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I went to last night’s IAW opening event at Ryerson University in Toronto. It featured Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, confused Jew Naomi Klein, and CUPE Ontario VP Ajamu Nangwaya, a South African who was a victim of South Africa Apartheid so he knows quite a bit about real Apartheid, but obviously has no idea about what is going in Israel.

Their messages were exactly what you’d expect: Israel is an Apartheid state, Israel committed a massacre in Gaza, Israel is a racist regime, Israel is occupying the indigenous people of Palestine, Israel bombs schools, Israel kills babies, the Canadian government and the university administrations are racist, blah blah blah. Completely one-sided, closed-minded rhetoric presented by the side that as they put last night is “committed to open dialog”.

A complete irony that most people in the crowd are probably too thick to have realized is that the moderator of the event had no idea how to pronounce the word Apartheid – she kept pronouncing the th wrong. And this wasn’t an accent issue, she just genuinely had no idea how to pronounce it. It just goes to show you how much they really know about what Apartheid is. If you didn’t even take the time to learn how to pronounce the word, then isn’t it safe to assume that you never even took the time to learn what it is? Apartheid is completely misrepresented by these people, and it’s such a shame to the true victims of South African Apartheid.

One notable thing that was said by Ajamu was that “a lot of people are no longer afraid of being called Anti-Semite for standing up for peace and justice”. How noble. Who knew that telling a Jewish child that you’re going to f—in kill them was standing up for peace and justice?

He also made plenty of references to the “racist, capitalist” system in Canada and claimed that “as a working class activist, as a person who is committed to socialism, wherever people are oppressed, I am with them”. He also kept eerily referring to Sid Ryan as “Brother Ryan” – who by the way got a standing ovation.

And this brings me to the point I really want to make. The people involved in this movement are all on the fringe extreme left. This kind of talk is, I am sorry to say it, completely out of touch with reality. Who still refers to themselves in Marxian terms?

And I’m not just talking about the organizers and the speakers being on the fringe extreme left. That’s expected. The good news is that a quick analysis of the demographics of the entire crowd really speaks volumes for the so-called success and growth of this movement. The crowd was almost completely made up of two groups: muslim/arabs, and middle aged Caucasian ex-hippies. I’m talking like 60-year-old-woman-with-pink-hair-donning-a-kaffiyah hippy (be sure to see the pictures at the end of this post). I’d say that the majority of the attendees fit into one of these two groups. So for all their talk of the movement picking up momentum and growing, the reality is that the only people who take them seriously are themselves, and the only people attending these events are people who were already convinced.

At one point while we were waiting for the speakers to come out, a spontaneous chant of “SO! SO! SOLIDARITY! SO SO SOLIDARITY!” erupted in the crowd. When they act like they’re at a football game, they are showing regular, mature thinking members of society who they really are.

Mainstream Canadians do not think we are in a working class struggle. Mainstream Canadians do not think that capitalism is racist. Mainstream Canadians do not break into chants in the middle of lectures. And so it’s safe to say that most likely, mainstream Canadians are not going to believe the lies of people who act in this way.

I look forward to attending more of these events, so I can witness more of their debauchery. It really is the best defence for the Israeli side. Better than I as a pro-Israel activist could ever do. Thank you CAIA.

[UPDATED: pictures added]

Here are the pictures. I could only take a few because I was told to put my camera away. I’d recommend you actually view the photos with the captions on flickr. I’m having some technical difficulties figuring out how to put a gallery with captions in the post and I have no time to deal with it now!

[UPDATED: Video added]

A reader Josephine sent me a video she took waiting outside at the event. With the chants of “Allahu Akhbar” (6:22), and a participant yelling at one of Jews to “go eat a double cheeseburger”, we’re still supposed to believe that this is political?

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27 Responses to “[UPDATED: VIDEO] Israel Apartheid Week Event 1 – Preaching Hate to the Converted”

  1. ML says:

    Never argue with an idiot. They’ll bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience.

  2. john smith says:

    I know that you are an intelligent person, and that the point of this blog is to voice your frustrations about current events and whatnot, but this post is filled with fallacies. Most notably attacking the character of the organizers and participants of this event. I did not attend, and so I don’t know what was said during these lectures, but in the spirit of full disclosure and open discussion you could at least present some ideas that were mentioned.

    If you think that mainstream Canadians don’t believe there is a class struggle then I suggest you take a trip to the poorer side of the GTA and talk to some people. Ask them if they feel like they’re over-worked/under-appreciated/struggling to maintain a decent lifestyle.

    And for the record, many academics who study and theorize about social issues use Marxian terms. They are as applicable now as they were in the 1800s.

  3. Maria says:

    Funny…this free and open forum, wasn’t open enough to allow pictures to be taken. Evil camera’s.

    These people are a joke. Your right they do more damage to their argument than good.

  4. truepeers says:

    They are as applicable now as they were in the 1800s.

    -what? as if we can just ignore all the failed politics of the last century that were inspired by Marx and in the process rang up a death toll unparalleled in human history? Marxism is based on some fundamental denials of human reality. You can believe in class conflict all you like, but to say that this belief is equivalent to recognizing the truth of marx is to close your mind. If you are interested in understanding how Marxism is a form of reality-denying Gnosticism, and an intellectual swindle, read Eric Voeglin’s Science, Politics & Gnosticism. As for class conflict in our day and age, please note that the kind who draw nice CUPE wages are the middle class, and their privileged and parasitical approach to the creative forces in the world economy is disgusting from the point of view of those who really want to see opportunities for poor people.

    The questions this post raises for me is the assumption that just because only a fringe will attend an IAW rally that we need not worry too much about the hateful ideas there. I’m not so sure. The ideas are much more contagious than the bad theatre and group culture from which they spring. They spread when people don’t have to look too hard at the nuts and hate mongers who promote them, when the false but appealing model of reality – in which some powerful group conspire to screw the outsiders – gets divorced from its own reality as an elitist exercise in encouraging and channeling resentment. The forces in the international media and academy and NGOs out to scapegoat Israel are powerful and currently ascendant. But because they are as about as much keyed into reality as Marxist “John Smith”, there will be opportunities to make creative lessons out of their many failures, that are inevitable now that they have power, to deal adequately with reality.

  5. jacobleif says:

    Here’s a basic difference…. God didn’t give the dutch south africa

    Indiginous…. Pfffff

  6. jacobleif says:

    Last time I checked Spain wasn’t muslim to begin with

    Last time I checked North America didn’t have any spontaneous humans in history

    Got lots more, but this is a limited forum

    Ask me back if u want

    HRC’s don’t scare me

  7. rd says:

    Amazing. You forgot to give us any report on what was actually said, apart from describing it as “hate” without any explanation as to why. Thanks for protecting us from the message and substituting a fashion critique. I found this report from rabble.ca more informative:

    “I went to yesterday’s opening event in Toronto, with Omar Barghouti and Naomi Klein. It was excellent. One thing that really stuck out for me was when Klein was talking about how the pro-Apartheid side tries to frame all the terms of the debate, not only for their own side, but for our side too.

    So, they try to say that it’s not legitimate for us to use this word or that word (like Apartheid, like massacre, etc.) and they try to ban our posters (like the one that was banned at Carleton), and they try to tell us that we can’t call for BDS.

    And she really hit home the fact that the reason they don’t want us to do any of that stuff is because it’s EFFECTIVE. Of course they don’t want us to be effective. They’d rather we talk about “collateral damage” and pretend there is equivalency on both sides even though there isn’t.

    Basically, the pro-Apartheid side is happy for people who support Palestinians to do or say anything – as long as it is completely ineffective at changing anything.

    She encouraged everyone there to not give an inch, to not allow ourselves to be bullied into ineffectiveness. She encouraged us to not let the pro-Apartheid side succeed at limiting our vocabulary to words that do not resonate, and limiting our actions to things that are completely ineffective.

    The reason that speech hit home with me is because we see this on babble all the time – the pro-Apartheid posts nitpicking at the legitimate words, images, and actions of Palestinian rights activists. We need to stand up and tell them, NO. We need to say, you can make your case, but you do not get to tell us how to make OUR case, nor do you get to tell us what actions we will take. We will do whatever is most effective, and we don’t need anyone’s permission to do so, and certainly not the permission of those who support Israeli apartheid.

    Oh, and of course the JDL were out in full-force, too. (By full force, I mean maybe about 10 or 15 people.) They were screaming “Racists off campus” as people were leaving the meeting. I’ve got to say, the security detail and police (I think they were police?) that were there did their jobs really well – they kept the JDL guys at bay, while not interfering at all with the carrying out of the event.”

  8. YN says:

    1. Your post is almost identical to the blog by Fred, a gay conservative living in Ottawa: http://gayandright.blogspot.com/2009/03/israel-hate-week-at-ryerson.html
    2. I was present at the event as well. Although I do agree with you in that the view presented was limited to one side, I feel that you are presenting false information in this review. For example, I did not once hear them call Israel racist. You should present the actual statement that you heard the speakers make with reference to this. Another mistake presented in your review is that the population segment present at this event was not just half Muslim / Arab and old Caucasian people. From what I had observed about 65% of the attendees were Caucasians ranging in age (20s – 60s). 15% of the attendees were Arabs and another 20 % were non-Arab and non-Caucasian. These are just few of the limitations present in your review. Next time please report the correct facts.

  9. Hey says:

    A great update on what happened at Rye.. Don’t mind the Jew haters and self hating nihillists in the vein of Naomi Klein who have popped in thanks to the Post’s link.

    There’s a reason the Left lines up with genocidal Islamists – the Left has always been a big fan of genocide, from the French Revolution to Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia… They want to do it here to, and are envious of what Hamas does in Gaza. Stalin is history’s 2nd best anti-semite, and only limited by the number of Jews he had in his grasp. The best defence we all have is to expose the murderous intentions and associations of the NDP and the Liberal party.

  10. mikecg says:

    Hi YN.
    I am not presenting any false facts. The estimate I presented of the make up is just that, an estimate. I didn’t go around and take a census.

    And to say that they didn’t call Israel racist is completely and utterly absurd. Do I remember any specific incidents where they said the exact quote “Israel is racist”? No, but that’s because I don’t really remember any specific quotes – again, they did not allow me to take pictures or record it. The whole premise of this entire event is to say that Israel is an Apartheid state, and an Apartheid state is BY DEFINITION racist! That’s what APARTHEID means! How can you deny that? Who are you trying to kid? They don’t need to say that – it is implied in everything they say. And I definitely recall Omar specifically saying that Arab Israeli citizens are systematically discriminated against, and he went out of his way to say “and I mean it’s systematic, not just policies here and there”.
    Please stop being an apologist.

  11. Mark says:

    We’ve heard “the message” a gazillion times.

    The fact is that atrocities far more despicable than what is claimed to be committed by Israel everyday (Darfur anyone?) yet there is a fixation on the radical Left with Israel.

    Couldn’t be anything to do with anti-semitism huh? Nah….

  12. Mark says:

    YN! You need to LEARN HOW TO READ: GayAndRight LINKS to this blog. It’s not “almost identical”. You are a tool.

  13. Charlie says:

    RD’s posted link and the latter half of Truepeers comments complement each other well. There are efforts to remove certain posters or frame the language of a debate because the language used by those who call Israel an apartheid state is effective. It sticks. The problem is, what is sticking is a false image. For example, I have seen Israelis compared to Nazis. That sticks, only, nothing could be farther from the truth. An honest debate needs to use honest language and make allusions to completely unrelated, non-analogous historical events.
    Since these false, stigmatizing labels do stick, they should be confronted and rejected as what they are, libelous. By tolerating libel, by making it acceptable, or letting it slide, these false terms become legitimized. That is why their is concern even if only pink haired senior citizens are attending the speech.

  14. john smith says:

    I am very aware of the reality of these situations. And the reality is that marxism is meant to be a criticism of capitalist society. If you believe that capitalism is a safe socio-economic theory, then I suggest you take a look at the state of the world. Have marxist ideas lead to failed politics in the past? Yes, I’m not denying that. But to shun the idea of advancing past the greedy ideals that dictate our lives is just naive.
    “As for class conflict in our day and age, please note that the kind who draw nice CUPE wages are the middle class, and their privileged and parasitical approach to the creative forces in the world economy is disgusting from the point of view of those who really want to see opportunities for poor people.”
    It seems like CUPE bashing is all the rage these days, particularly due to the recent strike at York and anti-semitic remarks. Anti-semitic remarks aside (only because they are not pertinent to this conversation), realize that the York strikers were not making the wages that the media would have people believe. I fail to see how they are parasitical. If push came to shove, and you were being told, not asked, to do 30-40 hours of work but only being paid for 10 would you not make some kind of fuss? How about if you had to re-apply for you job every four months? Or what if your health care insurance (which wasn’t much to begin with) was reduced? These people aren’t money grubbers, they are simply trying to obtain the necessary conditions to live their lives.
    Are there people who are less fortunate? Absolutely, but it is not because a few union members are trying to better their own situation, it is because there is a fundamental problem with society’s economic distribution. Now I don’t have a solution, but why should that stop me from criticizing? How can you advance unless you question your surroundings?

  15. Joseph Olde says:

    The point about pronouncing Apartheid simply diminishes the entire post. The message of IAW is enough to discredit the messengers. The insinuation that the mispronunciation discredits the message in fact just discredits the criticism.

  16. Dr.Dawg says:

    He also kept eerily referring to Sid Ryan as “Brother Ryan”

    Are you really this out of touch?

  17. delmas-patterson genevieve says:

    By protesting against apartheid we want to help the Israelis to recover the traditionnal jewish values of compassion understanding.Learn the history of opression and the action of Jews against it
    we have not hate. I feel sad for the Israeli soldiers.How many will be damaged psychologically for life?
    Whatever the style of your web site, it does not bring any advance for peace rather the contrary .
    Try to see the conflict otherwise Genevieve

  18. Charlie says:

    Genevieve, nevermind that Israelis don’t want to be told what their values are or should be by anyone, in all the reporting on Israeli Apartheid Week, I have not seen anything that would indicate that the events are about reaching out to Israelis to start a dialogue. On the contrary, all I’ve seen are one sided Israel bashing sessions where dissent is sometimes met by physical force and insult.
    There may also be more credibility to your desire to preach compassion if those that you protest with actually showed compassion for Israelis as well. What compassion have anti-Israeli protesters shown for children in range of rockets from Gaza? What about for the families and victims of Palestinian suicide bombers, of what about Gilad Shalit and his family, a soldier being held by Hamas without even visitation by international aid groups. Do you feel sad for him? Do you think he is being psychologically damaged for life? What about the aforementioned children, think they have psychological problems? The answer is yes. The compassion argument doesn’t fly.
    You personally, Genevieve, may not have hate, but many of those you side with do. There have been overt incidents of anti-semetism in connection with this apartheid-week event and it takes willful blindness to ignore it. Even if you don’t hate though, Genevieve, you discriminate. You also don’t see the other side of the argument. You’re choosing to focus one one aspect of a complex issue which many people claim to be experts on, but that probably very few understand. If you want examples of events tat harm peace, apartheid-week would top my list. Demonizing the “other,” applying wildly innacurate labels like “apartheid” do nothing but drive a wedge between those that could otherwise have reasonable discussions.
    Does all this mean that no Palestinians are suffering? No, it does not. I think everyone recognizes that Palestinians are hurting and I think only the most extreme and callous people would rejoice at the thought of innocent civilians being killed. Admonitions from those in the anti-Israel camp to see the conflict “otherwise,” however, are hypocritical. Be intellectually honest with yourself, Genevieve. What do you know about Israel and Palestine? What are your sources of information? Who do you talk to and interact with? Have you ever been to the region? Ask yourself, do I really have all the information I possibly can?

  19. Andy says:

    Here’s a letter I sent to the National Post:
    Re: Front-page editorial cartoon by Gary Clement, Feb. 24.

    It is beyond the pale for the National Post to equate Sid Ryan’s stance on Israel with support for the Holocaust. Your vilification of Mr. Ryan is premised on the false proposition that Israel is being singled out and being treated differently because it describes itself as a “Jewish state.” The fact is that the union movement has called for sanctions in the past against countries or states that violate human rights. The union movement boycotted Chile for its human rights abuses. Does this make it anti-Hispanic? Furthermore, it is normal for sanctions to be imposed on countries that violate UN resolutions.

    Israel is violating a number of resolutions regarding both the occupation of the West Bank and the continued construction of settlements. If the National Post is serious in wanting Israel to be treated like every other nation, you should be applauding Sid Ryan, not calling him names.

  20. Charlie says:

    What about all of Israels neighbors that rejected and violated the UN resolution that partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab portions. Where’s the condemnation for those who rejected that UN resolution?

    Pointing to Chile and saying we boycotted them too, does not even handedness make. Where’s the condemnation for ongoing rocket attacks against Israeli civilians? What about ongoing violence in Sri Lanka, Darfur, Columbia, the Congo?

    Sid Ryan would have a great deal more credibility if he showed some intellectual honesty.

  21. Andy says:

    It’s a bit precious for you to be going on about violating UN resolutions given all the UN resolutions Israel has violated regarding the occupation. But in any case you are making the classic mistake of conflating the Palestinian people with the Arab countries surrounding the area and also, you are neglecting that the UN resolution that partitioned Palestine gave the majority of the population (Palestinian Arabs in 1948) a minority of the land, ie 55% of the population got 45% of the territory, so you could see why they might be pissed and not have seen the partition as equitable at the time. Of course, in retrospect, things would have been much better for everyone had the original partition been accepted.

    I don’t think you have any clue what CUPE has condemned or boycotted over the years. Israel supporters keep asking “what about Darfur” – well CUPE passed a resolution several years ago directing its pension fund to divest from companies such as Talisman that invest in Darfur and if you look at resolutions passed by CUPE or the international committees of various unions and the CLC you’ll see resolutions dealing with Sri Lanka and various countries around the world including, of course, apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

    You are simply buying a propaganda line that Sid Ryan or CUPE or Palestinian solidarity campaigners in general single Israel out and ignore atrocities around the world. That’s simply false.

  22. Charlie says:

    Very well. I’ll concede. I don’t know all of CUPE’s past boycotts. Is there a list I can consult? I’ll accept that Chile and Darfur are also on the list. What about Sri Lanka? What about Hamas? The Congo, Uganada, Human rights abuses from China, to Bangladesh to Egypt to Palestinian internal conflict? Are those there too?

    Part of the problem is not merely that Israel is being condemned, it’s that one side of a conflict is condemned when the other is at fault. Israel has been at the receiving end of rickets fired at its civilians for 8 years. To vilify Israel and point to unrespected UN resolutions after Israel defends itself is discrimination. Why is Israel condemned by CUPE (the impetus of which was the bombing of a university where rockets were developed and manufactured) when rockets slam into Israeli kindergartens and nobody makes a peep. If I’m wrong, and CUPE has condemned Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians, I would be grateful for some information about it.

  23. Andy says:

    Doesn’t it alarm you that this lie that CUPE’s only ever taken action on Israel and no other countries is so widespread and that none of the Zionist groups that propagate it have bothered to see if it’s true? If you want a full list of CUPE Ontario international resolutions from over the years then here’s an idea – call CUPE Ontario. Do some actual research. As for whether they’ve made a statement on Hamas, I don’t know. But I do know that Sid Ryan actually rejects the “Israeli apartheid” analogy and favours a two state solution – but you’d never know that reading the National Post, the Jewish Tribune or the Canadian Jewish News or by listening to Bnai Brith, the CJC or the CIC.

  24. Andy says:

    BTW, while your insisting that CUPE adhere to a checklist, why don’t you try to find out whether or not Israel ever adhered to sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa or what Israel’s stances were on various human rights violations around the world? I suspect you’re holding CUPE to a higher standard than Israel when in fact, CUPE comes far closer to meeting that actual standard than does Israel.

    This article may prove to be of interest to you.

  25. Charlie says:

    I’m not alarmed by anything because I have not heard anyone say that Israel is the only country to be boycotted by CUPE. I’ve heard it said that Israel is unfairly and disproportionately criticized and that in this conflict of two parties, they were wrongly singled out, but not that Israel is the only one to ever be criticized by CUPE.

    I don’t insist that the CUPE meet some kind of boycott checklist. My point is, there are far greater, far more severe, far more deadly conflicts than those in Israel and Gaza taking place around the world as I type this. Nonetheless, CUPE chooses to sanction the party that has been at the receiving end of an 8 year campaign of rockets fired at civilians and (seemingly) gives a pass to those who subscribe to a doctrine of hate, murder, genocide and antisemitism. This is the injustice. This is the imbalance in CUPE’s position.

    As for Israel’s adherence to sanctions against South Africa, frankly, that’s not germane to this discussion. We’re discussing CUPE activities, not Israeli diplomatic history. If we wanted to go down that road, I could point to descendants of the Vietnamese boat people taken in by Israel, whose descendants still live there today, or refugees from Darfur who have chosen to make a home in Israel. Neither of these two examples have anything to do with the CUPE though.

  26. Andy says:

    Why not discuss Israel’s diplomatic history? If you’re using a moralist argument against CUPE then the same should apply to Israel. CUPE has long been a leader in the struggle for human rights and has taken up numerous causes, including South Africa. Or would you have said in the 1980s that CUPE was “singling out” South Africa unfairly?

  27. Charlie says:

    Why not discuss Israeli diplomatic history? Well, by that token, why not discuss Romanian diplomatic history, or Hamas throwing Fatah members off of rooftops, or the mating habits of the common loon? It’s not pertinent to a discussion of CUPE’s proposed boycott of Israel. It’s a digression and a changing of topic. The question here was whether CUPE showed fairness and balance in a critique of Israel. I argue that by condemning a country that is defending itself against terrorists, CUPE shows a lack of fairness and balance, especially as it does not seem to condemn those who launch rockets at civilians. This is my argument and I’m afraid we’re not going to agree on this point, which is too bad. I encourage you though, to think about why it is unfair for CUPE to condemn a country that has absorbed thousands of rocket attacks on its civilian population. If you don’t agree that this condemnation is unfair, then we will simply have to agree to disagree.

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