Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sid Ryan Is An Embarrassment To CUPE And To Trade Unionism

CUPE Ontario's Sid Ryan is at it again. This time, the pretext is Israel's December 28 shelling of a campus of the Islamic University of Gaza, an iconic Hamas institution established by the founder of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin; only last year, the Palestinian Authority stormed the campus and found dozens of rockets, grenade launchers, assault rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Ryan professed outrage: "They deliberately targeted an institution of learning. That's what the Nazis did."

Only a few days ago, Ryan was calling Israel's military operations against Hamas "acts of genocide," so now we've got both 'Nazis' and 'genocide' to help round things out with 'mass extermination,' 'ovens,' 'atrocity,' 'blitzkreig,' 'holocaust' and 'prison camp'.

Ryan says he wants Israeli professors barred from Ontario universities. He wants Israeli academics prevented from working, teaching, or even speaking at Ontario campuses, a demand that Avi Benlolo of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls "an affront to civil liberty and academic freedom." Benlolo is wrong, however, when he says Ryan's proposed boycott is "based solely on Israeli citizenship." It's actually worse than that.

The CUPE Ontario plan would not only single out Israeli academics, but would then discriminate among them against those who refuse to swear what Ben Cohen calls a disloyalty oath. Ryan's version borrows from the recently-aborted British UCU academic boycott attempt, which failed after warnings that it would violate British anti-discrimination laws and the UCU's own rules on academic freedom.

Can we at least dispense with the fiction that Ryan's boycott plans have anything to do with the recent bombing of a campus in Gaza? A boycott is what he's wanted for quite some while. The last time Ryan embarrassed his union like this was in 2006, when he championed a resolution calling on CUPE members to boycott Israeli products. Back then, Ryan's mischief caused no end of headaches for CUPE districts and locals across Canada, put several Ontario CUPE locals up in arms, and forced CUPE's national office to declare, unambiguously: “We will not be issuing a call to our local unions across Canada to boycott Israel.”

Back then, Buzz Hargrove, then head of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, was compelled to deliver Ryan a not-so-subtle thrashing, which still stands up quite well: "We must all condemn Hamas for its support for terrorism and its refusal to recognize the right of Israelis to exist within secure borders, free of the threat of terrorism. . . if a boycott is warranted, why not direct it at the extremist government in Iran for its continuing push to develop nuclear weapons and its official policy to annihilate the Israelis? Indeed, workers are regularly jailed for any effort to form unions in Iran."

Paradoxically, while Ryan was giving out of himself at that Toronto demonstration last week about Israel's "genocide" in Gaza, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad - whose regime is the key international sponsor of Hamas - was saying exactly the same thing as Ryan, while simultaneously, his secret police were quietly busy with the work of arresting more trade unionists.

Two years ago, Ryan's cudgel was Resolution 50, which came from York University's Local 3903, where Rafeef Ziadah made it quite clear that the boycott was intended to eliminate Israel entirely. All gussied up in the noble language of 1980s'-era "anti-apartheid" campaigns, the current anti-Israel boycott effort is best understood as an attempted revival of the failed 1951 Arab League boycott of Israel. Old reactionary wine in new and progressive-looking bottles will still tend to have a very short shelf-life, as Brian Henry explains.

Last year, at least 22 Canadian universities considered and resoundingly rejected the academic boycott Ryan is now attempting to revive. Our own Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia, was one of the first to give the proposed boycott its proper name, "a dangerous and unsupportable attack on the core values of academic life. . . an affront to modern society [that] must be condemned wherever it arises."

And I see that when Jonathan Kay looks at Sid Ryan, he is compelled to ask: "There's a name for that kind of bigotry, isn't there?" Before anybody goes off half-cocked at Kay for making an impudent insinuation, the European Union has asked the same question, and answers it by defining antisemitism [.pdf] in a handy document. It cites such contemporary examples as the denial of the Jewish people their right to self­-determination (i.e. by claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavor), the application of double standards that require of Israel what would not be expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, and comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

I'll leave it to these two wiseguys to consider the question of whether boycotting and barring and discriminating against and among Israeli academics is simply and plainly antisemitic. But it seems self-evident that at the very least, calling for such measures is not helping matters at all. As I've said, if it's real solidarity work that progressives might attend to in order to intervene in some way with the ongoing agonies in Palestine and Israel, these people could use a hand, and these people are an inspiration, and a friend has brought to my attention another initiative, called Just Vision. Here's a wee film about them:



UPDATE: Sid's lame apology.

75 Comments:

Anonymous balter said...

On the same day when Israel killed over 300 people Gaza, there was also a young man shot in the West Bank by the IDF while he was taking part in a non violent protest. Organisation like the one you linked as well as Israelis Againt House Demolition are tyring to create public space for mass non violent resistance in Palestine, which, I should say marked the first intifada. The issue for those of us here should be how bet can we support this movement, provide it with the neccesary space to operate and thrive. We can only help if we are part of building an international movement whiuch can begin to undermine decades of one sided support for Israel which has made situations for Palestinians more and more grim. Concerted efforts to releaser the thounsand of prisoners jailed through adminstrative detention, a focus on remiving the entire infrustructure of occupation from checkpoints, roads and settlemnets and by hightlighting the routine violence and brutality of the occuaption. Palestinians need space to breathe.

For those who support the current invasion of Gaza, I ask that they look at the faces of the dead children now filling Gaza hospitals. We need to stop this slaughter immediately

9:22 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Terry if we're mentioning groups that need to help of the western left, I'd hope you that these people, too, need our support. They are young Israelis who are resisnting participation in the domination of the Palestinians through not serving in the occupied territories. Here's their statement

Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifadah. Soldiers who serve in the Territories are witness to, and participate in military actions which change them immensely. Cases of abuse towards Palestinians, looting, and destruction of property have been the norm for years, but are still excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases. Our testimonies portray a different and grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regardind Palestinian civilians. These demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military. While this reality which is known to Israeli soldiers and commanders exists in Israel’s back yard, Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that which happens in its name. Discharged soldiers who return to civilian life discover the gap between the reality which they encountered in the Territories , and the silence which they encounter at home. In order to become a civilian again, soldiers are forced to ignore their past experiences. Breaking the Silence voices the experiences of those soldiers, in order to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created.

“Breaking the Silence” - warriors tell about there service in the occupied territories. And this time: soldiers who beat up Palestinians and shoot machine-gun cartridges at civilians’ houses “just because they can.”

Twenty-seven Israeli pilots have signed a letter refusing to serve combat missions in the Israeli occupied territories. Although over 500 Israeli reserve Army soldiers have signed a similar letter since early 2002, the signatories of this letter are all officers, including a brigadier general and two lieutenant-colonels, making it without precedent in Israel’s history…[@]

9:31 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I agree with and support everything you suggest and counsel, Balter, but for one sentence: "We can only help if we are part of building an international movement which can begin to undermine decades of one sided support for Israel which has made situations for Palestinians more and more grim."

I'm not so sure that "decades of one-sided support for Israel" is the cause - certainly not the sole cause - of what has made the situation for Palestinians so grim. I'm not trying to be obsessively "even-handed" about this, but it does seem to me that the decades-long effort to establish a hatred of Israel, Israelis, and usually, Jews as the basis of unity for Islamist maniacs from the Pillars of Hercules to the Banda Sea also has something to do with the grim situation in Palestine.

But I welcome your contribution, and thank you for your account of these other, real anti-war efforts.

Slainte,

TG

9:53 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Thanks Terry. I guess over decades of following this issue I've observed something quite different than yourself. It seems to me that liberals will be brave as lions concerning the travails of East Timoreans, Rwandans, Central American peasants, Chechens. But for almost all of them the Palestinians and their troubles have always been invisible. many of them know well enough that to raise a stink about Israeli’s appalling treatment of Palestinians down the years is to invite drastic revenge.

The ultra militaristic, chuavanist attitudes of people like Marty Peretz who in his "don't fuck with tthe jews" posture, all but ignores the casualties in Gaza, will not make life easier for Palestinians nor Israelis. The immediate goal now is to end the bombardment of Gaza and the shedding of Palestinian blood.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

My dear late mother in law was a Holocaust survivor. She lost her parents and brother to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, alongside Anne Frank. Her cousin Helen Hirsch is featured in a predominant role in Schindler's List. Yet for all the suffering she endured she could never stomach the one-sided hatred that consumes both extremes of this conflict.

Sid Ryan can join the self-serving fanatics and despots in Hell.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

". . .to raise a stink about Israeli’s appalling treatment of Palestinians down the years is to invite drastic revenge."

Depends on the circles you move in.

To raise a stink about Hamas, to decline to participate in gruesome anti-Israeli histrionics and to stand for a two-state solution will also invite what you could call "drastic revenge."

Cheers,

TG

10:41 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Terry can you please offer up a clarification as to what you wrote. Unless I'm reading it incorrectly it seems to me that you're offering up a kind of defence of Israels on the UN run school which killed over 40 Palestinians. One need not have any love to Hamas to acknowledge that indiscriminately killing and wounding Palestinian civilians, carrying out air strikes on schools, police stations and hospitals in built-up areas, destroying ambulances,entry to the Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as to media reporters are morally repugnant acts which need to be strongly condemned

11:50 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Balter: I think the easiest way for you to find the clarification you're looking for is to just read it again. I mentioned nothing about the tragedy at the UN school.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous balter said...

I do apologise for misreading what you wrote as you spoke about the bombing of the University. I should say though that language matters. When Israel deliberately targets a UN school killing 40 Palestinians, it's not simply a tragedy, it's state inflicted murder. Let's at least be honest about that much

12:34 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"When Israel deliberately targets a UN school killing 40 Palestinians, it's not simply a tragedy, it's state inflicted murder."

Language, then.

Look very closely at the sentence you just wrote, Balter. You say "deliberately targets," as opposed to what? Accidentally targets? Semantically, the immediately unavoidable inference is to be drawn between "deliberately" and "killing 40 Palestinians," which is to say your unavoidable implication is that something called "Israel" has deliberately killed 40 Palestinians, about which you have sufficiently convinced yourself to be confident to follow by the declarative "it's state inflicted murder."

I know nothing of the sort. And with the deepest respect, neither do you.

So let's be honest about that much. There's enough arguing going on as it is.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous balter said...

I think at a basuc level we need to affirm that both Israeli and Palestinian lives are equally valuable. When Hamas launches rockets into civilain areas in Israel and kills Israelis, that is referred to correctlyu as murder. What we know here is that Israel has an extremely sophiticated military aparatus, that they have mapped out and surveyed every inch of Gaza. That there is a history of IDF shelling of civilian infrusture that has been documneted by groups like B'tselem. Well before the current fighting, UNRWA said it had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School. The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation and the attack is being harshly denounced by the UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous balter said...

These sort of indiscrimiante attacks against civilians need to de denounced in the strongest of possible terms. The sheer amount of Palestinians killed already who are wo,an and children is a condemnation of the entire operation. I hope that at least you'll agree to that much

ps I couldn't find it on thier respective websites but Im assuming that the organisations you mentioned, one voice and combatants for peace are calling for a ceasefire and an end to the bombardment. Do you know

1:42 AM  
Anonymous balter said...

pps Here's some news from the ground from Mads Gilbert,a Norwegian doctor in Gaza,who tells Sky News that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev6ojm62qwA&feature=channel_page

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry,
Excellent post - as usual.
- Brian Henry

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sid Ryan is quoted in this week's Jewish Tribune saying that Jews have no right to be in Israel anyway.

He also referred to Israel's 60-year occupation of Palestinian lands. That is, he dates the "occupation" from the establishement of the state of Israel.

This really isn't anything new. The Israel-haters in CUPE have always considered all of Israel as occupied territory, as I pointed out here: CUPE's Ally (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=476)
All the best,
Brian

7:59 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

What we know here is that Israel has an extremely sophiticated military aparatus, that they have mapped out and surveyed every inch of Gaza. That there is a history of IDF shelling of civilian infrusture that has been documneted by groups like B'tselem.

There is certainly much evidence of consistent purposeful destruction of infrastructure in Gaza. But in the current military operation, there are no civilian-free targets. There is no place for civilians to go to get out of the line of fire, and there is no place that combat or bombing can occur without civilians being killed.

I would be more sympathetic to the Israeli side of this if they had some strategy toward achieving their goals. That seems to be absent. Given that, their current activities are unwise at best, criminal at the worst.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Jonathon Narvey said...

Terry, I really admire your ability to provide a fair and balanced view on the conflict without actually delving into the murky waters of moral equivalence, which most commenters seem to have difficulty avoiding.

I've tried to find balance on Gaza as well, but I don't think I've been nearly as successful in communicating my view in the face of constant distortions from commenters. That we want peace and protection of human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians is such a "motherhood" statement that you wouldn't think we'd have to keep repeating the point.

Thanks to you for your continued excellent commentary.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thanks back, Jonathon; thanks as well for all your brave work. I wish I'd been with you in Vancouver the other day. . .

1:16 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Balter,

Just some facts. There has never been a "single day when Israel killed over 300 people". Google can be your friend to, or do you just enjoy spewing lies and distortions ? We can get you nice green helmet if the latter.


When Hamas places explosives and mortar crews in schools and forces children to be human shields, they commit a war crime and clearly illustrate their depravity.

And you unbiased Norwegian Doctor is a complete raving looney nutter old school communist propagandist - he probably wears Che underwerar in solidarity with that mass murdering psycopath.

"So who is Mads Gilbert?

Mads Gilbert is described on his Wikipedia page as a “Communist politician as a member of the party Red“. The Red party was previously the Workers Communist Party, which supported Pol Pot:

AKP openly endorsed the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, and when that party’s forces invaded Phnom Penh, Klassekampen had “Long live the free Cambodia” as their front page headline. Support from AKP endured in spite of the killings which were reported during Pol Pot’s rule which AKP at that time considered to be lies, and AKP had delegations visiting the country.

Mads Gibert himself supports terrorism. This is what he told a Norwegian newspaper, the Dagbladet, a couple of weeks after 9/11:

If the U.S. government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, then there is also a moral right to attack the United States with the weapons they had to create. Dead civilians are the same whether they are Americans, Palestinians or Iraqis.

Do you supports the terrorist attack on the United States?
Terror is a bad weapon, but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned”

His presence in Gaza is funded, according to the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

Mads Gilbert is a perfect example of the convergence of the extreme Left and jihadism"

http://tinyurl.com/7e3d65

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that liberals will be brave as lions concerning the travails of East Timoreans, Rwandans, Central American peasants, Chechens. But for almost all of them the Palestinians have always been invisible"

I think you've got this exactly backwards, balter. It is precisely the rather over-concerted focus on the Palestinian situation that has elevated both Israelis and Palestinians to the level of shorthand tropes (a nod to Terry's mention of the term) in the often shallow discourse amongst western liberals. Pick a Canadian college/university campus out of a hat, and pay mind to its bulletin boards: it's all about Israel and Palestine, with nary a hint of Darfur, Iran, Syria, Chechneya, etc. (And I do apologize for reducing the ample sufferings of any number of other nations to the status of 'etc.').

Indeed, the "Palestinian cause" (I put this in quotes, as such a unity surely cannot in truth exist; Hamas? Fatah? Neither? 2 State? Greater Palestine, Israelis pushed into the sea?...) seems to be, in its vernacular western form, in large part a confection of 20th-21st century parlor liberalism.

None of this to deny your main points, nor presume to take a side; this is hardly a binary situation.

1:58 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Pick a Canadian college/university campus out of a hat, and pay mind to its bulletin boards: it's all about Israel and Palestine, with nary a hint of Darfur, Iran, Syria, Chechneya, etc. (And I do apologize for reducing the ample sufferings of any number of other nations to the status of 'etc.').

That may be because there is a greater likelihood that one's opinions of the situation will have a net effect.

Darfur is a mishmash of militias and political groups that do not fall into the nice good-guy bad-guy paradigm that we like to wrap our heads around. Syria is run by thugs, but there are much worse thugs in the wings waiting to take power, so not much can be done there. There is little that public opinion can do about Iran. Ask them to please implement a more democratic and secular form of government? Etc, including the Congo, the worst such situation on the planet right now.

Conversely, Israel was created by western powers and relies heavily on them for financial aid. It maintains strong ties with them, and many see their nations being complicit in Israel's actions. Is it then so out of line that there should be opinions held on their behaviour?

2:37 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"There is little that public opinion can do about Iran."

This could not be more wrong.

The greatest impediment to efforts by the international labour movement to demonstrate solidarity with Iranian trade unionists has been the idiotic intransigence of the western "left," which has proved an enormous benefit to the Iranian regime. That regime has deliberately and purposefully co-opted and neutralized the western left; in Canada, Iran's best friends provide the staff positions at the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Toronto Stop The War Coalition, just for starters.

See also: http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/10/23/IranianLeft/

3:04 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

By the way, viz Fred's notes on Mads Gilbert:

From the day I first aw him interviewed, I was wondering how long it would take before someone "outed" him. For all the interviews he's given since, it's a wonder he has any time at all for his patients.

Having supported the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, Gilbert is hardly a credible source on the subject of what constitutes mass murder - a charge he persists in levelling against the IDF.

To be fair, though, I understand he is something of an authority on hypothermia.

3:18 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

This could not be more wrong.

You think that the Iranian regime will change because of solidarity with the Iranian labour movement?

Please tell me that you're pulling my leg.

If not, please be assured that my solidarity is 100% with my working brothers and sisters in that nation.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the "viewpoint" of one the Jonathan Narvey's fellow counterprotestors. I think think that it pretty much speaks for itself, and after viewing it I imagine that Terry will rethink his desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with such people

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cagL8Tt7XGM

4:10 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"You think that the Iranian regime will change because of solidarity with the Iranian labour movement?"

In fact, that's almost exactly my view. The only way Iranian democrats and liberals (there are millions of them) are going to be able to force "regime change" in Iran is with the robust, active and mass support of trade unionists, liberals and democrats in the world's democracies.

Whether that is possible, given the cynicism, defeatism, relativism and isolationism that has so infantilized the "progressive" class in the west, is another question entirely.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Terry what Mads Gilbert has said is confirmed by Chris Gunness, a spokesman for Gaza's main UN agency on the ground in Gaza as well as all other international relief organisations which are in Gaza. its haerd to imagine that they to are doing the bidding of Pol Pot apologists. Maybe you think otherwise?

4:23 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

In fact, that's almost exactly my view.

You must have Trotskyist roots. If anything, I think the last three decades have shown us the limitations on the labour movement's ability to effect political change in a free democratic society, much less a dictatorial one. The early part of the twentieth century was a far different story, but those days are long gone.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Anonymous:

On the assumption that you're not the Anonymous I've banned from commenting here, my answer is that I am not interesting in offering an opinion on the comments of some well-meaning high school student, but I will say I would be proud to stand with Janathon Narvey anywhere, anytime.

Balter: What Mads Gilbert has said goes a lot farther than anything Chris Guinness has said.

Don't be baiting me, please.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"You must have Trotskyist roots."

Yes, to a degree. I will also agree that the labour movement is now, as you say, largely irrelevant to the course of human affairs.

The subject of this post amply illustrates that point.

4:29 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

On the assumption that you're not the Anonymous I've banned from commenting here...

Blogger allows you to allow only non-anonymous comments on your blog, Terry. It's somewhere on the settings menu.

4:30 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

"You must have Trotskyist roots."

Yes, to a degree.

Oh dear ;)

4:31 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

In some ways Chris Gunness has actaully gone much further than the Norwegian doctor. He appeared on Democracy Now strongly condemning the Israeli invasion of Gaza in a debate against the Israel Project's Meagan Burren. Here's the link.

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/5/a_debate_on_israels_invasion_of

4:38 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Balter: To strongly condemn the invasion of Gaza is hardly going farther than Dr. Mads' claims that Israel is deliberately slaughtering civilians.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

He has said in very strong language that Israel is directly targetting civilian. Take that as you will. I'd encourage people to listen to the debate.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"This is an all out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza." That is what Mads Gilbert has said, and from this remove, I have seen absolutely no evidence to support this claim, and rather a preponderance of evidence to suggest that it is a filthy lie, and I am also informed in my judgment by the fact that this is specifically one of the most overheated of the key Khomeinist propaganda lines in circulation at the moment.

(Please find it in yourself to resist the temptation to equate Tehran's despotic suppression of a free press and its fanatical dedication to spreading lies about Israel with the presence of "pro-Israel" media in the s-called west.)

If Israel had decided to launch an "all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population of Gaza," there would not be a civilian population of Gaza anymore. They would have been cinders within the first 48 hours of this offensive. So please, let's get real.

Chris Gunness has expressed a variety of extremely critical views about the prosecution of the Israeli offensive and has gone further and offered certain fierce opinions, and has used very stern language to oppose and dismiss the Israeli government's characterization of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. And fair play to him, whether he's right or wrong.

But the only place that I have seen remarks attributed to him that even approach Mads Gilbert's flights of deranged rhetoric are reports derived from the Iranian government propaganda agency IRNA - reports which are of course dutifully regurgitated by the gutter press in Arab countries, and reflexively printed, word for word, in certain pathetic English-language websites in the west that fashion themselves as "left-wing."

I am not interested in any more back and forth about which pejoratives and mean words are the most effective in their deployment against Israel's behaviour. I tend to avoid offering opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the best of times, as I've pointed out before, but on the specific matter of the subject of this post and the subsequent commentary, I think I should be as succinct as possible:

Sid Ryan can fuck off. Mads Gilbert can fuck off.

I hope this is sufficiently clear.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

I'm sorry to continue this argument and I have alot of respect for you Terry, but to say "fuck Gilbert" when this man who could probably practise in Norway but instead has chosen to render his services to those live in the Gaza refugee camps is really beyond the pale. He is probably seeing things that you and I would never want to see in our entire lives. The thousands who have been injured, blinded, paralysed by this assault. The children who have died in the hundreds. In terms of numbers The number is proportionally equivalent to killing 22,000 in the UK - or, if you prefer, about 3,000 in Darfur. In Darfur, the total number killed over the worst ten months of violence when it really was a 'killing fields' situation was 30,000. If the argument was really just about the numbers of people directly slain, the fate of Gaza is now proportionally worse than it was in Darfur during its worst period. We shouldn't attempt to minimise this suddering nor play along with the western media's game in which Palestinians are always nameless victims or terrorist

9:52 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Mads Gilbert might have made things better for some Palestinians if he was doing the work he claims to be in Gaza to do - the work of a doctor. Instead, he appears to have spent almost all his time giving interviews. Even so, if he can somehow raise awareness about the catastrophic nature of the Israeli offensive, all the better.

But he hasn't done that very well, has he? By engaging in such lurid polemics about Israel's "real" intention, and by making a spectacle of himself in the effort, I would venture to guess that he has done the cause he purports to espouse more harm than good - if in fact that cause is global attention to the immediate medical and humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

If his cause is to articulate the propaganda tropes of Hamas and Tehran, using the bodies of dead Palestinians as stage props, he was doing a splendid job, at least until he was outed as a crank activist from a crank Norwegian political party.

Gilbert has been exposed as a dedicated lunatic whose politics are lunatic, and you want him as an interlocutor for Palestinian suffering? I don't. His ubiquitous media presence in Gaza threatens to cast a pall of doubt on claims of Palestinian suffering, and a huge pall of doubt already hangs over claims made on behalf of the Palestinian people. That's not because the western media plays its "game" so well. It's because Hamas plays at that game so poorly and so shabbily.

I think Mads Gilbert should fuck off.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Right but on the other hand you approvingly cite a really atrocious, vile article by Marty Peretz which titled "Don't Fuck with the Jews" where he says that those of us who spdeak about Palestinian casualties are "whiners" and he goes on to threaten Palestinians with further collective punishment. As Eric Altermnan put it a number of years ago "Peretz is rarely held to account, largely because there's an odd, tacit understanding that he's a cartoonish character and everyone knows it." And you also posit that Eric Lee may have a point when he says that Israel should finish the job, even as it becomes more and more obvious that Gazans are being punished on mass and are defenceless against one of the worlds most sophisticated armies.

A world where Peretz's analysis is treated with a hint of seriousness whereas a doctor who is raising the plight about the mass killing and suffering of poor and lets remember dispossed refugees is told to "fuck off", is a world which has, I'm sad to say, lost its moral bearing.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You persist in referring to Gilbert as "a doctor who is raising the plight about the mass killing and suffering of poor and lets remember dispossed refugees," and you're telling me I've lost my moral bearing by citing without offering an opinion one among many observations of the bedlam of "proportionality" references?

I think I'm going to bail from this conversation.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous balter said...

As this conflict has yet again shown the Arab regimes have done little to nothing stop the suffering of Palestinian, nor have they offered the sort of diplomatic or political support necessary to carry on a mass non violent resistance to the occupation. I've long believed too that the Israeli occupation is a convenient rhetorical tool for Arab regimes to avoid their own heinous record on human right, political liberties and free expresssion. It allows them to cut off self criticism and many of the state sponsored protrayals of Israel aee loaded with anti semitism.

All that said, the images coming from Al Jazeera, the forceful denunciations we're hearing against these attacks thoughout the Middle East are far more honest and rality based than National Post or even Globe and Mail editorials or noxious screeds written by unreconstructed orientalists like Marty Pertez

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that many of these comments have been extraordinarily unfair and one-sided.

Every state has an inherent right of self-defence. This is enshrined in the UN Charter as well as in our common notion of morality: When someone tries to kill you, you have the right to defend yourself, killing your attacker first if necessary. By its own admission, Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel--and not just as a polity. To this end, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets and missiles at civilian populations in southern Israel, causing death, destruction, and trauma. None of Hamas’s grievances, whatever their merits, justified these attacks. They were certainly not defensive in character and, in any case, firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian populations, regardless of the reason, is a war crime. Israel is entitled to defend its citizens by destroying Hamas’s military capability.

In case there is any doubt that Hamas's intentions are not simply anti-Israel, people might benefit from a quick look at Hamas's charter, which is explicit about its genocidal intentions.

Why has Israel caused so many civilian casualties? By design, Hamas has embedded its missile launchers in densely populated areas of Gaza. In fact, this is a strategy that Hamas proudly declares. So any any attempt to destroy Hamas's military capability entails a serious risk of civilian casualties. Using civilian shields, as Hamas does, is in fact a war crime. Under international law (as well as domestic law for that matter), the party that uses innocent civilians as shields is responsible for what happens to them.

It is obvious that if Israel were indifferent to Palestinian casualties--if it were killing civilians indiscriminately, as some previous comments have claimed and, indeed, as Hamas has been trying to do--the loss of civilian life and destruction of civilian infrastructure would be immensely greater.

The justification for Israel’s current actions, I have argued, is not that Israel is, in general, the more worthy actor. But it is worth remarking that it obviously is. Hamas consists in a bunch of medieval religious fanatics: Look at how they treat women. Look at how they treat gays and lesbians. In fact, look at their treatment of Palestinian political rivals. How can anyone with any progressive inclinations whatsoever have any sympathy for these terrorist thugs? How can anyone with any sympathy for the Palestinian cause have any sympathy for them? One of their main goals is to prevent a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an insightful bit of analysis on Gaza by Ian O’Doherty in the Indepedent. Amongst other things, he addresses the Left’s failure to perceive which side in the conflict is its political and moral ally:

"But there’s a bigger picture here, something which Israelis have been trying to broadcast to the world, but which, thanks to their spectacular inability to accurately and sympathetically portray their point of view, has not been properly transmitted. It’s this — Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism.

"Would you rather live in a society with a free press, equal rights for women — and anyone who knows an Israeli woman will know that they’re not easily suppressed, anyway — equal rights for gay people and a proud and stubborn belief in the right of the individual to lead their life in the way that they see fit or would you rather exist in a society where women who dare to speak their mind are executed, where gay people are not just shunned but murdered and where having a dissenting thought marks you out for death?

"The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda.

"Here in the West, where we share the same values as Israel, we need to start standing shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery."

http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/why-the-israeli-people-have-finally-had-enough-1592022.html

3:18 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

"Here in the West, where we share the same values as Israel, we need to start standing shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery."

The counter-argument being that many of these islands of savagery have been created and subsidized by superpowers, and are still supported by democracies who find it more convenient to deal with a thug in control than a messy and unpredictable democracy. Another counter-argument being if democracy is an answer to this issue, why does Israel not simply annex the West Bank and Gaza and grant citizenship to the Palestinians? Most would gladly accept such an exit route from the current hardships they face.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

A good point, DPU. It reminds me of the fact that during the internecine Fatah-Hamas bloodletting that cost the lives of several hundred Palestinians during 2006 and 2007, it was commonplace for journalists to find Gaza residents willing to tell express positive nostalgia for the days of Israeli occupation. And your question ("why does Israel not simply annex the West Bank and Gaza and grant citizenship to the Palestinians?") raises another, rarely-raised and equally inconvenient question: Why have Israel's Arab neighbours kept hundreds of thousands of Palestinians interned in festering refugee camps these past decades, rather than simply grant them citizenship?

9:52 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Why have Israel's Arab neighbours kept hundreds of thousands of Palestinians interned in festering refugee camps these past decades, rather than simply grant them citizenship?

Because they are islands of savagery? Israel, on the other hand, is a tiny oasis of democracy, so I'd be asking them the question instead of the savages.

9:55 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Sorry, "vast deserts" of savagery, not islands. My metaphors are becoming muddled.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I said nothing about savagery, of the island kind or the desert kind. But I did ask a question. Another question I find coming back to me is why Israel doesn't just wash its hands of both the West Bank and Gaza, completely, and turn things back to Jordan and Egypt, which held those territories before the occupations began. But it is the first question that really stumps me.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I said nothing about savagery, of the island kind or the desert kind. But I did ask a question. Another question I find coming back to me is why Israel doesn't just wash its hands of both the West Bank and Gaza, completely, and turn things back to Jordan and Egypt, which held those territories before the occupations began. But it is the first question that really stumps me.

10:20 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

I suspect that at least part of the reason is that there is a widely held view that the creation of the state of Israel was the latest act of European colonialism in the region. As such, there is much resentment about it, and neighboring nations are disinclined to fix a problem they believe that was created by others.

Another possible reason is that the occupied territories have been a crucible that generate extremism, and neighboring nations are disinclined to take on that burden and make their own socities the launching point of attacks against Israel.

Yet one more reason might be the Palestinians themselves. Many of them were born in what is now Israel, and their land stolen from them. I know that I wouldn't forget that if it were me, and I suspect that you would not either.

Now, back to the original inconvenient question. Why not simply grant the Palestinians citizenship? Is there another answer other than the implicit nasty one?

10:34 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"Why not simply grant the Palestinians citizenship?"

Dunno. Because the Palestinians don't want it, I suspect.

11:43 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Because the Palestinians don't want it, I suspect.

I've seen at least one poll that showed that a clear majority of Palestinians would accept Israeli citizenship if it was offered to them. And at least one proposed peace plan provided Israeli citizenship to up to half the Palestinian population.

No, the reason that it is not offered is because it would dilute the Jewish majority in Israel. As the nation is defined as a Jewish one, such dilution eliminates its raison d'etre.

As the nation is currently defined, Israel's non-Jewish citizenry is expanding much more quickly than its Jewish demographic, so this problem will need to be dealt with at some point in the future. Providing the Palestinians with citizenship would push that day much closer.

In the meantime, we have a state that restricts membership based on ethnicity. Not good.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"In the meantime, we have a state that restricts membership based on ethnicity."

That's hardly accurate or fair, and I think you know it.

And I'd love to see that poll you refer to. I am aware of polling data showing that Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain in Israel than to live in Gaza or the West Bank (or any other Arab country, where their rights would not be recognized anywhere near the extent that their rights are recognized and protected in Israel) but that's a different finding altogether.

12:26 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

That's hardly accurate or fair, and I think you know it.

No, I do not know it. I'd appreciate you elaborating on why you think it so.

And I'd love to see that poll you refer to.

I'll see if I can track it down. But it's not such a contentious idea given that the right to return has been one of the central planks of almost every Palestinian political group since 1948. Consider, however, that universal Palestinian citizenship would reduce the Jewish majority to a mere 60% and you can understand why Israel largely opposes it.

12:30 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Ah, found it, and I was mistaken. In this reference, Juan Cole indicates that one third would accept citizenship if offered:

The Palestinians are not Israeli citizens. Few Israelis want to claim them as Israeli citizens. And yet they are under Israeli military control, their lands and resources being expropriated by a foreign power. Theirs is not a subnationalism seeking to escape Israeli nationalism. It is the nationalism of an occupied people seeking self-determination. (Actually about a third of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have given up on Palestinian nationalism ever amounting to anything and say they'd accept Israeli citizenship if offered; of course, it won't be offered. But this is really remarkable, and doesn't sound like people who want to destroy Israel. Perhaps a plurality has met the enemy and decided it might as well be us.)

I would expect that if it were ever offered, that number would rise substantially if Palestinian self-determination seemed as unattainable as it does now.

12:35 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

Bloody hell Terry. A post about a trade unionist and you get besieged by loons. A couple of things:

1. On the giving back to Jordan and Egypt. Both countries have ceded their sovereignty formally to the Palestinians. Can't remember precisely when, it was the 80's I think.

2. On the offering of citizenship. It is not only that the Palestinians don't want it, and they don't, there are two other reasons.

i. Offering citizenship would amount to a de facto annexation.

ii. There is the demographic issue, not only due to the number of Palestinians but also their far higher birth rate. Very rapidly, Jews would be a minority and then Israel would be no more.

Nope, the only solution compatible with Israeli and Palestinian self-determination is a two-state solution. It needs to be addressed seriously and urgently now.

And to build it we have to use good old-fashioned tools of social democracy - economic development, support for civil democracy, independent labour unions, democratic governance - all the things that you are committed to.

That will fuck Hamas, far more than the heart-rending events that are taking place now. Hold on to that commitment mate, keep the faith and the people will win.

PS Good choice switching to posting on Zizek :-)

12:38 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Bloody hell Terry. A post about a trade unionist and you get besieged by loons.

As you go on in your comment to then address a couple of points that I've been discussing, could I ask if your regard me as one of the aforementioned loons?

12:43 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"I do not know it. I'd appreciate you elaborating on why you think it so."

Because it's just not true. It's not supported by the facts. It's completely contrary to the facts.

I am well aware of the Israeli jitters about demographic trends, and I am also well aware of the cunning misrepresentation at work in the "right of return" argument - which is not merely an argument for citizenship in the State of Israel, as I am sure you must be aware.

But I am also aware that Arabs (Palestinian, Bedouins, Chistian, Muslim, Druze, etc.) make up about a fifth of Israel's citizens - which directly contradicts your contention that Israel restricts its citizenship to persons of some specific "ethnicity."

Here's the data to support my contention that the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs would prefer to live in Israel than in a future Palestinian state:

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs021/1101712342378/archive/1101922202301.html

Still waiting for you to provide evidence to support your claims that non-Israeli Palestinians woul also choose Israeli citizenship "if it were offered to them." I'm not saying there isn't evidence, I just haven't seen any.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"Hold on to that commitment mate, keep the faith and the people will win."

Thanks, Pete. I will do just as you suggest.

12:46 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

But I am also aware that Arabs (Palestinian, Bedouins, Chistian, Muslim, Druze, etc.) make up about a fifth of Israel's citizens - which directly contradicts your contention that Israel restricts its citizenship to persons of some specific "ethnicity."

If Canada were to restricted citizenship based on whether the Christian majority would be diluted, would you think that different?

And please don't put words in my mouth. I did not claim that Israel did not have non-Jewish citizenry - I actually said the opposite when pointing out the demographic issue. What I said was that a major group is denied what would be a reasonable political solution (Palestinian citizenship) for ethnic reasons (sustainment of a particular religious group as majority).

12:50 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Still waiting for you to provide evidence to support your claims that non-Israeli Palestinians woul also choose Israeli citizenship "if it were offered to them." I'm not saying there isn't evidence, I just haven't seen any.

Sorry, thought I'd just corrected my statement and provided a reference. Are you looking for details on the original quoted survey?

12:51 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Perhaps instead of "restrict citizenship" I should have said "restricts new immigrant citizenship". Does that make my intent more clear?

12:58 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Forget about your mistaken reading of something you read by Juan Cole; we were just cross-posting. What I took you to task for was your statement: "In the meantime, we have a state that restricts membership based on ethnicity."

I am not putting words in your mouth; those are your words.

You did not say "a major group is denied what would be a reasonable political solution (Palestinian citizenship) [ do you not mean to say Israeli citizenship here?] for ethnic reasons (sustainment of a particular religious group as majority)."

You said: "In the meantime, we have a state that restricts membership based on ethnicity."

And as I said, that is not true. It's not supported by the facts. It's completely contrary to the facts.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

By the way, Israeli does not restrict "new" immigrants citizenship based on their ethnicity, either.

1:02 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

What I took you to task for was your statement: "In the meantime, we have a state that restricts membership based on ethnicity."

Then we have a misunderstanding. In the interest of moving on I will accept blame for not being clear. What I meant to say was that when considering issues like granting of mass citizenship to outside groups, Israel must consider the ethnicity of those being granted citizenship. To my mind, this is not a good thing.

If that is deemed to be an unfair statement, then I will rephrase as "There is the demographic issue, not only due to the number of Palestinians but also their far higher birth rate. Very rapidly, Jews would be a minority and then Israel would be no more."

1:59 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

doubleplusungood does not understand the intricacies of Israeli citizenship. Or rather, understands that Jewish (deemed as such according to a certain criteria having to do with one's parents) immigtants are granted a privilege: they can become citizens almost as soon as they get to Israel while others who do not conform to that a-priori criteria have to go through the usual channels and time to get citizenship. Here is a link that can help him figure it out:

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Israeli-nationality-law

I think what he most minds is that Jews get a privilege upon arriving in Israel.

I'm always puzzled about this ultra-particular scrutiny from people who don't seem to care one way or another about Israeli Jews in the first place. The Law of Return was developed in response to the ethos of "none is too many". As long as antisemitism persists, in any form and for whatever excuse, it will continue to be relevant, necessary, and just.

Has Ungood delved into the citizenship laws of any Arab country with the same zest he reserves for Israel? Or perhaps they are free from such criticism, not being democracies?

1:59 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Eve Garrard once compared the pathology of anti-Israel activism to stalkers' syndrome

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2008/03/portrait-of-the.html

It's getting pretty claustrophobic around these guys with their deranged interest in anything that seems to benefit Israel's Jewish character.

2:12 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Has Ungood delved into the citizenship laws of any Arab country with the same zest he reserves for Israel? Or perhaps they are free from such criticism, not being democracies?

Indeed I have. Are you thinking that I am not critical of them because I haven't commented on them in this comment thread? If so, I note that you have not commented here on Stalin's purges. Should I then think that you are accepting of them? Or merely not critical enough of them?

Do you seriously think that pointing at worse cases is a sufficient argument in defense of something?

Lastly, the original spark to this line of discussion was in response to the "stand shoulder to shoulder with our tiny oasis of democracy in a desert of savagery" suggestion. I was trying to point out that democracy is not really the prime issue here. Now as we're drifting into the neighborhood where reasonable discussion is replaced by the old familiar "deranged", "anti-Israel", and "what about the Arabs", I think I'll withdraw before inciting the more offensive standbys.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Not so fast, DPU.

This line of backchat began with references to deserts of savagery surrounding the Israeli oasis of democracy (sorry, DPU, but I do think democacy matters in these discussions) by a lad of the proper name O'Doherty, who was wrting in the Independent, and this gives me pause to compare Israeli citizenship policy with that of the Holy Land (Ireland), which grants to Irishmen and Irishwomen in the diaspora the right to claim citizenship based solely on the grounds that one's grandmammy or grandpappy had been blessed with the sublime good fortune to have been born in Erin, Land of Saints and Scholars, Ancient Homeland of the Danu and Firbolgs, etc. etc.

To DPU, perhaps this too is "not a good thing," but he should take care not to traduce the world's most sophisticated democracy and most perfect republic (Holy Erin, Motherland of Cathleen NiHoulihan, etc. etc.) around here, and also bear in mind that unless they have come to their senses, the Italians have gone so far as to even grant voting rights in elections to people from far-off lands on the sole criteria of having an Italian-sounding last name or some crazy dang thing.

And so it goes like this, the world round. There's nothing exceptional about Israeli citizenship policy in any of these matters, except of course the name of the "ethnicity" that has haunted these recent exchanges (starts with "J").

4:51 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

By the way, the Hibernian immigration policy to which I refer in the previous comment was set down in a specific article for that purpose that can be found to this day in the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Kilkenny, as any fool knows.

4:58 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Holy Ireland is and always will be a special case, Terry. Keep in mind, however, that Israel is granting special privileges to those who have never lived there and denying that privilege (in the mass sense that we are talking about earlier) to a great many who either lived there or are separated by a generation or two from those who were dispossessed.

It would be as if the Catholics of Northern Ireland were forced across the border into Ireland, and were denied both their birthright and a right of citizenship because to grant such would reduce the ruling Protestant majority.

Having said all this and the above yesterday, please bear in mind that do not begrudge Israel its right to exist. Israel is a fact, and most living there now were born there, and they have every right to their homes and security as I do here on former native land. If anything, I feel that the constant lack of resolution to the the Palestinian problem is a festering infection that may eventually kill the nation of Israel. This excursion into Gaza has certainly done more damage to Israel's security than any number of rockets fired by Hamas extremists could do.

10:35 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

RE: Israel is a fact, and most living there now were born there, and they have every right to their homes and security as I do here on former native land.

Thank you. It's been so long since I've heard someone who puts forward anti-Israel arguments admit these basic truths. I'm not being satirical. I mean it. And I'm sure you'll get an argument about how different the Native issue is from the Palestinian issue from your erstwhile allies on the so-called progressive left. Very brave of you in fact. Again, thank you.

I do take issue with your position that "ireland is a special case." Certainly Ireland is special, but surely, Israel and the Jews, with their ethno-religious nationality, and the history of anti-semitism culminating in the holocaust, are special cases too? Not to mention, ancestral homeland and all that.

Finally, Terry. Thank You. You're brilliant.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thanks most kindly, Vildechaye.

Meanwhile:

If your great-grandmother was an Italian, you're entitled to Italian ciizenship, but only if you're an American, an Australian, a Canadian, a Brazilian a Venezuelan, or an Argentine. Therefore:

Hands Off Ireland! Death to the racist apartheid Italian entity!

5:51 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

On the original topic of this thread, the unsavory Sid Ryan, I wrote this letter to the National Post which they, in their inifinite wisdom chose not to run. In it I point out something I haven't read anywhere else about Ryan's position:

"Sid Ryan certainly is a master of chutzpah. He proposes a policy that would banish only Israeli academics frrom Ontario Universities, then accuses critics of that policy of 'stifling debate.' The unintended irony is breathtaking. One wonders just how much of this Orwellian doublespeak CUPE Ontario members can tolerate."

I still find it hard to believe that a guy who wants to exclude one side of the debate accuses his critics of stifling debate. It's mindblowing in its utter hypocrisy and stupidity. I used to be friends with folks in Ottawa who were bigwigs in CUPE Ontario. We never talked politics, though, and if they share Ryan's views, I'm glad we didn't.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Viz debate stifling:

One of the quickest ways to transform oneself from a nobody to a celebrity is to mention that you have something really important to say but Zionists are trying to silence you.

6:14 PM  

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