Saturday, November 14, 2009

HUAC North: the fix is in

If anyone had any doubts about the purpose and function of the Parliamentary inquisition now under way--the so-called Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism--they should now be dispelled.

This isn't an inquiry. It's a witch-hunt.

Here is the Chair, Mario Silva: "Freedom of speech, thought and expression are vital components of academic discourse - but this rule has to apply to all points of view, including those who have unfashionable views supportive of Israel." [emphasis added]

"Unfashionable views," eh?

In Canada, the Prime Minister himself has called criticism of Israel "anti-Semitic," and compared parliamentarians who have voiced such criticisms to Nazis. Three well-heeled pro-Israel lobby groups have the ear of this government: B'nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the moderate Canada-Israel Committee, which at least appears more interested in dialogue than denunciation.

The Harper government is uncritically supportive of Israel. It has refused to oppose continued settlement-annexation of the West Bank in Har Homa, for instance, even after the US did so. In 2006, our PM called the wholesale destruction and carnage in Lebanon a "measured response," and appeared completely disinterested in the deaths of Canadian citizens at the hands of the Israeli Defence Forces. Internationally, it has soiled our reputation for fairness on the issue. Politicians at the federal and provincial level who speak out of turn, and even some who are merely accused of doing so, are smeared and pressured to withdraw their comments.

The media don't exactly hang back either: it wasn't that long ago that CanWest re-wrote copy to make it more pro-Israel, suppressed numerous articles, and harassed employees for daring to explore the Palestinian side of the dispute.
There are some brave commentators who try to be even-handed, but they are in a distinct minority even today.

As for public opinion, while it is divided, Israel enjoys a substantial base of support. In a CTV poll carried out in 2006, for example, 45% disagreed with Stephen Harper's uncompromising stance, but 32%--nearly a third--agreed with it.

"Unfashionable" to support Israel? I don't think so.

Back to the current activities of HUAC North. Check out this new press release, with the provocative hed, "Is campus antisemitism on the rise in Canada?"

Why do these "inquirers" even bother with the question-mark? Here is the roster for their hearings on the issue:

Part one:
- Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Professor Yehuda Bauer (Yad Vashem Institute)
- Professor Kenneth Marcus (City University of New York)
- Professor Alvin Rosenfeld (Indiana University)

Part two:
- Zac Kaye (Director, Hillel of Greater Toronto)
- Josh Zelikovitz (former President. Hillel at Queen's University
and Jewish Identity Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of
Jewish Students)
- Miriam Stein (University of Ottawa Law Student)

How fair. How balanced.

My speculation? The Final Report from HUAC North was written before it even went on the road, leaving a few gaps so that gobbets of the unbiased testimony they have solicited can be dropped in before it goes to the printer.

The only bright note is that commenter Marky Mark, who takes a far more moderate view, was notified at the last minute that he would be invited to appear. This was after concerns had been raised* that the CPCCA was showing obvious bias in its selection of witnesses. But Marky, bless him, is evidently the closest thing to the "other side" that HUAC North is prepared to tolerate.

Somewhere, Joe McCarthy is smiling.

*For example, in this internal email from MP Carolyn Bennett:

From: Bennett, Carolyn - M.P.
Sent: October 25, 2009 11:59 AM
To: Silva, Mario - M.P.
Cc: Bennett, Carolyn - Assistant; Neville, Anita - M.P.; 'bob.rae@***'; Cotler, Irwin - M.P.
Subject: Independant voices

Judy Rebick just approached me at a conference

She says NONE of the dissenting opinions groups have been allowed to appear .. Only able to submit written reports ....

Big backlash brewing ..
I think we have to hear from both sides ...

And then write a report .... That can take a stand ...

Carolyn Bennett MP St. Paul's

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