It looks as if the international conspiracy to demonize Israel has its hearts set on using the Toronto Transit Commission or the TTC, as a vehicle in its agenda to foster hate and project anti-Semitism in Toronto by using transit advertising, as it has successfully accomplished with Vancouver’s TransLink. The Palestinian Awareness Coalition intends to purchase similar transit advertising space in major centres across Canada.
For those who are unaware, the demonization of Israel has become the new anti-Semitism. They feel that these criticisms are legitimate criticisms of Israel.
Criticism of Israel is one thing. By the way, I personally have been accused of criticizing Israel. I have done so proudly, and I have done so with the personal objective of improving its policies on a wide range of issues.
The question is whether the advertisements sponsored by the Palestinian Awareness Coalition are legitimate criticisms of Israel, or is their motive to demonize Israel.
There are 4 tests to distinguish between demonization and the legitimate criticism of Israel.
The first test of whether or not Israel is being demonized by propaganda is when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion such as when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis or between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz. By doing this, the greatest obscenity of all time is perpetrated. Nazi atrocities resulted in the murder of over 12 million people, and it was achieved with the complicity and participation of the forefathers of many of the Palestinians themselves, including Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.
The second test is that of the double standard when Israel is singled out by international organizations such as the United Nations, for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as Syria, is ignored. For instance, Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance/emergency aid services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross.
Did you know that Israel was one of the first to respond to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan in 2011, with mobile hospitals and medical aid? Where were the Palestinians or any other Arab nation during these disasters?
A better example has been the United Nations Conferences on Racism, known as the Durban Conferences where several countries refused to attend because of one-sided biases and racist attitudes focused on Israel. No mention was made about the racist and human rights abuses practiced in the Arab countries. One only has to look at the discrimination and violence faced by the Coptic Christians of Eqypt, or the Sarin gas attacks on the people of Syria.
The third test of de-legitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism. There is no clearer indication of Israel’s legal right to exist than the unanimous vote by all nations through the United Nations to create separate Jewish and Arab nations. It is unfortunate, that the Arab nations annexed both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank area. I wasn’t aware that these two parcels of land threatened either Jordan or Eqypt at the time.
The fourth and final test is equating Israel with apartheid. I can go on and give many examples that dispute this assertion. But the best example that I can provide is the following interview with Esther Meshoe, daughter of conservative South African parliamentarian, Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, who refutes false allegations of apartheid on the part of Israel.
Ms. Meshoe should know about apartheid. She lived under apartheid with her family. Can any member of the Palestinian Awareness Coalition make that same statement?
In Vancouver, the advertisements supposedly depict “a disappearing Palestine”. By and large, these advertisements are extremely inaccurate, or at the least one-sided. For instance, the 1947 map showing the land allocated to both Jews and Arabs was unanimously rejected by the Arab nations. Once the Jewish state was declared, the surrounding Arab countries invaded the tiny state, bent on obliterating it. Also, the number of Palestinian refugees has been inflated artificially by a UN provision applicable only to Palestinians.
Advertising should be balanced, and the “whole truth” should be told. If not it is merely propaganda.
In Vancouver, TransLink clearly did not base its decision to allow these hateful advertisements on the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Section 14 of the Advertising Standards state that:
Advertisements shall not:
(a) condone any form of personal discrimination, including that based upon race, national origin, religion, sex or age;
(b) appear in a realistic manner to exploit, condone or incite violence; nor appear to condone, or directly encourage, bullying; nor directly encourage, or exhibit obvious indifference to, unlawful behaviour;
(c) demean, denigrate or disparage one or more identifiable persons, group of persons, firms, organizations, industrial or commercial activities, professions, entities, products or services, or attempt to bring it or them into public contempt or ridicule;
Their decision to allow these advertisements was based on a Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2009 that struck down aspects of TransLink’s policies that prohibited political advertising after a court battle between the agency, the Canadian Federation of Students and the B.C. Teachers Federation.
This is not mere political advertising. In this case, when the resulting intent of an advertisement fosters animosity and hate; it goes beyond politics. If one takes TranLink’s position, then, the Nazi posters of the 1930’s denigrating Jews and homosexuals would also get the TransLink stamp of approval.
In the past, with respect to funding of the annual Gay Pride event, the City was forced to reluctantly accept an interpretation that the term “Israeli Apartheid” did not violate the City’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. I am concerned that the same interpretation may be applied so that the proposed advertisements will be allowed. It would be wrong, as these advertisements denigrate a specific group which plays an integral role in the City.
If this were to happen, I would have to counter this interpretation by applying the City’s own Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy which requires all organizations and individuals that contract with the City to sign a Declaration of Compliance which states:
… I/we uphold our obligations under City policies which prohibit harassment/discrimination on a number of grounds including political affiliation and level of literacy.
I wonder which would take precedence when it comes to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid upsetting Toronto’s annual Gay Pride Parade; a legal interpretation allowing the terminology Israeli Apartheid, or invoking the City’s own policy which was established to stop any attempt to denigrate groups and to stop hate or bullying? I recall that in 2008 Paul McCartney stated that he had received death threats from boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) groups for his decision to perform in Israel. If a death threat is not bullying, I don’t know what is!
I hope that this same argument can be used by the City and the TTC to veto these advertisements sponsored by the Palestinian Awareness Coalition. They are not educational in that they tell the whole story, and can best be described as propaganda.
The City’s Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy can bolster the TTC’s application of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. As such, it is important that the approval of these advertisements should be based on the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards with the application of the City’s Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy.