Friday, December 30, 2005

Ezra Levant's plummeting Standard

The publisher of the Western Standard has outdone himself this week, with a mud-slinging piece against the Liberal candidate in Mississauga-Erindale, Omar Alghabra. Readers may remember that Alghabra was accused of making inflammatory statements during his nomination meeting. This proved to be false, but Ezra Levant isn't having that: he now levels more accusations against Alghabra, whose chief fault appears to be that he is an immigrant and a Muslim.

Levant's bill of particulars, alas, would never stand up in court. The links provided to back them up reveal nothing other than his dishonesty: in many cases they do not remotely say what he claims they do. Here, then, are his charges, repeated verbatim:

1. Alghabra has condemned CanWest newspapers for labelling groups like Hamas and Hizbollah "terrorist" groups;

2. Alghabra has welcomed al-Jazeera to Canada and railed against any restrictions on it, but condemned the CRTC for allowing the "abusive" Fox News Channel in;

3. In the wake of the Arab riots at Concordia that shut down a speech by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Alghabra had the temerity to blame Jewish students for silencing campus discussions, and supported an Arab conference on campus whose stated mission was the elimination of Israel;

4. Alghabra has called for the total abolition of Canada's anti-terrorism laws; and

5. Alghabra was stopped at the U.S. border and searched and fingerprinted -- whether that was by reason of demographic profiling, or because he was on a watch list is uncertain. What is certain is that Alghabra turned it into an opportunity to gain media face time, Maher Arar-style, as an anti-American, anti-security mouthpiece.

Let's have a look at the damning "evidence" that Levant adduces:

1) Levant's link doesn't mention either Hisbollah or Hamas. It refers, in fact, to CanWest’s nasty habit some time back of re-writing wire news stories, inserting the word "terrorist" hither and yon to refer to Palestinians, but giving the Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank a pass. You don't have to be Muslim to object to that. Reuters didn’t think much of it.

2) Levant's link indicates that the Canadian Arab Federation did not call for the censoring of Fox News, but rather questioned the double standard that allowed Fox in (an outfit that more recently endorsed the neo-Nazi Stormfront organization) while attaching onerous conditions to the Al Jazeera network, the latter well-known as a rare independent voice in the Arab world, attracting the ire of the Arab establishment.

3) The article in question pointed out instances of Muslim students being put under pressure by various university administrations. Levant doesn't question this, because the facts are public record. As for the conference, Levant's link doesn't actually refer to it that I can see, but rather to an organization that supports the "right of return." The problem is, the right is here being applied to Palestinians instead of Jews. Horrors!

4) I'm against the anti-terrorism laws too. They were a knee-jerk response by the Liberals, in particular Anne McLelland, a "me-too" to the American Patriot Act. Now we're about to get even more intrusive state surveillance, this time of Internet communications. This is something conservatives would normally abhor, but not, I guess, where Muslims are concerned. But Levant would no doubt consider the Canadian Bar Association as "terrorist," as well: they too are mentioned in his link.

5) Alghabra was stopped at the US border and searched and fingerprinted. He made some public noise about this. Levant appears to think that the dusky fellow should have just sucked it up and said nothing. People like him should be grateful to have been allowed to immigrate here. Opening his mouth is clearly suspicious: speaking out is a right reserved, dontcha know, for people, well, like Levant himself and his buddies at the Western Standard. But none of the latter, I venture to suggest, would be subject to racial profiling at the border.

Levant complains that Alghabra is now threatening to sue people for attributing comments to him that he did not actually make. (Maybe he should talk to his colleague Kate McMillan.) That’s a reasonable critique: Alghabra isn’t the first Liberal to throw this kind of weight around, and I for one am getting a little tired of it. If only he had left it there. Instead, he goes on to refer to the Muslim Canadian Congress’ call for a police investigation of the "Canadian Coalition for Democracies" group, the folks who had to apologize publicly to Alghabra for getting it wrong. In a racist dig at Alghabra, who himself has said nothing about police at all, he says: “More good Saudi moves, but sorry, we don't bring police in to settle political arguments in Canada.”

He concludes by inviting a defamation suit against him. Alghabra shouldn’t bother, if it were even to cross his mind. Levant has self-destructed in his sleazy, dishonest piece. Let him lie where he fell.

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