by Waseem Shehzad (World, Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 21, Shawwal, 1423)
After effectively taking control of the executive and legislative branches of the American government and media, the zionist lobby has now turned its attention to Canada.
A string of lies planted by pro-Israeli journalists in Canadian newspapers has been used to force the government to declare Hizbullah, the Islamic resistance movement in Lebanon that drove the zionists out of Southern Lebanon in May 2000, a "terrorist organization". The zionists’ campaign of vilification reached a crescendo after Ottawa added Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Islamic resistance groups, to its list of banned organizations.
On November 29, a vicious full-page anti-Muslim advertisement appeared in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. The advert, which was sponsored by B’nai Brith, a self-styled Jewish human-rights group, and the Canadian Alliance, an extreme right-wing political party, the official opposition in Canada’s parliament, demanded a ban on Hizbullah and accused it of being a "terrorist" organization. The advert showed someone in camouflage fatigues holding a gun, with a mosque in the background. This clearly amounted to incitement to hatred and violence, by declaring all Muslims terrorists and implying that mosques are terrorist centres.
The Ottawa Citizen, like 130 other newspapers in Canada, including the National Post, is owned by CanWest Global, a company belonging to the Asper family. Israel Asper, head of the family, is an unabashed supporter of Israel; even some journalists working for the CanWest Global chain have complained about Asper’s interference in their editorial work, because he demands that articles critical of Israel not be printed. It is not uncommon for Asper to run front-page opinion pieces himself that are full of inaccuracies. Such inaccuracies, however, are not confined to Asper; others in his newspaper empire are equally prone to telling lies.
Here is a typical example. On December 4, a news report appeared in the right-wing Washington Times by one Paul Martin, who claimed that Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, secretary general of Hizbullah, had called for Palestinian "suicide bombings" to be carried out worldwide. Martin, who also uses the name "Sayed Anwar", no doubt to confuse Muslims, is a pro-Israeli journalist working from London, England. He claimed that these statements by Sheikh Nasrullah were made on Lebanese television. The following day (December 5) two Canadian newspapers — the Globe and Mail and the National Post (which is part of the Asper family media empire) carried front-page stories based on Martin’s allegations. Even before the appearance of these stories, the B’nai Brith had launched a lawsuit against the Canadian government for "failing" to declare Hizbullah a "terrorist" organization. Canadian foreign minister Bill Graham initially resisted the pressure, but after Martin’s story appeared in the Washington Times and was repeated in Canadian newspapers, the Canadian government caved in. On December 11 the government added Hizbullah’s name to the banned list, with foreign minister Graham admitting that "statements" by Sheikh Nasrullah, allegedly inciting violence globally, were a contributory factor in arriving at the decision.
The zionist lobby was ecstatic and would have got away with its falsehoods but for some good investigative journalism by Neil MacDonald, the CBC’s Middle East correspondent. He visited Beirut to investigate the statements attributed to Sheikh Nasrullah. The same evening (December 11), he reported from Beirut that despite thorough investigation he could find no evidence that Sheikh Nasrullah had ever made such statements. The CBC also got Martin for its prime time newscast, The National, the same day and confronted him about his allegations. According to Antonia Zerbisias, a Toronto Star columnist, on December 13, Martin "got very upset and jumped up and said this interview is over." It is also interesting to note that Neil MacDonald has been accused by Asper for being the "most irresponsible" journalist in the Middle East who is guilty of "dishonest reporting." Yet Asper’s own newspapers have been in the forefront of propagating falsehoods.
The Windsor Star, a local paper in the border city of Windsor, which is also part of the Asper chain, conducted its own disinformation campaign. It made an attack on Joe Comartin, member of parliament from Windsor and a leadership candidate for the Federal New Democratic Party (NDP), who had criticized the government’s decision to ban Hizbullah. In an editorial on December 14, the Windsor Star claimed that Comartin had ignored Hizbullah’s "terrorist attacks and suicide bombings... [that] have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of helpless Israeli citizens since the 1980s." It would be useful if the paper were to publish the name of even one "helpless Israeli citizen" killed by Hizbullah "terror attacks and suicide bombings," unless of course it considers Israeli soldiers occupying Lebanese territory to be "helpless citizens."
Joe Comartin has come in for criticisms from other pro-Israel papers as well. Initially he was dismissed as a non-serious candidate in the leadership race. When party membership forms were submitted by the various leadership contenders, it was discovered that Comartin had brought in a large number of new members to the party, including a significant number of Muslims and Arabs. Of all the candidates, Comartin has taken the most forthright and principled position on many issues: the question of Palestine, opposition to the US-led campaign to launch a war against Iraq, racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs at the US-Canada border, and an unequivocal denunciation of the B’Nai Brith advertisement in the Ottawa Citizen as hatemongering. He has also criticized the Canadian government for caving in to pressure by banning Hizbullah.
Attacks on Comartin have intensified because the zionist lobby has realized that Israel’s brutal policies are now being exposed and condemned. While the NDP has been in the forefront of this campaign, Comartin’s position has been the most clear-cut. The zionists do not want anyone who can take an independent stand on these issues to become the leader of a major political party in Canada; hence the strength of their attacks. But there is increasing realization among a large proportion of Canada’s people that Israel’s policies are racist and that the Palestinians are being victimized. This is further reinforced by the bullying tactics of the US, especially relating to its campaign to launch an attack against Iraq.
It would, however, be wrong to assume that only CanWest papers are involved in spreading falsehoods. The Globe and Mail, generally regarded as a balanced Canadian daily, has also been involved in such reporting. For instance, on December 6 it carried an opinion piece by three Jewish writers — Philip Berger (a physician), Jeff Rose (a trade unionist) and Clayton Ruby (a lawyer) — denouncing the left in Canada for being "anti-Semitic" because it is critical of Israeli policies. Their argument was that to be anti-Israel is to be anti-Jewish, which in turn is to be anti-Semitic. As if this were not bad enough, when the Globe’s story about Sheikh Nasrullah’s statements was exposed, the paper carried a front-page story about Hizbullah’s reaction but also included an opinion-piece by Gerald Steinburg of Bar Ilan University in Israel, supporting the ban on Hizbullah and repeating other falsehoods about its activities, such as an allegation that the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, for which a number of right-wing military officers were arrested by the Argentine government, was Hizbullah’s work. In the same issue the Globe also carried a statement by several former and current NDP parliamentarians supporting Bill Blaikie, another leadership contender. Blaikie is also supported by the Asper family, who hold extreme right-wing opinions bordering on fascism.
Canada has become the latest battleground in Middle Eastern politics. Concordia University, which has been in the news lately because of an activist pro-Palestinian student body there, has again stirred debate. After the student union revoked the right of Hillel (the Jewish student association) to distribute pamphlets because it was recruiting students to joint the Israeli army for 18 months, the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research sent out an email message to all its members on December 16 advising them to bombard Concordia’s vice president with emails and letters of protest. Just imagine Muslim students recruiting volunteers for Hamas or Hizbullah to liberate their lands from zionist occupation: these same Jewish organizations would be screaming "terrorism," yet Jewish students can openly distribute pamphlets at Canadian universities for a recruitment drive for a foreign army of occupation that is perpetrating horrible crimes.
For the record, the email was sent out by Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank, who argues that "in societies that are free, we allow people to say things that we don’t like; we allow people to print things that we don’t like; and we live side by side with people whose opinions we do not share. These points of tolerance distinguish the contemporary polity from its Medieval, authoritarian forebears. But Concordia University has entered a new stage in its history: the Dark Ages."
It is interesting to speculate whether the Rabbi would demand the same freedom for Muslims.