Leonard Stern is an Ottawa Citizen columnist who once distinguished himself by linking anti-globalization protesters to terrorism: they're “still several rungs behind Osama bin Laden,” he said, but they're “climbing the same ladder.”
He's at it again.
This time, it's the Green Party:
There is concern that the Greens risk contamination from the anti-Israel virus, a pathogen that turns host organisms into single-agenda vehicles and in the end kills their credibility.
Heavens, no! Surely being opposed to the actions of the state of Israel is something against which we should all be inoculated. But Elizabeth May is letting her guard down, says Stern: she's permitting candidates like Ottawa South's Qais Ghanem to run under the Green banner. Ghanem has the audacity to believe that the media have a pro-Israel bias, and he also claims that in North America they are run by a small "oligarchy."
Neither statement is false, of course: media concentration is a documented fact, and some cause for alarm, and, while you can find critiques of Israel's actions here and there, they aren't prominent. Indeed, reporters and editors have been censored, admonished or fired for such critiques by CanWest, which just happens to be the outfit for which Leonard Stern works. (And speaking of "oligarchs"...)
Then Stern introduces this piece of dishonesty, supposedly as an object lesson for the Green Party to ponder:
Concordia University in Montreal is still struggling to rebuild its reputation after radicals took over -- by stealth -- the student union a few years ago. The university woke up one day and discovered that the union had published a student agenda titled Uprising 2001-2002 celebrating the Palestinian intefadeh and denouncing capitalism.
Where to begin? Radicals did win elections at Concordia, which are open affairs. Certainly they opposed capitalism and supported anti-occupation protests on the West Bank--so do I. Stern makes this sound positively evil--for, as we all should know, Israel can do no wrong, ever, and, as he clearly implies, anyone who suggests the contrary is an anti-Semite:
Suddenly, the union was funding anti-Israel rallies; banning from campus a club for Jewish students; and inviting speakers who had written books with titles such as The Holocaust Industry. The madness finally stopped when Concordia students of all political persuasions banded together to "take back the union."
The Hillel Club was indeed briefly banned from the campus for recruiting for the Israeli IDF--the occupying troops on the West Bank, whose brutality is notorious. The Concordia Students Union had a long-standing policy against campus military recruitment of any kind. Hillel had previously distributed anti-Palestinian literature on campus, for which it was merely reprimanded. "The Holocaust Industry," which Stern does not attribute, was in fact written by a Jewish commentator on Middle East affairs, Norman Finkelstein.
All this, Stern calls "madness." And he concludes by cautioning Elizabeth May to "keep the barbarians outside the gates."
Stern's writing is in a genre that has become quite respectable these days: one might call it "uncovering the International Anti-Jewish Conspiracy." All of the elements attributed to an alleged Jewish conspiracy by genuine anti-Semites are present in mirror-image. Anti-Semites are joined, in a world-wide cabal, to terrorism and opposition to Israel. Their human face is anti-globalization protest. They are infiltrating or have already infiltrated our political parties and our universities. They have taken over the Left, and forged an alliance between progressives and Islamofascists. (That last one must have taken some doing, which is a tribute to their devilish cleverness.) No doubt a forged manuscript will turn up someday and be brandished about by the likes of Leonard Stern: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Anti-Zion.
But back to the present day, and this election campaign. If political parties, or candidates, wish to take positions that are critical of Israel, so be it. Let the electors decide. If journalists want to be critical of them for that, so be it as well. It's all part of public debate, and it should be encouraged--as should criticism of journalists who overstep the bounds of civil political discourse, and wander into tinfoil-hat territory.