Saturday, 17 November 2012

My letter to the National Post


My response to the article "Jewish alumni ‘distressed, disappointed’ over Queen’s University plan to give Jimmy Carter honorary degree" is the lead letter in today's National Post.
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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

CFRC: A debate on community radio in Kingston



This past February, I wrote an article for the Queen's Journal on a proposal by the the AMS Board of Directors (the student government body at Queen's University) to restructure the radio station and impose on it essentially the same management and employment structure and rules that other services operate under. As a former member of the AMS Board of Directors who had played a role in having CFRC transferred from direct university ownership and control to student ownership and as someone who had also been on the board of CKLN in Toronto which lost its license in 2011, I felt I had some insights to contribute.

My "No" article arguing against the AMS' proposals was paired with a "Yes" article by the (then) current chair of the Board.

CFRC structure in perspective

Among other things, I pointed out that the AMS' attempt to impose a new management structure and staff policy directly without consultation with CFRC was a violation of CRTC regulations requiring the station to be managed by its own board, one that reflects all its stakeholders (including volunteers and the community). The AMS ultimately agreed and on March 1, 2012, the AMS abandoned its restructuring proposal. However, subsequently things headed in the opposite direction:

Radio station's separation finalized

CFRC has become independent of the AMS. On the one hand, the AMS was not interested in having a service that it did not completely manage, on the other CFRC wanted to be independent, particularly in light of the restructuring attempt. Independence, however, is a bit of a risky strategy. For one thing, the station's student fee is $4.93. While that would be sufficient at a large university such as U of T or York, Queen's only had 15,792 full-time undergraduate students in 2011/2012 meaning that the total yielded by the fee was just under $78,000. While half the station's budget has come from fundraising, advertising and other sources there has been a budget shortfall of about $10,000 a year which has been covered out of the AMS' budget in addition to student interest fee revenue. That arrangement will end after a transition period and CFRC is now seeking an increase in its student fee. Queen's students, however, have been very reluctant to approve any fee increases in recent years and CFRC specifically has been unsuccessful in several past referenda attempts to increase the fee. Moreover, as CFRC is no longer an AMS service but an "external service", its fee will be up for triennial review meaning it could be lost in its entirety in the future. The mandatory fee review will, however, keep CFRC accountable since it will have to not only continue to provide volunteer opportunities for hundreds of students but will also have to maintain a good relationship with the student body as a whole if it is to maintain its fee.

CFRC remains dependent on a certain degree of goodwill on the parts of both the university and the student body. The station's studios and officers in Carruthers Hall are provided rent free by Queen's and, of course, the student fee represents 40% of the station's budget - a figure which will rise to 50% if the student interest fee increase is attained. CFRC can't afford to allow independence to go to its head. CFRC needs to maintain and enhance it's relationship with students and faculty so that they have a real stake in the radio station's survival and success.
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Friday, 1 July 2011

Stupid Quote of the Day

This gem comes from an interview with Robert Finch, Dominion Chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada in today's New York Times:
“The fact that the queen can’t change her hairstyle because she has to look like the person on her money, that’s an example of a big sacrifice,” Mr. Finch said.

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Friday, 14 January 2011

JDL allies with Austrian Freedom Party

"it's always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice."
-- Lone Star
On the heels of the Jewish Defence League's rally in support of the fascist English Defence League comes the news that the JDL and Meir Weinstein is cozying up with another group of extremists - none other than the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO). You may remember their founder late, longtime leader Jörg Haider who praised Waffen-SS veterans, praised the Nazis, described concentration camps as "punishment camps" and compared the wartime deportation of Austria's Jews to concentration camps to the postwar expulsion of Sudentland Germans from Czechoslovakia. The Freedom Party's entry into Austria's ruling coalition government in 2000 resulted in a widespread diplomatic boycott of the country.


Well, it seems that as much as the FPO hates Jews, they hate Muslims more and that's good enough for the JDL and Meir Weinstein who seems to be working under the rallying call "Muslim-haters of the world unite!" Of course, it's not only the JDL that is building links with fascist parties, Israel's ruling Likud Party is as well. Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara visited Austria at the invitation of the FPO late last year. All this is in spite of the fact that as recently as last April, an FPO candidate found herself in hot water for making "ambiguous statements about the Holocaust and criticism of Austria's tough 1947 anti-Nazi law." The Archbishop of Vienna weighed in to say "Someone who questions the National Socialism prohibition law and fails to make clear statements regarding the Holocaust is not an option for me personally.”
Words fail to describe the irony when a party condemned by a Catholic Archbishop for its anti-Semitism is embraced by the JDL or Likud who are quite happy to overlook a little bit of Judenhasse as long as the party in question supports Israel against the Palestinians because while they hate Jews, they hate Muslims so much more.


65 years after the end of World War II, European fascists have come to learn that campaigning on anti-Semitism is now a non-starter. The Jewish population of Europe is a fraction of what it once was due to the Nazi genocide and emigration and most of the Jews who remain are assimilated to the degree that they are indistinguishable from other Europeans. Furthermore, the right used to associate Jews with Communism and use that association to argue that Jews posed a dire threat to European civilization. The fall of the Soviet Union has removed the Communist spectre from Europe and, in any case, Jews today tend to be more conservative then previous generations, so trying to build a xenophobic wave with fear of Jews as its centrepiece does not hold the potential it would have had 80 years ago. Fear of Muslims however, that has potential to light a mass panic, and so today's fascist parties from Britain to Holland to France to Germany have put anti-Semitism on the back shelf in favour of Islamophobia and some, like the EDL, the Dutch Freedom Party and now the Austrian Freedom Party have gone as far as embracing the Israeli right and the Zionist right, is happy to return the embrace.

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Thursday, 13 January 2011

At long last, Farber forced to denounce JDL


After years of treating the Jewish Defence League as if they were a rogueish but loveable younger brother, Canadian Jewish Congress supremo Bernie Farber has finally said something about the JDL that's stronger than "they're not my cup of tea" or that he's "disappointed" by them.

A shame he and other self-appointed leaders of the Canadian Jewish community have looked the other way or been quietly encouraging of them over the past few years as the JDL has organized and grown and been busy on campuses and even high schools recruiting youth.

The JDL is and always has been a hate group and a violent one at that and Farber et al's insistence that the Canadian JDL is somehow different than its US counterpart has only given them cover and allowed them to work unopposed within the Jewish community. Had any other group said about Jews what the JDL has long said about Muslims the CJC would have been rightly outraged and insisted that the group in question be ostracised.

Instead, Farber has always quietly defended the JDL or, at worst, issued the mildest of rebuke. This is perhaps his greatest failure as a "liberal" who has been too opportunistic and too wary of being outflanked on the right to say anything. Indeed, he has been so reticent to be critical that JDL head Meir Weinstein actually thinks of Farber as a friend and speaks glowingly of him to others.

Now that the JDL's extremism is undeniable will Farber finally do what he should have done years ago and work to ostracise the JDL within the Jewish community and try to deny them the space to organize? Somehow, I doubt it. There would be a political price to pay and Farber lacks the integrity needed to expend the political capital needed to root out the JDL. He'd much rather ostracise and marginalize Independent Jewish Voices for the crime of criticising Israel than to consistently oppose the JDL, an organization rooted in a variety of ultra-nationalism that can only be called fascism.

Still, good that he had this printed in the Toronto Sun, it's a modest step. Let's see if he issues a similar, or hopefully stronger, missive in the Canadian Jewish News. Will he actually meet with the principals of Jewish Day Schools and urge them to ban the JDL from their schools? Will he ask Jewish campus groups to refuse to work with the JDL? Will he ask the UJA to freeze them out? Or can we expect this summer, yet again, the sight of Meir Weinstein walking down the route of the annual Walk With Israel like a conquring hero or some fascist version of the King of Kensington kibbitzing and patting the back of every "community leader" he encounters, including Farber, as if Weinstein is a somebody, a Big Man on the Jewish Campus? Independent Jewish Voices and its predecessor, the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, have warned about the JDL and urged Farber and others to denounce them. While I'm sure we're gratified that, however late in the day, Farber has finally seen the light let's see if this epiphany will last. Farber's started talking the talk. Will he and the "leadership" of the Jewish community now walk the walk?

Troubling marriage for T.O.’s Jews

The EDL is well-known throughout Europe for its anti-Muslim street protests

By Bernie Farber and Benjamin Shinewald, Guest Columnists
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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

"As long as they kill Muslims, I don't care"


BCL's post on today's JDL rally for the neo-Nazi English Defence League and Ron Banerjee's promise to bring out "security" for the rally got me rememberin'

About a year ago, I happened by a JDL rally outside Ryeson and got into an argument with Ron Banerjee, leader and likely the sole member of the "Canadian Hindu Advocacy" (sic). A far right extremist group that supports the fascist BJP/RSS party in India and is particularly fond of the BJP led government of Gujurat which is notable for its complicity in anti-Muslim pogroms and for having schools carry history textbooks that praise Hitler.

I asked Banerjee, who can often be seen at JDL events, how he can have the nerve to pretend to be pro-Jewish or even pro-Israel when he supports a party that praises Hitler.

His answer? "As long as they kill Muslims I don't care"

The JDLers by the way, didn't seem to be at all phased by having a guy whose party supported the Nazis during WWII in their midsts. One of them even said "World War II was a long time ago"
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