All Posts Tagged With: "antisemitism"
Terrence Tremaine was charged for postings on Jews
A hate charge has been stayed against a former University of Saskatchewan lecturer because the case took too long to get to trial.
Terrence Tremaine was charged in 2008 with wilfully promoting hatred for postings he allegedly made on the Internet about Jews.
Tremaine appeared in a Regina court today where Judge Fred Kovach stayed the charge because of an unreasonable delay.
Kovach said a trial date still has not been set, adding it could be months away.
He also noted that the maximum punishment if convicted would be two years in prison — twice the amount of time Tremaine has waited for the case to work its way through the courts.
The Crown says it needs time to review the decision before deciding whether to appeal.
Concert would “deeply offend”
Tel Aviv University will not permit a scheduled Richard Wagner concert to take place on its campus after angry protests, reports Haaretz. A university spokesperson chastised the show’s organizer, Attorney Yonathan Livni, saying that the performance would “deeply offend the Israeli public in general and Holocaust survivors in particular.” Livni is the founder of the Israel Wagner Society. Wagner, a nineteeth century composer, espoused anti-Semitic views and was a favorite of Adolf Hitler, the German chancellor who led the Holocaust that killed six-million Jews during World War II.
Students boycott Israel, but are blasé about Syria. Why?
March is upon us, which means the Oscars have been awarded, and that other harbinger of spring is around the corner: Israeli Apartheid Week.
Ordinarily, both events are masterpieces of predictability, with the Academy Awards ushering the usual suspects to the podium (Meryl Streep anyone?), and Israeli Apartheid Week featuring the usual anti-Zionist suspects on megaphones (among them the now famous IAW sub-group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which I’d argue is largely composed of gay Jewish girls who didn’t have fun at summer camp.)
This year the Oscars have come through in predictability, but Israeli Apartheid Week is shaping up quite differently. It’s traditional at Passover seders for the youngest member of Jewish families to ask the “four questions,” which inquire why “this night is different from all other nights.” This year it might be prudent to ask a fifth: why is this Israeli Apartheid Week different from all the others?
Jewish student objected
Students at the famous London School of Economics are facing discipline after a Jewish student objected to a Nazi-themed drinking game during a school ski trip and received a broken nose.
A video of the drinking game, which took place in early December in France, was uploaded to YouTube, shared of Facebook and then removed, according to The Beaver student newspaper.
The game, called “Nazi Ring of Fire,” involved arranging cards on a table in the shape of a Swastika. The game compelled players to commit antisemitic acts including “saluting the Fuhrer.”
Would that stop hate or stifle free speech?
Jewish organizations are calling on the University of Toronto to cancel an 18-week seminar series led by Toronto-based Islamic scholar Abdullah Hakim Quick. They say Quick has made homophobic and antisemitic comments in the past and should not be allowed to speak on campus.
“The unfortunate truth is that when you have speakers like this, that are divisive, it hurts communities,” says Avi Benlolo, President of the FSWC. “We hope that the unviersity will make the right decision to cancel it or put it on hold pending review,” he adds.
U of T spokesperson April Kemick told CJN that the “event is a booking by a campus group—one of hundreds that happen over the course of the year—and there is no connection to the university.”
9/11 skeptic now works for magazine that denies holocaust
“Josh Blakely was appointed as a staff writer at Veterans Today which is a quite popular media venue based in the US. He has also appeared on several media outlets in the U.S. and Canada discussing his research area. Congratulations Josh!,” the University of Lethbridge wrote on their website last week.
We think they mean Josh Blakeney, the 9/11 conspiracy theorist who was hired as a columnist for Veterans Affairs. The National Post came to the same conclusion, questioning why Lethbridge would want to congratulate someone who goes to work for a magazine that suggests “the main purpose of keeping alive the Holocaust is to protect Jewish banking practices.”
This isn’t the first time Blakeney was in the news. His master’s thesis The Origins of the Global War on Terror: Intellectual Debates and Interpretive Controversies, generated an outcry because it was subsidized by an $8,000 Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship from the province of Alberta.
In a recent column for Veterans Affairs about the Sept. 11 “truther” conference in Toronto, Blakeney argues that 9/11 was a plot by anti-Islamic Israelis and that Islamic jihadists were not involved. He writes “documents going back to the 1980s, emanating from Tel Aviv rather than Washington… suggest that the “war on terrorism” was an Israeli inspired initiative.”
Does Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism want to curtail free speech?
Antisemitism has been a black mark on human civilization for centuries, from early Christian condemnations of Jews to modern-day conspiracy theorists, with countless acts of violence on every imaginable scale in between. And since the natural enemies of irrational ignorance are reason and knowledge, it follows that universities would be one venue where antisemitism can be confronted, understood, and ultimately defeated.
I was heartened, therefore, to see that the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat antisemitism recently released its final report, and that a long section of the report dealt with Canadian universities. But my keen interest increasingly turned to dismay as I read. The Coalition owed Canadians a much better discussion of antisemitism at universities than the authors of this report delivered.
First, there is the problem of the evidence. Reports such as these — which gather testimony from witnesses — already have a built in difficulty because the people they hear from naturally tend to be those who already have strong views on the subject. Invite people to come and talk to the Coalition Against Something, and most of those who show up are going to be people who already pretty upset about Something. Those who think they might be misconstrued as in favour of Something are less likely to appear. There is nothing wrong with activists having their say, of course, but it is incumbent on anyone trying to get a clear picture of the situation to search out other views and to corroborate, as best they can, the things that they are hearing.
In this case, of the sixty footnotes in the university section, many cite only the testimony of individuals with no corroboration, and, by my count, thirty-seven of them — the majority — cite Jewish advocacy groups and Jewish publications. Only eleven of the notes cite other articles and sources. This doesn’t make such testimony wrong, of course, nor does it make the perspectives invalid. But it seems clear that if the Coalition relies primarily on Hillel of Greater Toronto, Queen’s University Hillel, the Jeruselem Center for Public Affairs, and so on, they will probably be getting a particular slant. And if a report is to influence public and university policy, the policy makers should have every assurance that all sides were heard and heard clearly.
The second problem is the thorny issue of free expression: how do we promote tolerance without stomping on free speech? Here again, the authors fail to work out a convincing position. Indeed, while the report claims to value free expression, it simultaneously gives multiple indications that its authors would like to see free expression and academic independence curtailed. For instance, the report calls for “student spaces” that would be free of advocacy, but such a proposal raises all sorts of problems. How large would such spaces be? And how central? And how many? And what would count as advocacy? What if I advocate a particular position in a private conversation and am overheard? Do we really want to start sectioning off universities into zones where controversial discussion is allowed and zones where it isn’t?
More ominous is the final recommendation in the university section wherein professors are to “be held accountable” for the “rigour” of their courses. I am all in favour of rigour, of course, but universities already have mechanisms for that, and explicitly citing rigour in this context could pave the way for unfair restrictions of academic freedom whereby the content of a course — say a critical stance on Israel — could be challenged on the pretext that the course isn’t rigorous enough.
Israel and the criticism of it feature prominently in this section of the report. In a list of anti-Semitic events at Canadian universities, for example, the authors list a number of incidents that are obviously illegal and outrageous, such as threats and violence directed towards Jewish students; but they also list incidents which might have been cause for offence, but are, arguably, expressions of political, philosophical, or historical ideas, however clumsily they might have been stated. Calling for boycotts against Israel for perceived wrongdoing by that country is not in itself necessarily antisemitic. Likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid, similarly, may be shocking, and may, in the final analysis, be a bad analogy. But ad hominem arguments and bad analogies are things to refute with reasoned rebuttals, not things to ban by law or policy. The report says that using apartheid in the context of Israel is antisemitic, but by its own definition, criticism of Israel is only antisemitic if it singles out Israel in a way that other countries are not. But the very term apartheid comes from South Africa, another country. And Israel is not the only country to be accused of apartheid: a few minutes of searching turns up the term applied to women in Saudi Arabia, African Americans in the United States, and First Nations people in Canada.
The CPCCA was a good idea, and its members are, no doubt, well-meaning public servants. But at least as far as universities go, they need to start over. We need to have this conversation and it needs to be a thoughtful one. This report is not a good start.