You are on page 1of 6

[Terry Glavin made a defamatory reference to my Israeli Apartheid Week public lecture, 'Dark Hope': The

Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine (University of Guelph, March 7, 2012), in an article
he published in the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and the Vancouver Sun on March 10. My letter responding to this
defamation was published by both newspapersas Words were misinterpreted, Ottawa Citizen (14 March
2012),; and in abbreviated
form as Attack on critics of Israel distorts, ignores facts, Vancouver Sun (14 March 2012), available at The other
correspondence reproduced here has not previously been published.]

[Index: Israel, Palestine, media criticism]

[Date: March 2012]

Responding to Terry Glavin's Smear

Michael Keefer

The newspapers integrated into Conrad Black's media empire received a hard
right-wing stamp from Black and the editors he hiredan ideological slant that remained
unchanged when his Canadian holdings passed into the hands of Israel Asper's
CanWestGlobal chain, and that has persisted in the mutation of that chain's ownership
into something calling itself Postmedia.
With honourable exceptions, journalists writing for this chain have learned that
their job description includes an element of ideological police-work, which involves
seeking to discredit people of opposing viewpoints by any means available. Terry Glavin,
who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, and whose articles are often carried by other
Postmedia newspapers, has made himself an expert in this kind of work.
On March 7, 2012 I delivered a public lecture, 'Dark Hope': The Resistance to
War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week at the
University of Guelph. (That title, as I made clear in my lecture, echoes the title of a book
by Israeli scholar and peace activist David Shulman, Dark Hope: Working for Peace in
Israel and Palestine.) The online poster advertising the IAW event was noticed by
Glavin, who incorporated a defamatory reference to my lecture into an article, The
pseudo-left marches away from reason, published by the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and
by the Vancouver Sun on March 10.

I reproduce here my correspondence with the Vancouver Sun, which may be of

interest for what it reveals about the difficulty, once one has been smeared by newspapers
in this chain, of exercising what used to be known as the right of reply.
I will not offer any recital, beyond what is contained in the correspondence, of the
vicious inanities contained in Glavin's article: anyone interested in the full details of his
text can look it up on the Ottawa Citizen's website.
One of the subjects on which Glavin exposed his ignorance and vented his hatred
was the Israeli attack, in international waters, on the humanitarian relief vessel Mavi
Marmara, the flagship of an international flotilla that was seeking peacefully to break
Israel's illegal blockade of the Gaza strip.
I chose in the letter I sent for publication in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun
to mock Glavin's stupidities; it remains a fact that the nine civilian peace activists who
were murdered by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 were shot
a total of thirty times, and that five of the victims, as The Guardian reported, were shot
either in the back of the head or the back.1

1. Letter to the Editor, Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)

To the Editor:
Terry Glavin's shillelagh-swinging is a treat to watch, even when it's oneself he's
trying to whiff with his little cudgel (The pseudo-left marches away from reason,
March 10, 2012).
What other journalist could consign opponents to The Zombie Octoplex and
produce scoops at the same time? Who'd have guessed that the rights and liberties Arab
activists struggle for across the Middle East are already guaranteed by Israel? The news
will be a relief to the anemic women and stunted children of the blockaded Gaza strip,
and to the Palestinian prisoners held without charges and dying on hunger strikes in
Israeli jails.
Glavin tells us the Mavi Marmara's humanitarian aid mission was a disgraceful
1 Quoted by Moustafa Bayoumi, Introduction, in Bayoumi, ed., Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The
Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict
(New York: OR Books, 2010), p. 3.

hoax. Let me guess: zombies again? Is that why Israeli commandos used head shots on
so-called peace activists they killed?
A third example exposes Glavin's method. My Israeli Apartheid Week lecture, the
online poster said, would reveal in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign a
humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict. With a wave of the
Glavin shillelagh, this becomes a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity
of Judenstaatsrein.
When they're not zombies, peace activists are neo-Nazis; human solidarity is a
hoax; and the blockaded are free. How clever!
Michael Keefer
Professor Emeritus
University of Guelph

2. Second letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)

To: The Editor, Letters Page, The Vancouver Sun
I sent you a letter early this-morning, responding to Terry Glavin's smearing of me
in the article The pseudo-left marches away from reason that you published on March
Although my letter is within the 200-word limit that you specify, and although
you very clearly owe me a right of reply, I have not yet heard back from you.
My letter points out three flagrant falsifications in Glavin's column.
The third of these falsifications appears in the paragraph Glavin devotes to me.
Let me explain to you why Glavin's words are defamatory as well as false.
The University of Guelph's Israeli Apartheid Week organization advertised my
March 7, 2012 lecture, 'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in
Israel/Palestine, in an online poster. That poster, which Mr. Glavin very clearly read,
stated that my lecture would argue that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign
offers a humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict. But Mr. Glavin

informs your readers that I delivered a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful
necessity of Judenstaatsrein.
The statement that I used that last word is of course false. But are you aware of
the word's implications?
Judenrein (meaning cleansed of Jews) is a term that was used by the Nazis to
describe the goal of a murderous antisemitism that culminated in the Shoah.
Judenstaatsrein (meaning cleansed of a Jewish state) is a polemical coinage
invented by supporters of the policies of the state of Israel as a means of smearing
opponents of those policies. The claim that is made by people who deploy this word is
that criticisms of Israeli policies amount to a devious continuation of the antisemitic
project of the Nazis. Nazi antisemites wanted a world that would be Judenrein; their
successors (call them what you like: neo-Nazis or new antisemites) now supposedly want
a world that would be Judenstaatsreinand the continuity of their hatred is implied by
the resemblance of the two words.
I hope you understand now, if you didn't before, why Mr. Glavin's statement that I
myself used that word is a defamatory smear.
I hope you understand as well that I regard this as a very serious matter.
Your newspaper, by publishing Mr. Glavin's article, has defamed me. I expect
from you a right of replyby which I mean that I expect you to publish my letter, in its
I would like to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
Yours sincerely,
Michael Keefer
p.s. I am appending to this letter a copy of my 'Letter to the Editor'.

3. Third letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 12, 2012)

From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 2:06 PM
To: Valerie Casselton, Executive Editor, The Vancouver Sun
Nicholas Palmer, Senior Editor, The Vancouver Sun
Harold Munro, Deputy Managing Editor, The Vancouver Sun
Fazil Mihlar, Editorial Pages Editor, The Vancouver Sun

Subject: Defamation
Dear Valerie Casselton, Nicholas Palmer, Harold Munro, and Fazil Mihlar,
On March 10, The Vancouver Sun published an article by Terry Glavin, The
pseudo-left marches away from reason, a short paragraph of which was devoted to me.
Mr. Glavin's remarks included a statement that is both false and defamatory.
Early on March 11, I sent a 'Letter to the Editor' to the address In that message, sent from my g-mail account, I provided
my home address and telephone number; and in a follow-up message sent several minutes
later, I gave you my University of Guelph email address as well.
When by yesterday evening I had not heard back from The Vancouver Sun, I sent
a follow-up message to the same address (
Mr. Glavin stated in his article that I had delivered a lecture on the humane,
rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein. His wording implies very clearly that
I used the word Judenstaatsrein (which, by the way, Mr. Glavin evidently believes to be
a noun rather than an adjective).
I did not use the word, and in my follow-up message I explained very clearly why
Mr. Glavin's ascription of it to me is defamatory as well as false.
Having given this explanation, and having indicated that I regard this as a very
serious matter, I am, frankly, astonished not to have heard back from The Sun.
I would now like to have a prompt assurance that this matter is being dealt with in
a manner consistent with professional journalistic standards and common decency.
Yours sincerely,
Michael Keefer
Professor Emeritus
University of Guelph
p.s. I append a copy of my follow-up letter, and of the original Letter-to-the-Editor.

4. The Outcome
At 5:08 p.m. on March 12, I heard from Fazil Mihlar, the Vancouver Sun's
Editorial Pages Editor: Dear Prof. Keefer: This is the first I am hearing of this; will read

and get back to you. Mihlar wrote again ten minutes later to say that We will run the
letter in its entirety in wed's paper. The Sun didn't quite come through on this promise:
the letter appeared on March 14, 2012 in a slightly abbreviated form, though with my
mockery of Glavin largely intact.
In the mean time the Ottawa Citizen, which whom I had a similar but briefer
correspondence, published my letter without changes, though with a stultifying headline:
Words were misinterpreted. (It would seem that in the mental universe inhabited by the
Citizen's editorial staff, a gratuitous insinuation of neo-Nazi antisemitism counts as
A satisfactory outcome? Hardlyeven if it was a small pleasure to see language
diverging from the uncritically pro-Israel party line appearing, however briefly, in two
Postmedia outlets. For it would seem that Terry Glavin himself had the pleasure of
knowing he had got away with yet another smear.
Dieu me pardonnera, wrote the poet Heinrich Heine: c'est son mtier. Terry
Glavin's mtier has become the production of vicious libels. But perhaps, in his ongoing
practice of this debased sub-journalism, Glavin may make the mistake of smearing
someone who has the leisure and the inclination to press libel charges.
I was content to mock Glavin's idiocies in the same Postmedia outlets where he
makes his living; before too long, some other recipient of his abuse may feel inclined to
impose a more substantive penalty.