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Propaganda war: Truth is first casualty -Jewish Tribune

[MISC, Thursday, 17 September 2009 09:26 No Comment]

If you repeat the same libel over and over again, at what point does it become true? That must be the question that occupies the minds of Israel bashers like Naomi Klein and John Greyson. Their letter of ‘objection’ to a film series dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the city of Tel Aviv has been taken up as a rallying call for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

For ideologues, like them, there is no mention of Israel too benign, no event too apolitical that it cannot be transformed into an agitprop exercise to delegitimize the Jewish state. For them, any mention of Israel must be prefaced by the libel ‘Apartheid’ and must be followed by the discriminatory mantra ‘boycott, divestment, sanctions.’ The issue is not – as Klein et al claim – Gaza, or Lebanon, or even ‘the occupation.’ It is the existence of Israel, the lone island of liberal democracy in an ocean of Arab dictatorships.

More to the point, the issue of their campaign is the right of Israel to defend itself from the 10,000 missiles launched from Gaza, the kidnapping of its soldiers by terrorist groups and the intention of a number of its malign neighbours, including a soon-to-be nuclear-armed Iran to wipe it off the map.

In recent years, Israel has faced more existential threats than any comparable nation in the world. Yet it has maintained a judiciary that is the envy of much of the world, even the Middle East, a Parliament that has seen Arabs sitting in cabinet and an army that telephones civilians in their homes before an attack begins. It is far from perfect, but its record is better than numerous other nations at war around the world. At the same time though, it is the subject of more one-sided criticism for its defensive actions than any other nation in the world. The ironically named United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), led by such luminaries as China, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, is a perfect example of this hypocritical approach. 

The committee spends more time on issuing rote condemnations of Israel than it does on any other state. In doing so, it ignores the violations of favoured states such as China, Iran and Zimbabwe.  When Sri Lanka killed about 20,000 Tamil civilians in the brutal end game to its civil war, the UNHRC did not see fit to condemn the Sinhalese regime. In fact, it congratulated the victors. In contrast, when Israel’s Gaza mission, which  even by Palestinian figures led to the death of only about 5 per cent as many civilians as the Sri Lankan offensive, the UNHRC raced to condemn Israel’s “massive [human rights] violations.” Only then did it create a ‘fact-finding mission’ to prove its pre-existing determination. This is the stuff of the old British Star Chamber, not a legitimate human rights arbiter.

Closer to home, left-aligned unions, churches and student unions have joined in the crescendo of attempts to criminalize Israel. But did CUPE Ontario see fit to boycott Chinese academics to protest the occupation of Tibet? Did the Anglican Church seek to divest from Russia when its army was killing up to 35,000 civilians, including 5,000 children in the 1994-5 storming of Grozny in Chechnya? Did university student groups have a Sri Lankan Apartheid Week in solidarity with the Tamil nation? Has Naomi Klein and her coterie organized a political event to boycott anything to do with Sudan in protest for the genocide in Darfur? You know the answers to each of those questions. 

In her op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail (Sept. 8, 2009) Klein claims that she is not looking to do anything as nasty as to boycott let alone censor TIFF over the Tel Aviv film series. Nor do they have any problems with the showing of the Israeli films at the festival. She and her group just wish to “protest” the use of the festival by the powerful “Israeli propaganda machine.” Ignoring the fact that her declamation is an echo of the nasty canard that the Jews control the media and even the fact that two Palestinian filmmakers are represented at TIFF, her statement is also demonstrably false. Her co-organizer John Greyson is more honest when he links this protest to the global boycott movement against Israel. He further admits the boycotters’ bullying tactics by writing that he and his co-organizers have set up “a type of picket line” around the TIFF. So there you have it, only one country’s films deserve to be picketed, even if  Klein is ashamed to admit what she and her group are doing.

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