, Issam Al-Yamani, the former executive director of Palestine House, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), a designated terrorist group. Issam Al-Yamani even raised funds for the PFLP while in Canada.”

Personally, all I can say is that it’s about time! Local Palestinians are welcome to call for the destruction of Israel all they want and even to act as cheerleaders for terrorism – it’s a free country after all. But I do object to using my tax money to fund this extremist organization.

Of course there are moderate Palestinians. But they don't run Palestine House. To get some idea of the politics of the people who do run Palestine House, consider that in 2008, they held an event "to commemorate and honour the life and work of Dr. George Habash."

Habash was the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the terrorist group that in 1968 pioneered the hijacking of passenger aircraft. In addition to numerous acts of terrorism, Habash is chiefly remembered for his political radicalism. In 1970, his group set off the Black September War between the Palestinians and Jordan, which resulted in the deaths of at least 3,400 Palestinians. Subsequently, Habash's group also fought in the Lebanese civil war, which again resulted in the deaths of thousands.

But perhaps above all Habash is remembered for his opposition to any peace with Israel. As noted on the Palestine House website, Habash was "violently opposed the Oslo Agreements" between the Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Yassir Arafat, and Israel.  In cooperation with Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad that were also forthrightly dedicated to destroying Israel, Habash helped organize Palestinian opposition to the PLO and to any accommodation with Israel.

And at Palestine House, they consider him a hero.

Naturally, Palestine House objects to having their funding cut. They need the million dollars a year the government has been giving them, and they’ve mobilized all their supporters, including the federal NDP. In a statement echoing the main talking points of Palestine House’s press release, the NDP says:

“New Democrats are disappointed by the decision of the Conservative government to arbitrarily terminate funding for settlement services at Palestine House…. This is the just the latest in a long line of politically-motivated funding cuts to public service organizations. From Palestine House to ecumenical KAIROS, this government’s unbalanced approach to the Middle East is hurting Canada’s reputation and isolating us on the world stage.”

In the NDP’s topsy-turvy world, it’s illegitimate to defund an organization just because it supports terrorism and celebrates murderers. Doing so is “politically motivated.” Perhaps. But if so, that sounds okay to me.

It’s also true that objecting to Palestinian terrorism earns Canada little credit on the world stage. After all, the Arab nations have enormous wealth and influence. They all hate Israel, and for the rest of the world, there’s no downside to giving verbal support to the Arab campaign to make the world’s only Jewish state a pariah.

But does Canada's principled stand do us any real harm? Not at all. No one supposes that China – or even Saudi Arabia – refuses to do business with Canada because we won't join in the name-calling against Israel.

In the world of diplomatic make-believe, Canada suffers a few snubs. In the real world, nations follow their best interests. And in the eyes of the world, Canada looks like a country you can count on.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Welcome to the University of Victoria, a.k.a. Che Guevara U" by Michael Ross

From the National Post

At an espionage symposium at the University of Victoria in 2011, I spoke after a history professor who gave a lecture on the history of the CIA. I realize the CIA has had its share of shady moments, but this was an hour-long diatribe that could have been written by Fidel Castro. When I took the lectern, I told the audience that I’d be talking about the world of espionage, minus the politics, seeing as they’d endured enough ideological indoctrination for one day.

Were I asked to define the mission of a university, I would say it is the pursuit of truth and the dissemination of knowledge through research and teaching. Universities should enjoy autonomy as institutions, governing their own affairs internally and making their own decisions on academic matters. Having said that, some university departments have discarded the ideals of eternal truth in favour of mindless relativism and anti-Americanism/anti-Zionism; essentially existing as moral dead zones where faculty do little more than indulge their basest political biases and engage in what I can only describe as ivory-tower intellectual onanism.

Take for instance, the University of Victoria’s Social Justice Studies Department. (On the departmental website, a nostalgic photo of Che Guevara fades in and out, and readers are reminded that UVic is situated on the “territory of the Coast and Straits Salish people.”) A quick scan of the event list for February includes presentations on the gendered politics of militarization and globalization, the question as to whether the global justice movement is colonial, and of course that “social justice” staple that appears with the frequency of a bad penny: “Israel’s Blockade of Gaza — Canada’s Role.”

That’s right. Syria’s civil war, in which thousands have been killed, including hundreds of children tortured and murdered, apparently is a non-issue on campus. Iran’s nuclear ambitions and terrorism-sponsoring in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria aren’t a priority. Robert Mugabe’s megalomaniacal destruction of Zimbabwe is off the syllabus, and Nigeria’s worsening religious-ethnic bloodshed is outrĂ©.

What is important to the UVic Social Justice Studies Department, however, is Ehab Latoyef — this being the Captain Ehab of the “Freedom Waves to Gaza aid flotilla” — who will be speaking at the university later this month. The university describes Mr. Lotayef as a “Montreal-based poet and long-time solidarity activist, who was on board the Canadian humanitarian aid boat, the Tahrir, which was heading to Gaza when it was hijacked by the Israeli navy in international waters.”

This is what the university considers social justice: A ridiculous pantomime that sailed last November to ostensibly break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but instead made fools of themselves after the UN Inquiry found that Israel’s blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza is entirely legal under international and maritime law.

It’s a sad reflection on any university that it has allowed its core principles to be subsumed into a self-perpetuating political and cultural subset of its faculty that is less intent on illuminating young minds than perpetuating their own ideological control of the syllabus.

Michael Ross is a former deep-cover officer with the Israel Secret Intelligence Service (Mossad).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We're funding politcal extremists

In Canada, almost no one supports those who hold extreme political views – they comprise perhaps 0.1 per cent of the population. But despite this near total lack of popular support, extremists continue to thrive.

Why? Because universities and granting agencies give them money.

The latest example of this comes from Queen’s and Simon Fraser universities, where professors Dorit Naaman and Dana Olwan have received a $223,000 grant to set up a multimedia installation in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Qatamon (also spelled Katamon).

Before the establishment of Israel, Qatamon was a well-off Christian Arab neighbourhood. However, in 1947, the UN mandated the creation of two Palestinian states – one Jewish, the other Arab. The Jewish community accepted this deal, but the Arabs rejected it. Instead, Arab militias and armies from the surrounding Arab countries attacked the new state of Israel, intending to kill it at birth.

During the war that followed, Israeli forces captured Qatamon, and most of the neighbourhood’s residents fled – mainly to Beirut, Damascus and Alexandria, cities where they used to vacation. Those who remained became Israeli citizens, as happened throughout the territories Israel controlled.

However, the Jordanian army captured the old city of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter, and the rest of the West Bank. The Jordanians expelled all Jews from their territory. A thousand or more of these refugees moved into Qatamon, and it has been a predominantly (though not exclusively) Jewish neighbourhood ever since.

That’s the history. Here’s what Dana Olwan said about her $223,000 multimedia project in the Queen’s University Journal:

“It’s important to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn’t ended yet.... Palestinians are being dispossessed from Jerusalem right now through the building of apartheid walls.... Understanding and challenging the contemporary nature of the occupation is a key aim of this project.”

Notice how extreme Olwan’s language. The "apartheid wall" is a security barrier Israel built to keep out suicide bombers. It's actually mostly a fence, but is a wall where needed to prevent Palestinian snipers from firing at Israelis as they walk down the street.

Notice also that Olwan’s language is entirely political. There’s nothing academic about her project – no spirit of inquiry or even pretence at open-mindedness. It’s purely a propaganda exercise.

The project’s aim, she said, is to challenge “the occupation,” which to Olwan’s mind includes Qatamon, even though this neighbourhood has been part of Israel since its founding.

Professors Olwan and Naaman have long been involved in anti-Israel politics. They both support Israel Apartheid Week, an annual campus event intended to exclude Israelis from humanity, and have both been speakers at Apartheid Week at Queen’s.

For her part, Professor Naaman has trouble grasping that terrorism is a bad thing. She signed a petition supporting Tali Fahima, an Israeli convicted of aiding Zakariya Zubeidi, who was a chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades during the height of the terror war against Israel.

In more recent years, Zubeidi has put away his bombs in return for amnesty from Israel and has even applied to enter Israel for medical care. Because he’s abandoned violence, Tali Fahima now calls Zubeida a “whore” and has transferred her allegiance to Raed Salah, an unreconstructed Jew-hater and a leader of the extremist Islamic Movement.

In an apparent bid for the useful idiot of the year award, Professor Naaman describes Fahima as merely “seeking dialogue with Palestinians.”

Professor Naaman also wrote a learned paper titled In the Name of the Nation: Images of Palestinian and Israeli Women Fighters.

In this paper, Naaman puzzles over why Israeli women soldiers are “considered a sign of progress, equality and modernity” while Palestinian women suicide bombers are considered “monsters.”

To Naaman, this reflects bias, a “serious cultural discrepancy.” She’s unable to grasp the difference between a soldier who protects the innocent and a suicide bomber who deliberately murders men, women and children.

As for Professor Olwan, she believes that Israel’s creation “was legitimized through racist Zionist narratives” and is dedicated to reversing that original sin.

In 2008, Olwan was a speaker at the Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood conference at York University. Although dressed up as an academic conference, its purpose was political, aimed at promoting a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conference – a solution that replaces Israel with a majority Palestinian state.

Like Olwan’s and Naaman’s proposed propaganda exercise in Jerusalem, the conference at York was also funded by me and you through our taxes. And that is what I really object to.

Why is the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council giving Olwan and Naaman $223,000 of our money to create what looks to be pure propaganda?

All I ask is for universities and granting agencies to distinguish between academic projects and propaganda exercises. If they did, the extremists would disappear for lack of funding and there would be more money for scholars genuinely interested in expanding human knowledge. It would be a win-win all around.

This article was originally published in the January 31, 2012, issue of the Jewish Tribune.