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politics

Pride, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, and Our Sense of Inclusion

Pride Toronto deserves its funding, whether or not QuAIA marches in the parade.

The rainbow flag at Toronto City Hall.

This morning Toronto city councillors will, as part of their monthly agenda, consider a standard funding motion. It comes before them every year and has the technocratic name of Major Cultural Institutions Allocation; it calls for the disbursement of grants to some key organizations in Toronto: the Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and so on. Also on the list: Pride Toronto, which is slated to receive $123,807.

Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre) is expected to raise objections to that allocation today—specifically, to call on council to defer a decision about whether to grant that money until after the Pride parade is held on July 1. The reason is that he objects to the presence of a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid at Pride; Pasternak contends that Pride Toronto should not receive its annual budget allocation if QuAIA marches in the parade. He is not the only one with concerns, and this is not the first year Pride funding has been put at risk—last year the controversy grew so fierce that QuAIA withdrew from the event. It is a collision of identity politics, constituent relations, and community protectionism in which most of the participants have lost all sense of proportion.

Let us attempt to restore it.

That Pride Toronto’s funding will be debated in this way, for this reason, is preposterous. That Pride Toronto’s funding is conditional in this way, for this reason, is preposterous. Pride is one of Toronto’s great cultural organizations. Barring financial incompetence, a drastic change in its mission, or a drastic change in the City of Toronto’s approach to funding cultural organizations, its grant shouldn’t be up for negotiation at all.

Toronto is a city which likes to congratulate itself for being the most welcoming, the most open, the most inclusive in the world. Formed by generation after generation of immigrants, populated by residents speaking the greatest variety of languages, an international champion for diversity and human rights.

It’s a nice story, and sometimes it really is true. But not always—and certainly not if we tell Pride that its legitimacy as a City-supported celebration is conditional; that it is nice to have around, but it’s not essential.

Pride Toronto did not spring up last week or last year, and the Pride parade is not some novelty we’ve yet to incorporate into the fabric of the city. This is a cultural entity with a long history, and whose contributions to the city aren’t—shouldn’t be, at least—in question. Pride Toronto has been instrumental in pushing Toronto to be better at what it says it is—welcoming and open and inclusive. Pride is a celebration of and for one particular community, but it contributes to the health and vitality of Toronto as a whole. It makes us a better city.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, by contrast, is a small group of political protesters which does not violate any anti-discrimination policy and gives no indication of being motivated by hate. It is prone to ill-informed sloganeering, but this is an offence against reason, not human rights, and certainly not an offence so grave that a third party should be punished if QuAIA shows up at their party.

“Apartheid” is a word in Afrikaans. It means “separateness” and it describes a policy of racial segregation that was enforced in South Africa for the latter half of the 20th century. Which is to say, it is a proper name: it describes a particular circumstance and place and time. Exporting it to other circumstances, in this case to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is an intellectual shortcut that yields no benefits. It does not shed light on what’s happening in the Middle East and it obscures what did happen in South Africa: it mutes the particularities of one nation’s experience and turns it into some sort of stand-in for nationally imposed ethnic segregation at large.

Let us agree that what happened in South Africa, and what continues to happen in Israel/Palestine, is tragic. Surely these tragedies each warrant their own language, merit their own names and vocabulary. (There is already a term, widely used by Palestinians to decsribe their situation: Nakba is the word, and it means “disaster.”)

The problem with the term “Israeli Apartheid” isn’t that it is discriminatory, or that it is hateful. It’s that it’s ahistorical. Last year City staff, on instructions from council, reviewed the issue and concluded that “the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid’ in and of itself does not violate the City’s Anti-discrimination policy … [and] has not been found to violate either the Criminal Code or the Human Rights Code (Ontario)” [PDF]. Unsatisfied with that, council asked City staff to revise the anti-discrimination policy. The draft of those revisions came out this week, and as far as anyone can tell, “Israeli Apartheid” still won’t be in violation. The only way we’re going to get “Israeli Apartheid” listed as discriminatory, it seems, is if council decides to do it directly, an ad hoc addition to the books that isn’t backed up by the literature on the subject or an assessment of how we actually use these words.

And that is precisely the problem. If council votes to defer Pride’s funding, to make it contingent on the appearance, or not, of QuAIA, the message it sends to Pride—and by extension to Toronto’s LGBTQ community—is that its role in the city, its place in the city, its participation in the life of the city, is likewise contingent, not on compliance with a set of well-founded principles but on on ad hoc exception created because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a mess and we’re not particularly good at talking about it. It privileges one group’s sense of belonging and acceptance over another’s.

Toronto is a city that prides itself precisely on shunning that sort of divisiveness. We hope city councillors remember that today.

UPDATE 12:12 PM: In response to past controversies with QuAIA, Pride Toronto has set up a formal dispute resolution process to consider complaints from the public about groups that have registered to participate in the Pride parade. We asked the chair of the dispute resolution panel, Douglas Elliot, whether anyone had lodged a complaint with Pride regarding QuAIA’s intended participation in the parade this year. As of this morning, nobody has.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/ethicsblogger Chris MacDonald

    I agree with your conclusion, though not with all of your reasons. I don’t think use of the word ‘apartheid’ needs to be limited to references to South Africa. Some have used the word in an appropriately provocative way to describe Canada’s treatment of its aboriginal peoples, for instance. I think it *would* be great if no organization used Pride for narrow political purposes, regardless of the particular kind of rhetoric used. But in the end, I think you’re right that inclusiveness is the main point.

    • Canadianskeezix

      When the use of the word is primarily intended to be “provocative”, as it is here, then it simply does a disservice against people who suffered under actual Apartheid for decades.

      • http://twitter.com/ethicsblogger Chris MacDonald

        Maybe. The same goes for people referring to the “rape” of our forests, etc. But “doing a disservice” isn’t reason for exclusion.

        • Canadianskeezix

          The same also for people who use the words Nazi and Gestapo to refer to traffic cops, by-law inspectors, etc. Not sure how other examples of emotional word usage justifies this one. And yes, when the word is being appropriated primarily dues to its provocative nature, it is appalling.

          • Anonymous

            You really don’t see parallels between the state-sanctioned geopolitical separation and suppression of an ethnic demographic of South Africa and the state-sanctioned geopolitical separation and suppression of an ethnic demographic of Israel?

            Apartheid is a provocative word, and an appropriate one.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Putting aside the fact that the facts at issue pertain to a population outside Israel in lands legitimately belonging to a different state (I have never heard anyone seriously claim that Arabs within Israel do not have full citizenship rights) and have nothing to do with an ethnic demographic of Israel (unless you believe the West Bank to be part of Israel), and also putting aside the fundamental concerns that arise when appropriating the terrible experiences of one population to describe a terrible experience in a completely different context, I would simply refer you to my reply to torontothegreat as to why the use of the word is otherwise problematic and inaccurate.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not going to be drawn into a debate about the intricacies of political agency and citizenship in Israel-occupied territory when the matter at hand is a Toronto-based group’s right to call itself what it wants and march in a parade.

            The use of “Apartheid” maybe problematic for some, but even South Africans have said it is accurate. Former president de Klerk, while critical of the comparison (he called it “odious”), admitted there were parallels.

            The specifics differ, just as the specifics between Italian and non-Italian fascists differ, but nobody would waste their time coming up with a different word for them.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Really, we need to appropriate the experience of others because we have no time to think of better ways to describe events? That suggests that the people using the term “apartheid” haven’t given this a lot of thought, if even thinking about the most accurate way to convey their message is “a waste of time”. Words are important. Just ask the kids trying to organize GSAs in Catholic schools.

            I don’t think there are no parallels, I just don’t think the parallels justify the use of the term.

            “I’m not going to be drawn into a debate about the intricacies of political agency and citizenship in Israel-occupied territory” – Then why are you going on and on about it??? You are the one goading people who criticize QuAIA with rhetorical questions about parallels between the state-sanctioned geopolitical separation and suppression. Only when someone calls you on your misstatements of the facts do you decide that this is strictly a Toronto issue.

            I never said QuAIA shouldn’t be entitled to call themselves what they want or should be excluded from the parade. It’s a free country. But freedom of speech does not equal freedom from criticism. Freedom works both ways, and I am free to criticize their behaviour on both fronts.

          • Anonymous

            Comparisons to South African Apartheid and Israel go back to at least 1961, that’s plenty of time to come up with another term to encompass both or for nakba to enter popular discourse. As that hasn’t happened, it must be because it isn’t necessary.

            “Then why are you going on and on about it???”

            I haven’t been going on and on about it, I’ve only brought it up because you seem to contest that it’s happened at all, therefore the charge of apartheid is unfounded.

          • Canadianskeezix

            It’s stretching it to say that the use of the word of apartheid to describe events in the West Bank has been in the “popular discourse” since 1961. And even if that were so, I’m not sure that makes it appropriate or accurate. I can think of a lot of long-used terms that we now avoid. Are “it’s been used a long time” and “waste of time coming up with something better” the best reasons you can come up with.

            I never, ever contested that “it’s happened at all”. I think you need to reread what I have written. I have challenged the accuracy of the use of the term, not the underlying human rights abuses by Israel, and have also condemned a damaging and self-indulgent approach by groups like QuAIA whereby they use loaded terms like apartheid to demonize one side in a conflict and give the other side a pass on its human rights
            abuses.

          • Anonymous

            Look for my reply below.

          • Anonymous

            “Putting aside the fact that the facts at issue pertain to a population outside Israel in lands legitimately belonging to a different state”

            Are you f’n kidding me? You need a history lesson my friend.

          • Canadianskeezix

            It would be more constructive if you actually explained what you find problematic, rather than limiting your comment to “are you f’n kidding me”?

          • Anonymous

            The quotes weren’t the tip for you?

            Don’t exclude my history lesson comment

            *hint* that’s what I find problematic about your post.

            Yay for thinking for yourself! No, I don’t have a brochure to help you further.

          • Canadianskeezix

            No, seriously, put aside the insults for a moment, and please explain precisely what you disagree with. I am interested in understanding what aspects of the post in question with which you take issue.

      • Anonymous

        You don’t think Palestinians have suffered under apartheid for decades?

        It’s certainly worth noting that the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Israel were diplomatic and military allies — for decades.

        • Canadianskeezix

          The plight of many Palestinians and Israelis is horrifying. I want peace for everyone. QuAiA wants to pick sides.

          And I never quite understand why QuAiA apologists somehow think hearkening back to Cold War realpolitik helps their argument.

      • Anonymous

        Apartheid is a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments.

        So if the issue in Israel isn’t apartheid, what exactly is it? Is it normal to segregate an entire population based on their race, which is enforced via Israeli legislation and backed by (the heavy hitters) the international community?

        • Canadianskeezix

          I’m not going to defend Israel’s system of border fences and checkpoints. Just as I don’t defend the actions of many Palestinians who are working to drive the Jews into the sea. The ridiculousness of the use of the term apartheid is its use to condemn the actions of one side and the suggestion that this is somehow merely a problem of one oppressed minority. I personally find that Irshad Manji is very eloquent in her descriptions of why the use of the term is inaccurate and unhelpful. In any event, the term is primarily being used by QuAIA for its shock and emotional value. The conflict in the Middle East is sad enough, we don’t need to appropriate the experiences of others in order to politicize it.

          • Anonymous

            “I’m not going to defend Israel’s system of border fences and checkpoints.”

            You’ve (strictly speaking) have just conceded your own defense than.

            “In any event, the term is primarily being used by QuAIA for its shock and emotional value”

            Yet, you won’t defend Israel’s system of border fences and checkpoints.

            I’m not sure if you’re a very good troll, or you’re actually that inept?

          • Canadianskeezix

            I’m not sure how that concedes anything, given that I never said Israel hadn’t committed human rights abuses. I think you have misunderstood my comments.

          • Anonymous

            ” I don’t defend the actions of many Palestinians who are working to drive the Jews into the sea”

            Israelites.

            As a Jew with many Palestinian friends (who aren’t trying to drive me into the sea) I take offense to that.

            Judaism is MUCH broader than Israel. FYI.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Sigh. I wasn’t suggesting that Palestinians were trying to drive Toronto’s Jews into the sea. And they do use the word Jews, so take your issue up with them.

          • Anonymous

            Who? You said it. You stand by it. Geesh!

      • Antinephalist

        a·part·heid
           [uh-pahrt-heyt, -hahyt] Show IPA
        noun
        1.
        (in the Republic of South Africa) a rigid policy of segregation of the nonwhite population.
        2.
        any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.

        • Canadianskeezix

          Really, you think the appropriateness of the use of the term comes down strictly to the dictionary definition? That the only problem people have with QuAIA’s appropriation of the term is that it might be inconsistent with what the Canadian Oxford has to say?

          I suggest you reread my comment above (the one to which you replied) because nowhere did I suggest that the problem with the term was dictionary-based.

          • Antinephalist

            You attack them for being merely ‘provocative’. I supplied the fact that the word is being used in an accurate and proper sense, shooting down your assertion that it is not.

            End of story.

          • Canadianskeezix

            I think you fundamentally misunderstood what I wrote. And I am not sure how the dictionary definition somehow disproves my assertion that the term is being used primarily because it is provocative and is intended to mislead as to the full picture of what is happening in the Middle East.

          • Anonymous

            Woosh!

  • Canadianskeezix

    This is a very thoughtful and well-written piece. I do think, however, that the problem with QuAIA is way more than just “ill-informed sloganeering” (although that is an apt description – just get them started on “pinkwashing” to see how vapid their sloganeering really is). They are smug, self-righteous, ill-informed, and pick sides in the complicated Middle East conflict as though it were the NHL playoffs. Their disinterest and callousness towards the plight of LGBT communities in the Middle East is horrifying. They have accomplished nothing towards peace in the Middle East, but leave a trail of animosity and division in Toronto.

    • Sallyrocks

      It’s the “pinkwashing” argument that really infuriates me. QAIA seems to think that the treatment of gays and lesbians in Israel and other middle east countries is irrelevant, and their usage of “pinkwashing” to dismiss the issue is usually tantamount to “la la la la we’re not listening la la la la”.

      Yes, positive treatment of gays and lesbians does not give Israel license to mistreat Palestinians. But mistreatment of Palestinians does not give QAIA license to ignore every other aspect of the crisis in the middle east, nor to ignore the abhorrent conditions for gays and lesbians elsewhere in the middle east.

      QAIA are a group of well-intentioned activists who are wearing blinders and have very little sense of perspective.

      • Anonymous

        I find one thing wrong with something, therefore I must hate all of it.

        • Canadianskeezix

          Did you actually read what she posted?

          • Anonymous

            If I wanted the peanut gallery to chime in, I’d buy a bag.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Oh, very clever response.

          • Anonymous

            You should counter with something less clever than I did.

            Oh… wait…

        • Sallyrocks

          I have to say with due respect, torontothegreat, I have no idea what you are getting at.

          • Anonymous

            Just because there is fault in ONE aspect of something, doesn’t mean you can’t fight fault in another.

            Your logical reasoning is beyond absurd

          • Canadianskeezix

            Sallyrocks mentioned one particular aspect of the group that infuriated her, and then at the end of her comment suggested that she also found other aspects of the group to be a problem. So her comment seems to fit within the rules you’ve set out.

            And given the quality/maturity of your comments here, I am not sure that you should be throwing around the word absurd.

          • Anonymous

            One thing wrong, Two things wrong, Three things wrong, Four…

            My point still stands. You’ve done nothing to retort it.

            Anyways, the question has been asked and answered: http://torontoist.com/2012/06/pride-queers-against-israeli-apartheid-and-our-sense-of-inclusion/#comment-548903733

    • Anonymous

      “They have accomplished nothing towards peace in the Middle East”

      Is that their goal?

      • Canadianskeezix

        Fair enough. I am perhaps giving them too much credit. Their goal does seem to be the promotion of hatred towards Israel.

        • Anonymous

          That sounds like intentionally ill-informed sloganeering to me. Surely they would just be called Queers Against Israel.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Maybe that would be a more appropriate name. I am not sure how else to explain their one-sided approach to the Middle East. In any event, my instinct is to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that peace is their objective.

          • Serge

            Don’t you think “Israeli Apartheid” is a much more effective brand to promulgate, though?

        • Anonymous

          So helpful :P

          • Canadianskeezix

            More helpful that your clever “peanut gallery” retort. At least I was on topic.

          • Anonymous

            Wrong indent puppy.

          • Canadianskeezix

            I was responding to the right comment, simply referring to another comment above. And I am not your puppy.

  • Canadianskeezix

    When the use of the word is primarily intended to be “provocative”, as it is here, then it simply does a disservice against people who suffered under actual Apartheid for decades.

  • http://twitter.com/Vidar_Hansen Vidar Hansen

    QuAIA doesn’t care about LGBT issues.

    First of all, Israel is very welcoming to the LGBT community within its borders.

    Look at Israel’s neighbours and see how they open up.

    The Middle East is not exactly LGBT friendly, the eastern boundary of the Middle East which is roughly Iran…do I even have to say anymore? Iran will be LGBT friendly the same day as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford looks good in a bikini.

    QuAIA members are misguided. I worked for a big main stream media from Europe and my assignments mostly were based out of Israel. So I know a wee bit more than QuAIA.

    The who ffree speech BS needs to stop. Your rights end where mine begin.

    Shall we let the Ku Klux Klan march on Pride or any other parade because they want free speech? Shall we let any hateful group march….?

    Israel is the most open country in the middle east and most of Asia in fact when it comes to LGBT.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rfmcdonald Randy McDonald

      While I find the QuAIA argument problematic, I find it equally problematic when supporters of Israel point to that country’s relatively decent record on sexual minorities’ civil rights as reason to support it.

      Israel merits some recognition of this, but inasmuch as respect for the civil rights of sexual minorities is no longer considered a perk but rather something any civilized country does, I don’t know if it should receive special consideration for that. And if we’re talking about Israel’s human rights record on sexual minorities somehow invalidating discussion of Israel’s other problems, or–much worse–Israel’s record on sexual minorities requiring sexual minorities to automatically support Israel, well.

      • Canadianskeezix

        Nobody says it invalidates other human rights concerns, or that LGBT communities should adopt the mirror-position of QuAIA. But it is relevant in pointing out that QuAIA’s “Israel bad” approach to Middle East politics is way off the mark, and fails to take into account how complicated the situation is.

      • Serge

        I thought this was about the Pride parade?

    • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

      Shall we let the Ku Klux Klan march on Pride

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law, see especially the section on “Corollaries and usage”.

      Post again and maybe we can have a reasonable discussion.

    • Anonymous

      “The who ffree speech BS needs to stop. Your rights end where mine begin.”

      I assure you that you don’t have a right to hear nothing that you disagree with.

    • Anonymous

      “Israel is the most open country in the middle east and most of Asia in fact when it comes to LGBT.”

      What does that have to do with the Israel/Palestine conflict?

      • Canadianskeezix

        If QuAIA were focused on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict and attacking the human rights violations on both sides, then I agree it would be irrelevant. It becomes tremendously relevant when QuAIA approach to Israel/Palestine conflict consists solely of demonizing Israel.

        • Anonymous

          I ask again: how is the status of LGBT people in Israel at all relevant to the treatment of Palestinians?

          The only reason to inject it into the debate is to excuse the latter with the former.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Your question has been answered. If a queer group such as QuAIA has an approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict that consists solely of demonizing Israel, then the treatment of queers in Israel and in Palestine is incredibly relevant to showing how facile and vacuous QuAIA’s approach is.

          • Anonymous

            LGBTs have equal rights in Canada, therefore there is no valid criticism against Canada re: First Nations treatment past and present.

            See? It doesn’t work like that.

          • Anonymous

            THIS!

          • Canadianskeezix

            I never said Israel’s record on LGBT rights was a defence against its other human rights abuse. I did say it was relevant to QuAIA’s behaviour.

            So that’s why your comparison isn’t really relevant. It also isn’t a real comparable. For it it be a comparable, in addition to the attrocities committed by Canada against First Nations, First Nations would also be committing attacks and attrocities against non-aboriginals. In neighbouring lands, First Nation groups would be attacking Canada, committed to its destruction and driving non-aboriginals into the ocean. And on top of all that, the First Nations would be committing similar human rights abuses against its LGBT members just as bad, if not worse, to the other attrocities being committed in this conflict.

            If that were the case, and a foreign LGBT group were to decide that Canada were solely to blame for all the suffering in this conflict, then yes, Canada’s comparative record on LGBT rights (while it doesn’t excuse or justify Canada’s other human rights abuses) is perfectly relevant in pointing out the hypocracy of the foreign LGBT’s groups position.

          • Anonymous

            “I did say it was relevant to QuAIA’s behaviour.”

            But you still haven’t said how it’s relevant.

            It looks like you and Vidar Hansen are saying “but Israel is good to the gays, so it’s OK”.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Rek, I have great respect for your comments generally, notwithstanding our disagreement on this issue, but I have to say, with some fatigue, that I have answered that question several times now. And your comment about me saying “but Israel is good to the gays, so it’s OK” suggests that you have completely misunderstood my comments or I have completely botched explaining it. In either case, there are only so many ways I can repeat it. Sorry – I don’t mean that to be critical. There is only so many ways I can say “Israel’s LGBT record does not excuse Israel’s human rights abuses, but is relevant to showing how one-sided and narrowly-focused QuAIA’s position is.”

          • Anonymous

            This is the clearest you’ve stated your position on that.

          • Eric S. Smith

            Nope, still wrong. If I think a country’s policy on X is wrong, I am permitted to speak in terms of X. I am not required to bring in Y as some kind of balance, even if I am some kind of Y-related person.

            Are you seriously suggesting that Gymnasts Against North Korean Dictatorship have to pause to appreciate the North Korean government’s promotion of gymnastics in their Mass Games?

            I should think that non-gymnasts would find that kind of tasteless.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Eric, at no point did I suggest that Israel’s LGBT record somehow justified other human rights abuses or somehow “balances” the picture. Not once.

          • Eric S. Smith

            You do insist, repeatedly, that a failure to pat Israel on the back for its LGBT record is a sign of bad faith in a discussion about its problems with the Palestinians. I agree that this would be a valid diplomatic tactic, but I fail to see why doing otherwise is automatically “hypocrisy.”

          • Canadianskeezix

            I haven’t said that once. I’m not expecting QuAIA to “pat Israel on the back”. What I have said it is ridiculous/vacuous/hypocritical/etc. for a queer group to demonize one side in a nasty conflict where both sides are guilty of human rights abuses/attrocities, and it is particularly ironic/appalling/etc. for that queer group to be demonizing the one side that values queer rights.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Eric, just to add, I do believe that you cannot divorce the “Israel/Palestine” issue from the larger human rights issues. These issues do not all fit into tidy boxes.

        • Anonymous

          “If QuAIA were focused on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict”

          Your biggest problem is that you’ve completely fabricated what the QuAIA’s goal is…

          • Canadianskeezix

            How so?

          • Anonymous

            By claiming that they are focused on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

            Perhaps you should learn a bit about them first (which you obvs haven’t done — well done sir!)

            From their about page:

            QuAIA works to:

            mobilize in solidarity with groups and individuals to advance our goals

            engage in a queer analysis of colonialism and anti-colonial struggles

            build dialogue and education within anti-apartheid movements through queer, anti-colonial, anti-racist, and feminist approaches

            foster cultures of radical queer organizing

            build Palestine solidarity in queer communities

            Now, can you point out where they are claiming “that they are focused on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.”

          • Canadianskeezix

            That’s a lot of jargon and buzzwords. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt that there was something of substance behind it. But if you insist, then I will agree with you that their goals and objectives are strong on jargon and weak on substance, and seem completely unrelated to the goal of peace in the middle east or resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

            I’m not sure how that helps your argument.

          • Anonymous

            Ummm. You made a fabricated claim. When proven wrong, this is your response?

            It was clear to me from your first post that you’re incapable of discussing this – hence my array of snarky responses to you.

            Good day. I hope you decide to be more open minded one day.

          • http://twitter.com/mgstoronto M.G.S.

            This has been an interesting discussion. Lots of compelling arguments made on both sides.

            Normally I wouldn’t wade into a heated discussion like this, but I can’t help but comment on torontothegreat’s responses. His (her?) responses have been almost uniformally obnoxious, childish and seem to consist mainly of name-calling. It is ironic that he called someone a troll at one point, given the only troll here appears to be him. His comments have little substance, yet (s)he has the nerve to say stuff like “It was clear to me from your first post that you’re incapable of discussing this”. Whenever he can’t think of a response, he seems to rely on insults. I am generally so frustrated with people like him that insist on making it impossible to have meaningful debates on internet comment boards.

            I have no doubt that he will post some smartass, non-sequitur in response to this. Best to ignore it.

          • Anonymous

            I’m glad to see that you’re above posting any inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as this online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking a reader into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

          • Anonymous

            If a lawyer calls someone a troll, is that considered troll on troll crime?

  • Anonymous

    This is an important issue and I applaud the efforts of QuAIA to drag it from under the rug and into the light of day. Drawing comparisons with other regimes is not the issue: Israel is our ally and receives our considerable, ongoing diplomatic and economic support.

    As such, we have the responsibility to hold Israel to a *much* higher standard, rather than just pointing to the lowest common denominator. What this odious regime is doing, and has been doing to Palestinians since before its founding, is truly appalling by any measure, and that we tolerate (and even encourage) this kind of behavior in an ally shames us all.

    Never lose sight of that, for that is what we must all work to change.

    This is not just a gay issue, it’s a human rights issue, and it’s a Canadian issue.

    Let’s keep Israel’s feet to the fire, and support the right of QuAIA to participate in the Pride parade with full civic funding.

    • Canadianskeezix

      “Odious regime” – this is the “ill-informed sloganeering” referred to in the article.

      “Drawing comparisons with other regimes is not the issue” – QuAIA code for “we ignore the facts that undermine our childish black-and-white view of the Middle East”.

      • Anonymous

        It’s shorthand for “unpleasant government that assaults, murders, tortures and imprisons on a vast scale”.

        • Canadianskeezix

          Here we go with the hysteria and diatribes. Like clockwork. Israel is evil. We get it.

          • Anonymous

            Are you saying none of that stuff has happened?

          • Canadianskeezix

            Seriously? Your take on the entire state of Israel can be described in those words? That the assaults, murders, attacks and torture are all committed by one side? That attacking Israel is the key to lasting peace in the Middle East?

            It’s the one-sided hyperbole and histrionics that are so pathetic.

          • Anonymous

            You seem to be conflating multiple objections here.

            “Your take on the entire state of Israel can be described in those words?”

            My take? We aren’t talking about my take, you’re contesting something dsmithhfx said. He also made it clear that he was talking about government bodies/agencies, not the entire state.

            “That attacking Israel is the key to lasting peace in the Middle East?”

            Ignoring Israel’s role certainly isn’t the key. Palestine/Palestinians already get the lion’s share of the blame for the conflict.

          • Canadianskeezix

            No, but you put it to me whether I agreed with dsmithhfx’s hyperbole or not in a tone which suggested you agreed with it. If you do not agree, then all the better.

            I never said we should ignore Israel’s role. Not even implied it once. I said the exact opposite, in fact. My views can frankly be summed up as “a pox on both their houses”. I take issue with groups like QuAIA that place the blame all on one side.

            I don’t agree that Palestine/Palestinians already get the lion’s share of the blame for the conflict, but that’s admittedly a subjective view, and the answer probably depends on the context.

          • JoeyJr

            Do you even know how Palestinians are treated by the rest of the middle east? Be consistent and hold every other regime in the region to the same standard as you do Israel. Here are just a few things that happen in every other country there to their own Palestinian population that doesn’t happen in Israel

            - citizenship is denied so they can’t vote in elections
            - since they’re not citizens labour laws don’t apply to them so they are poorly paid and not allowed to be in a management position over citizens
            -there is a list of 50+ prohibited jobs for them to work
            - denied health care
            - not allowed to run in elections
            - a helicopter gunship opened fire into a Palestinian ghetto in Lebanon in 2004 to route out bank robbers..for over a week! Where were the international protests?

            Here’s some thing that happen to Palestinians in Israel

            - they have citizenship, can vote, are in office, in cabinet and the supreme court
            - affirmative action spots for them at all universities and colleges
            - they are in management positions over Jews
            -serve in all sectors of the government and armed forces
            -serve as directors of hospitals and universities
            - gay marriage is recognized

            Israel definitely has things to answer for but you should hold the same standards to everyone in the region if you truly want to improve the lives of the majority of Palestinians.

          • Anonymous

            “Israel definitely has things to answer for but you should hold the same standards to everyone in the region if you truly want to improve the lives of the majority of Palestinians.”

            That is beyond the scope of the debate here, which is whether the use of the word “apartheid” is an appropriate label to apply to Israel’s activity regarding Palestinians.

      • Anonymous

        LOL!!!!!

        You’re the only one that seems to be seeing in black and white. Your main complaint with QuAIA proves that.

        • Canadianskeezix

          Huh?

          • Anonymous

            Exactly…

            Shh… The adults are talking…

    • Serge

      Huh? We have a responsibility to hold Israel to a much higher standard than we do anyone else, and the place we talk about that is the Pride parade? That makes no sense. As to your description of the State of Israel as an “odious regime” — um, other places, other debates.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

    I see a parallel between Cllr. Pasternak’s approach and that of the federal government with respect to environmental groups objecting to pipeline projects (“foreign-funded radical extremist organizations”, etc.). The approach is to use an unsavoury scapegoat as an pretext for giving politicians the power of direct or indirect censorship.

    • Canadianskeezix

      I agree. QuAIA is being used as a pretext to diminish, or eliminate, Pride funding.

    • Anonymous

      Also known as the chilling effect.

  • Anonymous

    Are there any other groups in the parade who identify with foreign issues not associated with Queer Culture?

    • Anonymous

      Unions for one. The rest you can http://lmgtfy.com/

      • Anonymous

        Isn’t the Council of Canadians primarily concerned with Canadian issues? Ditto Canadian unions? Is QAIA the only group in the Toronto Pride Parade that identifies primarily with a foreign cause. This is I think a valid question and maybe someone familiar with the parade knows the answer?

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t the Council of Canadians primarily concerned with Canadian issues? Ditto Canadian unions?

          No. Please learn to use Google…

  • Anonymous

    “Nakba” has absolutely no meaning or connotation for people not directly involved in or abreast of Israel/Palestine issues, which makes it a barrier to raising awareness, which makes it a bad substitute for “Apartheid”. Everyone over the age of 15 knows or has heard that word.

    • Sallyrocks

      Oh, t_rek, that it such a sad comment, and sadder still because I suspect it to be true. Why use a term that is actually used by the people being harmed, when one can use a word with more PR value? That, in essence, sums up a lot of what is wrong with the approach taken by QAIA.

      • Anonymous

        The reason we aren’t aware of that term is pretty sad, but QAIA being a bit savvy about it isn’t.

        • Canadianskeezix

          Being savvy trumps accuracy and even-handedness.

          • Antinephalist

            Even the dictionary agrees that “apartheid” no longer refers only to the situation in SA.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Oh, yes, thank you for the dictionary references. I explained how helpful that is above.

    • Anonymous

      “Nakba” is about something that happened the middle of the last century, and “apartheid” is about something happening right now. As far as issues and focus go, it’s a no-brainer to use the second word. Plus words meanings evolve, for example there are many Europeans who are now called “Semites”…

  • Anonymous

    Sincere question for those of you who find the term ‘Israeli Apartheid’ offensive/discriminatory: why haven’t you filed a complaint? As of this morning Pride—which set up a dispute resolution panel specifically to deal with concerns about which groups participated in the parade—hasn’t received a single one.

    Is there a problem with the process they’ve set up? Is there some other concern with Pride as an organization or with the panel that makes this seems unpromising? Something else?

    • Canadianskeezix

      Personally, I don’t find the use of the term discriminatory. Its usage in this context by QuAIA is offensive and misleading, and amounts to scapegoating, but those are not reasons to surpress this group’s entitlement to free speech. I think the group is ridiculous, but given the history of Pride and what it represents, I’d be loathe to suggest that they should be excluded.

  • Anonymous

    (Replying in a new subthread because the original is too narrow.)
    Canadianskeezix said:
    “It’s stretching it to say that the use of the word of apartheid to describe events in the West Bank has been in the “popular discourse” since 1961.”

    It would be beyond stretching, which is why I didn’t say that. I said nakba hasn’t entered popular discourse while apartheid has. The SA-Israel comparison goes back at least to 1961. The two scenarios (a new word to encompass apartheid, nakba being adopted) were separated by the word “or”.

    • Canadianskeezix

      Fair enough.

  • Anonymous

    “calls for the disbursement of grants to some key organizations in Toronto: the Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and so on”

    I can’t recall (and I’m hoping someone can clarify this) but doesn’t (at the very least) TIFF also sometimes find itself in controversy in a similar way? If so, has funding ever been threatened by the city?

    • Anonymous

      Don’t give them any ideas.

    • Serge

      Don’t forget, the city’s record on Caribana (formerly known as) is less than spotless.

  • Joeyjoejr

    This is wrong b/c it shifts the focus and then we’ll have to include – Queers for an Independent Quebec- Queers for a United Ireland- Queers for an Indian Kashmir-Queers for a Pakistani Kashmir- Queers for an Free Kashmir- Queers for a Tamil Homeland- Queers for a United Sri Lanka – Queers for a Loyalist Northern Ireland- Queers for a Free Catalonia ect

    • Serge

      And, of course, the inevitable Queers Against Arab Apartheid. The whole thing is just so cynical.

  • Same as it ever was

    Not a whimper about the ongoing massacres in Syria. The utter hypocrisy from trendy peace activists is maddening. Why isn’t there flotilla’s sent to Syria?

    • Anonymous

      Syria is not our government’s ally, and never has been. Israel is.

      That is why.

      If Stephen Harper were seen constantly swanning around with Assad, there would be hell to pay, and rightly so.

      The Israeli government and military have also butchered plenty, and they don’t deserve our support.

      • Serge

        What do you mean by “rogue state?”

    • Anonymous

      What’s the title of the article you’re replying to? Is it “Pride, Queers Against Syrian Atrocities, and Our Sense of Inclusion”?

      Hint: It isn’t.

  • Anonymous

    mispost

  • http://twitter.com/mgstoronto M.G.S.

    Grow up, torontothegreat. Please.

  • http://www.miroslavglavic.ca Miroslav Glavic

    Councillor Shelley Carroll just mentioned this article

  • Kamal

    While I appreciate the affirmation that using the term “Israeli Apartheid” violates nobody’s rights, this editorial is still dissapointing. Like so many others, it quickly dismisses the apartheid allegation as false without any defence at all. There is a coherent explanation behind it, for those that want to hear it…

    And before anyone goes on about how it is an offense to Black South Africans, let’s not forget that Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have happily used the term Apartheid to describe Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. You can take it up with them.