In today’s Globe and Mail, Naomi Klein, a well known Canadian author whose leftist views have found a considerable following, wrote an op-ed explaining what the protesters who wrote an open letter attacking the Toronto International Film Festival actually meant by their letter.
To explain the “protest” letter, Klein writes about the recent Gaza war, putting into another person’s mouth the phrase “war crimes” (so that it’s not coming directly from her) and of course not mentioning any context for the war such as the thousands of missiles and mortars that were launched at nearby Israeli civilian communities from Gaza over a period of years.
I happened to be visiting Sderot for a couple of those missile attacks, including one that went over where I was hiding (and shaking in fear) and landed a mere half a mile away. I can inform Ms. Klein that the feeling that Palestinians are playing Russian roulette with your life is highly unpleasant for tourists like me, but for those who have to live with it regularly, it is personally devastating. One of the families that generously invited me into their home subsequently lost it to a rocket and only by a miracle did nobody die. Still, Israel waited for years before finally responding to the attacks with its incursion into Gaza. War crimes indeed.
Continuing her obscured coverage of the situation, Klein continues:
“Israel is refusing to co-operate even with a toothless UN fact-finding mission, headed by respected South African judge Richard Goldstone,”
But she neglects to mention why Israel is refusing.
The reason that Israel is refusing is that the mission’s mandate as spelled out by the ridiculously biased UN Human Rights Council (recently headed by a human rights stalwart country such as Iran) gave Goldstone a mandate to investigate only a range of dates that precluded looking into the thousands of rockets and mortars launched at Israel. In fact, the Council only gave him a mandate to investigate Israel and not its enemy, Hamas, even though Hamas made it a point to fight only from urban areas. Even after Goldstone attempted to negotiate the terms of of the investigation, and despite assurances from the Council’s head that the mandate terms would indeed be changed, in a later public statement it became clear that none of the mandate terms had changed.
Irwin Cotler, a well known lawyer specializing in international law and former Justice Minister of Canada has written an excellent essay about this investigation. It is called, “The Goldstone Mission – Tainted to the Core.” Cotler writes about the mission’s mandate:
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson stated that “the resolution is not balanced because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of the rockets by Hamas. This is unfortunately a practice by the Council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable.” Asked to head up the mission before Goldstone, Robinson refused.
Not mentioning any of this, Klein continues to fudge the topic by criticizing “Israel’s desire to avoid scrutiny for its actions in the occupied territories.”
Really? Here is Cotler again, giving a sample of the bias that has Israel refusing to participate in this sham investigation.
The UN Human Rights Council – a UN body systematically and systemically biased against Israel. For this is a Council that has a special and permanent agenda item targeting Israeli violations of human rights, and another agenda item for the rest of the world – thereby singling out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment. This is a Council that targets some 80% of its resolutions at one member state, Israel, while the major human rights violators enjoy exculpatory immunity. This is a Council that has had more emergency “Special Sessions” directed against Israel than against all the other countries of the world combined. This is a Council that excludes only one country – Israel – from membership in any regional grouping, thereby denying it international due process.
Never mind the facts, Klein is on a mission herself. The next point of her op-ed is to link Tel Aviv’s 100th birthday celebration to this supposed cover up of the investigation and other issues pertaining to Israel’s conflict with the Arabs and accuses TIFF of participating in a plan the Israelis have to promote Israel’s “prettier face” by sending cultural emissaries overseas along with their work.
She neglects to mention, of course, that it is political operatives such as herself who constantly tarnish Israel’s name with selective information as shown above that force Israel to present a “prettier face” abroad. Actually, she also neglects to mention that many countries use public relations to extend their “prettier faces,” even those that are involved in wars. Nope, Klein wants to talk about Israel.
(To continue, please click on the link!)
While TIFF independently selected Tel Aviv for its program, as its co-director Camerson Bailey has publicly stated, it did so in a truly celebratory year for this 100 year old city and therefore it is not surprising or sinister that Israeli diplomats would view inclusion in a world-class film festival in a positive light. Just because she can quote Israeli diplomats being openly glad that Toronto will focus on Tel Aviv, there is still no basis to Klein’s claims the TIFF is complicit with Israeli propaganda even when she hedges by saying they were complicit intentionally or innocently.
She writes, “Let’s be clear: No one is claiming the Israeli government is secretly running TIFF’s Tel Aviv spotlight.” This begs the question, why did her letter and John Greyson’s letter both bring up Israel’s “Brand Israel” campaign as well as only the names of media organizations headed by Jewish names in their letters?
Klein protests that the fault with TIFF is that its description of Tel Aviv “as a ‘young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity,â€ matches Israel’s stated propaganda goals to a T.’
Um, yes, because it happens to be the truth. Even if Ms. Klein doesn’t approve of this reality, it is the truth.
What isn’t the same between the two cities, of course, is that Israel was bombarded by Gaza for years after having exited Gaza. Even those activists who claim that Gaza was a prison because Israel did not allow its border crossings to be open to all movement, cannot deny that the crossings served the purposes of Palestinian terror groups…one of which became Gaza’s legitimate government (well, legitimate only as far as it goes since they did drop some Fatah men from rooftops of buildings just to buttress their election victory). Those rocket and mortar bombardments from Gaza do take away some of the similarities between Toronto and Tel Aviv since many of Tel Aviv’s residents have family and friends in the areas being bombarded by the Palestinians while other residents are soldiers who have had to fight in Gaza to attempt to put a stop to the Palestinian attacks.
And then Klein gives us the most delicious misdirection of all. She writes. “There are some wonderful Israeli films included in the program. They deserve to be shown as a regular part of the festival, liberated from this highly politicized frame.” How funny! Needless to say, she and her cohorts are the ones who politicized what was a depoliticized celebration of the film culture of a city called Tel Aviv.
“Contrary to the many misrepresentations, the letter is not calling for a boycott of the festival. It is a simple message of solidarity that says: We don’t feel like partying with Israel this year.”
Well, that’s not exactly true now, is it? Greyson, who is one of the listed co-authors of the “protest” letter, did boycott the Festival and this letter is an attack on Israel’s very existence, not to mention every aspect of its society. This “protest” letter was formulated with the clear intent of twinning Israel with South Africa and of obscuring Israel’s legitimate and hard security needs by comparing them directly to South African apartheid. To suggest that a letter which emphasizes (falsely as we’ve noted already) that Israeli society resembles apartheid which was eliminated from South Africa through boycotts, is not about boycotting Israel may show how clever Naomi Klein is in using a turn of phrase, but it doesn’t fool anybody. It certainly didn’t fool the Toronto Star.
Ms. Klein is on the warpath. Her target is Israel. She is very intelligent and very knowledgeable. She clearly likes to win and she thinks she knows how to win against Israel. Her plan, it seems, is to attack Israel by obscuring the real nature of her attacks and to use her reputation and attractive media presence to push her points home and to gain followers. At every turn, however, she also paints Israel and its supporters in the worst possible light.
What Ms. Klein is doing with TIFF is no accident and is part of a plan concocted by her and, it seems, a small group of Jewish anti-Israel advocates from Toronto. [UPDATE! In a later post, I identified that this group may also be working with Palestine House in Toronto] In fact, I wonder whether they are behind the attack on the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition taking place in Toronto. In a recent public talk (start watching around minute 9:00 if you want to get to the juicy part) given to them when they launched this group last year, 2008, Ms. Klein said to her predominantly Jewish audience that it’s understandably difficult for some of her listeners to take the necessary steps to boycott Israel and to maintain the anti-Israel stance she was promoting. After all, she said, many of the people in the room had grown up with lies about Israel and the conflict; lies often told by family members and spiritual leaders. Parents, grandparents, rabbis!
That is one tough but very interesting tactic, often used by cults to distance their recruits from their past and ensure the recruits stay true to their mission. In fact, some Ultra-Orthodox Jewish kiruv groups that bring secular Jews into their fold often tell their new recruits that their parents are wrong-doers because of ignorance and have raised them wrong according to the Torah. They recommend treating the parents with great reserve because, for example, they may not keep kosher properly.
For Klein, it isn’t kosher for the parents of her cohorts and recruits to disagree with her views about Israel or Palestinians. They MUST be wrong. Their assessments about Israel MUST be wrong. They told their children lies about Israel! It’s really quite telling to see her attempt to eliminate other voices about Israel. When she says this to her Jewish audience, she says it after a pause, sounding serious and somber. The poor audience doesn’t even know what hit them – those poor victims of a massive misinformation campaign conducted by their own parents…
This is one tactic, but it resembles the general strategy which is reflected in the letter to TIFF and now in the Globe and Mail op-ed: eliminate dissenting or disagreeing voices by demonizing them. Even if it’s one’s parents. Thus, at TIFF, Israeli filmmakers’ work is connected to “destroyed Palestinian villages. ” Greyson blamed the TIFF organizers for creating a situation where an imaginary picket line has been created for their viewers just because these Israeli films were being shown as part of this TIFF program.
This is how Klein and Company are trying to shut down voices at this film festival and at others to come. Some of the films shown at TIFF are critical of Israel, but even they are not kosher according to Klein because they are the fruit of an apartheid-like country and its propaganda mission.
The truth, however, is not on the side of Ms. Klein and her cohorts, which is why they have to resort to attempts at oblique censorship. They don’t want people to attend the films and if they do, they want to shut down the filmmakers’ voices by deliberately connecting those voices to horrific crimes that are attributed to Israel. Anybody watching the entire program would see films, some of which received Israeli state funding, take critical positions against Israel and its society. Why shut these down?
It is also why an op-ed by Ms. Klein in the Globe and Mail resorts to denying what is plain for everybody to see (“We’re not boycotting, just seeking to celebrate,” she writes of a “protest” letter that compares Israeli actions to those of a country that was brought to its knees by boycotts) or that conveniently ignores pertinent facts like, oh, 8000 rockets launched at Israeli civilian communities.
The bottom line, however, for Ms. Klein and activists who join her is that the Palestinians have refused peace and their own state 5 times in the past 75 years, including just last year when Olmert offered to internationalize Jerusalem. Those are facts.
Today, the Palestinians could be sitting on a state that shares Jerusalem with Israel or with the world, that encompasses all of Gaza, 97% of the West Bank and additional land within Israel, that is launched with tens of billions of dollars of reparation money, that enables the Palestinian economy to thrive, that would probably have removed most and possibly all of the Jews from their midst, and that would have brought peace to the Palestinians, to Israel and to the entire region. Those are facts as well.
It is also a fact that Fatah, the party behind the Palestinian Authority, which currently leads the Palestinians in the West Bank, recently voted to keep the refugee camps open so as to maintain this important symbol. Too bad about the people living inside them and never mind that this symbol is no longer true. They also voted, by the way, to absorb a group that was responsible for many key terror attacks against Israeli civilians in the past decade.
Yes, ignoring these facts, Ms. Klein and her friends would prefer to support those who have avoided peace and continue to seek to destroy Israel – and there are no two ways about it since Hamas was elected in Gaza and their charter calls for Israel’s destruction (check out clauses 32, 22 and 13 for fun reading), denies any Jewish historical connection to the Israel and calls upon the fake book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as their source for how Jews behave. They and Fatah (here is the PLO charter – check out clause 20), which stands behind the Palestinian Authority that leads the West Bank – Judea and Samaria – both deny Jewish history in Israel and use coded language in their meetings and charters that imply or directly demand the demise of Israel or the demise of Israel as a Jewish state.
Codes are not just for them, however. Ms. Klein’s letter to TIFF also uses coded language that seeks to undermine even the legitimacy of a city like Tel Aviv, which is a city built not on the ruins of Palestinian villages, as they would have us believe, but on the dreams and hard work of secular Zionists who built that city over decades from the dunes up, and then defended it with their blood after they were attacked by the Palestinians. The first attack on Jews after the 1947 UN vote for the Partition Plan (UNGAR 181) came from Jaffa in the form of a murder of 5 Tel Aviv Jews.
Tel Aviv didn’t happen the way Ms. Klein would have us believe. And the Palestinians could already be sitting on a state of their own, except that they keep stalling and delaying. One can only wonder whether Ms. Klein is teaching these facts to her family members, friends and readers. After all, she wouldn’t want to confuse them with lies about the conflict…
Naomi Klein is quoted in Sept. 11 Toronto Star as saying she is not promoting the destruction of Israel.
Here are questions that somebody needs to ask Ms. Klein:
1. Are you affiliated with Palestine House, as the phone number for the media contact on the protest organizers’ press release indicates?
2. If so, why do you hide this fact in your open letters, interviews and press releases?
3. If your group is affiliated with Palestine House in Toronto, why are you involved with a group that openly advocates (as seen on their web site) a single state solution?
4. How aware are you that the timing of Palestine House’s actions with another cultural event in Toronto indicates they either work with or are strongly influenced by the Palestinian Authority, whose charter refuses to concede that Israel is a Jewish state or that Jews have a history in the region?
5. Are these views reconcilable with one of your group members since you claim that your group is not advocating for the destruction of Israel?
6. Or was this simply another semantic game and what you meant was that you do not seek the destruction of Israel as a state but you have no objection to its demise as a Jewish state?
For more Jewlicious reading about this:
The PA did not change its charter as per their Oslo obligations. This was recently publicly confirmed before the Fatah conference by two of Fatah’s leaders including Dahlan.