Loonies Tune Out: B’nai Brith Shuts Down Peace Activists in Canada

Chris Cook of the University of Victoria Gorilla Radio (GO-rilla, as in, our furry friends or cousins… or descendants, depending on your evolutionary perspective and level of optimism about the human race) writes:

“For American readers who value and feel protected by the First Amendment (right to free speech), it may seem strange that a country would enshrine in law the opposite condition; but Hate Crime legislation in this country is widely supported. Canada is an ethnically and politically diverse country, consisting of minority populations from the world over, and it was deemed fair-minded to ensure all are protected from the “tyranny of the majority.” But it’s a double-edged sword, making possible an abuse of the statutes, allowing an equally odious tyranny, the stifling of dissent and criticism by a dedicated minority.”

Cook’s problem is that one edge of this sword just fell on a web-site he edits, the Peace, Earth and Justice News, “a non-profit, all-volunteer, non-hierarchical media organization” based in Victoria whose mission (as described in its Constitution) is to report on “climate change and other environmental issues, war and peace in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and human rights and other matters of social justice.”

PEJ has been operating since 1996 and is owned by the small (annual budget of a few hundred dollars and all volunteer staff), non-profit Prometheus Institute, British Columbia, where Cook was a senior editor until February this year.

On May 17 PEJ publisher Alan Rycroft received a letter from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, signed by the deputy secretary general Richard Tardiff, claiming that PEJ had violated Canadian law by posting anti-Semitic material, according to a complaint filed with its legal department by Harry Abrams, a Victoria businessman and British Columbia representative for the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, Canada, which joins him in the complaint.

PEJ publishes materials from activists around the world, including some who have published on American websites like Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. It is an alternative paper that by definition carries news not covered in the mainstream press and those stories are naturally controversial, often criticizing the actions of powerful entities, including governments. Naturally, that includes the Canadian government. And naturally, also, the Israeli government.

As soon as PEJ received the letter, it removed from its web-site the eighteen articles that Harry Abrams alleges were anti-Semitic.

PEJ did this as a matter of courtesy to Abrams and to show goodwill, according to Joan Russow, one of the directors, pending the outcome of an inquiry by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In any case, PEJ does not endorse articles or comments published on it, to begin with. But, PEJ is, in addition, expressly non-discriminatory. As Dr. Russow, said in a letter to Mr. Abrams on December 31, 2006:

“Anti-Semitism and other prejudicial materials are not allowed on our site — after all PEJ News exists to promote equality and freedom for all — we are the Peace, Earth and Justice News. To the best of our knowledge no anti-Semitic or hate material is on PEJ.org.”

Indeed, it was she who invited Mr. Abrams (in December 2006) to inspect the articles on the site and see if anything was anti-Semitic, including comments from the public.

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), whose “General Expectations of Canada” (as posted on the web, “CJC Brief to DFAIT on UN Human Rights Commission,” Feb 19, 2004 ) are not nearly as objective or non-discriminatory.

The CJC tells Canada’s Jewish citizens to take “constructive interventions against resolutions or motions” made in Canada that:

1.blame only Israel and its policies for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
2. indict Israel’s legitimate counter-terrorism measures with no reference to or condemnation of Palestinian terrorism.
3. deny or undermine Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East (my emphasis).
4. employ existentially threatening language such as referring to Israel as a “racist” or “apartheid” state and apply terms such as ["genocide"(?)], or “ethnic cleansing” to the conflict.
5. are based upon inaccurate media information or Palestinian Authority propaganda.
6. predetermine the outcome of direct, bilateral negotiations in keeping with UN Resolution 242 and 338 or circumvent such a process.

At the same time, Canada’s delegates must support and encourage efforts at the UNCHR that:

1. will ensure a comprehensive accounting of international human rights situations such that grievous international human rights issues are not ignored or soft-pedalled [sic] as a result of a politicized, anti-Israel agenda.
2. highlight the crippling impact of continuing Palestinian terrorism — which has been explicitly legitimized in the CHR resolutions — on the peace process and on attempts to establish a true human rights regime in the Middle East.
3. draw attention to the deficiencies within the Palestinian Authority regarding human rights and the building of a viable civil society for the Palestinian people.”

And B’nai Brith’s positions are even more partisan than this. Thus it is that Anita Bromberg, in-house legal counsel for B’nai Brith, Canada, has joined Mr. Abrams in the complaint against PEJ’s peace activism, because, she says, the articles “are virulently anti-Israel to the point that they meet the criteria of crossing the line of legitimate criticism of the state straight into anti-Semitism.”

What, according to the complaint, is anti-Semitic?

“The idea that Israel has no right to exist or that Israel is an apartheid state,” says Mr. Abrams. Also, any comparison of Zionists to Nazis.

Were there such articles?

In the context of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Lebanon, several pieces did compare Israeli policy with Nazi persecution of Jews and question the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. One, by Chris Cook, “We Should Nuke Israel,” for instance, was a parody of a column in The Toronto Sun proposing a tactical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Cook simply replaced the word “Iran” with “Israel,” “Ahmadinejad” with “Olmert,” “Muslim” with “Jew” and tagged the following paragraph at the end, ironically recommending that the article be acted upon by the Human Rights Commission:

“This amazingly ignorant, hateful, and frankly criminal article has been redacted. ‘Israel’ appears where the murderous and racist author, Michael Coren originally wrote ‘Iran.’ Likewise other slight alterations have been performed. There is, in what remains of this country Canada, hate crime legislation. Unlike Mr. Coren’s, and his Toronto Sun publisher’s heroes in the United States, Canadian media is expected to live up to certain standards. Promoting hatred and proposing the destruction of human life fail miserably to live up to the expected, and legislated, mandates for publishers. I recommend those offended by Mr. Coren’s modest proposal write the Sun, Coren, and the CRTC. Mr. Coren can be reached here.”

This is strong language, yes. But why, we wonder, does the Canadian Human Rights Commission not also write a letter to the columnist in The Toronto Sun, who proposed a real nuclear hit on Iran with a straight face. Why instead attack a column written in transparent satire in response to the former? Are the human rights of Iranians — or of Palestinians — less worthy of attention than the human rights of Israelis?

By the way, in the US, words such as “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” have been applied to the torture at Abu Ghraib in academic and law journals, such as Gonzaga University 10 Gonz. J. Int’l L. 370 (2007). If torture of prisoners in Iraq can be described in this way without American human rights activists objecting, it’s hard to see why the killing and dispossession of the civilian population in Palestine shouldn’t be called ethnic cleansing or genocide.

And, would the CHRC also rush so zealously to investigate on behalf of an organization that claimed Canada — or the U.S. — was a Christian country?

After the letter was received at PEJ and the offending articles removed, Ingmar Lee, one of PEJ’s editors, posted a piece by university professor Shahid Alam, one that just appeared in Dissident Voice, and makes a scholarly criticism of Jewish exceptionalism as “inseparable from Israeli exceptionalism and Israeli history” (“Chosenness and Israeli Exceptionalism“) in a manner no different from — and more measured than — any number of dissections of American exceptionalism (and some forms of Christian fundamentalism), which PEJ has also published.

The fact that it has shows clearly that PEJ was, in this instance, simply following its mission of attacking injustice wherever it finds it and defending human rights, no matter whose. Its criticism of Israel as a race-based state was simply part of its universal secular defense of human rights.

But defending universal secular human rights which, by the way, is stated policy in the State Department turns out now to be the promotion of “ongoing hatred affecting persons identifiable as Jews and/or as citizens of Israel.” Indeed, Harry Abrams and B’nai Brith state that Abrams has “reasonable grounds for believing that I have been discriminated against.”

The only trouble with that is that the criticism in the articles is directed at the policies of the state of Israel, not at Mr. Abrams personally.

Should we conclude that Mr. Abrams sees himself as indistinguishable from the Israeli government? Or that B’nai Brith’s interest in human rights is indistinguishable from the vested interests of the Israeli government?

So far, Canada’s Globe and Mail, which published the story on May 24, has also published PEJ’s vigorous characterization of the charges as “calumnies.” But for how long?

The same day, Ingmar Lee was forced to resign as editor of PEJ for the bad judgment of publishing Alam’s article after the complaint was received, because the article is “slanderous to all Jews,” uses the word Zionist as a “slander” like Nazi, and may be a “hate crime” under Canadian law (in the words of PEJ publisher, Rycroft).

A semantic question: Is it also a slander to refer to Nazis as “Nazis”?

Lila Rajiva is a freelance journalist and the author of The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the US Media (Monthly Review Press, 2005) and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (with Bill Bonner-Wiley, September 2007). She has also contributed chapters to One of the Guys (Ed., Tara McKelvey and Barbara Ehrenreich, Seal Press, 2007), an anthology of writing on women as torturers, and to The Third World: Opposing Viewpoints (Ed., David Haugen, Greenhaven, 2006). Read other articles by Lila, or visit Lila's website.

32 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. gerald spezio said on May 28th, 2007 at 8:28am #

    Lila, you know better than most; if we can’t end the Israeli lobby and propaganda machine’s control, then the murder in Irak will continue. Cook’s simple satire and the glaringly stupid response tells us what a propaganda machine we are up against. Chris Cook’s expose of mad dog murderer, Coren, couldn’t be more illustrative. More murder in Iran in the name of Jewish exceptionalism.

  2. Lila Rajiva said on May 28th, 2007 at 10:35am #

    Hi –

    It’s difficult not to feel dismayed, of course, but I do also think that we shouldn’t dehumanize anyone with the language we use, not Coren, not Jewish exceptionalists, nor Muslim nor anyone else.

    I also think we shouldn’t conflate fundamentalism or even exceptionalism (all cultures have exceptionalist narratives) with actions that are unethical or criminal – and would be so even if they came from complete egalitarians.

    There are many who might think they are superior for one reason or other but would be able to recognize the rights of others to co-exist with them peacefully. No need to attack them.

    LR

  3. Lila Rajiva said on May 28th, 2007 at 10:48am #

    And, thanks very much for your response.

    LR

  4. George said on May 28th, 2007 at 12:59pm #

    REVOLUTION IS THE SOLUTION!!!

  5. Doug@usa.com said on May 28th, 2007 at 1:20pm #

    This is the natural result of criminalizing thought. The people promoting the law aren’t going to tell you how they intend to use it to destroy liberty, you have to just fgure that anyone who wants to punish thoughts is an evil person with evil intent.

  6. Jhoffa_ said on May 28th, 2007 at 5:59pm #

    I’ve always considered it odd that the Israeli’s put so much stock in multiculturalism and combating “racism” abroad when they press for nothing less than racial & religious homogeneity in their own state and enforce it at gunpoint.

    Perhaps it’s because they’re nothing but a bunch of shrieking hypocrites?

  7. bob henderson said on May 28th, 2007 at 6:31pm #

    Freedom of speech is disappearing rapidly in Canada. The sad fact is that so few people know about it. Even fewer yet watch the increasing encroachment on our freedoms,as I do.

    In Ontario,first the government started wishing everyone “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. In the last year or two,the government took down Christmas trees from some of its buildings because of intolerant people filing complaints. Looking forward,I fully believe that within a decade or two it will be ILLEGAL to put a Christmas tree on public display.

    Wake up people! Tolerance shouldn’t be a one way street.

  8. FlipZeppelin said on May 28th, 2007 at 6:38pm #

    ‘Is it also a slander to refer to Nazis as “Nazis”?’

    Actually, yes. ‘Nazi’ it is a derogatory term never used by National Socialists themselves and is best compared to ‘Bolshie’ (for Bolshevik). Certainly, as a National Socialist I would prefer to be called National Socialist. However, I admit the term is rather long and ‘Nazi’ is destined to endure because it’s shorter.

  9. cobaltandjessie said on May 28th, 2007 at 7:08pm #

    i love this part:
    “B’nai Brith, however, receives its instructions from the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) whose “General Expectations of Canada” (as posted on the web, “CJC Brief to DFAIT on UN Human Rights Commission,” Feb 19, 2004 ) are not nearly as objective or non-discriminatory. ”

    Anyone who knows anything about Bnai Brith and CJC know that they hate each other.

    I agreed with the artcile until this. Now I wonder if other errors exist

  10. 8Man said on May 28th, 2007 at 9:51pm #

    cobaltandjessie said on May 28th, 2007 at 7:08 pm #
    “Anyone who knows anything about Bnai Brith and CJC know that they hate each other.”

    They may have occasional policy disputes, but they have no hesitation sitting together as co-intervenors at CHRT hearings. The CJC lawyer says they agree with the submissions of the BnaiBrith lawyer and vice-versa. From personal observation of both groups lawyers at tribunal sessions, the above article is essentially correct- and neither group ‘hates’ the other one.

  11. pasi arasola said on May 29th, 2007 at 2:00am #

    First, thanx LR, the anti this and that crowed would do well by watching their language. Often we are our own worst enemy, and the adjectives we choose show more about us then we realise. We can hardly expect an objective response from Zionists, if we portray them as pure evil and ourselves as pure good. It does not matter if the term ‘self hating jew’ is based on reality or not, the rasist emotional drivel often present in antizionist or anti Israeli articles (not here though) and comments shows how carefull we should be, to not become what we hate.

    to my point…
    A series of articles should be made, in pairs, otherwise identical, but one pointing to Israel, and one at “the axis of evil”. Not unlike the contrast cook created by rewriting this article.
    If 30+ pairs were created, responses could be organized into a series of statistics, that would be hard to refute.
    Proably such an analysis could be done from exsisting news archives, if a universal criteria on what constitutes a hate crime could be defined. Similar analysis should be made on Israeli and Iranian news coveredge on each other.
    I have a hunch that clear trends would emerge.

  12. Carl Wernerhoff said on May 29th, 2007 at 2:15am #

    ‘As soon as PEJ received the letter, it removed from its web-site the eighteen articles that Harry Abrams alleges were anti-Semitic. PEJ did this as a matter of courtesy to Abrams and to show goodwill …’

    No, this is kowtowing to tyranny plain and simple.

    And, in any case, intolerant Jewish organisations like the B’nai B’rith and the Southern Law Poverty Center, seem never to reciprocate gestures of goodwill. Trying to appease them is futile.

  13. Daveg said on May 29th, 2007 at 2:29am #

    3. deny or undermine Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East (my emphasis).

    I just don’t see how this can be considered anti-Semitic. You can be against sectarian states without being agains jews or judiasm.

    It is really a stretch to try to fit that into the category of anti-Semitism.

    And for those on the left, you might want to hesitate the next time you hear someone on the right labeled anti-semitic, as you can now see this word is used to quickly and too loosely to silence legit critics of Israel and other policies of the self-described leaders of the Jewish community.

  14. ElizabethJ said on May 29th, 2007 at 2:47am #

    Trust someone who works for one of the two organizations they hate each other!

  15. Mannstein said on May 29th, 2007 at 12:58pm #

    I venture to say ex President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter would be hauled in front of the Kommissars at the CHRC for his latest book had he been living in the True North Strong and Free.

    Expressing what may be uncomfortable for others to hear is the price of liberty. Anything else is censorship in the tradition of the USSR.

  16. Krash said on May 29th, 2007 at 3:31pm #

    Truth needs no law to protect it.

    I have seen, in America, very little true anti-Semitism. Aside from a handful of skinheads, I’m not aware of having met anyone who truly “hates the Jews” for being Jewish. In fact, every single time I’ve heard the phrase “anti-Semitic” used, it is used to describe someone who is critical of the illegitimate state of Israel, or its policies.

    I say “illegitimate” because the people who formed the state of Israel had no legitimate right to take the land. The people who had been living there for thousands of years (Palestinians) were removed at gunpoint or the threat thereof, by a bunch of white guys (the British) who controlled the land due to their own racist imperialistic agenda. The people who moved in to the stolen land (Ashkenazi Jews, who incidentally have absolutely no common ancestry whatsoever with the Sephardic Jews that are described in the Bible) then proceeded to embark on a campaign to abuse the people whose land they stole. The conduct of the assholes in Jerusalem (I don’t care what color they are, what religion they have, or where there ancestors came from, their actions classify them as hateful bilious assholes) is ONLY deserving of international scorn. For critics of Israel to be labeled as anti-Semitic solely on the basis of criticizing Israel belittles the term.

  17. Lila Rajiva said on May 29th, 2007 at 4:56pm #

    Hi –

    About B’nai Brith and CJC hating each other. I think that might be right
    but they could still take work together quite closely. I’ve seen it with others.

    But, as a matter of fact, I did not look at it that closely but followed Chris Cook in his account of it, in a letter he sent me informing me of the story. I will try to double check and will correct if necessary.

    Thanks all for the information. Now, let’s see what the tenure committees for Churchill and Finkelstein will do..
    LR

  18. Lila Rajiva said on May 29th, 2007 at 5:21pm #

    Update:

    Yes, I think formerly the CJC was the voice for the Canadian Jewish community and communal organizations and still officially styles itself as such (on its website, which is what I went by). But B’nai Brith does speaks from a more extreme position — which actually makes the argument stronger.

    Anyway, I will ask Kim to make the correction. I was in haste to get this out asap to help Chris and PEJ, which has served as the forum for so many voices.

    Thanks, Flip Zeppelin, you have educated me – I had not idea about Nazi.

    And thanks to DV for helping on this.

    LR

  19. Eric Vaughan said on May 29th, 2007 at 7:27pm #

    If it squirms up on innocent prey like an octupus, if it it has its grimy tentacles all over everything like an octopus, if it jettisons ink when it is critized like an octopus, then don’t you dare call it an octopus because then it is a mere step away from being called sushi and that’s what it refers to its food (the gentile and Muslim worlds) as.

    As for the CJC and B’nai Brith being a house divided, has either been infiltrated by the children of another Father? I think we would’ve heard about goyim joining up to something like that in the most demeaning possible terms.

  20. Public Restrooms of Vancouver said on May 29th, 2007 at 7:31pm #

    Sometimes you come across what looks like careful adherence to a secret script, given different people at different times saying the same thing, especially as a way of shutting down or ridiculing a line of inquiry. This nonsense about groups hating eachother, how can they possibly work together, after written evidence for cooperation has already been mentioned, is one of those moments. (Another is the way all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, all anti-Semitism is “virulent,” and not a single thing ever written by any Nazis is correct in any way about anything, even though the Nazis invented the television and the rocketry precursors to the ICBM and our space program.) I have seen this “oh, it’s preposterous to say they’re in it together, they hate eachother” nonsense used in many other places, but only where Jews are involved. Ted Rall quotes an Afghani warlord toasting his colleagues at a feast where they are resolving to expel the Soviets: (paraphrased) for the time being we’ll kill Russians, then we’ll go back to killing eachother. Nobody says, “It’s a conspiracy theory to say Afghani warlords expelled the Soviets, after all, they hate eachother a whole hell of a lot [more than any Jew ever hated any other Jew].” But a Jewish communist who stands threatened by local anti-Semitism cannot possibly even for a minute be speculated to be in some passing tribal sympathy with a Jewish capitalist in the exact same situation, whatever the ideologies, and furthermore that’s anti-Semitic to say so. Let alone two different groups formed by wealthy Jews to protect their interests, and later to use “human rights” as a way of defending Zionism (the B’nai Bris was formed long before Zionism was effectively a unified, significant force, but is today in the mindset of ben Gurion to sacrifice Jews to Zionism!); it is very hard to believe that their mutual hatred is much different from the famous professional animus between law enforcement, intelligence and military agencies — healthy competition to be the first in getting the job done!

  21. Lila Rajiva said on May 30th, 2007 at 3:26am #

    Well –

    Just a last word. Respectfully, I do want to say that I would avoid thinking and speaking in those terms. I think if we show self restraint in how we discuss other people and be aware that objectifying anyone is never a good idea, then perhaps others too would not feel threatened.

    Jews are a very small group. Muslims and Christians are over a billion. It is natural if they have a certain amount of inherent fear of either group – given history.

    Which is why I am individualist…the more we think in terms of group rights and identity politics, the more we exacerbate racial and religious tensions. By giving race and religion their proper space but focusing our legal structures on the individual, we neither suppress nor overindulge either of those categories.

    But there has been a good deal of historical revisionism, yes.

    LR

  22. Me said on May 30th, 2007 at 11:21pm #

    To Jhoffa, only 80% of Israel is Jewish. That’s less than the number of christians in the U.S. or most countries. Or muslims in any muslim country that’s not Lebanon. They have 100% equal rights. Unfortunately that can’t be said for other countries.

  23. Me said on May 30th, 2007 at 11:23pm #

    Also, 40% of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi, that means Jews from Israeli lands. They’re from the 900,000 Jews who were kicked out of Arab countries in the 40s. But noone ever heas about them.

  24. Kim Petersen said on May 31st, 2007 at 12:23am #

    Your facts and numbers are very disputable, Me. Mizrahi Jews are much fewer in number than Ashkenazi (about 50-60%) and Sephardi (probably 20-30%). What you write is baffling. How can one be an Israeli Jew and be kicked out from Arab lands? As for being forced out, some Mizrahi Jews claim that bombings in synagogues in Iraq, for example, were false flag operations.

  25. Me said on May 31st, 2007 at 3:58pm #

    What?

    First of all Mizrahi Jews ARE Sephardic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizrahi_Jews

    They weren’t Israeli until after they (900,000) were kicked out of Muslim lands.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_lands

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud

    n the 1930s, the situation of the Jews in Iraq deteriorated. Previously, the growing Iraqi Arab nationalist sentiment included Iraqi Jews as fellow Arabs, but these views changed with the introduction of Nazi propaganda and the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian Mandate. Despite protestations of their loyalty to Iraq, Iraqi Jews were increasingly subject to discrimination and harsh laws. On August 27, 1934 many Jews were dismissed from public service, and quotas were set up in colleges and universities. Zionist activities were banned, as was the teaching of Jewish history and Hebrew in Jewish schools. Following Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, the Farhud (“violent dispossession”) pogrom of June 1 and 2, 1941, broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 200 Jews were murdered (some sources put the number higher), and up to 2,000 injured — damages to property were estimated at $3 million. There was also looting in many other cities at around the same time. Afterwards, Zionist emissaries from Palestine were sent to teach Iraqi Jews self-defense, which they were eager to learn. .” (Simon, Reguer, and Laskier, p 364)

    In 1948, the country was placed under martial law, and the penalties for Zionism were increased. Courts martial were used to intimidate wealthy Jews were detained, Jews were again dismissed from civil service, quotas were placed on university positions, and one of the most important anti-Zionist Jewish businessmen in the country was arrested and executed for allegedly selling goods to Israel, shocking the community (Tripp, 123). Additionally, like most Arab League states, Iraq forbade any legal emigration of its Jews on the grounds that they might go to Israel and could strengthen that state. However, intense diplomatic pressure brought about a change of mind. At the same time, increasing government oppression of the Jews fueled by anti-Israeli sentiment, together with public expressions of anti-semitism, created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

  26. Kim Petersen said on May 31st, 2007 at 5:21pm #

    Me: “What? First of all Mizrahi Jews ARE Sephardic.”

    Reply: MyJewishLearning.com states: “Mizrahim and Sephardim [are] two distinct communities that are often confused with one another.

    … Mizrahim are Jews who never left the Middle East and North Africa since the beginnings of the Jewish people 4,000 years ago.

    … Once the Roman Empire crumbled descendants of these [“Jews who chose to return and rebuild Israel after the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire”] migrated throughout the European continent. Many settled in Spain (Sepharad) and Portugal,” i.e., Sephardim.

    Go to your own URL and read: “Many speakers, especially in Israel, identify all non-Ashkenazi Jews as Sephardim. The reason for this usage is that most Mizrahi communities use much the same religious ritual as Sephardim proper (i.e. descendants of the Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, that is, modern Spain and Portugal), and can therefore be described as Jews of the Sephardic rite, though not as Sephardi Jews. This broader definition of “Sephardim” is common in religious circles, especially those associated with the Shas political party.

    Others prefer to differentiate between Sephardim proper and Mizrahim. There is some disagreement on whether Iberian-descended Sephardim from Eastern countries (e.g. Turkish Jews) should be described as ‘Mizrahim’ or not.

    In many Arab countries there was a social distinction between Judeo-Romance-speaking Sephardim arriving after the expulsion from Spain in 1492, plus the ones expelled by order of King Manuel I of Portugal in 1497, and the older Arabic-speaking communities.”

    Me: “They weren’t Israeli until after they (900,000) were kicked out of Muslim lands.”

    Reply: You wrote in a previous post: “40% of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi, that means Jews from Israeli lands. They’re from the 900,000 Jews who were kicked out of Arab countries in the 40s.” Of course, I then responded: “How can one be an Israeli Jew and be kicked out from Arab lands?” So let’s be precise: they are emigrant Arab Jews who became Israeli citizens.

    Me: “n [sic] the 1930s, the situation of the Jews in Iraq deteriorated. Previously, the growing Iraqi Arab nationalist sentiment included Iraqi Jews as fellow Arabs, but these views changed with the introduction of Nazi propaganda and the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian Mandate.”

    Reply: Naeim Giladi wrote, “Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel; that, to force them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that, to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives from their Arab neighbors.

    I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called ‘cruel Zionism.

    I write about it because I was part of it.

    Of course I thought I knew it all back then. I was young, idealistic, and more than willing to put my life at risk for my convictions. It was 1947 and I wasn’t quite 18 when the Iraqi authorities caught me for smuggling young Iraqi Jews like myself out of Iraq, into Iran, and then on to the Promised Land of the soon-to-be established Israel.”

    Read more at here.

    Anyway, this is semantics and of minimal importance. I accept that Jews born and raised in Mandate Palestine have a right to reside there as citizens, and there would be a strong argument for the right of return for any Jews that could demonstrate that their ancestors were expelled (ethnically cleansed) from Mandate Palestine.

  27. Hugh said on June 2nd, 2007 at 6:10pm #

    Islamic group targets women newscasters

    By DIAA HADID, Associated Press WriterSat Jun 2, 1:58 PM ET

    An Islamic group threatened to behead female TV broadcasters if they don’t wear strict Islamic dress, frightening reporters and signaling a further shift toward extremism in the Gaza Strip.

    The threat to “cut throats from vein to vein” was delivered by the Swords of Truth, a fanatical group that has previously claimed responsibility for bombing Internet cafes and music shops. The new threat was the first time the organization targeted a specific group of people.

    In many parts of the Muslim world, conservative policies keep women out of TV anchor positions or dictate they wear headscarves on air. Headscarves for TV broadcasters are uncommon, however, in Lebanon and Jordan, and even Egypt keeps newscasters who wear them off its TV stations.

    The influence of Islamic groups in the Gaza Strip has grown over the past three decades, especially as poverty has risen since fighting with Israel began in 2000. Now, it is more common to see women with their faces covered with veils than women without their hair covered.

    Most of the 15 women broadcasters on government-run Palestine TV wear headscarves. But they also wear makeup and Western clothing — not considered strictly observant by extremists.

    The Swords of Truth issued the statement Friday in an e-mail to news organizations.

    “We will cut throats, and from vein to vein, if needed to protect the spirit and moral of this nation,” the statement said. The group also accused the women broadcasters of being “without any … shame or morals.”

    Prior to the statement, some women broadcasters said they had received personal threats through their mobile phones. It was not clear if the threats were from the same group.

    One anchorwoman who does not wear a headscarf said she was too frightened by the threat to go to work on Saturday.

    “It’s a dangerous precedent in our society. It will target all working women,” said the broadcaster, who declined to give her name out of fear. “The statement frightened us.”

    Another presenter who wears a headscarf said she couldn’t understand why they were targeted. “I hope they take it back. I hope not a bullet will be fired at us,” she said.

    Basem Abu Sumaya, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, which runs Palestine TV, said the PBC already had security measures in place, but could not protect people on the way to work. The PBC is bankrolled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, and is accused of openly exhibiting support for the moderate movement, a bitter rival of the Islamic group Hamas.

    A senior security official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said The Swords of Truth had less than 100 members and was formed last year.

    The group claimed responsibility for the bombings of about three dozen Internet cafes, music shops and pool halls, which are considered places of vice by some in deeply conservative Gaza. Assailants detonated small bombs outside the businesses at night, causing damage but no injuries.

    The security official said his forces were taking the threat seriously. He said Hamas members funded the group, wanting to impose a hardline version of Islam in Gaza. Hamas won parliamentary elections last year, but has since formed a unity government with Fatah.

    Hamas spokesman Ismail Ridwan said his faction had “no relation” to the group.

    Other hardline groups also have become prominent in Gaza in recent months. The Army of Islam claimed responsibility for kidnapping British Broadcasting Corp. reporter Alan Johnston in March. And Muslim hardliners lobbed a bomb at a U.N.-run school in May, accusing the world body of “turning schools into nightclubs” for holding a show of traditional Palestinian dancing.

  28. Kim Petersen said on June 2nd, 2007 at 6:22pm #

    That any group, Islamic or other, would impose their dictates on another human is deplorable. But before we cast aspersions on others, better we look in the mirror first. Who will argue that women in western media are not pressured about their appearance and dress?

  29. John said on June 4th, 2007 at 4:08am #

    Are “hate” laws a surreptitious form of censorship?

    The problem with so-called anti-hate laws is that there is no precise definition of what hate is. It can be expanded to include almost anything including factually based statements as has happened in the various jurisdictions. Thus influencial groups can mould the definition to stifle legitimate opinion and debate

  30. Hugh said on June 9th, 2007 at 8:37pm #

    Lots of Precedents too. Only difference this time is that a far-left website got nailed for hate shit instead of the usual far-right ….This is in Canada, not U.S.A.

    http://www.efc.ca/pages/law/canada/canada.H-6.part-1.html#5

    Publication of discriminatory notices, etc.
    12. It is a discriminatory practice to publish or display before the public or to cause to be published or displayed before the public any notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that

    (a) expresses or implies discrimination or an intention to discriminate, or
    (b) incites or is calculated to incite others to discriminate if the discrimination expressed or implied, intended to be expressed or implied or incited or calculated to be incited would otherwise, if engaged in, be a discriminatory practice described in any of sections 5 to 11 or in section 14. [1976-77, c.33, s.12; 1980-81-82-83, c.143, s.6.]

    Hate messages
    13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
    Exception
    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of any matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.
    Interpretation
    (3) For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter. [1976-77, c.33, s.13.]

  31. Dillon said on April 1st, 2008 at 5:55am #

    People who want to regulate other peoples voice are criminals. We really need to repeal all laws that violate the spirit of freedom of expression. If what someone says is wrong, lets have a debate about it. The JEWS dont like to have debate, because under any exposure their positions flimsy defense caves. That is why their defense is screaming anti antisemitism at everyone who mentions them in other than glowing words, and by authoring such Orwellian thought control measures. They are undeserving the right to live in Democratic Western countries as they only seek to subvert the very freedom they live under. Freedom bought and payed for in the blood of millions of christians who died to secure the freedoms of expression.

  32. Alpujarras Holidays said on April 23rd, 2009 at 10:53pm #

    That’s an interesting article. I just wondered if you could tell me where to find more info on this topic ?