Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Israel Derangement Syndrome

Having put up a few articles critical of Israel, I've been accused of IDS from time to time--by commenters who tend to be pro-Israel in their views. Indeed, some of the friskier among them have taken to following me around the blogosphere, noisily denouncing me. One over-the-top BC blogger (no link here) went so far as to accuse me of being an apologist for the Blood Libel.

But in an era where even Jews critical of Israel state policy are called anti-Semites, none of that should surprise anyone.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to loom large in public commentary, and is an obvious priority for the Harper government. Stephen Harper himself considers criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic. A Parliamentary "coalition" is hard at work paving the way for the eventual criminalization of such criticism. Campus hoaxes add fuel to the fire. And lobby pressure to shut down dissent continues, incessantly, remorselessly.

Israel Derangement Syndrome? I've been responding to it.

Today I learn that the junior Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Kent, has effectively committed Canada to war in the Middle East if Israel is attacked. No such bilateral arrangement, to my knowledge, exists with any other country in the world.

We'd better have a national debate about this new move, and sooner rather than later. Its implications are grave. One wonders, for example: would the Israel-Lebanon war in 2006, in which all inhabitants of Southern Lebanon were considered legitimate Israel Defence Forces targets, have put Canada at war with Lebanon under this new policy? After all, the fighting began with a minor border skirmish initiated by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, a display of photographs of Gaza by Israeli and Palestinian photographers, sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, has been abruptly ordered out of the Cinéma du Parc, a repertory house in Montreal, by the owners of the building.
From the CJPME news release:

On Monday, Feb. 15th, the critically acclaimed Human Drama in Gaza Photo Exposition in Montreal was threatened with closure by Gestion Redbourne PDP Inc., the real estate management firm owning the property housing the Exposition. A legal representative of Redbourne, Lieba Shell, sent an email late in the day to the exposition host, Cinema du Parc, ordering the removal of the exposition and threatening legal action if the exposition were not taken down by evening. Cinema du Parc and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) – the producer of the exposition – asserted through their legal advisor, Mark H. Arnold,that such threats from Redbourne were not lawful.

Human Drama in Gaza was launched in mid-January, and received very positive reviews in several media. Redbourne, however, demanded the removal of the exposition based on a paragraph in the lease that Cinema du Parc has with Redbourne relating to "purely cinemagraphic use" of the premises. Arnold, however, asserted that the cinema’s hosting of a photo exposition would very much constitute cinemagraphic use of the premises. Officials with Cinema du Parc also pointed out that the cinema has hosted dozens of photo expositions in the past several years, and has never had a complaint from Redbourne, the landlord.

The corporate media have not even bothered to report this latest instance of meddling and muzzling. It's just not news anymore.

It's good to see that Cinéma du Parc is standing its ground. I wish them luck. Those who want to protest may send a letter to the building owners (ignore the prepared screed and use your own words). But in Canada, 2010, I can't help feeling that it's a bit like using a toothpick to stop a flood.

UPDATE: (February 20) Redbourne has backed off, and the show will go on. [via Filasteen]

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