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Notebook #4

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The assumption underlying the CBC's 'business' panel is that 'business' is about mergers, deals, interest rates, and stocks and bonds, and that the people best equipped to talk about business are people who belong to the world of capital and finance. But business is also about the people who actually work in the offices, factories, and farms, who are so profoundly affected by what happens in the world of capital.
One-sided discussion of Free Trade

It's so tiresome to see these food fanatics spouting their ill-informed nonsense. Keating claims milk "has no place in a healthy diet". So how does she explain all those millions of milk-drinkers walking around in good health?
Food fanatics

Even more ridiculous than the software industry's grossly inflated numbers is their claim that the value of pirated software, whatever the true amount is, is money that is “lost” to “the economy”. The plain fact is that not one cent of it is “lost”. Instead of being spent on software, that money is simply spent on something else. That something else might be a competing product, or it might be rent, or books, or beer. But certainly it is spent on something, and it ends up circulating in the economy in just the same way as money spent on software does. It may be a loss to Bill Gates and his cohorts, but a loss to the economy it isn't.
Inflated claims about Software Piracy

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  • There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
  • – Albert Schweitzer

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Samplings

Socialism is first and foremost about freedom and therefore about overcoming the domination, repression, and alienation that block the free flow of human creativity
What is Libertarian Socialism?

The fundamental fallacy... is the belief that because something is bad, or appears to some to be bad, it ought to be banned.
Opposing Censorship

Radical Digressions
Ulli Diemer's Notebook #4

National Post columnist traumatized by having to wait his turn

December 26, 2006 - #

It started with a telemarketer's call.
He opened with a question: Was I familiar with the
National Post?
I try to be polite to telemarketers. They're doing a lousy job for lousy pay, and I see no need to make their day worse by being rude. So I admitted, truthfully if unenthusiastically, that I knew of the
Post. I was about to add that I wasn't interested in subscribing to it, when he popped his question: How would I like to get it for $39 a year?
That caught my attention: I pay $356 per annum for my subscription to the
Globe and Mail. Could I really get the Post for $39 a year?
Yes I could, he assured me.
He had me hooked. Excusing myself with the thought that I work with the media and always find it illuminating to compare how different publications cover the news, I agreed to buy my thirty-nine-dollar subscription.
And so it came to be that the
National Post started arriving at my doorstep.

****************************************

For those who know the National Post only by its right-wing reputation — be assured that reputation is well-earned. Some of the straight news coverage is reasonably unbiased, and occasionally an interesting feature appears, but for the most part the Post resembles a propaganda broadsheet more than it does than a newspaper. The Post's columnists are uniformly smug and negative: day in and day out, they whine and complain that Canada is socialistic and inferior — inferior to that utopia to our south, of course.

Picture a Dr. Frankenstein who spawns an automaton with Ronald Reagan's brain and Attila the Hun's heart, clones the result a dozen times, and then teaches his creations a few simple phrases from a script written by the Fraser Institute, and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of the Post's parade of columnists. What makes them so tiresome is not merely their opinions, but their utter predictability. You know in advance not only what they will say about a given topic, but the very words and phrases they will use to say it. George Orwell might well have been talking about the Post when he wrote, in ‘Politics and the English Language’, that “no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.”

One of the few Post columnists who gives the impression of actually thinking before he writes - sometimes anyway - is Jonathan Kay. On occasion, he has been known to stray from the script - he wrote a column saying he now thought he had been wrong to support the invasion of Iraq, and an article he wrote about censorship actually led me to send him an E-mail complimenting him on the piece.

Mostly though, Kay can be counted on to stick to the party line. In fact, a recent piece [Dec 5, 2006] on the horrors of socialized medicine could well earn him an award as right-wing propagandist of the month.

This particular horror story — Kay calls it his “run-in with the system” — begins when he shows up at his local hospital's emergency room with an infected knee. The trouble is with his left knee, he tells us - reinforcing his belief, no doubt, that anything on the left is unreliable and troublesome. The inefficient socialistic health care system sends him off for treatment within ten minutes - not too shabby, most of us might say - but it takes a lot more than efficiency and high-quality appropriate care to please a National Post columnist. Soon he is lying in a public hospital bed, intravenous clindamycin trickling through his veins, and thoughts about how much nicer a private hospital bed would be flooding through his brain.

Mr. Kay returns to the hospital the next day for a follow-up treatment, and this time - the horror! - he has to sit and wait before he's seen. In fact, he tells us, “all but the most acute cases” have to sit and wait their turn. There is - hard to believe, but it's true - no special queue for the affluent and the privileged, not even if they are National Post columnists. So Mr. Kay sits and seethes. Yet he is not totally without sympathy for others: he feels sorry for the triage nurse, whose skills, he proclaims, are being squandered having to deal with “surly immigrants and delirious seniors”.

If only we had private health care, he moans, “middle-class people like me could pay for prompt treatment and then spend the rest of the day at work or with their family, instead of reading a Stephen King novel and breathing in other people's germs in a hospital waiting room”. If only - if only! - we had private emergency-room service, then “people with some money to spare would plunk down their Visa cards and get fast, dignified service”.

Let the people who don't require prompt dignified service — the people who aren't middle-class and don't have "money to spare", the “surly immigrants and delirious seniors” — let them spend their time breathing in other people's germs. People like that don't have families they'd rather be with, or other things they'd rather be doing with their time

As it happens, the same week that Mr. Kay paid his visit to the emergency room, I found myself in another emergency department in the same city with my mother, who had been admitted for an infection. My mother is one of those people - an immigrant and a senior - whom Mr. Kay would like to shove aside so that he can plunk down his Visa card and get fast, dignified service.

But here's a shocking piece of news for Mr. Kay: most Canadians feel that immigrants like my mother and me, and seniors, and the poor, are just as deserving of prompt dignified health care as are those who, like him, are more well-off. We’re appalled at the idea that access to care should be prioritized not on the basis of need, but on the basis of who walks into the hospital with the biggest wad of cash.

Most Canadians understand that the pretense that private facilities would take the pressure off the public system is just a con job to hide the fact that a two-tier system means better care for the affluent, and worse or no care for the rest. The obvious fact is that private clinics don't add a single doctor, nurse, or technician to the health care system. They just hire them away from the public system by offering them more money. It’s a zero-sum game in which the affluent win and the poor lose.

If Mr. Kay can buy himself quicker care by waving his credit card or a wad of $20-bills, my mother will have to wait longer for her care.

No thanks, Mr. Kay.


This article is also available in French.

See also: Ten Health Care Myths: Understanding Canada's Medicare Debate

Recommended Web sites/links:
Canadian Health Coalition
Profit is Not the Cure/Council of Canadians
Canadian Doctors for Medicare
Connexions


The 80-20 Law

January 1, 2007 - #

New Year's. Time for plans, projects, resolutions. And time to remember the 80-20 Law of time management:
The first 80% of a project takes 80% of the time. The last 20% of the project takes the other 80%.



Abraham Lincoln saw it

January 6, 2007 - #

leaf

An observation of Abraham Lincoln's about his Democratic opponent Stephen Douglas seems as pertinent today as it was in 1859. Speaking of Douglas's indifference to the outrage of slavery, Lincoln scathingly characterized Douglas's ‘peculiar’ nature: “He is so put up by nature that a lash upon his back would hurt him, but a lash upon anybody else's back does not hurt him.”

In those twenty-seven words, Lincoln, it seems to me, captured the very essence of yesterday's – and today's – hard-core reactionaries.

For all that the neo-con agenda is driven by ideology and class interests, isn't there something about its leading proponents, its ideologues, that seems to transcends ideology, economics, even history? Isn't there a essential quality to such people, a basic lack of empathy for their fellow human beings, that draws them to the camp of privilege throughout the centuries, always and forever praising the merits of the powerful?

No wonder they believe, as Margaret Thatcher said, that “there is no such thing as society”. Most of us feel an instinctive bond with our fellow human beings. If we see others hurt or oppressed, we feel sympathy or outrage. But there are some who don't feel that bond, who feel nothing when they see a lash falling on someone else's back.

Peculiar indeed – and chilling.


Preston Manning sees an Inquisition in science's name

June 20, 2007 - #

leaf

Preston Manning, the founder of Canada's right-wing Reform Party, wrote an article for today's Globe and Mail newspaper in which he pretends to speak in the voice of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, the Roman Catholic Inquisitor who had Giordano Bruno burned at the stake for heresy in 1600. Manning-as-Bellarmine claims to see in atheists like Richard Dawkins the new face of a scientific Inquistion which would persecute believers. This reply to Manning was sent to the Globe and Mail:

Cardinal Bellarmine, the Inquisitor who had the philosopher Giordano Bruno burned at the stake for holding views contrary to the Catholic Church, clearly chose well in selecting Preston Manning to channel his views. Mr. Manning evidently shares the Inquisitor's ability to disregard facts and logic in the cause of condemning opinions he dislikes.

Factually and logically, Mr. Manning's attempt to equate atheists with religious zealots who persecute dissenters is grotesquely misplaced. Atheists don't burn books they dislike: they simply explain why they disagree with the views they contain. Atheists certainly don't burn authors at the stake, nor do we issue fatwas sentencing writers or cartoonists to death for expressing themselves in ways we disapprove of.

Mr. Manning's demagogic suggestion that atheists seek to deny believers freedom of conscience and expression has no basis in reality. On the contrary: no atheist would wish to deny Mr. Manning his right to believe in the Easter Bunny, or Zeus, or Jehovah, or any other supernatural being that appeals to him. We simply ask for the right to express our dissent from those beliefs openly, without being threatened or censured, and we ask that Mr. Manning and his co-believers refrain from trying to inject their private religious beliefs into public institutions like schools and legislatures.


Labels: Atheism, Freedom from Religion. Religion.


Skeptic no more

October 21, 2007 - #

Hairy Woodstock - Photo by Ulli Diemer

I used to be a hard-boiled cynic when it came to those alleged miraculous apparations of religious or pop culture figures whose images are always being spotted in various and sundry mundane objects. Jesus in a tortilla, the Virgin Mary in a watermelon, Elvis in a peanut butter sandwich – I scoffed. Where others saw Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun, or a pretzel in the shape of Mary holding the baby Jesus, I saw credulous believers with over-active imaginations.

Until this week, when something quite extraordinary happened.

My cat, the peerless Button, had been sitting on top of a book of Peanuts cartoons (Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz). After a long period of seeming inactivity, she suddenly got up and jumped into my lap. When I stroked her, I noticed she had a mat in her fur. I worked it loose.

When I looked at what I had pulled out of her fur, I was stunned.

The hairmat was in the exact shape of Woodstock, Snoopy's klutzy bird-buddy in the Peanuts cartoons. You don't have to take my word for it: here is an actual photograph of the hairmat. It was a miracle. There is simply no other word to describe it. I'd like to know what Joe Nickell or Richard Dawkins have to say about this!


Labels: Miracles.


Condoleezza Rice admits mistakes in Arar case

October 25, 2007 - #

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made headlines by admitting yesterday that the U.S. government had made mistakes in the Maher Arar case. Arar, a Canadian citizen, was kidnapped by the U.S on the basis of false evidence that he was involved with a terrorist group, and sent to Syria to be imprisoned and tortured. He was eventually returned to Canada, exonerated by a Canadian government inquiry, and awarded damges for his ordeal.

While not apologizing for her government’s use of kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, and torture, Secretary of State Rice did acknowledge that “our communication with the Canadian government about this was by no means perfect. In fact, it was quite imperfect. We have told the Canadian government that we did not think this was handled particularly well in terms of our own relationship, and that we will try to do better in the future.”

As a Canadian, I’m much relieved. At last, we have assurances from a top American official that in the future, when they kidnap a Canadian citizen and ship him off to be tortured, they let our government know that they have done so. I’m sure we all appreciate the courtesy.


Labels: Human Rights Abuses, Political Prisoners, Torture.


Syria's suspicious behaviour

October 26, 2007 - #

Today’s New York Times features a breathless exposé, widely picked up by other media, about Syria's “suspicious” cleanup of the Syrian site bombed by Israel on September 6. Before-and-after satellite photos show a square building standing on the site before the bombing, whereas the post-bombing image shows an empty lot where the building had been.

The NYT article features all the elements that distinguished the Times’ credulous reporting on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction in the build-up to the U.S. invasion, including unclear satellite photos and comments from unnamed U.S. government sources.

An anonymous “senior intelligence official” in the administration is quoted as saying that it's “incredible” that Syria would have cleared away the rubble left by the Israeli attack.

The Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which analyzed the satellite photos on which the Times article is based, excitedly reports that “tractors or bulldozers could be seen” in the aerial photo, as well as “scrape marks on the ground.” The Institute's president, David Albright, said that clearing away the rubble after the attack was “inherently suspicious”. “It looks like Syria is trying to hide something,” he said.

Other anonymous “federal and private analysts” – one might be suspicious that they are the same people who provided the 'evidence' for the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction – speculate that the removal of the remains of the building “could be interpreted as a tacit admission of guilt.”

The article speculates about what action might be taken against Syria by the United Nations Security Council if evidence were to emerge that Syria is in violation of international agreements. Naturally, the Times does not speculate about what action ought to be taken against Israel for its undisputed attack on Syria, a act of aggression that the UN charter defines as a war crime. That’s what ideological filters are for – to keep questions like that from even being asked.

We are left to speculate what the media coverage would be if Syria were somehow able to launch a successful attack on the sites in Israel where Israel’s nuclear weapons are located. It’s probably safe to say, though, that it wouldn“t be concerned with the suspicious activities of bulldozers clearing away rubble.


Labels: Bombing, Corporate Media, Double Standards, Israel, Media Bias, Media Coverage/Middle East, Syria, War Crimes.


Were Marx’s principles only skin deep?

October 31, 2007 - #

Karl Marx

A British dermatologist has managed to get himself worldwide publicity with an article suggesting that Karl Marx’s painful skin condition may have caused him to say all those mean things about capitalism. “Skin disease causes tremendous upset,” said Prof. Sam Shuster. “He [Marx] was writing his big works like Das Kapital at a time when the disease was particularly bad and it was pretty clear that he was not in the best of moods when he was writing it.” According to Prof. Shuster, the disease, hidradenitis (known as ‘carbuncles’ in Marx’s time), “greatly reduced his self-esteem. This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing.”

That must have been quite the nasty skin condition, to have kept Marx in an uncompromisingly revolutionary frame of mind from the time of his 1844 manuscripts right up to his death in 1883.

Imagine how differently everything could have turned out if Prof. Shuster had been able to hop on a time machine and travel back in time to cure Marx of his skin ailment. Cured, too, of his hatred of oppression and injustice, Marx would then have felt no need to proclaim “workers of all lands, unite,” and or to imagine a future society governed by the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Instead, Marx and his life-long collaborator Friedrich Engels could have poured their energy into penning upbeat musicals extolling the lives of the wealthy – imagine such hits as Les Comfortables or Adam Smith, Superstar, or The Sound of Money – and made a fortune.

Pity.


Labels: Karl Marx, Skin Conditions.


Nothing personal, just business

November 2, 2007 - #

“A street entrepreneur or a life-destroying psychopath?” asks a review of the film American Gangster, which portrays the life of drug kingpin Frank Lucas.

How is that an either-or choice?

The Corporation, the film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan, demonstrates that the capitalist corporation “fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a ‘psychopath.’” As they put it, “the operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social ‘personality’: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.”

Or, as Howard Scott so nicely put it, “a criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.” In a society whose dominant value system says that the only thing that matters is to get as much for yourself as possible, crime is an alternative form of entrepreneurship.


Labels: Capitalism, Corporations, Crime, Entrepreneurship, Psychopathy.


Bad news: Unemployment is down and wages are up

November 3, 2007 - #

Normally, the corporate media are violently allergic to any suggestion that class conflict exists at all, let alone that it is fundamental to our capitalist economic system. However, in the business news one is more likely to encounter plain speaking.

A case in point is the Globe and Mail’s report on the fears and upset that October's economic data have sparked among economic forecasters and currency traders. The reasons for their worries? A fall in the unemployment rate, an increase in real wages, and a climb in the value of the Canadian dollar.

The data show that, during the month of October 2006, “the Canadian economy churned out 63,000 jobs, roughly five times the number that had been expected. The jobless rate in Canada fell to a 33-year low of 5.8 per cent, from 5.9 per cent in September, and the employment rate for adult women hit record levels.”

According to the Globe, currency traders had been hoping for action by the Bank of Canada to counteract these trends. “Instead, we get another blowout, and the jobless rate at a 33-year-low, and the average wage of a permanent employee is up 4.2 per cent and accelerating,” said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets. “You're sitting in the market looking at this, and you're like, there is absolutely nothing they can do to stop this.”

That’s right: they're upset because unemployment down slightly and wages are up a little, and nothing is being done to stop it. If working people are better off, even only slightly, it’s bad news.


Labels: Class Conflict, Corporate Media, Media Bias, Unemployment, Wages.


Margaret Somerville’s yucky logic

January 27, 2008 - #

Margaret Somerville is the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and the Law at McGill University in Montreal. Someone, you might expect, who would bring sophisticated reasoning and careful logic to the analysis of morally complex issues.

Not so, it seems, when it comes to the issues on which Dr. Somerville has a strong personal bias. She threw herself into the battle against gay marriage, arguing that same-sex marriages are ‘unnatural’ because couples of the same sex can’t produce children ‘naturally’. Numerous critics have made the same obvious point: by this criterion, straight couples who are infertile or past childbearing age are also ‘unnatural’. And by what logic are children produced by artificial insemination ‘natural’ in a heterosexual marriage, but ‘unnatural’ in a lesbian relationship? Dr. Somerville has no reply, but keeps on repeating the same ‘unnatural’ argument at every opportunity nonetheless.

This past week, on the twentieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Morgentaler decision invalidating the existing abortion law, Dr. Somerville has offered up her thoughts on abortion, which she also opposes. Dr. Somerville claims that the ‘yuck reaction’ some people feel when contemplating abortion is evidence that abortion violates our innate “moral instinct”.

Now personally, I find that my ‘yuck reaction’ is triggered when I picture almost any medical-surgical procedure, be it brain surgery, an eye operation, or amputating a gangrenous toe. I interpret this not as a message from my deepest moral instincts, but as evidence of my personal squeamishness about blood and sharp objects. I wouldn’t consider my reaction to the ‘yuckiness’ of a medically appropriate procedure as an argument for banning it.

This is not to say that abortion is a trivial matter. Deciding whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy is no doubt a difficult decision for many women. It is one that they should be able to make on the basis of what is right for them, not on the basis of whether Margaret Somerville thinks it’s yucky.

Labels: Abortion, Ethics, Logic.


Free Speech and Acceptable Truths

April 1, 2008 - #

We have come into possession of the following document concerning
the debate about Israel Apartheid Week on university campuses.
We believe it will be of interest to our readers.

 

University of Toronto

Department of Acceptable Truths

 

April 1, 2008


To the Members of the University Community:


The University’s Department of Acceptable Truths has been asked to consider changes to university policies governing permitted free speech in the light of concerns that have been raised by faculty members, alumni, and wealthy funders.

Some of these concerns were expressed in a recent advertisement in the National Post signed by a number of professors, who have noted that they “take offence” at the use of the word ‘apartheid’ and have called on the University to ban events at which ‘Israeli apartheid’ is discussed.

The University has also been approached by an alumni organization, Alumni for Responsible Speech, who have expressed similar concerns and have suggested a number of policy changes to address them. The Alumni for Responsible Speech statement is attached below.

We invite your comments about how the University should respond to these concerns.


Please address your comments to:

Department of Acceptable Truths
University of Toronto
27 King's College Circle
Toronto ON M5S 1A1 Canada

 

 

The University of Toronto

Well-Disciplined Minds for a Well-Disciplined Future

 



Statement of the Alumni for Responsible Speech

For Immediate Release — April 1, 2008


We, the Alumni for Responsible Speech, stand committed to the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom.

At the same time, we believe that we all have a responsibility to ensure that these freedoms are used responsibly. We oppose irresponsible free speech, and the misuse of academic freedom.

Alumni for Responsible Speech believe that universities should tolerate free speech as long as it doesn’t upset anyone, but we also believe that universities, as public institutions, have a duty to ensure a safe learning environment for students and faculty, and to take corrective action when free speech or academic freedom are misused in an irresponsible way.

Accordingly,

•  We support the University of Toronto faculty members who have called on the university to ban events criticizing Israeli apartheid.(1)

•  We applaud the administrators at McMaster University who acted to ban the use of the term “Israeli apartheid” on their campus.(2)

•  We commend the University of Toronto for asking permission from the Toronto Police Department before making meeting rooms available to groups expressing controversial opinions about Israel.(3) We deeply regret that the Toronto Police told the University that they saw no grounds for laying charges at this time against individuals who criticize Israel.

Alumni for Responsible Speech strongly support banning the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid”, as well as the banning of any events which criticize Israel. Such action would be positive first steps for the University to take.

However, Alumni for Responsible Speech believe that further measures are needed to stamp out the threat of divisive or unconstructive free speech which jeopardizes a safe learning environment through the promotion of harmful ideas.

We believe that most reasonable people would agree that free speech is irresponsible and should be prohibited:

1) If it offends one or more faculty members, administrators, or university funders, or if in the view of the university authorities there is a real and present danger that an event might be used to express opinions that might offend a funder or a member of the university community.

2) If it is used to make negative or disparaging statements about any of the university’s corporate partners, funders or sponsors, or about their labour practices, environmental records, or illegal actions.

3) If it is used to state facts which are unpleasant and which might, if stated publicly, make some members of the university community uncomfortable.

4) If it is used to criticize Israel’s human rights record or Israel’s violations of international law.

We therefore support the banning of words and phrases such as “Israeli apartheid” whose use clearly violates the principles of responsible free speech.

Additionally, we call on the University to ban other harmful or offensive language (see list below) and to prohibit all campus events at which these banned words and phrases might be used.

The university has a duty to provide students and faculty with a safe learning environment. It is therefore incumbent on the university administration to take pro-active measures to protect students and faculty from being confused or offended by exposure to incorrect or harmful ideas, and to ensure that only safe ideas are taught. Alumni for Responsible Speech believe that the following measures should be implemented immediately in order to safeguard the integrity of the campus environment:

  • Initiate disciplinary action against any student organization, student newspaper, campus radio station, faculty member, or individual student, who engages in or facilitates criticism of Israel, or any other form of irresponsible speech, in a newspaper article, poster, leaflet, radio broadcast, website, Facebook group, scholarly journal, text message, public meeting, lecture, tutorial, or any conversation taking place on university property.
  • Amend the University’s Code of Ethics to make it the duty of every member of the university community to report any instance of the use of banned phrases such as “Israeli apartheid” to the proper authorities. The use of these terms should be clearly identified as thought crimes and should be dealt in the same way as hate speech.
  • Cleanse the university’s libraries of books which misuse academic freedom to document unpleasant facts about Israel.
  • Reconfigure the University's computer networks to block access to Internet sites critical of Israel, since such sites by definition violate the principles of responsible free speech.
  • Prohibit guest lectures by visiting professors who are known to abuse academic freedom by criticizing Israel.
  • Mandate the University's Department of Acceptable Truths to establish a permanent Un-Israeli Activities Committee to ensure the responsible use of academic freedom on topics related to Israel. The committee would have the power to investigate anti-Israel statements or thoughts, compel testimony, administer loyalty oaths, and where necessary recommend the banning of books, websites, and individuals found to be in violation of university standards.

 

Appendix I - Terms to be Banned

Israel’s failure to comply with UN resolutions
inconvenient truth, therefore referring to it is anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel’s failure to comply with Geneva convention governing the treatment of civilians in occupied territories
referring to the fact that collective punishment is immoral, as well as illegal under international law, is a particularly pernicious form of anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel’s political prisoners
any mention of the 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails is unacceptable.

Israel’s systematic use of torture
some people are offended by this, so mentioning it, or the fact that Israel has been condemned for this by Amnesty International and other respected human rights groups, is contrary to the obligation to maintain a safe learning environment.

Israel’s nuclear weapons
any mention of Israel’s nuclear arsenal or Israel’s overwhelming military superiority is anti-Israel because it contradicts the picture of Israel as a small threatened country.

State terrorism
unacceptable because it suggests that using airplanes and tanks to kill Palestinian men, women, and children in the Occupied Territories is somehow wrong.

Occupation or Occupied Territories
referring to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory is anti-Israel because it implies that Israel should have to abide by international law and totally withdraw from the territories it has occupied.

Gaza ghetto
— anti-Israel because it implies that there is something wrong with imprisoning people in a ghetto, shutting off their access to the outside world, and choking off their supplies of water, electricity, medicines, and other vital supplies.

Israel’s Borders
this phrase is anti-Israel because it implies that Israel should accept defined international borders and stop building settlements outside its borders.

Mutual recognition
anti-Israel because it implies that if Israel wants Palestinians to recognize Israels right to exist as a state, then Israel is equally obligated to recognize Palestines right to exist as a state.

Two-state solution
anti-Israel because it implies that Israel should withdraw from Palestinian territory and permit the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

One-state solution
anti-Israel because it implies that Jews and Palestinians should live together in a single democratic secular state.

The movement against apartheid in South Africa
should not be mentioned because so many leaders of the movement, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and leading Jewish anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, claim that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is as bad as, or worse than, South African apartheid.

Rachel Corrie
anti-Israel because of the implication that there is something wrong with using bulldozers to kill peace activists.

 

Appendix II - Books to be Banned: A Partial List

As stated, it will be necessary to cleanse the university’s libraries of inappropriate books. Alumni for Responsible Speech have identified the following books as a few of those that need to be cleansed immediately in order to guarantee a safe learning environment. No doubt the Un-Israeli Activities Committee, ably assisted by university librarians, will find it necessary to add many others to the list. In keeping with the University’s strong commitment to environmental responsibility, which we share, and in order to avoid contributing to global warming, we believe that these inappropriate books should not be disposed of in the traditional heat-producing way. Instead, they should be converted into biofuels to be used in Israeli bulldozers so that the Israel Defense Forces can flatten Palestinians homes and international peace activists in an environmentally friendly way.


The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. By Ilan Pappe, Oneworld, 2007
This book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians from Israel during the war of 1948. It is a prime example of a book that needs to be banned for documenting unpleasant facts.

Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. By Joel Kovel. Pluto Press, 2007
Joel Kovel argues that the inner contradictions of Zionism have led Israel to a 'state-sponsored racism fully as incorrigible as that of aparth**d South Africa and deserving of the same resolution and that only a path toward a single-state secular democracy can provide the justice essential to healing the wounds of the Middle East. Unacceptable ideas throughout: should be banned.

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. By Jimmy Carter. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006
Former U.S. President Carter calls Israels treatment of Palestinians "aparth**d" and identifies continuing Israeli control of the occupied territories as the primary obstacle to peace. Uses the banned word aparth**d, therefore should be banned.

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. By Norman Finkelstein. University of California Press, 2005
Finkelstein's books on Jewish history and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians are especially dangerous because his rigorous scholarship has been praised by leading scholars of Jewish history such as Raul Hilberg and Avi Schlaim and because the facts he reveals are irrefutable. There is no place for this book in a safe learning environment.

The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide. By Susan Nathan. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, New York, 2005.
Explores the unequal treatment of Palestinians living in Israel as second-class citizens in a theocratic state that discriminates against Israels Palestinian citizens in many ways. Offensive because it undermines Israels claims to be a western-style democracy; should therefore be banned.

Sharon and my Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries. By Suad Amiry. Granta, 2003.
A diary of everyday life under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, depicting the Kafkaesque absurdities and injustices Palestinians are forced to live with. Should be banned because it depicts Palestinians as human beings suffering under the Israeli occupation.


Appendix III - Websites to be Blocked: A Partial List

In order to prevent students from being exposed to forbidden words and harmful ideas about Israel on the Internet, the University will need to block the following websites on all the University's servers. We recommend the use of software developed in China to ensure safe Internet use. This software can also be used to monitor E-mail, IRC, and Facebook, and can be used in conjunction with search engine software to detect searches for banned words and ideas.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions —   www.icahd.org
An Israeli direct-action group working to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories, also engaged in resistance activities in other areas - land expropriation, settlement expansion, by-pass road construction, the wholesale uprooting of fruit and olive trees and more. Could expose students to unpleasant facts and harmful ideas.

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel — www.phr.org.il/phr
An Israeli organization that condemns Israels human rights violations. Accessing their site could expose students to very unpleasant facts.

Gush Shalom — http://gush-shalom.org
An Israeli organization working to influence Israeli public opinion and lead it towards peace and conciliation with the Palestinian people. Could expose students to unpleasant facts and harmful ideas.

B’Tselem — www.btselem.org
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Could expose students to unpleasant facts.

Refuser Solidarity Network — www.refusersolidarity.net
Supports Israelis who refuse to serve in the Occupation. Could expose students to dangerous ideas.

Electronic Intifada — http://electronicintifada.net/
Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media. News, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unsuitable for a safe learning environment because it exposes students to a Palestinian perspective.

Jewish Voice for Peace — www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org
Jewish organization founded to “support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination”. Could expose students to the dangerous idea that Jews and Palestinians have a common future sharing the same land in peace and equality.

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid — http://caiaweb.org
Uses the banned term “Israeli Aparth**d” in its name, and supports Israel Aparth**d Week.

Connexions — www.connexions.org
This website is a chronic violator of the principles of responsible free speech. It maintains an extensive selection of so-called “Resources for peace, justice, and human rights” including articles, books, videos, organizations, and websites, and claims that “a solution to the conflict is possible only on the basis of justice, mutual recognition, equality, and an end of Israels occupation of the Palestinian territories.” The content of this site is incompatible with a safe learning environment. Furthermore, Connexions has also been guilty of publishing and disseminating offensive satires.

 

Contact:
Ulli Diemer
Founding President
Alumni for Responsible Speech
E-mail:
www.connexions.org

 

Footnotes

1) National Post, March 22, 2008.
2) Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid website:
www.caiaweb.org. “Campus Repression at McMaster”.
3) Canadian Jewish News, April 3, 2008. “U of T faculty ad calls for Israeli Apartheid Week ban”. Robert Steiner, a U of T spokesperson, is quoted as saying: “A couple of year ago, we sent the words ‘Israeli Apartheid’ to the Toronto police, to the hate crimes unit, for their assessment and investigation because we were ready to do whatever we needed to do if they assessed that it crossed the line [into hate speech], and they came back and said they had no basis on which to see this as hate speech.”


Related Articles:

‘Free Speech’ – As long as it doesn’t offend anyone
Tactics of Desperation: Using false accusations of “anti-Semitism” as a weapon to silence criticism of Israel’s behaviour
Free Speech for me – you shut up


Labels: Academic Freedom, Apartheid, Censorship, Double Standards, Free Speech, Freedom of Expression, Israel, Israeli Apartheid, State Terrorism.



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