By William A. Cook
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
As an American living under Bush’s Military Commission’s Act, I feel a bit unnerved when charged with “allegations” of hate crimes issued by Canada’s Council on Human Rights, “allegations” made by an unidentified group against the editors of “Peace, Earth and Justice,” (PEJ Internet publications), and specifically against certain unidentified authors for articles claimed to be anti-Semitic. One might expect from a democratic government that the accuser would be notified of such charges, be provided with the details of the allegations, and offered an opportunity to rebut the points raised. But no. The charges are made, the Council brings the charges to the editors who are prone to protect the publication by removing the articles, and the goal of the group bringing the charges is accomplished — silencing the messengers who raise issues of significance that can no longer be seen or read. Such is democracy and the free press in the 21st century.
Thank God for our last domain of free speech, the Internet, and in this instance the Internet publication Dissident Voice. On May 28th, 2007, Kim Petersen wrote “When Monopolization of the Media Fails, then Squash Freedom of Speech.” It is there that I found out that I was charged before the Council on Human Rights with anti-Semitism by a Mr. Harry Abrams with the support of the B’nai B’rith of Canada.
Since neither the Canadian Government or the accusers have seen fit to notify me that I am charged with a “hate crime,” I am forced to present my case before the public lest Council members and others made aware of these accusations assume that the allegations are true, a conclusion that could result from such slanderous allegations and cast aspersions on my personal and professional character.
Let me undertake my own defense by quoting from “The Nizkor Project” of the League of Human Rights of B’nai B’rith Canada. “The international community has recognized the need to deal with human rights violations and hate propaganda under the law. The foundation of Canada’s hate laws can be found in several international treaties which Canada has ratified. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, established the basic principles upon which subsequent anti-racist legislation would be based, including legislation designed to afford identifiable groups protection against racist attacks. Hate propaganda, the promotion of hatred against identifiable groups, became a criminal offense in Canada in 1970 (Criminal Code, Sections 318-320).” Additionally, Canada adopted the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1966, a convention that requires states “to criminalize hate propaganda and other activities which promote racism.”
Canada’s acceptance of these international laws and conventions indicates that the state is sensitive to its various populations and the potential for discrimination that can be brought against them. As the Nizkor Project notes: “The premise underlying Canada’s anti-hate laws is that in a democratic society, identifiable groups must be protected against racism, including its verbal manifestations, in order not to limit their basic freedoms and thereby their full participation in Canadian society.” I agree with Nizkor’s assertion that the catalyst for this legislation might well have been the experience of Nazism, “that unchecked racism and hate propaganda could lead even a highly educated, cultured and democratic society to justify the most heinous crimes against humanity.”
Now let me turn to the actual sections of the Criminal Code that are applicable here: Section 318: Advocating Genocide and section 319: Defining Genocide. “The criminal act of ‘advocating genocide’ is defined as supporting or arguing for the killing of members of an ‘identifiable group’ – persons distinguished by their colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. The intention would be the destruction of members of the targeted group. Any person who promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence, and liable to imprisonment…” Section 319 defines genocide as “any acts committed with intent to destroy an identifiable group – such as killing members of the group, or deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction.”
Section 319(3) makes explicit acceptable defences that prohibit conviction based on the following: “statements in question are established to be true; were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds it was believed to be true; ….; were expressed in good faith and intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.”
I provide this background to establish this profound truth: my article published by PEJ, “The Hamas Challenge to Israel,” provides a disturbing picture of a Prime Minister in Israel who has undertaken, with the collaboration of a distinct minority of like mind, a concerted effort to commit genocide against an identifiable group, the Palestinians, because of “race, ethnicity, and religion,” by “promoting the killing of members of the group” and “deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction.”
The article was not written specifically for Canadians or any state, but rather to make known to the community of nations the reality of the actions undertaken by Sharon and his government (and subsequently by Ehud Olmert and his administration). Every statement in the litany of accusations made against this man has been substantiated by scholars, journalists, resolutions by the UNSC and the UNGA, and even the International Court of Justice. Nothing in the article condemns the Jews as a people; indeed, the article sympathizes with the Jews as they, like Americans under Bush, must endure racist actions of the Israeli government acting in their name.
The article is in every particular a graphic defense of the Canadian Criminal Code against hate, but hate perpetrated by a hard core Zionist group (See for example statements by Olmert’s colleague Avigdor Lieberman) that has aligned itself with the Olmert government to inflict genocidal acts against the Palestinians. Books have been written on this subject. It is not my invention. (See for example, Dr. Uri Davis’ Apartheid Israel, Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Cook’s “The Rape of Palestine,” and most recently this week, Richard Falk’s “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust.”). I believe that publication of the article provided Canadians with documentable evidence of these heinous acts, information beneficial to the public if they are to become sensitized to the plight of Palestinians and Arabs living within their state. They are the ones at risk. Only through the availability of such information can the Islamophobic hysteria present in America and Canada be blunted.
I will end this piece with two passages from the article in question, an article you cannot now read because an unidentified group has made insidious allegations against this writer, one of a number, without providing him (or them) his due rights before the law, a most slanderous and clandestine way to silence voices one does not wish to hear.
“Shouldn’t it be clear by now, today, that Israel and its obedient partner in war crime, the United States, has no intention of seeking peace with the Palestinians? How else maintain an unending war of terror? How else fuel division, hatred, vengeance, retaliation and destruction than to systematically strangle by slow, insidious suffocation the rights of a people declared openly in a mutually accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How else continue expansion and acquisition of another’s land than to foster violence with violence and cry aloud to the world your pain even as the cries and torment of the Palestinians are muffled behind a Wall of Fear Sharon leaves as his memorial to a life time of savagery and death?”
“When this Wall of silence is breached, when the truth is made manifest, what the world will see and what Jews around the world will see, is that Sharon has destroyed the moral fiber of Judaism. What Jews suffered under the boots of Nazi Germany – the humiliation, torture, powerlessness, and fear – impressed on them by a racist nation arrogant in their superiority, the Israelis now inflict on the hapless people of Palestine.”
-William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU