Canadian Arab News
February 17, 2005
The most powerful instrument of censorship is not a church, media monopolist, lobby group, or secret military agency. It is the fear they engender in us—fear of losing a job, fear of ostracism, fear of losing money, fear of being sued, or in extreme cases fear of being arrested.
This reaction, this internal censor, effectively inhibits people from expressing informed, contrary opinions, even though such a right is guaranteed under the Constitution. By “pre-censoring” ourselves we confer upon these and other pressure groups unwarranted power and influence. Even though these bullies are almost always vastly outnumbered by their victims, they are cohesive, connected and ruthless.
The best example of the preceding is the way the Israel Lobby coerces our government and media. Few people in these fields have the professional, political or financial independence to speak honestly about the Middle East, or assail propaganda like Israeli “democracy,” “anti-Semitism” or Palestinian “terrorists,” or question the perversity of praising peace negotiations that repudiate international law.
One whiff of independent thought on such matters and the B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Little Knesset and the CanWest propaganda machine go into attack mode, which is what happened to Lebanon’s ambassador Raymond Baaklini in January 2003 and regularly happens to CBC reporter Neil MacDonald.
To that list we can add radio host John Canal. In late January, he conducted a pre-taped interview with me about my upcoming book Enemies by Design—Inventing the War on Terrorism for the University of Manitoba’s campus station UMFM.
The thesis of my book is that the war on terrorism is a hoax designed (as the title implies) to demonize Muslims and Arabs so that the U.S. can justify inflicting repressive measures that would be unthinkable in peacetime. The purpose of this deliberate provocation is to serve the interests of Israel, and I describe how the Bush–Cheney junta represents the sixth and highest stage of the zionization of the U.S.
Before the half-hour show finished airing, a Jewish individual came to the station to decry the broadcast as “anti-Semitic” (big surprise!) and to announce that he was going to report it to the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, which should be renamed the "Arab-Defamation League.”
None of this was really surprising. I expected some people to be upset, because it’s not easy to hear views that challenge cherished myths. What I didn’t expect was the cowardice of the station manager—she fired Canal.
He suggested that the manager consider other options, and even offered to give the complainant equal time or work out some other way for him to voice his grievance—but no.
Canal was told to write a letter of apology, but it was insufficiently groveling to save him. He lost his show without being given a chance to defend himself. The station manager said she had to sack Canal to appease the complainant, lest the station face a possible lawsuit.
On what grounds?! At no time was the accuracy of my comments challenged, and I was never called to account for them. The station manager heard “ADL” and “anti-Semitic” and folded like a cheap suit.
I can understand her anxiety at the threat of the Lobby taking action against the station, but she didn’t even make a pretence of standing up for Canal or defending freedom of opinion. No lawsuit could possibly have succeeded, since neither Canal nor I did anything prosecutable. In fact, the B’nai Brith tried and failed to use a similar tactic last spring to have The Alberta (now Canadian) Arab News discontinue my column.
The station manager’s reaction was hysterical and contemptible, but it shows how easily the Lobby can force people to engage the internal censor to silence critics of Israel.
I would have liked to hear this unnamed complainant offer a rebuttal of my arguments, but that would have been impossible because Israel defies rational defence. Censorship is designed to prop up weak arguments by using coercion to deny an opponent the right to speak, so an intelligent debate between us about Israel, the zionist control of North American foreign policy and media, and the history of the Palestinian holocaust could never happen.
To give an idea of how free speech works the other way, here’s a column by Barbara Yaffe, one of the dimmest lights in CanWest’s media firmament. (After all, this is the woman who endorsed Joan Peters’s discredited book From Time Immemorial, which argued that Palestine was virtually empty before the waves of zionist colonists came. Egad!)
In “B.C. unions’ anti-Israel stance is troubling,” (Feb. 5), Yaffe attacks a pamphlet put out by the Canadian Union of Public Employees called The Wall Must Fall, which condemns such brutal practices as: “demolition of Palestinian homes, confiscation of land, harassment of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints and ‘retaliatory’ military attacks on Palestinian civilians.”
For the record, CUPE’s position is consistent with international law.
Yaffe responded by saying, in part: “In fact, the homes of suicide bombers are demolished as a measure to discourage other Palestinians from similarly blowing themselves up.”
I don’t suppose she’s ever heard of Sippenhaft—a term that describes the collective punishment the Nazis meted out to those suspected of working against the regime or harming its officials. The Geneva Conventions were drawn up in part specifically to make the practice illegal. Does Yaffe, who is Jewish, advocate Nazi-style terrorism against Palestinians simply because they resist Israel’s illegal occupation?
Apparently she does, and this could be taken as a sign that she is “anti-Semitic,” since Arabs are also a Semitic people. At best her endorsement of Jewish Sippenhaft could justify charging her with being anti-Arab. However, no Arab individual came to the Vancouver Sun offices threatening to report the paper to the Canadian Arab Federation, and Yaffe didn’t have her column pulled by a nervous editor. In Canada, this scenario would never happen.
CUPE was naturally furious at Yaffe’s untutored twaddle and wrote a scathing response that ran a few days later. This is as it should be: argument vs. counter argument, and may the stronger one win.
Too bad this estimable rule doesn’t apply when zionists are on the receiving end.