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Lecture for a union: CUPE wrong to support ban of Israeli university academics

Michael Coren, Lecture for a union: CUPE wrong to support ban of Israeli university academics, Toronto Sun, 10th January 2009

Source: Toronto Sun

It might have been more appropriate if it had been written in German.

The statement by CUPE Ontario supporting "a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities as a protest against the Dec. 29 bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. In response to an appeal from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, we are ready to say Israeli academics should not be on our campuses unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general."

Peaceful and legal protest against Israel or any other nation is entirely acceptable and even helpful in a free and democratic society, even when it's ill informed and predictable. But this is something fundamentally different. It is in effect a loyalty oath demanded by zealots and fundamentalists of ordinary, apolitical people who happen to have been born in the Jewish state.

It is unlikely that these extremists have thought this nonsense through for more than a few hysterical moments, but let's ask a few basic questions.

Is this "condemnation" to be asked of Israeli Arabs or only of Israeli Jews? There are, of course, more than 1.5 million Israeli Arabs and, as Israelis, they enjoy full democratic and civil rights.

Thousands of them study at Israeli universities and many of them teach at Israeli universities, unlike in most Arab countries where the Jews were expelled and cannot study, teach or even live.

Is this "condemnation" to be asked of, for example, Iranians teaching in Canadian universities over their government's public hanging of homosexuals, stoning of women or shooting of university students demonstrating peacefully? Or of Egyptian academics, of whom there are many in this country, over the persecution of Christians in Egypt, the banning of various independent newspapers or the building of the wall on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border?

Or of academics from Zimbabwe, Communist China or the dictatorships of Syria or Libya because of their governments' vile policies? Or of academics from Sudan, where hundreds of thousands have been murdered, raped, enslaved and forcibly converted to Islam? Or, for that matter, of Palestinian academics -- their Hamas government only last week murdered 35 Fatah members and shot a further 75 in the legs, thus crippling them. They force women to wear the hijab and threaten to throw acid in the faces of girls who refuse.

Goodness, such a "condemnation" was not even asked of academics from Rwanda when that country's government was attempting genocide!

But it is being asked of Israelis, where the armed forces are responding after eight years of terror, rocket attacks and murderous provocation.

What this crass, painfully immature, impossible and snarling little gesture does is to single out for unique targeting and hatred an identifiable group of people merely doing their job. Jews. Most of them, by the way, born in Israel because their families were forced by pogrom, Holocaust and Arab expulsion to leave their former nations and live in Israel.

In a phrase, it's Jew baiting. And it's beyond the pale of civilized behaviour and acceptable discourse. It takes a complex issue involving two peoples who deserve justice and reduces it to abuse, blacklisting and a discrimination soaked in the excesses of 1930s Europe.

Black shirts hiding in colours of red and green. They should hang their heads in shame and beg forgiveness.

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