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Posts Tagged ‘benjamin netanyahu’

Concordia Netanyahu riot: 10 years later

Ten years ago today, this was the scene at Concordia University:

smashwindows

The riot was a culmination of more than five years of tensions at Concordia between the radical left-wing CSU groups, which were dominated by members of the pro-Palestinian group SPHR, and pro-Israel groups like Hillel.

Concordia Hillel had invited Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the former Israeli PM, to speak on campus. The radical anti-Israel groups saw this as a reason to mount a mass protest, which quickly turned into a full-fledged riot. Protesters smashed windows, hurled antisemitic slogans at ticket-holders, assaulted and beat up several attendees, and were eventually contained by police. Five people were arrested and faced charges in connection with the riot. The rioting also inspired two documentary films, a rash of ill-advised free speech restrictions on campus, and worldwide infamy for my school.

I’d graduated from Concordia the previous spring, after spending three years on campus dealing with the events that led to that flashpoint, and they were fresh in my mind. As it happened, September 9th 2002 was my first day of my first post-university job, and news of what was happening back at my former campus filtered to me as I was sitting in my new office immersed in training materials.

In a way, the riot was the catalyst that inspired me to start this blog a couple of months later. I focused a lot on the goings-on and events at Concordia for the first couple of years, though the posts eventually tapered off as I gained more distance from my university years. But at the time, as a recent graduate with a lot of friends still directly involved in the day-to-day events on campus, I had a lot to say, and this blog gave me a platform to share news and views about the events that followed.

Now, a decade later, Benjamin Netanyahu is once again Israeli Prime Minister, the radical Left is busy bringing down Quebec governments and staging pots and pans protests, and Concordia University is in the hands of a new generation of student leaders who, since 2003, have been mostly moderates. However, some students have noted that the situation isn’t necessarily any less hostile to Jewish students, just quieter. Concordia has hosted an “Israel Apartheid Week“, an event by the ever-present SPHR, for the past 8 years running. Despite the presence of a couple of new pro-Israel student groups at Concordia, the tensions continue. It’s not difficult to see why Jewish students continue to choose McGill over Concordia by an overwhelming margin.

Furthermore, on university campuses across North America and Europe pro-Israel students are still dealing with having their right to free speech denied, barrages of anti-Israel propaganda from campus activist groups, “boycott Israel” events and other such nonsense. A recent study by the University of California, published in July of this year, found that:

“Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians. The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.”

Another report released earlier this year found that “More than 40% of students confirm anti-Semitism on their campus; some 41% of students have encountered anti-Israel remarks made in class by professors.” From North America to Europe, the situation for Jewish students remains pretty grim.

As Quebec students continue to lobby for free or cheaper education, it’s worth asking just what sort of education they will be receiving.

Bibi addresses US Congress

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to US Congress yesterday. Among other things, he spoke about Iran, Bin Laden, Obama’s ill-advised comments on the ’67 borders, and Israel’s desires for – and obstacles to – a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

The full speech is available to watch on video here.

Or, you can read the text of the speech here.

Abbas blinks first

The Palestinian leadership has hinted that they may be open to continuing talks with Israel even if “settlement” building resumes:

Speaking to a closed meeting of Jewish American leaders in New York late Tuesday, Abbas made clear that he wants to continue the dialogue with Israel and signaled that he was backing away from his ultimatum.

“I cannot say I will leave the negotiations, but it’s very difficult for me to resume talks if Prime Minister Netanyahu declares that he will continue his activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” Abbas said, according to a transcript of the event obtained by The Associated Press.

Abbas urged Israel to extend the building restrictions for several months while the sides negotiate the final borders between Israel and a future Palestine. “At that time, Israelis will be free to build in their territory and the Palestinians the same,” he said.

This could just be a stall tactic on Abbas’s part, sure. But the reality is that Israel cannot indefinitely put life on hold for nearly half a million of its citizens, while a peace that everyone knows will not happen is endlessly discussed just to boost Obama’s ego.

A lot of people think that these rounds of peace talks are futile. I don’t. Increasingly, I think they’re dangerous, because at the end of each round of failed talks, Israel has conceded that much more and has moved the starting marker for the next round. It’s a war of attrition, all right, only going the other way. And where does it stop?

Lieberman endorses Netanyahu

Looks like it will be an Yisrael Beiteinu-backed Likud government.

One potential monkey wrench: Lieberman made his support of Netanyahu conditional on forming a broad-based coalition. And so far, Livni looks prepared to keep Kadima in opposition.

So, as they say, it ain’t over till Shimon Peres sings.

Surprising narrow lead for Livni

With over 85% of votes counted, Tzipi Livni’s Kadima has a narrow lead over Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in today’s Israeli election.

Netanyahu had a commanding lead in the polls and the election looked like it was going to be a wash, but Livni fought back and now it’s almost too close to call.

Even if Kadima wins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Livni will be the next Prime Minister. She had trouble forming a coalition government after Olmert resigned last year, and conditions now are even less favourable for Kadima than they were then.

Should be interesting times ahead as the post-election political jockeying begins.

The Israeli blogosphere has been up late following the events as they unfold, of course. Aussie Dave was liveblogging all day. Imshin thinks it’s gonna get ugly. And Allison posts her excellent analysis on Pajamas Media.

In a related story, Meryl Yourish has more on what’s passing for journalism at AP these days.

Catch-up time

Believe it or not, other newsworthy things happened in the world yesterday and today. You’d never know it from watching the local news, of course, which has been covering Dawson nonstop since yesterday afternoon. But here are a few things that happened in the world outside our little corner:

Okay, I think that about does it for the ten-second catch-up. Or, as the BUZZ puts it, some “temporary relief from ignorance”.

It’s Bibi

Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Likud primary with 47% of the vote, beating out rival Silvan Shalom for the leadership of a party that suddenly finds itself in third place.

When Netanyahu visualized the circumstances under which he’d regain leadership of Likud, somehow I don’t think that’s quite what he had in mind.

Still, he will lead a party that is the voice of Israelis who felt betrayed by Sharon’s disengagement plan or who believe that Sharon led Israel down the wrong path. Unfortunately for Netanyahu, they aren’t in the majority. And come March, in all likelihood, he will find himself in a situation that is nominally different but factually familiar: the opposition. Only this time, it will be from without instead of from within.

Sharon loses consciousness

Israeli TV is reporting that Ariel Sharon was taken to hospital after suffering what might have been a minor stroke. There don’t seem to be many more details available right now. Updates to follow.

Update: Allison writes:

And Israelis being Israelis, the kidding started. I was at a meeting for my son’s class just after it hit the news and got to bring the news to the room. One of the fathers said, “He was probably unconscious and all they had to do to revive him was stand in front of him and say “Bibi.”"

It’s true — the prospect of how happy Bibi Netanyahu is going to be about Sharon’s stroke is the best medicine possible for the Prime Minister.

And Ynet has reports of the initial Palestinian reaction to the news (via Israellycool):

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired celebration shots upon hearing the news of Sharon being taken to hospital for feeling unwell.

A member of the Popular Resistance Committees told Ynet that Sharon fell ill because of the stressed caused by the latest wage of Qassam rockets over the last few days. “God answered our prayers and didn’t disappoint us,” the official said.

Well, it looks like Sharon’s going to be fine, so the terrorists will just have to live with the disappointment.

In Brief

The news keeps happening much faster than I can keep up on it. Funny how that happens, ain’t it? At any rate, until I can successfully build my time machine that will allow me to “pause live reality” and catch up while everyone else is in freeze-frame, here’s an in-brief recap:

  • Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan was approved by the Knesset after some typically-Israeli political jockeying that’s still ongoing. Netanyahu’s threatening mutiny unless Sharon agrees to hold a referendum, but so far, Sharon’s not budging. The settler fringe is of course up in arms – somewhat literally – and on the anniversary of the Rabin assassination, some can’t help but wonder if Sharon is looking over his shoulder these days. Despite being uncomfortable with the idea of the plan being perceived by the Palestinians as a reward for terrorism, and my general overall pessimism about the whole conflict, I can’t help but think that despite the mess, Sharon will land on his feet. He always does. For more, see Allison and Jonathan.
  • Arafat’s ill health continues to dominate the news. My feeling is that this is an overexaggeration designed to cause panic and an outpouring of sympathy for Arafat. Meryl’s not betting on anything but she does have an interesting idea for a Magen David Adom matching fund if any Arab dictators croak. Arafat would be included in this, it seems. MDA is one of my favourite charities and the irony just seems deliciously appropriate.
  • Less than a week before the US election and it’s still too close to call. I’m thinking Tuesday might be a good time to actually get some work done, since everyone will be preoccupied with voting and watching the results. Hmmmm.
  • There was a lunar eclipse tonight. I didn’t get much of a view of it but I hear that people who had clear skies and lines of sight were wowed.

“Peaceful protest” at Concordia

The Gazette reports that today’s Hillel rally outside Concordia was “peaceful”:

Almost two years after a violent demonstration outside Montreal’s Concordia University against former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there was another protest.

Only this time, it was more vocal than violent.

About two hundred people staged a peaceful demonstration outside the university’s downtown campus Tuesday.

They were protesting the administration’s decision not to allow a speech by another former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots more on the 6 o’ clock news. This story was just a placeholder. But even in its brevity, it says a lot.

Hillel holds peaceful protests. The right to free speech in Canada incorporates – and in fact, depends on – the right to peaceful protest.

But when the line is crossed into violence, protest becomes thuggery. That’s what happened when Netanyahu came to speak.

And now, Barak is denied his right to speak because of the fear of a repeat of the violence of the 2002 Netanyahu riots. SPHR has succeeded in shutting down any speech it doesn’t like at Concordia, through the use of violence.

But when speakers came who Hillel disagreed with, they protested peacefully. So speakers continue to come who Hillel disagrees with.

In other words, the viewpoint that the violent thugs agree with gets to be heard. But the viewpoint that the peaceful demonstrators agree with gets shut down.

Concordia is sending a strong message here: violence works. Who will be the next groups to employ SPHR’s tactics to muzzle speech they don’t like?

That’s why this isn’t just an issue for pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian students. It’s not just an issue for Concordia students. It’s an issue for all Montrealers, all Canadians, and all people committed to democracy. We cannot let violence win.

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