“Knowledge is power.” So goes the often heard, and generally accepted, aphorism. Consequently, powerful people who would like to maintain and consolidate their power will endeavor to control and manipulate information. One step in achieving control of information is through the media. When complete media control is not possible, then silencing rival media is also effective. In Canada, this silencing of dissident voices can be attempted, strange as it seems, through the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).
Control need only be exerted in a society where those wielding power do not wield it on the behalf of the masses. Despots rely on information manipulation, propaganda, and lies. Since neoliberalism and Zionism benefit only a tiny segment of society, neoliberals and Zionists are compelled to control the information sources to hide the crimes of their ideology from the masses.
The corporate media reflects a worldview acceptable to the media owners. That the news and opinions present a distorted, biased, and selective view has been richly documented. Yet, neoliberals, who manage to dominate the governments in many western countries through lesser-evilism politics, have abetted and acquiesced to a consolidation of the monopoly media.1 This has allowed systematization of a manufactured consent on vital issues. Views not amenable to corporate media ownership are either marginalized or buried.2
It is not surprising, therefore that, out of this morass of corporatist propaganda and disinformation (that is collaborative in ethnic cleansing, racism, classism, and genocide), an independent media would be welcomed and garner a growing segment of public readership and viewership.3
The progressivist media provide an independent voice in a world where victims of neoliberalism, imperialism, and classism can be heard. This voice must not be silenced by Zionist or corporate thuggery.
Stifling Free Speech
In Canada, the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith has been at the forefront of staving off any criticism of Israel, deserved or not. Thus, B’nai Brith has backed a Camosack (colonial designation: Victoria) businessman, Harry Abrams, who lodged a complaint with the CHRC against the Canada-based Peace Earth and Justice News website.
B’nai Brith Canada calls itself “the action arm of the Jewish community.” It claims to believe in fighting anti-Semitism and “promoting human rights and peace throughout the world.” One wonders about B’nai Brith’s promotion of human rights when it comes to Palestinians. For instance, it opposes the right-of-return for Palestinian refugees saying this would lead to the destruction of the Jewish state. This contradicts B’nai Brith’s statement: “We applaud Israel as a vibrant society that respects the civil, religious and cultural rights of all its citizens.”4 Given that Arabs are a fifth of Israel’s population, it is disingenuous to declare a respect for all citizens, especially those victims of ethnic cleansing who still live as refugees.
Clearly, B’nai Brith is not interested in human rights for all. It is openly segregationist and only advocating on behalf of Jews. Hence, it attempts to censure facts and views, whether truthful or not, that it considers inflammatory toward public perceptions of Israel.
The CHRC says it has received a complaint against the Prometheus Institute, which runs PEJ News, that alleges it “is discriminating against person or groups of persons by communicating messages on the Internet that are likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of national or ethnic origin, contrary to section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.”
An investigation is now ongoing into the complaint.
The complaint is based on 18 articles. PEJ News has since withdrawn the articles from its website.5
Ingmar Lee, a former editor at PEJ News and a contributing writer to Dissident Voice, says, “I have reviewed all of the articles and I stand by all of the excellent articles … which were posted to PEJ by me, and I also stand by all of the excellent articles posted by my fellow editor, Chris Cook.”
It is insufficient to merely point to articles and condemn them as anti-Semitic or hate-filled. Rationality demands that the offending passages be identified and be considered in context.
A perusal of the 18 articles is required to ascertain whether they are, in fact, “discriminating against person or groups of persons by communicating messages on the Internet that are likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of national or ethnic origin.”
1) William A. Cook, “Like Taking Candy from a Baby: Hating Palestine Made Easy,” 8 April 2006.
Cook decries “the erosion of knowledge by controlled truth, by omission, by deceit, by bigotry, by racism, by intentional, calculated and absolute monopoly of the primary modes of communication to foster the goals of a dominant elite, resident predominantly in the United States and Israel, has metastasized like a cancer.”
He writes about “the conditions [of corrosive evil] existing in Israel as it occupies and oppresses the Palestinian people.”
Despite this, Cook finds that “the Palestinian people have taken the boldest initiative to date against their nemesis by peacefully, without violence or terrorism, electing a government that will demand that the legitimate rights of the Palestinians be granted and that the illegal occupation be ended.”
While acknowledging Israeli crimes, Cook is stressing peace and not hatred.
2) Chris Hedges, “Worse than Apartheid,” 23 December 2006.
Hedges reports, “Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition.”
“Civil society itself — and this appears to be part of the Israeli plan — is unraveling,” comments Hedges.
Hedges, though, is no ideologue of the elected Palestinian party Hamas, calling its politics “repugnant.” He asks, though, how Israeli terrorism can “curb suicide attacks and foster peace? Do [Israeli Jews] not see that the rest of the Middle East watches the slaughter in horror and rage?”
Promoting hatred? Hedges notes that Israel’s own acts of terrorism are promoting acts of hatred against it.
3) Kurt Nimmo, “Sacking Livingstone: The Mayor, the Reporter, the Nazi Concentration Camp Guard, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews,” 28 February 2006.
Nimmo does not hold back in attacking Zionism. He writes “Nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of the Holocaust Orthodoxy, in effect an immensely profitable shake down operation for Israel … and the Zionist master plan to decimate Muslim society and culture.”
He claims Zionist attacks are “ad hominem and predictably childish” while himself writing in the same article about “the pit bull attack organization calling itself the Board of Deputies of British Jews.”
Is name calling promoting hatred? Arguably. If so, then it could also be argued that many children in playgrounds are promoting hatred.
4) Kurt Nimmo, “Cleansing South Lebanon,” 9 August 2006.
Nimmo accuses Israel of scheming to “deliberately deny vital humanitarian aid to Lebanese babies and grandmothers.”
5) James Petras, “Condemnation’s Necessity,” 25 December 2006.
Petras writes, “Jewish agencies … see defense of Israel as their number-one goal, trumping all other items on the agenda.”
He acknowledges, “Many Jewish writers, including those who are somewhat critical of Israel, have raised pointed questions about our critique of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the United States and what they wrongly claim are our singular harsh critique of the state of Israel.”
Hate-promoting? Sounds more like dialogue.
6) Virginia Tilley, “Apartheid Israel,” 6 December 2006.
Tilley describes the hate as emanating from Jews: “The Palestinians’ original sin — the ‘failing’ has consigned them collectively to expulsion, dispossession, exile, and a cruel and humiliating occupation — is … that they are not Jewish.”
7) Kathleen and Bill Christison, “Genocide or Erasure of Palestinians,” 27 November 2006.
The intrepid Christisons state, “[W]e should have had the courage and the insight to call what we have observed Israel doing to the Palestinians by its rightful name: genocide.” They also note the “Nazi-like features of Israel’s policies.”
If using the epithet “Nazi” is hate-promoting against Zionists, then logically, it must also hold true when used against Germans. Is using the term “jihadist,” then, hate-promotion against Muslims? How about calling someone a “terrorist”? Where does the charge of hate-promotion end?
8) Kurt Nimmo, “Formalizing Genocide: Disappearing Palestine,” 6 April 2006.
Then editor Chris Cook laments, “To Canada’s great shame, we have, under the freshman leadership of new Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, become the first country to support Israel’s determination to starve the Palestinians out of existence.”
The concern is expressed for the victims of acts of hate: the Palestinians.
9) Jason Miller, “Holocaustista: Lamentations to the Sacrificial Pawns,” 30 July 2006.
Miller considers “innocent Israeli, British, Spanish, American and other Western non-combatant victims of this miserable conflict are equally worthy of our grief …”
Sounds reasonably balanced.
10) Virginia Tilley, “Boycott Now!” 5 August 2006.
Tilley points to “specific crimes: Israel’s continual attacks on Palestinian civilians; its casual disdain for the Palestinian civilian lives “accidentally” destroyed in its assassinations and bombings; its deliberate ruin of the Palestinians’ economic and social conditions; its continuing annexation and dismemberment of Palestinian land; its torture of prisoners; its contempt for UN resolutions and international law; and especially, its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.”
She adds, “[O]pen official racism and its attendant violence casts Israel into the ranks of pariah states.”
Israel is portrayed as a hateful, racist entity. Can a state, however, be hateful and racist?
11) Kurt Nimmo, “Auschwitz Coming Home: Israel’s Concentration Camp Building Boom,” 23 July 2006.
Nimmo accuses Israel of torture in prisons.
12) C.L. Cook, “Warsaw on the Mediterranean: Israel’s Palestine Solution,” 7 April 2006.
More on Israel’s crimes.
13) Jostein Gaarder, “God’s Chosen People,” 11 August 2006.
Gaarder declares, “We do no longer recognize the state of Israel.”
“Shame on all apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every terrorist strike against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hizballah, or the state of Israel!”
One-sided? Does one-sidedness imply factual inaccuracy? In a situation with two poles, must one abandon the correct pole and straddle the middle? If so, then how does this augur for our attempts to get at the truth?
14) Kathleen Christison, “Atrocities in the Promised Land,” 17 July 2006.
Christison laments “60 years of atrocity perpetrated in the name of Judaism.”
“But it needs to be said now, loudly: those who devise and carry out Israeli policies have made Israel into a monster, and it has come time for all of us — all Israelis, all Jews who allow Israel to speak for them, all Americans who do nothing to end U.S. support for Israel and its murderous policies — to recognize that we stain ourselves morally by continuing to sit by while Israel carries out its atrocities against the Palestinians.”
“A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional. Narcissistically obsessed with its own image, it must strive to maintain its racial superiority at all costs and will inevitably come to view any resistance to this imagined superiority as an existential threat.”
Christison argues that the non-dissenting people in a state have responsibility for the crimes carried out by the state. But, have Zionists not pressed Germans up until today to bear responsibility for crimes judged committed by Germany? Professor Norman Finkelstein terms the Holocaust “an outright extortion racket.”6
15) Paul de Rooij, “The Offensive Logic of Israel’s ‘Right to Self-Defence,'” 15 August 2006.
According to de Rooij, “It is important to note that aggressors don’t have a right to ‘self-defense.’ … Any violence used to perpetuate Israeli conquests is at best illegitimate, but most likely a serious crime.”
16) Israel Shamir, “Friends True and False,” 31 July 2006.
This essay ends with a warning to Jews: “Fear The Wrath of God.”
Shamir is imprecise in use of some terms, notably “Jews” and “we.” His essay “Zeno’s Arrow,” however, explains this disregard for accuracy in language, noting that people commonly refer to groups monolithically without implying homogeneity.7
17) C.L. Cook, “Does Evil Have the Right to Exist?” 30 June 2006.
Cook depicts evil as emanating from the Jewish state of Israel.
18) Michael Coren, “We should nuke Israel,” 3 September 2006.
This article’s title and text sounds extremely contentious but it is a redaction of another article, substituting the word “Iran” for “Israel.” It is a wonder that Abrams and B’nai Brith did not file a hate-promoting complaint against the Toronto Sun.
The article comes with an editorial remark: “This amazingly ignorant, hateful, and frankly criminal article has been redacted. … 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.”
People over Entities
Most of these articles are critical of the actions of a state and do not target a people. States do not have human rights. States are geopolitical entities created by humans, often through the most violent of crimes against humans: genocide. The nations of the western hemisphere are a result of genocide. Israel was spawned through ethnic cleansing and slow motion genocide. Can genocide be denied as a hate crime? It is absurd to be arguing for the human rights of a non-human entity, especially when that entity is engaged in the denial of the humanity of another people (i.e., hate).
Some people might dispute that Israel is guilty of genocide. While Zionist Israeli history is revisionist, serious academic scholars of historiography, both Israeli and Palestinian, acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.8 The act of ethnic cleansing epitomizes “hate.” So how do the “haters” of Palestinians manage to pervert the terminology against the people who accurately and courageously point out the hateful acts of Zionists?
• Palestinians were the overwhelming indigenous population of Palestine pre-1920 and constituted two-thirds of the population at the time of the UN partition plan.
• Palestine was partitioned by the United Nations irrespective of the views of the majority population residing there.
• Following the UN-mandated partition, Zionist Jews wiped over 500 Palestinian villages off the map and expelled 800,000 Palestinians from their country.9
• Zionist Jews have continued to undermine Palestinians’ national aspirations.
Jews are not a marginalized group in the world. They are not living as refugees, being ghettoized, starved, humiliated, and terrorized by state machinery, as are the Palestinians. While some Jews may, deplorably, be exposed to racist slurs and stereotypes, as are many ethnic and racial groups in the world, as a group they are not suffering economically and by most comparisons are thriving. Hence, to focus victimhood exclusively on one’s own comparatively well off group while a segment of it is victimizing other identifiable groups, trivializes crimes against humanity. That some progressives would shy away from denouncing crimes that violate core progressivist principles tarnishes a swath of by-standing progressivism and caves in to the malevolence of Zionism.
Commitment to Social Justice
One source says the PEJ editors are trying to hang low, feeling that any publicity will embolden their detractors through repetition. From this vantage point, though, it appears that PEJ’s editorial board has meekly and cowardly capitulated to Zionist-imposed censorship. Media independence must not to be based on pretense, and the commitment to social justice must be steadfast.
“I don’t know how confident I should be in the impartiality of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, nor do I have any concept of the ability of B’nai Brith to influence a decision by the CHRC,” says Lee. “I am however adamant that these are all excellent, proper, honest and objective articles which should be unassailable.”
Yet, the unassailability, honesty, and objectivity of the articles may be inconsequential to the CHRC. Even the truth may be irrelevant. In one case,10 the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is responsible for investigating “hate crimes,” held:
…consistent with a focus on effect rather than intent, it is the effect of the message on the recipient, and ultimately on the person or group vilified, that is the focus of the analysis. The truth in some absolute sense really plays no role. Rather, it is the social context in which the message is delivered and heard which will determine the effect that the communication will have on the listener. It is not the truth or falsity per se that will evoke the emotion but rather how it is understood by the recipient. The objective truth of the statement is ultimately of no consequence if the subjective interpretation, by virtue of tone, social context and medium is one which ‘arouses unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification’. Therefore, in our view, whether the message is true or not is immaterial. Whether it is perceived to be true or credible may very well add to its impact, but its actual basis in truth is outside the scope of this inquiry.11
B’nai Brith: Running Cover for Hate
The famous British philosopher Thomas Hobbes declared “it was and ever will be reputed a very evil act for any man to speak against his conscience; or to corrupt or force another to do so.”12 This must apply equally to the silencing of conscience. Hatred, and the promotion of hate, must always be opposed by people of conscience. But even more insidious than the promotion of hate is the practice of hate. Ethnic cleansing, murder, racism, systematized humiliation, and torture are among the “very evil acts” of the Zionist regime. B’nai Brith, by inverting people’s good acts of conscience is, in fact, guilty of far worse than it fraudulently alleges of PEJ News. It is fully complicit in the perpetuation of the vilest acts of hate. If the CHRC is truly concerned about fighting hate, then it must unambiguously denounce this abuse of the human rights system in the strongest language and by the severest possible measures.
The CHRC must also expose the hatred that undergirds B’nai Brith. B’nai Brith is an organization predicated on deliberately running cover for the perpetuation of hate against Palestinians. This is malevolent, and it must be stopped.
Defending Independent Media and Free Speech
PEJ News may be a small progressivist website in sparsely populated Canada, but in cyberspace national boundaries vanish. Moreover, should silencing of dissenting views occur among smaller independent media that leaves bigger independent media more vulnerable. Therefore, it is imperative that anti-free speech measures, be they abuse of hate laws in Canada or elsewhere, must always be resolutely defeated.
If anti-free speech measures are not defeated, the consequence is that the truth and humanity’s access to it will be further imperiled. It is in these dark circumstances that hate flourishes. Without the spotlight of media scrutiny, hate is more easily perpetrated and perpetuated. If the concern is to defeat hate, then free speech is a most valuable weapon.
Free speech must be encouraged — not stifled.
- Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly (Boston: Beacon Press, 1983). [↩]
- Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002). [↩]
- “Internet study shows Canadians are heavy users,” CBC News, 2 November 2005. John B. Horrigan, “For many home broadband users, the internet is the primary news source: News audiences increasingly politicized,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, 22 March 2006. “Online Audience Larger, More Diverse,” The Pew Research Center, 8 June 2004. [↩]
- “Manifesto Denouncing CUPE-Ontario’s Boycott of Israel and Reaffirming Support for the Jewish State,” B’nai Brith Canada. [↩]
- The 18 articles are still viewable as cache on the PEJ News website. [↩]
- Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry (Verso, 2000), 89. Finkelstein is backed by historian Raul Hilberg, “‘It Takes an Enormous Amount of Courage to Speak the Truth When No One Else is Out There’ — World-Renowned Holocaust, Israel Scholars Defend DePaul Professor Norman Finkelstein as He Fights for Tenure,” Democracy Now! 9 May 2007. In a leap of chutzpah, the next generation of Jews is also claiming victimhood and reparations. See Reuven Weiss, “Lawsuit: Recognize 2nd generation as Shoah victims,” ynet news, 13 April 2007. [↩]
- Israel Shamir, “Zeno’s Arrow,” The Writings of Israel Shamir. [↩]
- Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld Publications, 2006). [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Kim Petersen, “Progressivism and Free Speech for All,” Dissident Voice, 5 March 2005. [↩]
- Carol A. Valentine, “Letter to the Electronic Frontier Foundation,” 29 October 1998. [↩]
- Leviathan, 30. [↩]