teacher at a Toronto public high school recently posted a link on the school’s
Facebook page to an article on the antisemitic website Veteran’s Today. The article itself wasn’t antisemitic; more
anti-Canadian, but it raised my eyebrows, especially when I saw other articles
that had been linked to.
Virginia Pang, the principal of The Student
School, told me that the article was for a politics class about the Canadian
electoral system and whether it’s fair and open. The teacher’s mistake, Pang said, was not to
check out the website.
I’ll say. The article was originally published by Iran’s Press TV,
which has been conducting a propaganda offensive against Canada since our
government broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. (More on Iran's
anti-Canadian propaganda here.) This particular article
claims that a Canadian court ruled that the 2011 federal election was
story was also covered by all the legitimate Canadian media. The court did find
that fraud was committed in the election by persons unknown, but contrary to Iranian propaganda,
the fraud had no effect on the election’s outcome.
said a comment on the school’s Facebook posting, apparently in reference
to Stephen Harper, and a teacher at the
school “liked” this comment.
the teacher did so to encourage discussion, the principal suggested.
the teacher himself wouldn’t talk to me. If he had, I might have suggested that
a high school teacher should understand enough history to know that the
government of Canada isn’t fascist.
teacher did take down the link to Veteran’s
Today as soon as he learned he’d directed students to an antisemitic
website. Since my chat with the principal and with Ryan Bird, a communications
officer with the Toronto District School Board, The Student School has taken
down its whole Facebook page and is combing through it to remove other
|David Duke, former Grand Wizard of American's most notorious racist organization, the Klu Klux Klan, is one of the "experts" Press TV likes to interview.|
posting linked to an article on Press TV. As a propaganda arm of the Iranian
government, Press TV is antisemitic and shares the Iranian government’s malice
toward Israel. I asked the principal if the teacher understood what Press TV
is. She said she didn’t think so.
linked article accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing against its Bedouin
population. There is a plan to move many of the Bedouin of the Negev Desert
from their current homes in impoverished unregulated villages. The plan is
highly controversial and has been covered in detail by the legitimate media in
Israel. (Outside Israel, there’s little interest in the issue.)
unlike Press TV, the legitimate media explains the plan is not to remove the
Bedouin from the Negev – as suggested by the phrase “ethnic cleansing.”
Nor - even in the Press TV coverage - is there any suggestion the Israelis are committing murder, torture, rape, or any other heinous practices associated with ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, where the term
the Bedouin are to be moved into towns close to their current homes, but with
running water, flush toilets and schools. They will also receive cash
Press TV article is just as weak on what’s wrong with this plan. Reading
Israeli media, you’d learn that at least some Bedouin want the government to
bring running water and other municipal services to their villages, rather than
moving elsewhere to get these services and complain they weren’t consulted about this
plan for them.
these sorts of real and substantial issues are largely absent from the Press TV article.
Also, of course, in keeping with its standard practices, Press TV doesn’t
interview anyone actually responsible for the plan, because after all, they’re
Bird, the TDSB communications officer I spoke to, told me that the teacher had
said the purpose of these postings was to spark a conversation in class. “It’s
not a one-sided discussion,” he said.
Still, given that there are many high quality articles about the planned
relocation of the Bedouin, I would have liked to ask The Student School teacher
why he chose to link to an article composed of baseless accusations and
containing almost no facts.
|Cartoon from Richard Falk's blog: Dog in Jewish skull cap and American sweater eats people and pisses on Justice|
posting by a Student School teacher linked to an article on Richard Falk’s blog
about “heroic” Palestinians hunger strikers, protesting their detention by
is the UN’s Special Human Rights Rapporteur
to the Occupied Territories and a notorious anti-Israel bigot. The governments
of Canada and the UK have condemned Falk for antisemitic comments and material
he’s posted on his blog which The Student School linked to.
has approved suicide bombings, compared Israelis to Nazis and the Hamas
terrorist group to French resistance fighters, suggested the US was behind the
9/11 terrorist attacks, and blamed Israel for the terrorist bombing at the
Falk has never had any problem with Palestinian terrorism, naturally he also supports
their hunger strike.
the class discussion about this article at The Student School concerned why the
UN has a human rights rapporteur who’s a bigot.
posting by a Student School teacher linked to a petition calling on the Red Hot
Chili Peppers to cancel their performance in Israel;* another linked to an
article about Teacher’s Union of Ireland voting to support an academic boycott
the teacher opened the class discussion about that article by noting that in
Canada the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of
nationality. Thus, for a school to support an academic boycott and to spurn a teacher
or student because they’re Israeli would be illegal.
do believe the teacher does his best to make sure in-class discussions don’t
give only one side of controversial issues, but a discussion that begins with
Israel in the dock, accused of some crime, is imbalanced from the get go.
I doubt a teacher who doesn’t know what Press TV is understands the Middle East
well enough to guide a classroom discussion of such controversial issues.
given, the articles The Student School links to, I can’t help but worry that
its teachers are biased against Israel, regardless of reassurances from the
principal and from Ryan Bird, the School Board’s communication officer.
|Chili Peppers rock Tel Aviv|
things clearly have improved at the school. Back in 2008, The Student School
founded the first high school chapter of the Coalition Against Israeli
Apartheid, an odious group that calls on people to shun Israelis.
will recall that in 2010, all parties in the Ontario Legislature unanimously
condemned CAIA’s annual Apartheid Week.
Ryan Bird reports that this group doesn’t
exist at the school anymore and that the school absolutely does not support a
boycott against Israel.
Well good! But still, as a parent and as a
Canadian, schools such as The Student School that define their purpose as the
pursuit of “social justice” or "social activism" make me nervous.
Too often, “justice” is just a name people give
to their political agenda. And even well-meaning teachers, without an agenda, are
unequipped to navigate controversial issues. Because unfortunately, the world
of “activism” is full of people untethered to reality and seething with anger,
bigotry and antisemitism.
*Note: The Press TV article linked to by The
Student School also accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing during its War of
Independence. Anyone who can count knows the real ethnic cleansing in 1948 took
place on the other side, as following ’48 the Jewish population of the Gaza
strip and of Judea and Samaria was reduced to zero while many Arabs remained in
Israel and still compose 20% of its population today.
who knows? Perhaps the complexities of the 1948 conflict were covered during an
in-class discussion, which perhaps also touched on the marked disappearance of
Jews from Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the other Arab countries. (More on how Jews
were driven out of Arab countries here.)
a big name act announces a visit to Israel, the anti-Israel crowd deluges the
performer with emails begging them to ostracize the Jewish state and
threatening them if they don’t. I’m happy to report that the Chili Peppers
ignored the haters and played to a sold-out
crowd of 50,000 in Tel Aviv.