I don’t like to write when distracted, and there are a few distractions right now in my life.
Until I saw that over 100 University of Toronto faculty members placed a full page ad in the National Post to encourage the banning of Israeli Apartheid Week on campus.
The signers’ names, titles and departments were listed under a heading that stated: “We… oppose the hosting of the Israel Apartheid Week at our institution, and request that the administration stop this hateful and divisive event from returning to our university in future years.” (CJ News, 04/03/08)
One of the initiators is a Dr. Sergio Gristein, a biochem professor who said the reason for the ad was that talks with the administration were unproductive.
“Hateful”, “divisive”, “asymmetrical application of freedom of speech”, “attacking and villainizing the Jewish Community”. These are the accusations and the labels.
Given the facts and the documentary record, let’s break this down piece by piece.
Hate is the wrong word to use. Its more like indignation. And if we are to include the word “hate”, those involved in IApW hate the Israeli application of apartheid (the SouAfr comparison is one made by both Ehud Omert and Ariel Sharon), and the apathy that the world shows. When one sees the open air prison that is Gaza and the numerous checkpoints, anger is more suitable as a description.
Apartheid is Afrikaans for “separation”. What can separate more when an indigenous population is pushed to the brinks of survival. Of course, the comment is aimed at dividing the populations here. So, let us all look at the facts and decide as human beings, not Jews or Palestinians. There needs to be constant hatred and systematic separation for there to be divisiveness. IApW is not a good example of such a program. In fact, there are Jews and Rabbis who believe in Palestinian freedom.
3. Asymmetrical application of freedom of speech
This is a wax poetic. Probably not even said for anyone to understand. It doesnt deserve a response but one can only assume that somehow freedom of speech is abused in this case. Let me spell this out:
CRITICISM OF ISRAEL DOES NOT EQUAL ANTISEMITISM & HATE-SPEECH
Hate speech would be going after Jews of all nationalities with hateful language and anti-semitic epithets. The slogans being chanted don’t count. And if they do, then let them be punished.
4. Attacking and villainizing the Jewish Community
Goes back to the previous point. How convenient to lace Israel, its policies and its national existence with Jews everywhere regardless of individual beliefs, practices and opinions. No doubt, many a Jew would defend Israel to the death and excuse it from international law. But many would look to their conscience and make a serious moral choice. Basic moral principle would conclude if someone else commits a crime and is guilty, then it is also wrong when we do it. There can be no exceptions. Israel is acting like an exception. The Jewish community, and every Jew in it, can make their own judgments. No one says in IApW that Jews are evil; the tactics of Israeli treatment of Palestinians is evil. No one is attacking Jews; if “attacking” is the preferred term, then we activists attack the apathy and silence of the uneducated individual and the global community.
This is also one of the few times that I can say I am proud of the U of T administration:
Robert Steiner, a U of T spokesperson, said the administration has responded to each of the 125 faculty members with an e-mailed letter that outlines the university’s reasons for allowing events such as Israeli Apartheid Week to take place on campus. “The university believes that free speech is a fundamental role of any university in a free society. But allowing for free speech doesn’t mean that we turn a blind eye to whatever is being said,” Steiner said. (CJ News, 04/03/08)
McMasters University has banned the term “Israeli Apartheid” (with endorsement of the student union, mothereffers) and U of T faculty members are putting up ads on newspapers for the cessation of activism.
Who’s messing with freedom of speech here, really?