Thursday, August 11, 2016

UPDATE: We Should All Be Outraged

My father lived to be almost 91 years of age. Should I enjoy such a long life, there are many things that I hope not to lose along the way. Near the top of the list is my capacity for outrage. This morning brought confirmation that at least for the time being, it is alive and well.

Some may remember a post I made in July about Nadia Shoufani, the Mississauga, Ontario Separate School Board teacher who participated in a rally protesting Israel's brutal abuse of the Palestinians and the occupation of their land. At the time, the Jewish lobby demanded her head, conflating her criticism of the Jewish State with antisemitism, as they are wont to do.

It appears their efforts have paid off.

The CBC reports the following:
A Greater Toronto Area elementary school teacher has been suspended following a school board investigation after she was criticized for appearing in and speaking at what advocacy groups have called an anti-Israel rally.

Nadia Shoufani, a teacher at St. Catherine of Siena school in Mississauga, Ont., has been suspended with pay pending further investigation by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, the board said in a statement.

The school board said concerns raised by the public about Shoufani's professional conduct have been referred to the Ontario College of Teachers for review.
We should all be outraged over this craven capitulation of the Dufferin-Peel Board to the political pressure exerted by those who will brook no criticism of Israel, despite its well-documented record of human rights abuse and atrocities. Human Rights Watch notes the following:
Israel enforces severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, and it builds and supports unlawful settlements in the occupied West Bank. Its security forces appear to use excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators and suspected attackers, raising the specter of extra-judicial killings. It has renewed the practice of punitive home demolitions. The Palestinian Authority has arrested students and activists allegedly for their political affiliation or because they expressed criticism. Hamas security forces also engage in torture and ill-treatment of people, including journalists. Israel’s closure of Gaza, supported by Egypt, amounts to collective punishment and has impeded reconstruction.
Says Amnesty International:
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces committed unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detained thousands of Palestinians who protested against or otherwise opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment remained rife and were committed with impunity.

The facts are not in dispute here, but thanks to those public officials working in Dufferin-Peel who have neither backbone nor a belief in freedom of speech, only the kind of cravenness seen in the worst of our politicians, Shoufani is being made an example of. That the board lacks even a scintilla of integrity is evidenced by their refusal to acknowledge they are succumbing to outside pressure, instead hiding behind another excuse for her suspension, as revealed by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), which is representing the beleaguered teacher. They said,
the teacher wasn't suspended for her conduct, but instead for appearing to not comply with the investigation. However, OECTA said the teacher has provided all of the information the board has asked for and met its timelines.
But not everyone is unhappy about this witch hunt:
Amanda Hohmann, the national director of B'nai Brith Canada's league for human rights, praised the board for suspending the teacher this week.

"It is heartening to see the school board treating this matter seriously," Hohmann said in a statement.
While Hohmann and her group may be gratified by Shoufani's suspension, I expect and hope that fair-minded people everywhere will be appalled by this indefensible curtailment of one of our most valued Charter rights: freedom of expression.

UPDATE: Thanks to Marie for this video that clearly addresses the kinds of conditions that Nadia Shoufani was protesting against. Even if you watch even five or ten minutes, you will get the picture.


  1. And you know the OCT will go to town on this. They love to prove they're necessary by revoking teaching licenses and publishing the litany of their punitive measures complete with offending names and schools. That criticism of the genocidal practices of the Israeli state is still conflated with anti-semitism points to a genius propaganda campaign.

    1. Oh, don't get me started about the Ontario College of Teachers, Marie. By your acerbic observation, I can see that it is still held in the same general odium as when I was teaching.

      Thanks for the video link. I shall include it in an update.

  2. I was just now listening to a podcast on Spinoza; 400 years ago he was hoping to prove that freedom ts not a threat to the state, but the very reason the state is necessary: "How disastrous it is for both religion and state to grant to religious functionaries any right to issue decrees or concern themselves with state business.... The ultimate aim of government is to enable men to develop their mental and physical faculties in safety, use their reason without restraint, and to refrain the strife and mutual abuse that is prompted by hatred, anger, or deceit. The true aim of government is freedom." He had to publish that anonymously, of course. How far we've come - not!

    1. While freedom of speech is never absolute, of course, as long as unreasonable restrictions are placed on it, none of us is truly free. Spinoza clearly knew of what he spoke, Marie.

  3. I hope that the Ontario Civil Liberties Association will take this on and get this before some senior court. This sort of authoritarianism has to be tackled head on.

    1. Agreed, Mound. If this isn't challenged immediately, 'thoughtcrime' may be the next basis for dismissal.

  4. The need to stop free speech seems to be alive and well with this new government Lorne. 100's of activists have been denied visa's to attend the World Social Forum in Montreal. This includes Animata Traore' an anti-globalization activist, who is also a candidate to succeed Ban-Kim-Moon as UN secretary general. The forum discusses and searches for alternatives to the Neoliberal economic model and to policies based on the exploitation of human beings and nature.

    Nadia Shoufani has been suspended because of pressure from Jewish organizations and lobbies. I also think however that the government at the very least sanctions this kind of rights violation.

    Traaore' has been issued visas in the past when coming to Canada, but she was denied one this time around.

    Trudeaus Neoliberal agenda and blind support of Israel in trying to stop the BDS movement is a breeding ground for trying to stop Canadians from exercising their right of freedom to dissent. With this government it's freedom of speech when I like what you say.

    With Harper we had a government that was constantly trying to violate the Rights and Freedoms of Canadians. So too Trudeau.
    The sheer gall of the Ontario Separate School Board suspending Nadia Shoufani could not take place without the tacit consent of the Provincial and Federal government. Have we heard anything from Wynne? Have we heard anything from the Federal government? No and we won't.

    There is no way in a democracy that an entity of various Jewish organization could pressure a partly govenment body like the Ontario Separate School Board and get away with it.

    People are going to be shocked to discover that Trudeau is no protector of Canadians Rights and Freedoms. When it comes to Trudeau and his liberal cronies violating Canadians rights, we ain't seen nothing yet. A Neoliberal tyranny started by Harper whose delusions marked him as a despot wanna be is now being carried foward by Trudeau, a very mediocre thinker, with "Sunny Ways" and a believer of Neoliberalism and the tyranny that goes with it.

    1. Increasingly, Pamela, our 'new' government is looking to be one with a cheerful exterior trying to mask a dark heart. Once Canadians get over their infatuation with Mr. Trudeau, they will begin to see that the new administration is very much like the old in substance, but not style.