[Marxism] How to Silence Pro-Palestinian Voices

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at resist.ca
Sun Apr 4 11:57:23 MDT 2004


How to Silence Pro-Palestinian Voices

by Jordy Cummings

"This isn't Gaza." So quotes the Concordian, one of the weekly papers of my 
alma-mater, Montreal's great Concordia University. The quote comes from an 
irate suppoprter of Benjamin Netanyahu, angry that a glorious display of 
civil disobedience (with what some call a "diversity of tactics") prevented 
Bibi from demagoging at Concordia. To this person, I would say, you're 
damned right it isn't Gaza. It isn't Haifa either. Concordia is a fantastic 
progressive institution that--God Forbid--has a strong political milieu in 
which Jews and Arabs not only collaborate, but are friends, lovers and 

The official story is as follows, Netanyahu was invited by Hillel to give a 
speech, and the Arabs rioted, breaking windows, punching rabbis and, the 
kicker "intimidating Jewish students." After university security and the 
Royal Canadian Mounted Police called off the speech in the face of a Civil 
Rights-movement style sit-in-demonstration (which attracted far more 
students--in fact far more Jewish students than Netanyahu) in the lobby of 
the urban university's main campus, a "visibly shaken" Netanyahu berated 
the demonstrators as "supporters of Hussein, Arafat and Bin Laden." He 
called on the Canadian government to take "precautionary' measures towards 
Palestine Solidarity activists.

It is indeed shameful that in the course of the day's events, despite calls 
from protest organizers from SPHR and Jewish Alliance Against the 
Occupation, that a few people--provacateurs perhaps, chose to engage in 
violence against people, as opposed to property. Any time a rabbi is 
violently attacked, it is something to be condemned in no uncertain terms. 
Chances are, however, that the person was not attacked because he was a 
rabbi. Rather, in a situation in which police, goaded by JDL-influenced 
counterdemonstrators chanting anti-arab bigotry, attacked the thousands of 
peaceful Pro-Palestine demonstrators with tear gas and pepper spray, a few 
tempers flared and those who were identifying themselves as supporters of a 
legendary hate-speaker hated in his own country willingly allowed 
themselves to become targets, to make a point.

Indeed, the Concordia Student Union's Jewish lefty president Sabine 
Friesinger has called on both the rector and head of security to resign, 
placing firm responsibility.for the events on the legendarily paranoid 
Concordia administration as well as Montreal's biker-backed keystone kops. 
And another "self hating Jew," former Kibbutz dweller and now CSUcouncillor 
Aaron Mate , was singled out and physically attacked by police as he 
attempted to bring aid to some of the injured demonstrators. Meanwhile, the 
rector, Frederick Lowy who has been proud to use his position to harass 
leftist students, has announced a "moratorium" on "Middle-East related 
events" at Concordia. In other words, Pro-Palestinian organizations, which 
are a mainstream part of this ethnically diverse urban university can no 
longer "table" in the lobby. Chances are, it will go farther.

The "Jewish" student organization Hilllel, which has declined in influence 
over the last year or two due to its strident support of Ariel Sharon knew 
exactly what it was doing when they invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at 
Concordia. Some, and indeed not all sectors of the Canadian Zionist 
Establishment is none too pleased with Concordia, not because it is "an 
intimidating atmosphere for Jewish students," but because Jewish students, 
raised with moral values, often "join the other side" or more correctly, 
shed their Zionism for a more cosmopolitan--and classically 
Jewish--identity. Hillel, which openly allows itself to be used by Israel's 
intelligence and Public Relations apparatus, according to the english 
language Jerusalem Report of Feb. 2002, has been dispatched to set in 
motion a series of events designed to silence Pro-Palestine voices and 
scare new Jewish students into "fighting AntiSemitism."

Hillel spokespeople are acted like little lambsy divey, claiming to be "in 
favor of the peace process." If this was the case, and I don't doubt it is 
on a rank-and-file level, then they would not have invited a man who is 
indeed to the right of Ariel Sharon, a man who even the New Republic 
accuses of demagogery, to speak at Concordia. There are plenty of 
mainstream Israeli political figures, Yossi Sarid or Avram Mitzna who are 
indeed tangibly pro-peace, and thus would not have attracted "violent" 
demonstrations. Their claim that "Jewish students" never demonstrated or 
attempted to stop Palestinian guest speakers over the years at Concordia is 
both untrue--though the greatest demonstration I saw was against another 
Jew, the wonderful Norman Finkelstien--and disingeneuos.

If Pro-Palestinian students would have invited clearly anti-semitic and 
murderous Hamas leader Shiek Ahmed Yassin, for example, then Hillel would 
have a case for their position. Yet Palestinian and Pro-Palestinian 
speakers at Concordia, have never once engaged in Anti-Semitism. Netanyahu 
is clearly anti-Palestinian and murderous, on the other hand, he wears his 
bigotry on his sleeve, while orating in a style not unreminiscent of Il 
Duce, Benito Mussolini. Over the last few days, Bibi (whose wife recently 
had to apologize for making threatening statements towards the state of 
Israel, claiming that "only Bibi can save Israel--we will move abroad and 
you will bleed") has trounced around Canada, lecturing our Prime Minister 
over Iraq, while each of his speeches, in Winnipeg, and here in Toronto, 
has been met with more demonstrators than attendees.

However, I fear that the events at Concordia are already being used to 
crack down on left-wing activism in Canada. A polished demagogue like Bibi 
Netanyahu can convince previously pro-peace Jews that they should think 
twice before "joining the other side." However, it is not going to be easy, 
when the Canadian Jewish community is polarized between paranoid Likudniks 
and Post-Zionists and Anti-Zionists, such as the many organizers of the 
demonstrations. A simple way of explaining the case, as I did towards my 
old socialist grandmother, is as follows--non-violent civil disobedience 
stopped a hate speaker. Netanyahu is no different from a Klansman. He has a 
lot of blood on his hands. He is an open supporter of ethnic cleansing. It 
is actually very simple. You can fool some people sometimes, but you can't 
fool all the people all the time.

Jordy Cummings can be reached at: yorgos33ca at yahoo.ca
Macdonald Stainsby
In the contradiction lies the hope

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