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[The four short texts reproduced here, which date from 2002, may be of interest as samples of the routine

exclusion by the Canadian media of voices dissenting from a pro-Zionist political orthodoxy. These texts have not
previously been published.]

[Index: Israel, Palestine, media criticism]

[Date: March, April, and December 2002]

Silenced Dissent: Four Short Texts on Israel/Palestine

Michael Keefer

1. Margaret Wente and Ariel Sharon:

Letter (unpublished) to The Globe and Mail, 9 March 2002

To the editor, Letters Page:

Margaret Wente enlists support for the Sharon government by claiming that Israeli
fair-mindedness and compromise have led to a murderous dead end (Why they booed
Bill Graham, March 9).
Would she describe as fair-minded the processes of expropriation, settlement
and cantonization that went on under South African apartheid? Why does she find similar
processes acceptable when applied to the Palestinians of the occupied territories?
As for compromise, it was the Sharon government that closed down all
negotiations. Twice in recent months when lulls in the violence opened the possibility of
renewed talks, Israel launched renewed attacks (including targeted assassinations that
might fairly be described as murderous).
Wente paints a dismaying picture of Muslim anti-Jewish sentiments, and of Yasser
Arafat's duplicity. Given the enormously greater power held by the Israeli Prime Minister,
his record is rather more dismaying. Sharon's paratroop unit perpetrated well-documented

massacres of civilians in 1953, and there is compelling evidence that the appalling 1982
massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila were carried out under his orders.
Current Israeli reprisal attacks upon civilians reveal a willingness to repeat this
behaviour on a massive scale. Canadians should unequivocally condemn these acts of
state terror.

2. Phone-In (not broadcast) to the Talk-Back line of CBC Radio's

As It Happens, 11 March 2002

This is Michael Keefer calling, from Toronto. I'd like to respond to the claims
made on your show by the scholar from the conflict resolution institute at Bar Elam
University in Israel whom you interviewed yesterday.
The violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is sickening, but there's
no need to misrepresent historical facts as he did. Since 1977that's twenty-five years
ago nowthe PLO has repeatedly offered to renounce violence and to recognize Israel's
statehood in return for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. It's a fact that the
Sharon government unilaterally shut down all negotiations. It's a fact that the Israeli
occupation, the building of settlements, the bombing of civilians, and the bulldozing of
houses are all violations of international law.
And finally, there's good reason to believe that Prime Minister Sharon is guilty of
war crimes. This is the man who oversaw the massacre of 2,000 civilians in the Sabra and
Shatila refugee camps in 1982.
It looks as if he's up to his old tricks again.

3. Rex Murphy's Abuse of NDP MP Svend Robinson:

Letter (unpublished) to The Globe and Mail, 20 April 2002

So what is it exactly that Rex Murphy finds so contemptible and absurd about
Svend Robinson? The state of Israel is enforcing its continuing illegal occupation of
territories conquered in the war of 1967 by deploying overwhelming military force
against Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps. Not merely are Israeli forces
rocketing and bombarding civilian populations; they have also attacked hospital facilities,
ambulances, and medical personnel. Civilians injured by Israeli military action have been
actively prevented from receiving medical assistance, and left to die in the streets. There
is mounting evidence that hundreds of civilians have been killed, and that Palestinian
fighters and civilians captured by Israeli forces have been tortured and summarily
These policies are being directed by an Israeli Prime Minister who provoked the
present intifada eighteen months ago by invading the precincts of the Dome of the Rock
with a large protective force of police and soldiers; who sabotaged and cancelled the
already faltering peace negotiations as soon as he came to power; and who has, in
addition, a well-documented record as a war criminal that now stretches back almost a
half-century. (Ariel Sharon's responsibility for the massacres of civilians in the refugee
camps of Sabra and Shatila in September 1982 is well knownbut he first made a name
for himself in August and October 1953, when the paratroop Unit 101 which he
commanded massacred over 100 civilians in night-time reprisal attacks on the ElBureig refugee camp and on the Jordanian village of Qibya.)
In the face of George Bush's declaration that Prime Minister Sharon is a man of
peace, Svend Robinson is one of the very few politicians in this supine country who has
had the guts to speak out against Israeli state terrorism, and to make the more significant
gesture of travelling to the places where war crimes are still being committed to speak out
against them there.
Robinson must have guessed that many in his own party would be too confused or
too cowardly to follow his lead; he must have anticipated that Canadian supporters of
Israel would attempt to smear him as an antisemite; and I'm sure he knew that his
principled acts would be subjected to ridicule by every oily orthodox pundit in the
I honour Svend Robinson for his courage in defending human rights and
international law.

(Professor) Michael H. Keefer

4. Incitement to hatred:
Letter (unpublished) to The Toronto Star, 2 December 2002

I am writing in response to Rosie DiManno's grotesquely one-sided column

(Latest attack on Jews, 2 December 2002), to express my shock that the Star would
print what amounts to an incitement to sectarian and racial hatred.
One premise of DiManno's column is entirely correct: people everywhere, no
matter what their religious or political commitments, should be prompt in condemning
terror attacks upon civilians. She is thus right to criticize Muslim authorities who have
failed to condemn the murderous attacks upon Jews in Kenya.
But let us pretend for a moment that the old notion of journalistic balance has
some meaning. DiManno characterizes Palestinians as bleat[ing] when they plead for
justice in the face of an illegal occupation in which they are subjected to Israeli state
terrorwhich includes ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate attacks upon civilians, and a
systematic denial of medical assistance to the victims. When has DiManno ever raised her
voice against these crimes? Would she dare to describe as bleating the outcries of
Israeli civilians who have been injured or bereaved by suicide bombers?
DiManno compares violent Islamicists who commit acts of terror against civilians
to cockroaches. Would she dare to describe as vermin those members of the Israeli
Defense Force who have committed acts of terror against Palestinian civilians? Would
she, for that matter, apply to Judaism or to American Evangelical Christianity the same
analysis that she applies to Islam?
Whether one believes, with DiManno, that Islamicist terrorists are motivated by
an irrational hostility to the West and to Jews, and only opportunistically took up the
cause of the Palestinians, or whether one sees a connection between the state terrorism
inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinians and the retail terrorism practised by violent
Islamicists, there can be no excuse for speaking of an entire people in language normally

reserved for farm animals.