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Mordechi Briemburg and Bassam Hosseimi, at thre IAW press conference at U of M.

Dr. Mohammed Wattad. All photos by Rhonda Spivak.

Mordechai Briemberg


By Rhonda Spivak

Editors Note: please click on Editorial/Letters section to see all the mail we recently received] During the opening session of Israel Apartheid Week [IAW] on UMSU at University of Manitoba on Monday March 8th the organizers of IAW were showing a video of a lecture given by a Palestinian woman who said that there was no point dialoguing with Israelis about any of the issues vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the woman on the video, a Palestinian refugee who originates from Haifa , the only  dialogue that ought to take place is whether all the Palestinian refugees  such as herself  are going to come back to pre-67 Israel  by   bus or by plane.   Her vision of the future is clearly one where there is no place for a Jewish state in the Middle East, no matter how small.

As she said this I wondered if it dawned on any of the IAW organizers how hypocritical/problematic it was to hear a woman on a video exercising her  right to dialogue  with the audience (in a rather controlled way since she was not actually present for any of the audience members to be able to  question or challenge her), and have her say at the same time, there was nothing to dialogue about.

And while she was using her right to free speech to say there was nothing to talk about,   it is interesting that the  organizers of IAW also take the position that Israeli academics-along with all things Israeli-ought to be boycotted.
Funny how it doesn t strike the organizers of IAW as rather absurd that they ought to be able to use their freedom of expression on our universities to suggest that a Jewish state, no matter how small, cannot exist in the Middle East,   but that Israeli academics-be they Jewish, Arab or Christian not be allowed to present their point of view on those same campuses.

When Dr. Mohammed Wattad, an Israeli Arab  legal scholar who was brought here by JSA/Hillel and the Jewish Federation, spoke on campus just before the opening session of  IAW,  the organizers of  IAW weren t there.  Even though there is no  fence  dividing peoples on campus, the IAW organizers are practicing their own rules of  separation  don t go hear Israelis and enable them to  compete in  the marketplace of ideas, lest they  undermine your already formed ideas that Israel ought to disappear as a state in the Middle East.

It is not only an anti-intellectual  hypocritical stance but a very unfortunate one, since IAW organizers  certainly could have learned a  thing or two from Dr. Wattad. When Dr. Wattad questioned a female Palestinian panelist on the IAW opening program, it was very clear that he had a much stronger handle of the facts than she. When he spoke about  the expansive  freedom of  expression  that Israeli media have to  challenge and  criticize, and the strength of the Israeli system of judicial review , both hallmarks of a democracy,  the Palestinian woman was not able to counter his points.  She resorted to saying things like  well I still feel like its apartheid.

This intellectual hypocrisy of the advocates of  IAW was exhibited in its full splendor  by Mordechai Briemberg, a retired Jewish professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.  Briemburg spent at least a half an hour during a press conference on Monday March 9,  talking about  how several  writers of children s books in Canada have had their books not marketed or censored by bookstores because the books were too sympathetic to the Palestinian  people. He noted that one Vancouver book store put a pro-Palestinian book in question back on the shelf after he and others led a valiant protest outside the book store. He spoke of  how there have been ongoing efforts to  silence critics of Israel.    

You'd think that after painting himself as the champion of free speech and non-censorship  he wouldn t dare  say  in answer to a  question I posed to him  that he favoured banning  Israeli academics  appearing on campuses.

When it comes to Israeli academics our champion fighter of free speech wants to make sure that the other side isn t heard at all on campuses.  

I repeat what I said to him after hearing his list of rather miserable excuses for his unacceptable position of muzzling Israeli academics.
Mr. Briemburg, you sir are a hypocrite.

At the bottom of this editorial, I am attaching an abridged version of the resume of Dr. Mohammed Wattad so that readers can judge for themselves whether it would have behooved some Palestinian and other  IAW supporters to have come out to hear him. 


The reason IAW supporters use the word apartheid is because they want there to be no state of Israel. Instead, they favour tearing down the State of Israel and having one state in the land that is now, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In that one state Jews will be a minority,(especially after all the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendents are all allowed to return).

The use of the term  apartheid  is a smoke screen for denying the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in any state, no matter how small.

In a Jerusalem Post article ( March 10) entitled Is it apartheid week  or  weakness? by Ray Hanania (a Palestinian  who  is part of the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour that was in Winnipeg recently), Hanania exposes the agenda of the IAW organizers. As Hanania wrote:

THE WORD apartheid does not really apply accurately to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The word occupation does. But the rejectionists no longer like the word occupation. Apartheid symbolizes the creation of one state, while occupation fuels the movement to create two.

Hanania concludes:
Is it  apartheid week?  Or is it really apartheid weak ? Rather than hold celebrations that fuel a hatred of Israel around an exaggerated word like apartheid, Palestinians should instead organize rallies and conferences that call for compromise based on peace and the creation of two states.

Hanania's analysis is correct  unfortunately, the two state compromise is completely absent from the lexicon of IAW organizers, which was evident at the sessions I attended.


During a press conference held by IAW organizers at U of M on March 9 all three panelists, Mordechai Briemburg, Palestinian Bassam Hoseimi and Omar Zolfi were asked  by  Alan Yusim, Director of  Mid- East Region of B nai Brith Canada  the following question:

Question: Earlier today there was breaking news that Salman Hossain, a York University student, has purportedly called for a  genocide [to] be perpetrated against the Jewish populations of North America and Europe  on a website apparently owned by him.  Yesterday, York University suspended Hossain pending his appearance at a disciplinary panel. Three years ago, Hossain made news for posting messages supporting terrorist attacks in Canada.  At that time, Ontario Public prosecutions investigated the matter but the Attorney-General decided against pressing charges.
B nai Brith Canada is now calling on Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley to move withou

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.