rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Extremist hate group JDL given platform by media

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Protestor with sign: "Defeat Islamo-Fascism"

This past weekend, an unusual amount of media coverage surrounded a meeting of the Ontario University Workers' Coordinating Committee in Windsor.

As a subgroup of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), these provincial meetings are usually an opportunity to coordinate the bargaining efforts of CUPE locals in the university sector across Ontario. At this meeting, however, delegates also voted on a resolution in response to the latest Israeli military attack on Gaza.

The motion, calling for research and education into ties between Ontario universities and the Israeli military, passed with a strong majority after a forum and debate were held on the topic.

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan explained that the motion was simply an adjunct to Resolution 50, which had already been approved by the union’s membership at a convention in 2006. That resolution called for research and education on a boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy to counter the Israeli government’s apartheid-like policies, similar to the strategy adopted by the Canadian trade union movement that helped bring an end to South African apartheid. University workers at this meeting were implementing that policy by applying it to their own workplaces: universities.

A small but committed group of protesters gathered outside the hotel, bussed in from Toronto by an organization known as the Jewish Defence League. They waved Israeli flags and carried signs ranging from "Defeat Islamo-Fascism" to "Israel belongs to the Jews." One sign depicted the president of CUPE Ontario as a Nazi and placed the union’s logo next to a star and crescent. On Saturday, a member of the group burst into the union meeting holding placard signs, and yelled at stunned delegates.

The Jewish Defence League, or JDL for short, is an extreme right-wing Zionist organisation. The group was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane, a one-time member of the Israeli Knesset whose party was declared racist and banned from the legislature in 1986.

Kahane openly advocated the use of violence and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by force, and argued against democracy in the Middle East because, in his words, "democracy means equal rights for all, irrespective of racial or religious origins."

His group has since been implicated in numerous bombings and murders over the years, and they are considered "violent" by the FBI. The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a prominent U.S. anti-discrimination group, has placed the JDL on their list of hate groups. Even in Israel, Kahanist political movements are outlawed.

Their ideology is eerily similar to that of white supremacist organizations. On their website, they say that interracial marriage between Jews and non-Jews has "done more to destroy Jewish souls than most every form of persecution and act of genocide we have suffered as a people throughout time immemorial."

Their beliefs and actions are enough to make you wonder why the group is operating freely in Canada, and why the mainstream media are quoting their representatives at all.

In fact, a Toronto Star article from last month described a JDL protest of the CUPE Ontario office, repeating the group's claims that a resolution in support of Palestine would be "racist." While the statement is ridiculous enough by itself, it’s made even more ridiculous given that the statement is coming from a known hate group. But the Toronto Star printed their quotes without providing any context or information about the group’s racist beliefs or violent history.

Would they have provided the same platform and uncritical exposure for any other hate group? I'd hope not.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.