Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Defining "war"

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Thursday, March 5th: Part 4: Robert Lovelace
University of Toronto

According to his IAW bio:

"Robert Lovelace is a retired Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. He is an Adjunct Lecturer in Global Development Studies at Queen's University and a professor in Ecosystems Management at Sir Sandford Fleming College. He has written about community development and social reform as a de-colonizing strategy. On February 15, 2008, Robert Lovelace was sentenced to 6 months in prison for contempt of court. His crime was taking a leadership role in securing Algonquin land and refusing to permit exploration for uranium near Ardoch, Ontario."

I don't know if Mr. Lovelace was right or wrong or if his conviction and sentence were just. In all honesty, his presentation bored me. He spoke in a monotone and went on for far too long. In addition, he obviously did not get the memo that there is no "th" in apartheid.

Here's a link to a series of articles that give some background information about the dispute over which Mr. Lovelace fought and went to prison.

Mr. Lovelace gave some general information about his experiences and talked about being a "revolutionary." I couldn't tell if the young pro-Palestinians in the audience were interested in what he was saying but they applauded loudly when he was done. The university professor seated next to me was enthralled by him. To my dismay, during the Q&A he asked Mr. Lovelace an open-ended question like, "So, how is the struggle going now?" and the response swallowed up most of the Q&A time slot.

"Colonialism is a war," Robert Lovelace told us, and in this war, "it is better to be a revolutionary rather than a reactionary." To be a revolutionary, he said, you need enlightenment, engagement and self-sacrifice. And to challenge colonialism, you need education, art, debate, supply (food and medicine) and divestment.

His ancestors, the Algonquins, lived in the Ottawa Valley. He said that 200 years ago there were no buildings, dams or roads there, just his native language.

"Now," he added, "there is just devastation, with almost no trees over 100 years old."

The white people, he said, are to blame for "the rape of the world and the oppression of indigenous peoples."
When Mr. Lovelace said that peace is a verb, a process, in his Algonquin language, I wondered if he knew that, in Islamic religious tradition, peace means submission to Allah.
This is what the Palestinian government of Gaza says about the Middle East peace process:
Hamas Charter, Article 13

"The initiatives, the so-called peace solutions, and the international conferences for resolving the Palestinian problem stand in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement, for to neglect any part of Palestine is to neglect part of the Islamic faith. The nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its [Islamic] faith. It is in the light of this principle that its members are educated, and they wage jihad in order to raise the banner of Allah over the homeland...

"From time to time there are calls to hold an international conference in order to seek a solution for the [Palestinian] problem. Some accept this [proposal] and some reject it, for one reason or another, demanding the fulfillment of some condition or conditions before they agree to hold the conference and participate in it. However, the Islamic Resistance Movement - since it is familiar with the parties participating in the conference and with their past and current positions on the issues of the Muslims - does not believe that these conferences can meet the demands or restore the rights [of the Palestinians], or bring equity to the oppressed. These conferences are nothing but a way to give the infidels power of arbitration over Muslim land, and when have the infidels ever been equitable towards the believers...

"There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are a waste of time and a farce. The Palestinian people is far too eminent to have its future, its rights and its destiny toyed with."

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Speak Softly and Carry a Big IDF

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Thursday, March 5th: Part 3: Leila Farsakh
University of Toronto

My friend has a beautiful, distinctive speaking voice. Although its tone is soft, it carries well, so one doesn't have to strain to hear what she is saying.

Partway through Leila Farsakh's speech, I heard my friend say, "But my friend..."

I turned and saw her at the doorway (the other door; the one with the bouncers whom I had neglected to inform of her late arrival). Unbeknownst to me, my Jewish friend had just attempted to follow another woman into the room but had been physically blocked by the bouncer. I stood, smiled broadly and waved at my friend and they let her in.

Muslim bouncer apartheid strikes again!

(Just for the record: throughout the evening, long after my friend's arrival, various people were allowed to enter and they found seats with no problem.)

My friend settled in to her seat and we listened to the rest of Ms. Farsakh's presentation.

Ms. Farsakh continued to toss out information without context or proof. She's a university professor; why didn't she have hand-outs so we could check her facts and do our own research?

Ms. Farsakh said that, since 1967, Israel has created a system that has fragmented Palestinian land and regulated the lives of Palestinians. She said the Oslo accords set the stage for this action.

Now, let's pause for a moment and think. What happened in 1967?

Oh, that's right: some Arab countries decided to pick a fight with Israel but Israel fought back and whooped their sorry asses and the losers have been whining about it ever since.

But Ms. Farsakh didn't mention the unprovoked war on Israel or Israel's victory. She also didn't mention the many concessions Israel has made, or has tried to make, for peace since its formation.

The "pass system", she said, is based on "domination" and was "institutionalized by Oslo". Thanks to Oslo, Israel created "islands" – "fragmented areas" that are "territorially unconnected" – consisting of eight major "Bantustans" including Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus (I didn't catch the rest). She mentioned checkpoints (according to her, there are 604 in the West Bank) and a permit system based on Oslo which grants Israel the power to regulate the movements of "workers, businessmen, anyone" which was introduced in 1993 and confirmed by Oslo in 2002.

The use of the term Bantustan is inaccurate; anti-Israel groups are simply trying to paint Israel with the same brush as apartheid South Africa. The situation in Israel is different in many ways, including the fact that its Arab and/or Muslim citizens have full and equal rights guaranteed by law.

See this document for information on the real Bantustans.

The 1993 agreement between the Palestinian representatives and the state of Israel, the Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements, starts out:

"The Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O. team (in the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference) (the "Palestinian Delegation"), representing the Palestinian people, agree that it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process. Accordingly, the, two sides agree to the following principles..."

Now, that sounds kinda mutual to me.

As for the areas including Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus, I'd like to know how they came under Palestinian control. Were Muslims herded together, shipped off to "native reservations" and locked in before Israel threw away the key?

Or was this covered in other agreements between the two groups? For example, what about the Oslo 2 Agreement in 1995:

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

And this in 2005: Israel, Palestinians Agree on Two Documents on Movement, Access.

Here's a link to a list of Agreements Israel has made with the Palestinians.

I keep seeing the word "agreement" alongside "Israel" and "Palestinians". This would suggest that the two sides have made official agreements on these issues. Despite this, I got the impression that Ms. Farsakh holds a low opinion of the Oslo agreements.

She made some other statements that were not backed up with facts: "Israel intends to incorporate all of Jerusalem into Israel" and "Israel's plan is to incorporate 90% of the West Bank into Israel". I'd like some proof, please.

She seemed disappointed with the refusal of the international community to get on board with the Bantustan refrain. She said that, although the international community refused to recognize Bantustans in South Africa, it has not done the same regarding the Palestinian territories.

"The big problem we have," Ms. Farsakh said, "is UN Resolution 181 and Resolution 242" as well as, she added, U.S. President George W. Bush "saying in 2002 or 2003 that the only solution is the creation of a Palestinian state".

But isn't that what they want: a Palestinian state? How could that be a problem?

"But it wouldn't be a state," Ms. Farsakh continued, "it would be a Bantustan."


According to her, they already have Bantustans. How would creating a separate Palestinian state turn it into a new Bantustan? She didn't say.

Here's what she did say:

"The two-state solution has been killed by Israel: the only solution is a one-state solution."

Get that into your head, because that's what the Palestinian movement has been saying all along: Israel can't have its own state anymore. Not with a Palestinian state, not without a Palestinian state. The only solution they will accept is one Palestinian (Muslim)-majority state comprised of the geographical area currently known as Israel.

And whose fault is it? Why, it's Israel's fault, of course.

The Palestinian groups will never agree that Israel has a right to exist and that a two-state solution is therefore fair and workable. As far as they are concerned, Israel does not have a right to exist and they are doing everything they can to see to its erasure.

When the anti-Israel people talk about the "illegal occupation", they're not talking about Gaza or the West Bank or any other "disputed territory": they are talking about all of Israel.

Think about that. And riddle me this.

How many Muslim countries are there in the world?


How many Jewish countries are there in the world?


But that's one too many for them. And 57 isn't nearly enough: they want more. They want to make it 58-0.

And that's just for starters. If they are allowed to wipe Israel from the map, you don't really think they'll stop there, do you?

Up next: The Rape of the World or How My People had No Roads, Buildings, Dams or Infrastructure Until the Brilliant Europeans Came Along and I'm So Grateful to be Living in Such an Advanced Civilization.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Anything less than 100% employment is apartheid!

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Thursday, March 5th: Part 2: Leila Farsakh

Leila Farsakh's Wikipedia entry starts out: "Leila Farsakh... is a Palestinian Muslim who was born in Jordan..."

Excuse me, but wouldn't that make her a Jordanian Muslim?

At any rate, according to her IAW bio, Ms. Farsakh is an "assistant professor in political science at University of Massachusetts Boston." She was the first featured speaker of the evening.

In her speech, Ms. Farsakh discussed some aspects of South African apartheid and compared it in the broadest terms to "Israeli apartheid" and I got the impression that she considers the latter to be far worse than the former. Throughout her speech, she threw out statistics, catchphrases and definitions without any context or analysis. It was all one-sided: The Israelis did this to the poor, suffering Palestinians, the Israelis did that to the poor, suffering Palestinians, while the Palestinians bore no responsibility for any of it.

The anti-Israel groups have broadened and cheapened the definition of apartheid; they have co-opted its imagery and the emotional response it evokes. It doesn't matter to them that a comparable system does not actually exist in Israel; they are more interested in provoking pity or rage than cold reason derived from hard facts. They like the word's instant recognition factor, especially among middle-aged folks who boycotted South African grapes and read the hagiographic "Mother of a Nation" before Winnie Mandela championed the use of "necklaces" to burn people alive and before she was convicted for her part in the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old boy. Some mother.

Where once it was the name of a specific legal system governing the lives of blacks in South Africa during a specific era, anti-Israel activists have taken the literal meaning of the word apartheid, "apartness", and applied it to any practice they deem to be unfair against those who define themselves as Palestinians.

I was among those who decried apartheid and rejoiced when Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa but I am not so desperate to relive those days of activism that I will throw my rationality out the window and glom onto any cause featuring the word apartheid. Launch a campaign against a real apartheid state, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, and I will demonstrate alongside you in a heartbeat.

Ms. Farsakh talked about checkpoints, the security wall and Gaza's "economic and political depression" without once mentioning the reason for the checkpoints and the security fence/wall: terrorists coming from outside Israel to murder Israelis. She also neglected to mention Egypt's security wall; now why would that be?

She threw out statistics for the poverty rate, per capita income and unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza without any context. The statistics were meant to cast a negative light on Israel but I don't know how or why Israel is responsible for the economy of any other territory or country than its own.

It seems as if Palestinians want all the benefits of having their own country without any of the responsibilities.

"Palestinians depend on jobs in Israel," Ms. Farsakh said. According to her, 40% of all Gazans and 30% of all West Bank residents work in Israel but they comprise "only" 7% of the workforce in Israel.

So, a minority of Israel's workforce comes from these two places; this is not apartheid. If Israel does, in fact, provide employment for almost one-half of all Gazans and one-third of West Bankians, shouldn't their governments be doing all they can to improve relations with such a major employer of their citizens? Wouldn't that be the peaceful and sensible thing to do, instead of firing missiles into Israel and encouraging their people to become suicide-murderers of the citizens of this major employer? Talk about blowing yourself up in the foot.

Ms. Farsakh described the next statistic as "the tricky one": "Until 1993 a large percentage of the construction sector was Palestinian but that has dropped since the Intifada." Again, no explanation, no context. What's so tricky about cause and effect (terrorism from your side = restrictions from our side)?

Ms. Farsakh said, "There are still 60,000 Palestinians working in Israel."

According to her statistics, then, 60,000 Palestinians, comprising almost one-half of all Gazans and almost one-third of those in the West Bank (and not solely those of employment age), are employed in Israel. Somebody please tell me how this reflects poorly on Israel because I can't see it. In what way is any sovereign country responsible for providing work to any citizens other than its own?

Up next: Bantustans!

Monday, March 16, 2009

On the Inside Looking Out

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Thursday, March 5th: Part 1
University of Toronto

Arriving early and alone at the University of Toronto, I grabbed some of the "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW) printed materials so I would have something to read while standing in line. The booklets also came in handy when I spotted some familiar faces from Monday night's event at Ryerson. (Oh, no, that guy's in my video and there's that rude girl who argued with my friend in the line-up: look away, look away!) Luckily, my cover wasn't blown and I was permitted inside the auditorium.

Once inside, I sat near the back so I could keep an eye out for my friend. I put my coat and bag on the seat to my right, asked the university professor to my left to save my seat, and approached the students and security at the door.

Me: "My friend is late, I'm saving her a seat, please let her in when she gets here."

Bouncer: "I'm sorry, if the room is full, we can't save seats."

Me: "My friend is coming but she's late, I'm saving her a seat, please let her in."

Bouncer: (see above)

Me: "I've got my coat on the seat, I'm saving it for my friend, please let her in, she's a bit late, thanks."

Bouncer: (see above)

Me: "Thanks!"

Hillary Clinton, I feel your pain.

Later, I asked the students at the door how many people were in the audience and they guessed at 150. I'll leave it up to the math geeks to give me a projected estimate based on the following:

If there were 100-150 people in the near-capacity room
And the man on my left was a university professor
And the woman three seats to my right was a university professor
And the woman directly in front of her was a university professor
How screwed is our educational system?

Bonus points for creativity. Due at the end of March Break.

I didn't recognize the music playing over the PA system. It was some kind of rap or hip-hop and I'm pretty sure it wasn't in English. It might have been CBC Radio.

The activists had used abundant amounts of duct tape to attach their decorations to the walls. We're talking at least three long strips of tape per corner and a few more along the top, bottom and sides. I doubt the paint underneath was in good shape after everything was taken down.

But, teacher, it's not my fault: If those sneaky Israelis hadn't prevented the Palestinians from inventing a stick-free, temporary tape for putting up anti-Israel posters, this wouldn't have happened! The international community is complicit! F*** the West!

Surrounding a large Palestinian flag, posters on the wall featured these slogans:

"Free Palestine – Boycott Israel"
"Turtle Island to Palestine – Occupation is a Crime"
"People of Gaza You are not Alone"
"Break the Silence End the Siege on Gaza"
"Israeli Apartheid Week"

A large screen at the front of the room flashed images and charts such as:

"Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-2000" (map)
"60 Years of Israeli Apartheid & Occupation"

Smaller photos and posters at the front might have shown injured or dead people; I couldn't tell for certain from my seat and I didn't want to get any closer to inspect them. I had a seat to save!

Just before the moderator approached the microphone, I repeated my earlier request to the students at the door. They must have been new because they agreed to let my friend in when she arrived. Unfortunately, my friend showed up later at the other door. That's right, the door I didn't know about until it was too late.

Higher Learning Lesson # 5: Scope out the doors; there's usually more than one.

I didn't catch the moderator's name. He was a young man; I don't know if he is a genuine student or if he is one of those part-time, long-term students whose real function is as an anti-Israel agitator.

He showed this video.

I can't have been the only person in the room who didn't understand what the rapper in the video was saying. This is Canada, people: most of us don't speak Palestinian.

For those who do speak it, is "Hitler" the same in Palestinian as it is in English? At about the 0:28 mark, does the rapper say "Hitler"?

The moderator described this year's "Israeli Apartheid Week" as the largest and most successful to date; it was being held in 40 cities worldwide and U of T was the birthplace of IAW.

It was a friendly crowd and the moderator didn't have to work hard to get applause but he received an especially strong response when he disparaged the University of Toronto's President, David Naylor, as a "detractor" of IAW with "firm and strong links to Israeli apartheid".

After showing this video of David Naylor at an Israeli university (with the music – and base – cranked up), the moderator called, "Join me in shaming!" and everyone but me hissed, booed and yelled, "Shame!"

The moderator laughed and proceeded to the night's message.

He said, "Mosques, hospitals and educational institutions are being deliberately attacked" by the IDF in Gaza.

He mentioned the "ongoing illegal occupation" of Israel. He also said to applause that, although various universities have banned the IAW poster and they've had a lot of opposition, the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel groups are fighting and stronger than ever.

Before introducing the first guest, he went over the ground rules:
  • No video or photography unless you've registered as a member of the media.
  • No disruptions allowed. Following U of T policy, if you cause a problem, you will be given two warnings, then you will be asked to leave.
  • During the Q & A period, free speech & open dialogue are encouraged but racism, sexism or discrimination will not be permitted.
I wondered where the question, "Does Israel have a right to exist?" might fall in the above categories, but I was afraid to ask in case they threw me out or threatened to saw off my head.

Up next: Leila Farsakh and the rebranding of apartheid.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Surahs for You!

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Monday, March 2nd: Part 3
Ryerson University

But, but, the girls said, Israel is bombing our holy places and that's just wrong!

Then, perhaps to appeal to my religious sensibilities, they delivered the standard Muslim canard: "We worship the same God. We honour the prophet Jesus."

Attention Muslims: It is highly insulting to tell a Bible-based Christian that we worship the same God and you consider Jesus to be a lesser prophet. Don't get me wrong, you haven't insulted my faith: you've insulted my intelligence and my reading comprehension. I know what the New Testament teaches about Christ and I know what the Koran teaches about Issa: the two books are not talking about the same person. And, since my God had a Son and yours didn't, we're also talking about two different deities.

I listed those reasons as well as a few more and was denounced for insulting their religion. Oh, the shocked expressions, the turned-away faces and bodies, the affirmations of respect for the prophet Jesus!

At this point, a quiet, well-spoken man chimed in and helped to calm the rhetoric. First, he had the girls agree that Islam teaches that God does not have a Son and Christianity teaches that God does, indeed, have a Son. I think the man was Jewish, which would explain why he didn't mention the third part of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit.

He moved the conversation forward by saying, "We can argue about the causes and our differences but let's talk about solutions. What would you do to solve the problems and bring peace to the area?"

Neither of the girls had any ideas. It wasn't long before one of them went silent and walked away.

Higher Learning Lesson #3: Cut to the chase. Agree that there are problems and focus on creating solutions.

On my own with the quieter girl, the discussion slowed down. No more fingers flung in my face, no more overt anger.

She said, "So, you're a Christian," and seemed relieved when I said yes.

"So," she said, "it's not about religion for you."

That's right: it's about politics and common sense for me.

"The situation is very complicated," she said, "because God promised Israel to the Jews through Musa and He promised Palestine to the Muslims through Mohammed."

"Who's Musa?" I asked. "You mean Moses?"

"Yes, Moses."

"Humph," I said. "Israel is not mentioned in the Koran and neither is Palestine."

Oh, but it most certainly is, she said. At my request, she wrote down the references for me: Surah Baqarah and Surah Imran.

Later, at home, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and checked those two chapters and, of course, neither mentions Palestine or Israel.

Tricksy Muslima: made me look!

To paraphrase the two chapters: Muslims are the best. Mohammed is the best. Allah is the best. Jews are terrible and are going to hell. Christians are terrible and are going to hell. Oh, did we mention that Allah, Mohammed and Islam are the best and that Christians and Jews are going to burn forever in hell?

I also learned that, when I'm alone, I bite the tips of my fingers at Muslims in rage. Hooboy, that Mohammed had me all figured out. My fingertips are bloody stumps. In fact, there is a booming black market for fake fingertips for Christians. Shhhhhh, don't tell the Muslims it's true.

But I thought we weren't talking about religion.

Somehow the conversation moved on to modesty in clothing for women. According to this girl, women in Saudi Arabia voluntarily cover themselves from head to toe – they are not forced to do this, oh no – and as a result, there is no rape or child molestation in Saudi Arabia. None whatsoever! But Canada, she said, is experiencing an epidemic of rape and molestation because men are too tempted by the way women dress. She said, "There is a street in Toronto where all the pedophiles live!"

I told her that I'm glad I live in Canada, where I am, by law, equal to a man and where men are obliged morally and legally to control their own urges.

Our conversation wound down. She seemed like a nice enough girl. Was she simply misinformed or deliberately lying to me? I couldn't say. She proved to be a sneaky proselytizer, which I do not respect.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We have the technology

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Monday, March 2nd: Part 2
Ryerson University

A friend handed me a few homemade flyers to distribute to the crowd in the lobby. I asked her for more and she scoffed, "You want more? Really? Hand those out first and then ask me for more."

She was surprised when I returned and asked for more... twice.

Now, I wouldn't want to call anyone an anti-Semite, but I noticed that the pro-Palestinians were more likely to accept a flyer from me than from a Jewish person. Their faces showed confusion when I brightly asked if they wanted a flyer and they looked from the flyer to my face and back again. Could their eyes be fooling them? I wasn't wearing an Arafat-scarf, so it was a quick judgment call. Was I for or against their ideas?

I didn't fool two young, black, hijab-wearing Ryerson students, though. They read the cover of the flyer and exclaimed, "Are you kidding?"

A few minutes later, they approached me and started to ask questions. Not friendly questions, mind you: one girl started off by demanding a yes or no answer to the question, "Do you support Israel's actions in Gaza?"

When I said yes, their heads went back, eyes raised to the ceiling, their hands flew into the air and they shouted, "Oh-Ho-o-o-oh!" They had me pegged, alright, and they were going to make me answer for Israel's "war crimes".

Our ensuing discussion demonstrated to me that Canada's schools are doing a terrible job of teaching young people to use logic and reason. The "arguments" these girls used were either incorrect or just plain lies. Underlying it all was an appeal to the base emotions of pity and hatred. Logic? Statistics? Theology? What have they got to do with tugging at heartstrings? Palestinian babies are being killed as we speak!

Higher Learning Lesson #2: It's all one big sob story and Israel is always to blame.

The first thing one girl said was that the situation in Gaza is "exactly the same as the Holocaust". She said it with a straight face, too. Never mind that most of the hundreds of Gazans who were killed during Operation Cast Lead were terrorists, compared to the 12 million people who died in the Holocaust.

When they countered with, "It's ethnic cleansing," I replied, "The population in Gaza is booming, actually."

"But Israel is bombing our mosques! It's our holy place! Do you support the bombing of mosques? What would you do if someone bombed a church? It's your holy place! I'm a Muslim and I wouldn't want someone to bomb a church!"

"If someone was stupid enough to store munitions inside a church," I said, "I'd tell the government to bomb the hell out of it."

Shock! Horror! And I call myself a Christian!

The girls laughed in derision when I said that Israel has the technology to detect weaponry that is stashed inside or beneath apartment buildings and mosques. Those images had obviously been faked, they said; I shouldn't trust anything unless it appears on the BBC's UK-based website.

A few minutes later they told me, again with straight faces, that Israel has the technology to distinguish between men, women and children and is using it to target and kill women and children.

Let me get this straight: Israel can see teeny-tiny private parts on its radar screens but not big, honking missiles and launchers.

"Hey, big fella, is that a missile launcher in your pocket or are you just trying to evade Israeli technology, inshallah?"

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dorks in Snow Pants for Israel

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Monday, March 2nd: Part 1
Ryerson University
Wait... I was the only one wearing snow pants? You're sure about that?

It was extremely cold: the City of Toronto had already declared a cold weather alert and we were close to a cold weather warning by the time I left my warm, cozy home.

At such low temperatures, the battery on my video camera drains quickly, so it spent most of the evening tucked between the layers of my short-sleeved t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt and coat. (Thus adding to the lumpiness of my frumpiness.)

I deftly avoided what they used to call a "power-out situation" on the subway line by hopping onto a streetcar for the last leg of my trek. (Yeah, okay, dames in snow pants don't hop, they squeak, squeak, squeak along. It was more like a hop, squeak and a jump onto the streetcar, with a squoosh of air leaving the snow pants as I sat down.)

Once downtown, I was gladdened by the sight of several Israeli flags held aloft by the pro-Israel crowd outside Ryerson University. I picked up a flag and stood in solidarity with them.

My friend arrived and we entered the lobby, grateful for its warmth, and stood patiently in line: me first, then some Jewish friends. As we reached the front of the line, the male, Muslim bouncers closed the doors and announced that the room was full. We had lined up late, so I knew there was a chance we might not get in.

I stood there, first in line, with my Jewish friends behind me, and waited, convinced I would be the next person to enter the lecture hall. I was baffled, then disgruntled, as the bouncers started to pick various people from behind us in the line-up and let them into the auditorium. When my petite, middle-aged, female friend moved to follow some of them into the room, one of the bouncers physically blocked her upper body with his arms and pushed her away. I protested, so he apologized and backed off.

The people around me noticed what was happening and we started to grumble. Ignoring our complaints of "Apartheid Toronto!", the security guards let in about a dozen people from here and there in the crowd behind us.

One bouncer said, "They're organizers. It wouldn't be fair for them not to see it."

I didn't believe him because the people he let in were not dressed in any particular way (except their keffiyehs) and were not wearing badges; most did not approach him at the door but instead stood silently in line.

Remember the scene in Zoolander when Derek greets celebrities at a nightclub? "Hey, Paris." It was like that, only the celebrities were the ones wearing hijabs or keffiyehs and they all had the same name. "Hey, pro-Palestinian!" Same difference.

More smug bouncers arrived at the auditorium doors as if they'd received a warning on their headsets: "Grumbling alert! Quick, send reinforcements!"

They weren't interested in the unfairness of it all. Social Justice is a one-way street in Palestine.

They announced that we had to move several feet to the left to clear the doors. Well, that made sense in terms of fire safety, but I didn't want to lose my place at the head of the line. I wound up third in the new line-up but it didn't matter: first or third, I wasn't getting in. After 10-15 minutes, we gave up and dispersed.

Higher Learning Lesson #1: Get there early so the bouncers have no excuse for keeping you out. Once the lecture starts and the doors close, they will only let in obvious Muslims, known allies and keffiyeh-wearers.

Islamic Security Apartheid!

To be continued...

Monday, March 9, 2009

So, a Muslim, an Algonquin and a Socialist walk into a university lecture hall...

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009


Listen up!

Out of respect for diversity, no one is allowed to argue with this crowd. In the name of tolerance, disruptions will not be tolerated. During the Q & A after the lectures, they encourage "free speech and open dialogue" but will not permit "racism, sexism or discrimination".

(Whenever you hear, "I believe in free speech but...", the only true part of that sentence is the "but". It's free speech or it isn't. No ifs, ands or buts.)

Furthermore, our free speech does not include the recording of their free speech: Only registered members of the media may photograph or videotape the proceedings. No explanations given.

Don't point at the Palestinian flag and ask why the Canadian flag is not displayed: this is not Canada, it is Turtle Island: can't you read the poster?

And whatever you do, do not say out loud that there is no Palestine: it's right there on their map! Say it with them, now: "Turtle Island to Palestine - Occupation is a Crime". But you may send them your tax dollars anytime.

Late-comers will be barred from entering if they look Jewish or have Jewish friends (an unannounced but demonstrated policy).

Keffiyehs are on sale in lobby for 20 bucks a pop. Instant Palestinian cool!

Sit back and enjoy their denunciations of capitalism, colonialism and apartheid. Be ready to hiss and boo at video showing the university's president speaking positively about Hebrew University and Israel (accompanied by ominous, thumping music blaring from the loudspeakers). Nod sagely at repeated calls for the end of the only Jewish state in the world (the only true democracy in the Middle East).

But it's okay: They're not anti-Semites. Why, some of their best friends are Jews.

To be continued...