The annual al-Quds Day has come and gone with the usual calls for genocide. There is an whiff of 1938 in the air.
by George Jonas
In 1979 the Ayatollah Khomeini designated the last Friday of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day to signify the Islamic world’s aspirations for Jerusalem. Some say it was just an expression of piety, but whatever the founder of theocratic Iran intended, Al-Quds Day has become an annual hatefest and expansionary symbol for vocal Islamists around the world.
Hate-tourists gather in cities with significant Arab and/or Muslim populations such as Toronto to denounce what they call “world Zionism” and express loathing for Israel. During the 2011 Al-Quds Day rally held outside the Ontario legislature, demonstrators brandished the flag of Hezbollah, while a featured speaker, Zafar Bangash, delivered himself of the view that “Allah willing, I see that day when we, the Muslims, will march on Palestine and liberate Palestine for all the people in the world.”
What the speaker saw and proclaimed last year from Queen’s Park, the grounds of Ontario’s provincial legislature, wasn’t some namby-pamby two-state solution, but the demise of the Jewish State. While he expounded on his vision, someone behind him waved the flag of a terrorist organization, which is what Hezbollah is in the view of Canada’s government. Little wonder that this strikes a person like Sayeh Hassan, a dissenter who fled the theocratic tyranny of Iran in 1987, as “a cynical abuse of Canadian pluralism and accommodation.” This week Hassan wrote an online Post column jointly with David Spiro of the Greater Toronto’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, denouncing Al-Quds Day for being “nothing less than a pep rally for an abhorrent, hate-filled ideology.”
It certainly is, I agree — but I’m not sure about cynical abuse. I think Bangash & Co. are simply using Canadian pluralism and accommodation as the manufacturer intended, which is what’s wrong with the multicultural model. Chances are they — or like-minded colleagues — will use it this year again, despite protests from Jewish organizations or Muslim dissidents, shocked at hearing the very voices they’ve tried to escape coming at them from the legislative grounds of their new country. As I’m writing this, Legislature Sergeant-at-Arms Dennis Clark has approved the use of Queen’s Park once again to the organizers of Al-Quds Day. In effect, Clark told the media that he realized the demonstrators went a little overboard last year, waving terrorist flags and all, but he approved because this year the organizers promised to behave.
I’ve always had an issue with expropriating public spaces for private or sectarian purposes (other than the annual Santa Claus parade, perhaps). Much as I abhor what Mr. Bangash is saying, I would go to the barricades for his right to say it. What I question is Sergeant-at-arms Clark’s decision to lend the grounds of Ontario’s Parliament to the ayatollahs’ agenda.
What’s free speech? It’s freedom to speak my mind on any topic about which I have an opinion. It means I can say what I like regardless of how demonstrably false it may be; how much it may grate on the sense or sensitivity of others; how profoundly it may irk or offend the powerful and the fashionable, or how painfully it may hurt the feelings or self-esteem of the impoverished. Freedom of speech protects both speech and speaker from being silenced or censored because of what others may regard as requirements of social harmony, good taste, decorum, history, science, political correctness, or the truth itself — but can’t protect anyone from being regarded by contemporaries as unpleasant, indecorous, shrill, uncouth, hysterical, tasteless, false, ignorant or stupid.
Freedom of speech isn’t my guarantee of being heard. I can’t make my freedom your obligation. Freedom of speech entitles me to the first available spot in Hyde Park. It doesn’t entitle me to halt traffic in Piccadilly Circus.
Those who want to limit free speech claim that it’s not absolute but this is false. Free speech is absolute; it’s just that using words doesn’t amount to a pass to break the law. It’s no licence to defraud, defame, incite a riot, enter a criminal conspiracy, betray an official secret, impersonate an officer, misrepresent a qualification, breach a fiduciary obligation, etc., nor should it be. Free speech should eliminate the censor and the “human rights” commissioner, but it’s not doing it yet. A pity.
Here I go again. Maybe freedom isn’t natural to us, so we have to keep reiterating its basics. It was this need that prompted someone (perhaps Thomas Jefferson) to say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Unfortunately, eternal vigilance is the very thing that puts people to sleep.
Red the rest – Al-Quds Day is just a soapbox for a hatefest
Tags: George Jonas