Can’t say ‘Israeli apartheid’ in Toronto

4:19 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Let them in the parade and let people along the parade route judge for themselves. I’ve booed and shouted opinions at a few organizations in gay pride parades.

Do we have to act as if everyone with a sign in a gay pride parade has to follow a certain script?

Geena | June 9, 2010 12:29 PM

It’s strange that the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ is now banned at a major political event in Toronto. This involves a pro-Palestinian group that has marched in Toronto’s gay pride parade for many years, as have groups supporting Israeli government policies. That ‘both sides’ approach seems so civilized and democratic, but times are a-changing and not for the better.

Pride festival bans ‘Israeli apartheid’
Toronto parade marshal resigns in protest
By Carmen Chai
Windsor Star
June 8, 2010

This year’s Toronto Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal has resigned and 23 former Pride Toronto activists announced on Monday they have pulled out of Pride festivities after organizers banned the term "Israeli apartheid" from its 10-day event.

"Pride’s recent decision to ban the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices," said Alan Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto who rejected his appointment as grand marshal.

"Pride’s choice to take a pre-emptive step to censor our own communities’ voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression." . . .

Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit organization that hosts an annual festival held during the first weekend of July in Toronto. With attendance of more than 1.2 million people, it is the third-largest Pride celebration in the world and the largest in North America.

Pride would have lost as much as $600,000 in sponsorship money and city funding" forced the organizers of the march, Pride Toronto, to betray free speech.

Len Rudner, Ontario director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said characterizing the dispute as matter of free speech versus censorship is inaccurate.

“This is not about free speech, this is about financial accountability,” said Mr. Rudner.

“The Pride committee found itself in a situation where it had to consider whether it was placing its funding in jeopardy.”

As usual, the language of politically correct censorship was employed by the oppressors (p.c. arguments answered well by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (pdf) (in short, it’s a parade, not a work environment)):

PT issued a statement on its website, saying the decision to ban the term "Israeli Apartheid" was not taken lightly.

"The board of Pride Toronto listened to members of our community," it said. "What we heard overwhelmingly was that the use of the words ‘Israeli Apartheid’ made participants feel unsafe."

Tim McCaskell, a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), spoke to Xtra after PT’s release.

"If people feel unsafe, I would suggest that they are being manipulated," he said. "If the word is ‘uncomfortable,’ well, Pride makes a lot of people uncomfortable."

Oh, and yeah, Israel’s rule in the occupied territory fully qualifies as apartheid. As the folks who know say:

‘This is like apartheid’: ANC veterans visit West Bank
By Donald Macintyre in Hebron
Friday, 11 July 2008

Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle said last night that the restrictions endured by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories was in some respects worse than that imposed on the black majority under white rule in South Africa.

Members of a 23-strong human-rights team of prominent South Africans cited the impact of the Israeli military’s separation barrier, checkpoints, the permit system for Palestinian travel, and the extent to which Palestinians are barred from using roads in the West Bank.

After a five-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, some delegates expressed shock and dismay at conditions in the Israeli-controlled heart of Hebron. Uniquely among West Bank cities, 800 settlers now live there and segregation has seen the closure of nearly 3,000 Palestinian businesses and housing units. Palestinian cars (and in some sections pedestrians) are prohibited from using the once busy streets.

"Even with the system of permits, even with the limits of movement to South Africa, we never had as much restriction on movement as I see for the people here," said an ANC parliamentarian, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge of the West Bank. "There are areas in which people would live their whole lifetime without visiting because it’s impossible."

Mrs Madlala-Routledge, a former deputy health minister in President Thabo Mbeki’s government, added: "While I want to be careful not to characterise everything that I see here as apartheid, I just do find comparisons in a number of places. I also find differences."

Comparisons with apartheid have long been anathema to majority Israeli opinion, though they have been somewhat less taboo since the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last year warned that without an early two-state agreement Israel could face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights.

Fatima Hassan, a leading South African human rights lawyer, said: "The issue of separate roads, [different registration] of cars driven by different nationalities, the indignity of producing a permit any time a soldier asks for it, and of waiting in long queues in the boiling sun at checkpoints just to enter your own city, I think is worse than what we experienced during apartheid." She was speaking after the tour, which included a visit to the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem and a meeting with Israel’s Chief Justice, Dorit Beinisch.

One prominent member of the delegation, who declined to be named, said South Africa had been "much poorer" both during and after apartheid than the Palestinian territories. But he added: "The daily indignity to which the Palestinian population is subjected far outstrips the apartheid regime. And the effectiveness with which the bureaucracy implements the repressive measures far exceed that of the apartheid regime."

Whether Israel within its pre-1967 borders is an apartheid state, I’d say not, but this website disagrees with me:

ISRAELI APARTHEID LAWS