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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 12, 2002

Keep up the pressure

Recent incidents in Canada indicate just how well organized the supporters of the Palestinian Arabs are. The other day, Bnai Brith posted a full page ad in the Ottawa Citizen, calling upon citizen to demand that Canada place Hizbullah on the list of terrorist organizations. In no time flat the terrorists’ supporters mobilized and protested outside the offices of the Ottawa Citizen. They also gained free publicity, as the following piece from the Ottawa Citizen, December 9, 2002, indicates:
Arab group protests 'hateful' Citizen ad


An organization representing Arab Ottawa professionals held a demonstration outside the Citizen yesterday protesting the newspaper's decision to publish an advertisement they claim was "hatefuL"

Some 60 to 75 members of the Coalition of Canadian Arab Professional and Community Associations stood outside the Citizen offices on Baxter Road for about two hours, waving signs and shouting "no more lies, no more hate.”

Group leaders handed out leaflets decrying the newspaper'S "insensitivity" in publishing the advertisement, which featured a gun-toting cartoon man dressed in army fatigues and a Lebanese head scarf, who holds a Canadian passport in one hand and [a] book called Manual for Terrorists in the other under the caption: "A 'teacher' in the 'social service' branch of Hezbollah."

The full-page ad, placed Nov. 29 by Jewish advocacy group B'Nai Brith Canada, asks readers to protest Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham's refusal to ban the Lebanese extremist group as a terrorist organization because of calls by its leader for a global suicide bombing campaign.

The ad also recalls a recent statement made by a man claiming to beal-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, naming Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia as enemies because of their support for the United States.

Jim Orban, vice-president of sales and marketing for the Citizen, said the advertisement would be reviewed Monday. "We receive all sorts of ads of an advocacy nature, and we try to filter (them) internally to minimize ads that individuals will find offensive," said Mr. Orban.

"People should feel free to publish their point of view, provided certain internal standards are met," he added. Hassan Zeirreddine, president of the Lebanese Community Centre Ahlul-Bayt, called the ad "hate-mongering”. "This has the community very angry," Mr. Zeh'reddine said.

At one point, demonstrators confronted two men and a woman who arrived to protest the protesters.

One man, who refused to give his name, called the protest an example of anti-Israeli propaganda, and shouted "killing children is shameful."
[Scanned copy from the Ottawa Citizen, Dec 8, 2002, p.A12.]

Add this incident to the Concordia stories and you begin to see a pattern.

I suggest that an appropriate answer would be counter-mobilization: a rally for a rally, a boycott for a boycott.

With this in mind I reproduce below the letter sent by five Columbia U alumni to the University’s president in connection with the invitation extended to Tom (“Appalling”) Paulin. The letter was posted on December 9, 2002, on the IMRA site:
Monday, December 9, 2002

Re: Tom Paulin

Dear President Bollinger,

One might have thought Columbia's perpetually troubled English Department had already brought enough shame upon the university. First came the Edward Said saga: membership in an international terror organization; fabrication of the facts of his life to fit the myth of Palestinian dispossession; throwing stones at Israelis from the border of Lebanon. Then followed the Gayatri Spivak performance in Leeds in June of this year, celebrating both the suicide hijackings of 9/11 and the daily suicide bombings in Israel as (in her inimitable prose) "purposive self-annihilation, a confrontation between oneself and oneself, the extreme end of autoeroticism..."

But now the English Department may be on the verge of offering a permanent appointment to a racist hoodlum (in a line descending from Ezra Pound to Leroi Jones-Amiri Baraka) who makes Said and Spivak look morally sensitive and intellectually tactful. This, of course, is the notorious Tom Paulin, the Irish poet apparently seeking to relocate from England to NY.

Mr. Paulin, long known as a stalwart of the IRA school of poetics, has more recently turned his attention to Israel. According to the London Daily Telegraph ("Oxford poet 'wants US Jews shot'", 13 April 2002), Mr. Paulin told an interviewer for Al-Ahram that he abhorred "Brooklyn-born" Jewish "settlers" and believed "they should be shot dead." He added, for good measure, that he had quit the Labor Party because Tony Blair presides over "a Zionist government" and that he for his part "never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all." Columbia's James Shapiro, English professor and one of Paulin's ardent defenders, has told the COLUMBIA SPECTATOR (20 November 2002)) that these remarks "did not step over the line." Apparently Professor Shapiro's moral dividing line is like the receding horizon: he walks towards it, but can never reach it.

Has incitement to murder now become one of the qualifications for appointment in a department that once employed John Erskine, Mark Van Doren, F.W. Dupee, and Lionel Trilling? As alumni of Columbia, we hope not. Do we, as Orwell famously asked, have the right to expect common decency even of a (minor) poet? We hope yes.

Sincerely yours,

Edward Alexander (BA, '57)
Jerold S. Auerbach (PhD, '65)
Stephen M. Rittenberg (BA,'57, MD, '63)
Sol Z. Rosen (LLB, 1960)
Albert Silbowitz (BA, '62)
Irony of ironies: while the Appalling Paulin was issued an invitation notwithstanding the “US Jews Should Be Shot” comment, the Israeli journalist and professor, Gideon Kouts was initially banned from delivering a talk at Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM). The ban was reversed, according to the Ottawa Citizen, December 9, 2002 (p. A4), after “accusation of censorship from the Canada-Israel Committee”.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland. This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.