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Ryan’s rage

Ryan’s rage, Editorial, Canadian Jewish News, January 15, 2009

Source: Canadian Jewish Congress

It is the intention of the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) to pass a resolution at a union meeting next month that will urge universities across the country to ban “Israeli academics” who have not explicitly condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza from “doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities.” The proposal is being promoted by CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan. It was his outraged response last week to the Israel Defence Forces’ destruction of a weapons lab in a university building in Gaza. Israel was shooting back at Hamas and their army of fighters.

“Attacking an institution of learning is just beyond the pale,” Ryan said. “They deliberately targeted an institution of learning. That’s what the Nazis did.” Ryan’s comparison of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces to the Nazis was vile and odious, but it was also quite revealing of the man. He apologized for the analogy, but the apology was justifiably suspected to be hollow and insincere.

Ryan is correctly upset at the violence and carnage in Gaza. So are we all. So, too, are we all moved and saddened by the terrible toll on the non-combatants in the area. But his accusatory, twitching finger of condemnation is pointed only at Israel. It points not at all, or ever, at the Hamas commanders and fighters who use “civilian” premises and places of worship as military redoubts, weapon laboratories and ordnance storage depots; who hide behind children and who fight mostly without uniform from the neighborhoods, houses and bedrooms of non-combatants.

Nor does Ryan seem bothered, nor has he ever seem bothered, by the fact that since it took control of Gaza, Hamas has deliberately targeted institutions of learning in southern Israel, such as schools, daycare centres and nurseries, as well as the homes, workplaces and play areas of all the ordinary citizens who live there. Such Hamas targeting is simply part of its national master plan, which includes, among other pithy sections, this rather jaunty justification for genocide: “Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.”

No doubt Ryan is a man of soft heart and tender conscience, easily moved to rage and anger at the sight of injustice. But has he publicly expressed rage at, to take but three obvious and alas, ongoing examples, the government of Zimbabwe for the monstrous oppression of its own people, or the government of Sudan for the rape and slaughter in Darfur, or the government of Iran for the vicious victimization of its Baha’i and Kurdish population and – dare we say, too – for incessantly urging Israel be wiped off the map?

Ryan’s selective expression of rage has knocked away the mask of outraged, angry social activist. What we see underneath is a more telling visage. By singling out Israeli academics for boycott, he joins forces with others who strive to demonize and delegitimize Israel, who do their best to separate the Jewish state from the family of nations.

Ryan’s outrageous suggestion must be spurned even as he should be upbraided.

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