Wednesday, 8 p.m., Vancouver Jewish Book Festival
This Wednesday night, Nov. 25th, I've been invited to speak at Vancouver's Jewish Book Festival, about my book, Shakedown.
They've titled my talk "Confrontation, Controversy and Censorship" which sounds about right! The event kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Centre on Oak & 41st Avenue. You can see the details on this page (scroll down to the bottom -- it looks like I'm closing the festival!) You can register on that page, or by calling (604) 257-5111.
I love speaking about freedom of speech at Jewish venues (although, of course, this event is open to anyone). It's important to me that Jews hear an alternative point of view to the pro-censorship tripe served up by the Official Jews. As I've noted before (such as here and here) censorship is the quintessentially un-Jewish idea, and indeed most Jewish public intellectuals in Canada have firmly come out in favour of free speech and against the human rights commissions. It's yet another example of how Canada's Official Jews have taken a public position that is contrary to the wishes of the population they claim to represent.
So congratulations to the Jewish Book Festival for inviting me, despite what must have been some snooty e-mails coming at them from Toronto I hope the event is a hit -- and I hope that, like my speeches at other Jewish forums, it convinces open-minded Jews to stop drinking from the censorship Kool-Aid.
P.S. Let me close with an article I wrote about censorship, anti-Semitism and Vancouver. It appeared in the Calgary Sun back in October, 2004. That was long before I was entangled in human rights commissions, and learned the depth to which they had become hijacked by radical Islam as part of the "soft jihad" against the West in general and Jews in particular. But even then I sensed that there were some kinds of hate speech that the HRCs turned a blind eye too -- the politically correct hate speech by people the HRCs are frankly too afraid to touch, afraid politically and afraid physically, too.
Canada's "hate squads" are very brave when going after basement Nazis who pose a threat to no-one. But they hide under their desks when it comes to real haters who actually incite violence. This is your story, Vancouver:
Years ago, Jim Keegstra was charged with and convicted of the crime of spreading hatred. It was a seemingly endless case, working its way up to the Supreme Court.
It cost millions of tax dollars, and more than that, was an energetic expression of the government's opposition to racial and religious discord. Libertarians were rightly upset that speech -- no matter how vile -- could be criminalized. But a precedent was set, along with a message.
Fast forward to the present: News out of Vancouver is the imam of the major mosque there, one Younus Kathrada, has been whipping up his congregants each week with anti-Semitic hatred that would make Keegstra sound positively like a Zionist.
Like Keegstra, Kathrada called Jews names -- "we are dealing with a people ... the brothers of the monkeys and the swine ... whose treachery is well known." Calling Jews brothers of monkeys and swine sounds like a schoolyard taunt more than high argument, but his point was clear. And just in case it wasn't, Kathrada made it clearer still: His sermons repeatedly called for the killing of Jews.
Poor old Keegstra. All he ever did was call the Jews power-hungry money-grubbers, and he was convicted of a crime. Kathrada whips up his congregants into a Jew-baiting frenzy -- and tells them to go and actually kill someone -- and he remains free.
There's some evidence that his Muslim acolytes actually followed his instructions, too. Rudwan Khalil Abubaker, who attended Kathrada's mosque, was in a fire-fight with Russian troops in Chechnya earlier this year. At least he took his violence outside of Vancouver.
The question remains: Why was Keegstra's offensive but non-violent anti-Semitism taken to the Supreme Court, but Kathrada's is tolerated with impunity?
Kathrada doesn't just call for the death of Jews. He slams Muslims who dare to believe in peaceful co-existence -- you know, Ottawa's dream of multiculturalism. Kathrada claims such Muslims aren't real Muslims, and no truce with Jews can ever be had.
Kathrada also uses his tax-exempt mosque to trumpet the cause of Hamas, a notorious terrorist group responsible for countless suicide bombings.
Why hasn't Kathrada been charged with a hate crime? Why haven't he and his mosque been charged under Canada's new anti-terrorism laws for promoting and aiding terrorist groups like Hamas? (To date, not a single charge has been laid under this law.)
The answer is obvious. It's easy to pick on a politically incorrect country bumpkin like Jim Keegstra. Some dumb white guy making dumb remarks about Jews -- go get 'em. There's not a well-funded, politically correct Dumb Guy Defence Committee ready to roll for his defence.
But ever since 9/11, liberals throughout the West have decided an anti-Arab backlash would be worse than Arab terrorism itself. So true risks like Kathrada are ignored, in the name of not making a fuss. The liberal thinking is that charging someone like Kathrada would only give a bad name to all Muslims.
Of course, it would do the opposite -- it would point out that not all Muslims are in league with such terror tactics, and that the few who are will be rooted out.
Not charging the handful of Muslims who are haters is like not charging the handful of Italians who are part of the Mafia -- it is a misguided act of political correctness. The majority of Muslims -- we hope -- do not support Kathrada. He should be made an example of, not have excuses made for him. Justice calls for it.