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

January 06, 2003

It Ain't Over Even When It's Over

Activism matters - what it takes to nail things down


For some time now, since September 11, 2001, I have been concerned that many of the acts of violence perpetrated by various Jihadi groups were all linked together in one design of anti-Israeli, anti-US, anti-Western expression by these Islamist organizations, most of which are led by fiery Imams cursing Israel and the West to the heavens and calling for Allah to rain down fiery wrath and shake the ground beneath our feet.

Canada banned Hamas and several other organizations, but although the military wing of Hizb'Allah had been banned, Canada still allowed this organization to collect monies for its charitable wing.

Like many other Canadians, I had written several time to the Prime Minister asking him to discontinue giving Hizb'Allah charitable status in Canada and ban them outright. Finally, an article appeared on the Israeli Defence Force website giving a translation of statements by Sheik Hassan Nasrollah of Hizb'Allah's, and showing two photos of the publication, el-Intikad, in which these statements appeared on November 15, 2002, in Arabic.

Some of Nasrollah’s statements that were available on the web have been taken down by Hizb'Allah in the wake of Canada's banning of Hizb'Allah's charitable wing and the controversy over the Sheik's remarks but there is still a Google snapshot of some remarks from that publication in Arabic (more on this point, below).

Nasrollah’s comment also appeared on his personal website under the date of November 15, 2002 (again, see more on this point below).

Additionally, on November 29, 2002, the Sheik was quoted in an article entitled "Hizbolah urges more Palestinian suicide attacks" posted by Reuters Alert Net. In this article, Reuters said that Hizb'Allah's leader Hassan Nasrollah urged Palestinians on Friday, Nov. 29, 2002 "to ignore international criticism of suicide attacks and keep up armed struggle against Israel as the best way to liberate their land." [The link no longer gives the relevant article but a reproduction of the page is kept on file].

Furthermore, on December 4, 2002, Paul Martin ran an article in the Washington Times [again, the link no longer exists but the page has been kept on file] in which he stated that in addition to Nasarallah’s speech of November 29,

[E]arlier in the week, at a rally in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Sheik Nasrollah issued a far more ominous threat.

"Martyrdom operations - suicide bombings - should be exported outside Palestine," he said.

"I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings worldwide. Don't be shy about it," he added.
Upon reading of the Sheik's statements I sent another letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien in which I included the above links to the IDF website with its translation and photos of the Sheik's speech, and in which I demanded that the Government of Canada finally include Hizb'Allah with Hamas and other banned organizations whose military arms were carrying out suicide bombing missions. In light of the fact that Human Rights Watch had also now classified suicide bombings as 'murder' and despite protestations that Hizb'Allah supported charitable work and hospitals, I and other Canadians were not happy having this organization solicit funds inside Canada, fund which could be funnelled either way; and, as someone pointed out, even Hitler was kind to his mother.

On December 9, 2002 I received a reply from the Prime Minister's office stating that the PM had carefully read my remarks and had passed my letter on to the Solictor-General, Wayne Easter. I received no response from Wayne Easter's office but later that week, on Dec. 12, 2002, Mr. Easter made an announcement that the Government of Canada has decided to ban the charitable wing of Hizb'Allah from continuing to operate in Canada.

Let me say here that I in no way flatter myself that my letter alone did the trick; it was the cumulative efforts of many people across Canada, some Jewish, many like myself of Celtic and other backgrounds, all asking for the same thing, that violent organizations which bring terror and suffering to the lives of others around the world, no matter what good works they profess to do, be barred from operating in Canada, and their members from whatever branch or wing, be banned from Canada's shores.

In the end, the Prime Minister listened to us, though Mr. Easter, the Solicitor-General made it clear that Hizb'Allah was being banned for reasons other than just the speech by its leader Sheik Hassan Nasrollah.

Subsequent to Canada banning the charitable arm of Hizb'Allah, there was the expected outcry from this organization, crying "Foul" and protesting that the Sheik had never made the remarks attributed to him in a number of publications (see links above, including the Sheik's own website). The CBC's reporter, Neil Macdonald claimed to have spent three days in the Middle East trying to track down the source of the remarks, though why he should have gone so far afield is a mystery, since he need only have plugged in his laptop and dialled them up as the rest of us did.

The author of the original Washington Times article, Paul Martin [see above], came in for a pasting by The Toronto Star's media critic, Antonia Zerbisias in her article "Curious silence greets discredited Hezbollah tale" [this link too no longer exist but the page has been retained on file].

Ms. Zerbisias asserted that Paul Martin had been discredited, presumably by Neil Macdonald of the CBC, who never found the quotes and thus assumed the remarks were never made. Ms. Zerbisias descrited the Washington Times as a publication "controlled by the Unification Church known as the 'Moonies'", a remark meant to discredit the newspaper which ran Mr. Martin's article. She added that Paul Martin had not responded with a rebuttal and thus Ms. Zerbisias found this 'curious silence' evidence that the original article as well as Mr. Martin and his newspaper, The Washington Times, were in error. Ms. Zerbsias offered no other proof of her claim.

I have no idea why the fact that the Unification Church owns The Washington Times is a reason to disbelieve an article which appears in a publication which competes favourably with other Washington news sources, such as the Washington Post, anymore than I believe that a woman who witnessed a murder while working as a prostitute was blind, but apparently Ms. Zerbisias does.

On the same day, Dec. 16, 2002, that the weblog Little Green Footballs (LGF) was discussing this issue in a thread entitled "Support for Terrorists", I emailed Ms. Zerbisias and sent her the link to the IDF translation of Sheik Nasrollah's remarks. She replied to me that they didn’t offer proof that her article was in error. I replied offering her the Googled snapshot of Hizb'Allah's publication, al-Intiqad, showing Nasrollah's remarks, and the dated site from Sheik Hassan Nasrollah's OWN WEBSITE, where his text appears in Arabic (see link above); a friend who reads Arabic had kindly sent it to me. I further invited her to join the posters on the LGF thread where we discussing the Sheik's remarks. Ms. Zerbisias did join the posters on the weblog that day and you can read her remarks on the LGF link given above.

Additionally, I had occasion that day to exchange emails with her Ombudsman at The Toronto Star (The Star) who informed me, as she had done, very succinctly that "there would be no alteration or retraction of her article".

Later that evening there was one last hysterical response to me personally on my website from Antonia Zerbisias in which she denounced the LGF posters, calling them juvenile and 'poo-poo-heads' and telling me she'd 'had it with me and with this subject' and stating that when I had 'proof' (what was it I'd offered her?) that’s when we'd 'sit down and talk'.

And there the matter rested until the week of December 23, 2002.

During Christmas week, Paul Martin, author of the original article for The Washington Times which quoted Sheik Hassan Nasrollah's speeches, issued a statement through his Calgary law firm Chipeur Advocates, that he was suing the CBC, and their reporter, Neil Macdonald, as well as The Toronto Star and their media critic, Antonia Zerbisias, for defamation of character and for creating a dangerous climate for his work in the Middle East through their repudiation of his article in the Washington Times. The statement about the lawsuite has also been reported in the media: see, for example, report by canoe.com.

I have offered my personal correspondence with Antonia Zerbisias and her Ombudsman, as well as the links which were proffered to her and her responses, to Gerald Chipeur of Chipeur Advocates for the use of their client Paul Martin.

Mr. Martin's fortunes do not concern me so much as the veracity of the fact that Sheik Nasrollah said what he is alleged to have said; I am also concerned that Canada stand by its decision to ban this organization whose evil in promoting suicide bombing and other bombings is not mitigated by specious claims of 'charitable and other good works'.

Indeed, on Thursday, December 26, 2002, the Jordan Times published an article entitled, "Lebanon asks Canada to withdraw blacklisting of Hizbollah" .

The very thing I was fearing was coming to pass. Hizb'Allah wanted Canada to withdraw its blacklisting. In another LGF thread on December 27, 2002, discussing this development, Charles Johnson noted: "From the furious attempts by Hizb'Allah and their allies to spin this issue fast enough to confuse the Chretien administration, it's clear the Canadian connection must have been very important to their long-term plans."

I couldn't agree more, which is why it's vital to convince the Chretien government that it made the right decision in blacklisting Hizb'Allah, and that it must remain firm in that decision.

I am hoping to obtain a firm translation of the Arabic on Sheik Hassan Nasrollah's website before Hizb'Allah destroys it, as they have been very busy taking down webpages since this controversy began [see links above].

If there are any readers in the blogosphere who can help translate this material from the Arabic, please contact Joseph Alexander Norland at dt804@yahoo.ca with your name, e-mail address and the translations.

Also, we await the outcome of Mr. Martin's lawsuit which may not be for many months yet.

In this climate of war, there are no longer any national boundaries. We are fighting the same war in Canada as is being fought in Israel, and against the same enemies; the same war is being fought in England and France as is being fought in New York City. The war is a war of ideologies and of radical extremist Muslims against everyone else. If you are not an Islamist, you are the enemy to these radicals. They see even moderate secular Muslims as the enemy.

We must all fight in our own way; there is no alternative. It is not enough to protest against these Islamists in conversation or to express disapproval of their violent behaviour verbally. We must get busy pushing our politicians to act in order to deny these violent men access to our countries, to our charity contributions system, and to anything else which provides oxygen for their evil designs. Every little bit counts - every day!

Make the effort - even when you're tired. The future of your country and your children's children depends on it!

Contributed by Elizabeth Coote, ElizabethCoote2@interactive.rogers.com