Anti-Israel Bigotry Week

by MELANIE PHILLIPS March 4, 2010
This week, I attended a reception at the House of Commons given by the All-Party Parliamentary Committee against Antisemitism. As its splendid and doughty chairman the Labour MP John Mann observed, it is heartening to find MPs from all political parties taking a lead in fighting the re-emergence of this disgusting prejudice. This week provides evidence of why such a defense is tragically so necessary with Anti-Israel Bigotry Week (aka Israel Apartheid Week), a global campus hate-fest whose message, that Israel is fundamentally illegitimate, is in effect a call for Israel’s destruction and is therefore an incitement to genocide.
 
In Canada, the fact that the University of Toronto is hosting this odious travesty has caused one of its alumni, Howard Rotberg, to return the degrees he obtained there. He wrote to the President of his old university thus:
 
We have now reached a stage where Jewish students and others identifiably Jewish fear for their safety at various universities in North America and Europe, and where various Jewish speakers are denied permission to speak because of Islamist intimidation. We have now reached a situation where various student groups, such as the Muslim Students Association are being funded by radical Islamist groups, and where various University departments across the ‘free world’ are becoming beholden to radical Islam due to financial funding from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
 
I am sure you have read how young Muslim students are being “radicalized” at universities in England, and such was the case with the attempted terror attacker on the Delta airlines jet on Christmas Day.
 
The situation at English universities and evenat York University has gotten out of hand. To the extent that your views are infused with cultural and moral relativism, I suggest that the University of Toronto is poised to eventually join those institutions where Jewish students will be viewed as “offensive” per se to Muslim students and other illiberal antagonists who apply double standards and factually incorrect legal and historical judgments against the Jewish State, and interpret Islam as holding Jews and Christians to be second class citizens, which is the real apartheid that your University will not allow to be discussed. Moral equivalency is not appropriate between liberal democrats and terror supporting illiberals. 
 
I feel such shame to have been associated with a University that feels that its facilities must be given to those who would destroy our freedoms, and one which fails to understand that tolerance is a two-way concept. Your moral equivalency is misplaced. Israel is the first front in a war that has already come to our shores. That war has nothing to do with “sharing” land, but is about an attempt to enforce Western submission to Islamic values, including Sharia Law.
 
Nevertheless, there are signs in Canada at least of the beginning of a fight-back for decency, justice and truth. Canada’s National Post has run a strong editorial condemning this “odious and bigoted annual ritual:”
 
While organizers bill it as an exercise in ‘Palestine solidarity,’ it typically features rabid expressions of hatred against Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. As a general principle, it goes without saying that criticism of Israel is not automatically tantamount to anti-Semitism. But the atmosphere at some IAW events blurs the line – with extremist speakers whipping crowds into the sort of frenzy one more usually sees in newsreel footage from the streets of Cairo or Gaza City. As a result, many Jewish students often report feeling intimidated on their own campuses.
 
In its very conception, IAW is offensive for two related reasons. First, it directs participants to vilify a single country, an inherently bigoted exercise. Unlike, say, “anti-racism week” or “diversity awareness week,” IAW does not champion a concept – rather, it targets a particular group of people defined by religion and citizenship. Second, it does so with a false and poisonous analogy between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa. Taken together, the combined message is more or less the same one communicated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamas – that Israel is a uniquely evil and fundamentally illegitimate nation. While IAW speakers generally are careful not to call for Israel’s destruction explicitly, they don't need to: That message follows naturally from the claim that the nation is fundamentally illegitimate.
 
Moreover, Canadian MPs are also bestirring themselves to denounce this menace. In the Canadian Parliament there has been a cross party motion denouncing IAW. The National Post reports:
 
In May, Dalton McGuinty will take part in a trade mission to Israel – an unprecedented move for an Ontario premier since the 2000 Intifada broke out. Last week, Conservative MP Tim Uppal announced that he would soon introduce a motion declaring “that this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week;’ and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.” On Monday, Michael Ignatieff declared that Israeli Apartheid Week ‘should be condemned unequivocally and absolutely.’ Even Jack Layton has kept a tight lid on the anti-Zionists in his party. As a result, anti-Israel activists - including not only the IAW crowd, but also those who campaigned against last year’s Israeli-themed Toronto Film Festival – have been shunned, or even denounced, by politicians.
 
It is heartening to find that even in politically correct Canada, the impulse to defend decency, truth and justice is breaking through. But despite the sterling efforts of the All-Party Committee in the UK, what do you reckon is the likelihood of such a set of pro-Israel initiatives emerging from the tea-rooms of Westminster?
 
Exactly.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Melanie Phillips is the author of the powerful and frightening Londonistan, which can be purchased here, and she blogs at The Spectator.

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