President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
580 Sainte-Croix, Suite 050
Saint-Laurent, QC H4L 3X5
Dear Mr. Woodley:
First of all, I would like to thank you for your honesty in acknowledging that you had not viewed the whole video of Desmond Cole’s presentation to Toronto District School Board (“TDSB”) staff, prior to sending out your letter of October 8, 2021. That said, it takes a special kind of chutzpah to write an indignant letter to the TDSB to protest the reaction to Mr. Cole’s presentation, when you in fact had not viewed the presentation. Inquiring minds want to know which parts you saw and which parts you didn’t, so they can draw their own conclusions about the rational basis for your opinion. Incidentally, I checked out the website for your organization, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (“CJPME”) and there is this list of the CJMPE’s values, one of which is “Informed. Don’t speak to an issue if we can’t to it intelligently.” I wonder how sounding off on a video which you have only seen partially squares off with that “value”, but hey, it’s not for me to judge.
Next, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Mike Teper, and I’m just some guy living in Toronto. When I first learned about Javier Davila’s email postings to a TDSB staff mailing list, I got mildly miffed, and got a hold of a copy of these emails so I could read them and decide for myself what the fuss was about. The body of the emails was about how the nasty Israeli government was oppressing poor Palestinians, and that Canadians should react to this by protesting, writing Members of Parliament, and participating a program of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli government. Ho-hum. Canada is supposed to be a free and democratic country, and Mr. Davila is certainly entitled to his opinion as an individual. I thought it was not quite cricket that he was exploiting his job at the TDSB as a soapbox for his opinion, but I was prepared to let it pass.
Then I got to the links at the end of Mr. Davila’s emails. Mr. Davila said that he had read most but not all of the items he was linking to. I started looking through those, especially the ones he described as “important reads.” The first one that caught my attention was an article that Malcolm X published in The Egyptian Gazette on Sept 17, 1964. It starts off this way:
“The Zionist armies that now occupy Palestine claim their ancient Jewish prophets predicted that in the “last days of this world” their own God would raise them up a “messiah” who would lead them to their promised land, and they would set up their own “divine” government in this newly-gained land, this “divine” government would enable them to “rule all other nations with a rod of iron.”
“These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their “divine” authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized.”
Ok, so the Zionists want to “rule all other nations with a rod of iron” based on leadership from a “messiah”, because they were chosen by a “Jewish God” to engage in a “new form of colonialism” that will “deceive the African masses” into “submitting willingly to their “divin” authority and guidance.” That sounds kind of antisemitic, doesn’t it? Not just under the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition (which I understand CJPME doesn’t like) but under the Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism (“JDA”), which I think you would call fair game. It says:
“What is particular in classic antisemitism is the idea that Jews are linked to the forces of evil. This stands at the core of many anti-Jewish fantasies, such as the idea of a Jewish conspiracy in which “the Jews” possess hidden power that they use to promote their own collective agenda at the expense of other people. This linkage between Jews and evil continues in the present: in the fantasy that “the Jews” control governments with a “hidden hand,” that they own the banks, control the media, act as “a state within a state,” and are responsible for spreading disease (such as Covid-19). All these features can be instrumentalized by different (and even antagonistic) political causes.”
Substitute “Jews” for “Zionists” (which is pretty reasonable given how this article keeps carrying on about “Jewish Prophets” and a “Jewish God”) and on the question of whether this article is antisemitic, it’s game-set-match. Somehow, I thought it was a bit offside for a TDSB “Student Equity Program Advisor” to be promoting that kind of material. I would be interested in learning your view on this particular point.
On to the next item in Mr. Davila’s list of links. It was to a pamphlet published by “The New England Committee to Defend Palestine” titled “A Short History of the Colonization of Palestine”. The juicy part is at the end:
“Palestinians have been legitimately resisting racism, colonization, and genocide since the 1920’s to the present day by any means necessary: general strikes, demonstrations, periods of non-cooperation, boycotts of Israeli products and services, refusal to obey military orders, refusal to vacate land confiscated for settlers, tax revolt, armed struggle, and martyrdom operations (called “suicide bombing” by Zionists).”
That’s right, suicide bombing. In the course of doing his job, Mr. Davila sent out a link to a website that says suicide bombing is legitimate. Now that you know this, do you still stand by CJPME’s press release of June 3, 2021 in which CJPME stated: “Davila has done absolutely nothing to justify this disciplinary action.” Either you have to walk that statement back, buddy, or you effectively agree that suicide bombings and similar acts of “armed struggle” in Israel are A-OK. Like this one:
No, this is not just sensationalist gore. It’s a photo of not just any terrorist massacre against Israeli Jews, but a very specific one. It’s a photo of the November 18, 2014 attack on the Kehilat B’nei Torah synagogue in the Har Nof district of Jerusalem. According to Public Safety Canada, this attack was perpetrated by a group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Public Safety Canada’s website says: “In 2014, the PFLP claimed responsibility for a November gun and knife attack at an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in West Jerusalem that killed 6 people.”
Of all the various terrorist attacks against Jews living in Israel, why am I bringing this up? It’s because Mr. Davila’s emails link to no fewer than four websites promoting the PFLP! He links to a website that archives the PFLP’s documents, to the autobiography of PLFP leader and serial airplane hijacker Leila Khaled, to a movie that praises and glorifies Leila Khaled’s terrorist adventures, and to an interview with PFLP founding leader Ghassan Kalafani. Again, now that you know this, do you still stand by your statement that “Davila has done absolutely nothing wrong to justify this disciplinary action”?
So when organizations such as B’nai Brith Canada and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center contend that Mr. Davila’s materials promote terrorism, it's not a rhetorical flourish and they’re not just making it up. That’s why I filed a complaint about Mr. Davila’s materials with the Ontario College of Teachers. I have passed carriage of this complaint to B’nai Brith Canada because they have a staff of lawyers able to handle the matter, and I’m just some guy.
In my view, immediate action is necessary to correct this pattern of ignorance, irresponsibility and disingenuous posturing at CJPME:
CJPME must issue an apology to B’nai Brith Canada, the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs, and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for how they have been mistreated by CJPME, and clarify that condoning terrorism is, in fact, hate speech;
CJPME must publicly articulate its full denunciation of propaganda that promotes acts of terror and murder against Israeli civilians;
CJPME must remove from its website material it has produced which falsely endorses so-called educational materials which link to antisemitic content;
CJPME must abandon its plans to smear representative organizations of Canada’s Jewish community, such as B’nai Brith Canada, FSWC, CIJA, CAEF, etc. about the creation of resources about Israel and Palestine, and instead review the capacity of its own executive team to represent the issues in a measured and comprehensive way.
I thank you for your prompt action on these items.