Chris Cook on “anti-hate” legislation


Richard Moore

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Regarding Israel: A Hateful Weekend
Chris Cook
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Regarding Israel: A Hateful Weekend
by C. L. Cook

As the bombs continue to fall over Palestine, the bodies piling higher by the 
hour, I'm spending my weekend (thanks to Queen Victoria, a mercifully long one) 
reading over  18 "offending" articles published at my former home Peace, Earth, 
and Justice (

I'm doing this because, Canada has Hate Speech laws, and me and PEJ have 
apparently fallen afoul of them. Or, so says the British Columbia branch of the 
B'nai Brith organization.

Considering the hundreds of articles chronicling the crimes against humanity 
committed by the Israeli regime in Palestine, Lebanon, and elsewhere published 
during my time as an editor at PEJ, I can only remark at my shock B'nai Brith 
could only come up with 18 they find offensive. Perhaps it's a softening of 
vigilance, or maybe a tacit recognition: Israeli government policy is becoming 
increasingly difficult to defend, even among its most staunch proponents?

Nevertheless, the charges are serious for the board members, the editors
(of which yours truly is one), and the authors of the articles in question, some
of the most noted authorities on the six decades-long Palestine-Israel debacle.

For American readers who value and feel protected by the 1st Amendment (right to
free speech), it may seem strange that a country would enshrine in law the 
opposite condition; but Hate Crime legislation in this country is widely 
supported. Canada is an ethnically, and politically diverse country, consisting 
of minority populations from the world over, and it was deemed fair-minded to 
ensure all are protected from the "tyranny of the majority." But it's a 
double-edged sword, making possible an abuse of the statutes, allowing an 
equally odious tyranny, the stifling of dissent and criticism by a dedicated 

Such is, I believe, the case here.

To understand the nature of the B'nai Brith complaint with the Canadian Human 
Rights Commission, it's instructive to visit the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) 
website; there is explained the goals of the CJC, and their marching orders to 
regional branches of B'nai Brith in defending Israeli interests. The CJC's 
'General Expectations of Canada,' and presumably of Canadian Jews and Christian 
Zionists loyal to Israel, right or wrong, are to take "constructive 
interventions against resolutions or motions" made in Canada that:

i) blame only Israel and its policies for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

ii) indict Israel's legitimate counter-terrorism measures with no reference to 
or condemnation of Palestinian terrorism.

iii) deny or undermine Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle 

iv) employ existentially threatening language such as referring to Israel as a 
"racist" or "apartheid" state and apply terms such as ["genocide"(?)], or 
"ethnic cleansing" to the conflict.

v) are based upon inaccurate media information or Palestinian Authority 

vi) predetermine the outcome of direct, bilateral negotiations in keeping with 
UN Resolution 242 and 338 or circumvent such a process.

At the same time, Canada's delegates must support and encourage efforts at the 
UNCHR that:

i) will ensure a comprehensive accounting of international human rights 
situations such that grievous international human rights issues are not ignored 
or soft-pedalled as a result of a politicized, anti-Israel agenda.

ii) highlight the crippling impact of continuing Palestinian terrorism - which 
has been explicitly legitimized in the CHR resolutions - on the peace process 
and on attempts to establish a true human rights regime in the Middle East.

iii) draw attention to the deficiencies within the Palestinian Authority 
regarding human rights and the building of a viable civil society for the 
Palestinian people.

Thankfully, these tenets are neither chiseled in stone, nor enshrined in 
Canadian jurisprudence; for if they were, would indeed be found guilty 
of the charges brought. But then, who criticizing Israel's brutal, racist, and 
remorseless genocide, as practiced against the people of Palestine, would be 

As it stands, the "representative of The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith"
contends, is: "...discriminating against persons or groups of persons by
communicating messages on the Internet that are likely to expose a person or 
persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of national or ethnic origin, 
contrary to section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act ("CHRA")."

The complaint says, is "contriving to promote ongoing hatred affecting 
persons identifiable as Jews, and/or as citizens of Israel." Thus, the B'nai 
Brith is arguing it is likely to be hated and despised due to criticism of the 
Israeli state, and demands criticism of that state cease and desist.

Reviewing the 18 articles in question, it's easy to see where 
transgresses the above stated goals of the Canadian Jewish Congress; many of 
them blame Israel chiefly in the conflict in Palestine.

As the stronger party, it can be argued Israel has the primary responsibility to
sue for a just solution. That solution cannot be arrived at through violence, 
whether the "terrorism" of Palestinian suicide bombers and Kassam rockets, or 
Israeli Defense Force tanks, F-16's, or the snipers atop the "security fence" 
surrounding much of Gaza and East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.

Some of the articles too do mention Israel is a "racist" state, judging by the 
words quoted of its leadership, past and present.

Some too declare, as did former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Israel is an 
"apartheid" state, likening the physical separation of non-Jews to the so-called
Bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa (incidentally, a regime stoutly 
defended and aided by Israel at the time of its most egregious behaviour).

True, these articles document a hateful regime, following a hateful policy that 
includes murder, torture, unilateral invasion of neighbouring countries, the 
mass and indiscriminate killing of civilians using prohibited weapons, and 
internationally allowed weaponry used in illegal fashion, the destruction of 
civilian infrastructure, counter to international law, mass detentions without 
due process, and a litany of other, ongoing outrages, nowhere in any of the 
articles is contempt for Jews, or Israeli citizens, whether identifiable, or 
otherwise expressed.

In fact, more than a few of the articles in question implore Jews in America, 
Europe, and Israel to use what influence they have to rein in the Israeli 
government if not in the name of humanity, then to preserve Israel following a 
disastrous course.

Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act was originally designed to address hate 
campaigns conducted by far-right white supremacists, who had taken to sending 
recorded messages promoting hatred against minorities over the telephone. It has
since morphed into an all-encompassing censor, every amendment to it adding 
further restrictions to what is considered acceptable opinion and expression of 
those opinions.

The authors of the 18 articles found objectionable by the B'nai Brith were not 
penned by frothing at the mouth racists, determined to isolate and make subject 
to ridicule, contempt, or hatred any group. They comprise a wide spectrum of 
journalists, social commentators, educators, and concerned citizens from several
countries and faiths, all expressing genuine outrage at the current state of 
affairs in Palestine, and the role of the State of Israel in those events.

If this then is to be considered criminal, then what can we consider the actions
creating so much death and misery there, and the disgraceful inaction of 
Canada's government (currently aiding and abetting the horrors through the 
Canadian government's support of food, aid, and medicines sanctions against the 
duly elected Hamas government of Palestine), but a crime of an infinitely 
greater magnitude? has until early next month to respond to the Canadian Human Rights 
Commission's Anti-Hate investigators, and face any number of legal and 
quasi-legal devices that could include fines of thousands of dollars, pulling 
the plug of the organization, or worse. It would be ironic indeed, if an 
organization of volunteers dedicated to peace, earth, and justice were to be 
shot down for criticism of an entity that regards those tenets worthy only for 
its own, identifiable citizens.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to, host of 
Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada, and former
editor to

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