Gaza and Vietnam – A Tale of Two Protests

By Marvin Ross

In my last post, I talked about the growing anti-semitism arising from the Israeli response to the violation of the cease fire by Hamas against Israel and the atrocities committed by Hamas against women, children and the elderly. Or maybe the anti-semitism was hidden and this enabled it to come out of the closet but I added a brief comparison of the current protests to those of the Vietnam war.

That struck a chord with Dr Dawson whose history includes demonstrating in Vancouver while I participated in Toronto. He reminded me that our chant in those days was “hey, hey LBJ. How many kids did you kill today”. In Toronto, we usually assembled at the Ontario Legislature and then marched down University Ave on the sidewalk to the US Consulate farther south. We did not pause at the Mt Sinai Hospital or the Toronto General Hospital or the Sick Kids Hospital and scream and shout at them and climb the facade as the Pro-Palestinians did.

We were focused on the US Consulate and it did, at times, become unruly but the police kept everyone in check and, when necessary in their eyes anyway, arrests were made.

The chants used in the ’60s were not violent whereas “intifada” means intense protest usually in the form of violent terrorism according to Google. From the river to the sea according to the Hamas charter  calls for the dismantling of Israel, and a call for the removal or extermination of the Jewish population of the region. A recent survey of Arab citizens of Israel found that 56% do not believe that the Hamas attack reflects their beliefs and 86% of them are volunteering their support for Israel.

In the ’60s we did not attack places of worship, American businesses, Canadian politicians or private citizens as is being done today. Jewish institutions in Montreal had to get an injunction to prevent protesters from harassing them, invitees to the banquet for the Italian Prime Minister in Toronto were assaulted. Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufactures Association told the Toronto Star that one person in his party was hit in the face.

The Star also reported that “International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen attempted to enter the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) through the main entrance, but protesters blocked his path and followed him for two blocks flanked by police officers as he tried to enter a more secure location.”

Before Christmas, Palestinian supporters disrupted shoppers at the Eaton Centre Mall in Toronto on numerous occasions gathering in front of certain chain stores expressing their loud displeasure at the business.

Lawyer and columnist, Warren Kinsella, who has written about the far right and anti-semitism in Canada reported that a group called Health Care Workers for Palestine, are circulating a petition to try to change the definition of anti-semitism established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association. The definition states “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Kinsella reports that One Jewish doctor, who fears retribution and asks that his name not be used, says: “The Health Care Workers Alliance for Palestine (have been) harassing an array of Jewish Mount Sinai physicians online. They and their collaborators are trying to tell the hospitals what counts as anti-Semitism, including by trying to bully them into denying obvious anti-Semitism.”

This is the secret petition revealed by Kinsella with 142 signatures on it. Would it not be more logical to condemn anti-semitism rather than trying to water down the definition?

And it gets worse. A Jewish cabinet minister in British Columbia was forced to resign her post because she commented that before the founding of Israel (which was created by the United Nations), the land was pretty much barren and desolate. She has now resigned from the NDP because she is upset with what she sees as anti-semitism within the party.

What we are seeing as a reaction to this war is the slippage from legitimate anti-war and political protest into racial bigotry and anti-semitism. I support the right of everyone to protest ( as I have myself in the past) what they consider to be an injustice but it needs to be kept at that. I am not a supporter of Netanyahu or his government and their settlements in the West Bank and if anyone wants to protest Israel’s response to the Hamas attack then do so. Israeli government offices are fair game for peaceful protests.

The aim of protests are two-fold. The first is to express your displeasure at what someone or some state is doing. The second is to convince others of the justness of your cause. All the Palestinian protesters are doing is annoying people. They accomplish nothing but disruption.

All reasonable people are concerned for the innocent Palestinian victims of this war but most of us are also concerned for the Uyghurs and other groups being held in “concentration camps” in China. It is estimated that 1.8 million of these Muslims are being held. Then there are the Rohyngya Muslims being persecuted in Myanmar. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is estimated to have killed more than 300,000 of his own people putting down the Arab Spring since 2011 while about 14 million have fled their homes. And we can’t forget the genocide taking place in Darfur.

How many of the Pro Palestinian protesters are concerned with those tragedies? How many of them are concerned for the hostages still being held by Hamas?

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