Friday, June 26, 2009

Lesley Hughes Was Not the First Victim of the B'Nai Brith

The French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping the common people quiet." Of course he also said: "Religion is what keeps the poor man from murdering the rich", though I suppose both quotes are relevant.

Like the U.S. Republicans, the Conservative party of Canada has latched onto religious and quasi religious groups like a baby to .... well never mind ... you get the picture.

To keep track of all the churches, para churches and non-profit organizations that prop up what passes for Tory these days, you'd need the equivalent of a debt clock, that is constantly in motion.

Once you track down one nefarious group, ten more rear their ugly heads, and you get lost in a cycle of deceit.

Now don't get me wrong. I have no problem with any religion that promotes human decency, and can even be tolerant to those that don't.

But once those religions cross the line into politics, they are fair game for political debate. It absolutely has to be that way before this government completely destroys our country.

This brings us to the Lesley Hughes' lawsuit against Peter Kent and the B'Nai Brith, who in may ways are one and the same.

Lesley Hughes, however, was not the first political candidate targeted by the B'Nai Brith.

B'Nai Brith Canada tells Liberals to dump star candidate
July 24, 2007

B'Nai Brith Canada has asked Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion to remove new star candidate Jocelyn Coulon from an upcoming byelection in Montreal's Outremont riding because of his past stance on Israel. It says Coulon has a "well-documented anti-Israel bias," including sympathy for Hamas, that is "out of step with current Liberal policy."

But of course, there's more to the story:

B'nai Brith is too quick to brand people as anti-Israel
Rights organization is guilty of overkill and risks undermining its own mission
JOSEE LEGAULT,
The Gazette
July 27 2007

Courtesy of the Quebec chapter of B'nai Brith, there's a very strange controversy brewing in the federal riding of Outremont where a by-election is due this fall.

B'nai Brith fired off a strongly worded press release demanding Liberal leader St?phane Dion dump his handpicked candidate, respected international relations expert Jocelyn Coulon, whom Dion wants as his foreign affairs minister should he ever form a government.

The human rights watchdog says Coulon has a "well-documented anti-Israel bias," a "hostile attitude toward Israel," "anti-U.S. rhetoric" and that his calls for the end of the isolation of Hamas "ought to disqualify him."

According to this week's West End Chronicle, Morse Moghrabi, B'nai Brith's legal counsel for Quebec, warned, in an email to B'nai Brith leadership, that Coulon "is a subtle individual with very pro-Arab/pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel/anti-American/anti-West views."

Steven Slomovitch, also of B'nai Brith, is quoted as saying Coulon's views are "obviously a grave concern to the Jewish people."

It is perhaps the last sentence that contains B'nai Brith's main problem here. It is growing increasingly tiresome to have that organization sound as if it speaks for the "Jewish people," among whom there is a much greater variety of viewpoints than there is at B'nai Brith. Regarding Coulon, it's important to note the Quebec-Israel Committee was quick to voice its disagreement with B'nai Brith.

But it's also troubling to see B'nai Brith act in a way that can undermine high-profile people's reputations by making an unfounded case against those it says are anti-Israel. Others have expressed views that B'nai Brith has labelled as anti-Semitic, xenophobic, intolerant, and so on.

Anyone who has read Coulon's columns, whether they agree with him or not, would need a very fertile imagination to brand his opinions as anti-Israel.

Last June, B'nai Brith also went after Serge Chapleau, La Presse's brilliant cartoonist. It called his cartoon of Mario Dumont dressed as a Hasid "grossly offensive" and a reminder of "the worst anti-Semitic ravings." To call this accusation false is an understatement.

In December 2000, Yves Michaud also got a taste of B'nai Brith's medicine. Saying that he had peppered an interview to CKAC with "insults against Jews," it also asked then-Premier Lucien Bouchard to dump him as a potential Parti Quebecois candidate for the riding of Mercier.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Two days later, the National Assembly adopted unanimously a shameful motion of censure against Michaud. Bouchard resigned on Jan. 11, jumping at the chance to dump the PQ and present himself as a paragon of tolerance against what he now saw as his party's xenophobic tendencies.

In its press release applauding Bouchard for fighting the PQ's "sectarian and intolerant" attitude, B'nai Brith referred to Michaud's "manifestations of xenophobia and intolerance."

To be sure, B'nai Brith has the freedom of expression. If it disagrees with some of Coulon's views, it can debate with him. But freedom of expression also carries the notion of responsibility.


Is it responsible to keep making these kinds of accusations without firm evidence or to try to keep honest citizens out of politics by calling on their leaders to axe them?

It not only risks hurting reputations needlessly - and a reputation is a precious thing in life. It can also have dire impact on careers. This is not a game. This is serious stuff. When B'nai Brith publishes its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, it names people, sometimes with no reason, including respected journalists, without weighing the possible consequences.

When it does this, B'nai Brith also helps trivialize the real thing. Words have meaning. Being anti-Israel means something, so does being xenophobic, anti-Semitic, intolerant or racist.

By crying wolf, using such grave words when they're not warranted, we risk missing the real thing when it does rear its ugly head
.

Lesley Hughes was also not the first poltical candidate wrongly accused by the B'Nai Brith to sue:

B'nai B'rith Canada: With malice aforethought
Winnipeg Free Press
November 26, 1987

In 1984, while running for election to the Canadian Parliament as a Conservative Party candidate (this would be the Progressive Conservative Party, not the Reform/Alliance Conservative Party), Winnipeg schoolteacher Luba Fedorkiw, discovered, to her utter amazement, that B'nai B'rith Canada, a major so-called Jewish "anti-defamation" organization, had circulated an internal memo which accused the candidate of "Jew-baiting."

This allegation was subsequently repeated in the Winnipeg Sun, and the resulting defamation cost her the election. Luba Fedorkiw sued B'nai B'rith Canada for libel, with the result that she was eventually awarded $175,000 in actual damages and $225,000 in punitive damages against the organization.

And another viewpoint from an American scholar on Ms. Fedorkiw:

An American Professor Responds to a 'Jewish Activist'

Another example of behavior by Jewish organizations that tends to chill free expression involved the Canadian teacher Luba Fedorkiw. Running for the Canadian Parliament in 1984, she "discovered to her utter amazement that B'nai B'rith Canada ... had circulated an internal memo which accused her of 'Jew-baiting!'" (L. Wilcox, 1996, pp. 81-82). The allegation was repeated in the Winnipeg Sun along with the assertion that she was being investigated by B'nai B'rith on suspicion of anti-Semitism. The resulting defamation cost her the election to David Orlikow, and subjected her to malicious harassment.

According to Ms. Fedorkiw, when the investigation was publicized, she received obscene and harassing telephone calls, a swastika was spray-painted on her campaign office, and a number of her political supporters withdrew their backing. She sued for libel and won a $400,000 judgment on the basis that a claim that she had said her opponent was "controlled by the Jews" was not true.

This new attack on journalists is unprececedeted. We've seen in with the way that the Conservatives cherry picked articles written by Michael Ignatieff, to launch Karl Rove style attack ads.

I'm surprised that Peter Kent, who himself was once a journalist, would stoop to such tactics. He should know about things like 'freedom of the press' and 'freedom of speech'.

So B'Nai Brith cries wolf and Peter Kent cries 'yeah'. I cry 'enough is enough'. I want my country back.

2 comments:

  1. Don't forget the role they have on the "human rights commissions", of which Arthur Topham of Radicalpress.com is a victim. They are going after those who expose the role of political Zionism in shaping Canada's policies.

    http://www.radicalpress.com/

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  2. I wasn't aware of that one, though it doesn't surprise me that there are more.

    I was never one to attack religion or religious groups, but have been forced to if I want to enter political debate. Too many politicians are hiding behind 'religious persecution'. It's nonsense.

    Sadly it also sullies the reputation of the B'nai Brith, and others, who do a lot of good things.

    Ironically, I often have to go to some of the, what was once referred to as 'underground' news, to obtain information that should have been reported in the mainstream media.

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