Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Normalizing calls for genocide

On Saturday in Montreal a thousand or more protestors marched downtown chanting ‘The Jews are our dogs,’ and cheering not one, but two, banned Islamist terrorist groups -- Hamas and Hezbollah -- in the company of labour leaders and politicians. It didn’t make front-page news. Save one or two exceptions, it didn’t make back-page news. In Canada, this is, it seems, not news. The best our country’s journalists could muster was a story in theMontreal Gazette mentioning only that the crowd shouted “Stop the Madness” -- the agreeable slogan that did make the headline -- “Israel Assassin” and “Viva Viva Intifada.”

As you can see in this video, these may have counted among the least remarkable of the oft-time violent and anti-Semitic cheers that rang out loudly on rue Ste. Catherine that day. The reporter, Catherine Solyom, did report that the representative from the Quebec-Israel Committee had “said” there was chanting that “called for the genocide of Jews.” This appeared in the 20th paragraph.

In Ms. Solyom’s defense, she likely does not speak Arabic -- the language used for some of the most chilling cries -- and perhaps did not comprehend that all around her there were marchers praising terrorists, urging the destruction of the Jewish state, praising "Jihadis" and calling Jews “dogs” (she did report in that short, 20th paragraph, the presence of Hezbollah flags). When the Victoria Times Colonist picked up the Montreal story, it mentioned only that the Montreal protesters had bemoaned the children being killed in Gaza, and quoted a protester making comparatively saner comments about “humanitarian” concerns, but also calling the Gaza action a “huge massacre.” The CBC also stuck with strictly reporting the palatable messages on display: "End the siege in Gaza now" and "Save Gaza, stop the massacre."

As at least one blogger points out, only pro-Palestinian protesters have managed to normalize what would, in any other context, be considered shocking behaviour. Were this thousands of neo-Nazis calling Jews, or blacks, “dogs,” or a mob demanding that Muslim capitals “burn, burn,” or burning Muslim crescents, it would, one presumes, perk up some ears in the newsrooms of the country. Instead, this march was reportedly joined by Parti Quebecois MNA Monique Richard and leaders of three of Quebec’s major labour unions.

Not that they should be stopped from doing so: the freedom to demonstrate, no matter how ugly your message, is every Canadian’s right. But the best defense of such rights is predicated on the assumption that the social stigma of participating in open demonstrations of hate like this will backfire: politicians, making cause with anti-Semites, would be punished at the polls or by their parties; labour leaders discredited. When the press fails to expose these occurrences, however, it makes it unlikely the informal justice of a civil society can do its work.

For whatever reason, we are seeing rallies in  major cities calling for genocide, celebrating terrorism and spouting hatred against a minority group -- but the media is missing the story. Maybe calling out certain groups makes Canada's media uncomfortable, or maybe they have become inured to the extreme radicalization of Palestinian supporters here. Unless we start watching these demos a lot more closely, preferably with Arabic translators in tow, this trend cannot end well for either the media, or for the countr

1 comment:

The back of the hill said...

Oh goody, at least one more slogan I can now recognize: "be ruh, be dam, nafdeek ya al Aqsa".

I already knew several others. Which I mentioned in a post about a demonstration in SF held on December 30, 2008.

Pastable link:

Clickably: Hate in SF

The Arabic slogans: "Itbach al Yahud" (slaughter the Jews), "Falastin balad'na w'al Yahud qalab'na" (Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs), "ba ruh, ba dam, nafdeek ya Falastin" (with our soul, with our blood, we will cleanse you oh Palestine), "al mawt al Yahud" (death to the Jews), "Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahud, jaish-Muhammad saya'ud" (Khaybar Khaybar oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return).

Yes, learning foreing languages broadens one's horizons.


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