Mar 4, 2009

Rosie Dimanno accuses students of 'hyperbolic anti-Semitism'

Rosie Dimanno on anti-semitism

The Toronto Star's Rosie Dimanno has joined the ranks of finger pointers who believe that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. The anti-Semitic smear is the shaming tactic of preference for those trying to push back against the outrage generated by Gaza, and it's been used aplenty lately. Dimanno labeled students involved in Israeli Apartheid-Week anti-Semitic. The National Post also got in the act, with an article smearing CUPE union leader Sid Ryan as anti-Semitic.

Dimanno describes Israeli Apartheid Week as a "detestable, despicable annual campus hate-fest" and slams student posters as "venomous". She says: "But the malice afoot segues into a far more disturbing platform for Israel-bashing, which is often Jew-bashing cloaked in righteousness."

Problem for Dimanno is that many Jewish activists both within and without Israel support a boycott and divestment campaign. This would include 80 British Jews, a number of them prominent academics who signed a letter comparing the IDF to Nazis. This appeared in the Guardian newspaper during the attack on Gaza - link here.

In fact many of the students she castigates as being "racist" or close to, would be arm-in-arm with the above mentioned Jews at any demo you care to name. It's just that Dimanno is looking at the students from the standpoint of her badly compromised position. So naturally they are presented as haters... of her kind of Jew. It's a bit of an insult to place "Jews" in a category of her convenience. There are Jews who wouldn't give her opinions the time of day.

As Robert Fisk might well surmise - why don't journalists ask why, rather than simply go for the obvious. Hundreds of dead and injured Palestinian kids might have something to do with the student's anger. Seizure of Arab land, destruction of olive orchards, demolition of homes, systemic discrimination and the wholesale destruction in Gaza might have something to do with it. The whitewash, spin and in some cases outright denial in Canadian media coverage of Israel might have something to do with it.

Despite many good reasons for protest, the legitimate anger of students in the face of Israeli actions is deeply suspect in Dimanno's eyes. If you have strong feelings on the subject of Israel a red light goes off in her head flashing "anti-Semitic"!! In criticizing Israel they're nothing but a bunch of racists - a convenient way of railroading their concerns.

In her article she decries past criticisms of Israel at the Durban Conference Against Racism and wonders why the 'flesh commerce' in Islamic societies isn't placed under equal scrutiny. This is more than a little ironic. Israel is host to thousands of young women from Eastern Europe, some barely teens when they were kidnapped and/or conned, beaten and abused en route to the slave brothels in Tel Aviv and elsewhere - link here for more. Course not a squeak about any of that. Keep the focus on the evil Arabs and those dreadful students.

Dimanno appears to think we should go easier on Israel ... a country that has just elevated the racist Avigdor Lieberman to national prominence. The Israeli Gush Shalom writer and activist Uri Avnery describes what Lieberman is really about in his article Dirty Socks:

Liberman has created a party that is simply and thoroughly racist. Its election campaign is centered on the demand to annul the Israeli citizenship of “non-loyal” people. Meaning: the Arabs, who constitute 20% of Israel’s citizens.

In every other country, Liberman’s program would be called fascist, without quotation marks. Nowhere in the Western world is there a large party that would dare to advance such a demand. The neo-fascists in Switzerland and Holland want to expel foreigners, not to annul the citizenship of the native-born.

When Joerg Haider was taken into the Austrian cabinet, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest. But compared to Liberman, Haider was a raving liberal, and so is Jean-Marie le Pen.

Not a word from Dimanno about the swing to the right in Israel and the increasing tolerance for a racist brand of ultra-nationalism. No it's students exercising their democratic rights on campuses in Canada we need to be deeply concerned about.