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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Green Party's continuing Israel problem: emails and blog posts

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): A commenter (Bill Cameron) writes in the comment section: "...I happen to know Daryl Vernon, so it's worth pointing out that he is an observant (practicing?) Jew. And not notably anti-Semitic. He seems to get along quite well with himself."

UPDATE (9:25 a.m.) Rosemary Frei writes: "It's still Rosh HaShanah - it ends this evening - so I will get you a response either tonight or in the morning."

UPDATE (1:45 p.m.) Jago has posted the Green Party's response to the email exchange.


On September 22, we reported on pictures and videos that surfaced (courtesy of digging by libertarian blogger Robert Jago, who got "viciously" criticized by the Green Party) showing Green Party leader Elizabeth May at a peace rally with a sizable anti-Israel and pro-Hezbollah component (May released a statement about the issue, which we published). Now, the Green Party's troubles over potentially anti-Israeli attitudes are beginning to grow.

Matt McGuire, blogger at "A Step to the Right" has gotten hold of an email exchange between Rosemary Frei, Green Party candidate in York Centre, and Daryl Vernon, an official blogger at the Green Party website.

(When I asked McGuire, he insisted that the email exchange is "100%" authentic, and he stands behind them. He told me that he got a hold of the letter after a "careless" Rosemary Frei left it, and someone who knew McGuire was a blogger handed the print out to him.)

Prepping for last week's debate hosted by B'nai Brith at the Beth Emeth synagogue, Frei emailed Vernon asking him to explain in further detail what Vernon meant when he said "Some interpret Iran's representations regarding Israel more ambiguously than is reported." Vernon responded, in part (with McGuire's emphasis):

I would not expand except with great care before a one-sided jewish audience, but the most publicized item from ahmedinejad was imporoperly translated as ‘wipe isr off th emap’, but the quote was not so directly aggressive, was played up by that onesided & partly deluded jewish community; there are other examples, i did a blog mention of the major item, too bad you missed; isr-iran is much more complex than meets the regular eye, it is not simply a question of outright aggressive threat, the u.s. & others must be brouht into consideration...

(McGuire has posted the complete email exchange here).

McGuire thinks the letters contain a "startling statement" and are "part of a common trend we've recently seen inside the Green Party. Calling the Jewish community "partly deluded", and stating we in the west are at fault for having "misinterpreted" Iran's hostile behaviour is extremely offensive."

McGuire continued:

Elizabeth May has had trouble recently on the issue of Israel. Pictures of her have surfaced speaking at a so-called "peace" rally of Hezbollah supporters waving Hezbollah flags. It's my opinion that Elizabeth May should immediately fire Daryl Vernon and have Rosemary Frei issue a statement denouncing the email, but ultimately, I don't believe she has the insight to realize just how offensive this is and ultimately, I think she won't demonstrate the leadership required for such a decision.

While McGuire's blog posting suggests that Vernon's remarks may be anti-semitic, this is unlikely. For one, both Vernon and Frei are themselves Jewish, and, for two, it is likely that Vernon intended to refer to a particular segment of the Jewish community--the audience at the debate--rather than to the Jewish community in general when he wrote "that onesided & partly deluded jewish community."

One reason to think this is his response to Green Party Ottawa South candidate Qais Ghanem's "pop quiz" blog post from June 12 2008. The blog post is now password-protected, but a Google cache result, which McGuire sent me in an email (and then blogged about subsequently here), reveals the contents.

The post, entitled, "Middle East Pop Quiz: How many in our progressive GPC+Shadow Cabinet would correctly answer 51% of the quiz? Try it if you dare!" is a series of questions intended to shed an unfavourable light on Israel.

Here is an extended excerpt:

It's time for another pop quiz on America's favorite region of the world – the Middle East. Let's get started with the subject of nuclear weapons.

Which country in the Middle East actually possesses nuclear weapons?


Which country in the Middle East refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?


Which country in the Middle East refuses to allow international inspections of its nuclear facilities?


Which countries in the Middle East have called for the region to be a nuclear-free zone?

The Arab countries and Iran. (I hope you got the Iran bit right!)

Which country in the Middle East occupies land belonging to other people?

Israel, which occupies a piece of Lebanon, a larger piece of Syria, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Which country in the Middle East has for 60 years refused to allow refugees to return to their homes and refused to consider compensation to them for their lost property?


Which country has roads on which citizens who are Arab may not drive and housing developments where Arabs may not live?


Which country in the region has violated more United Nations resolutions than any other?

Israel. The United States has on more than one occasion gone to war ostensibly to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions, but when it comes to resolutions directed against Israel, the U.S. is like the amoral monkey that sees, hears and says nothing. That raises the question of who's the dog and who's the tail?

Which country in the region has in the past been led by men who at one time were terrorists with a price on their heads?

Isreal. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir once led the Stern Gang and ordered, among other things, the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat working for the United Nations. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin led the Irgun, a terrorist gang that among other things blew up one wing of the King David Hotel, killing nearly 100 people.

Which country in the Middle East openly employs assassination against its political enemies?

Israel. There have been assassinations carried out by some of the Arab governments, but they usually don't own up to them. Israel has created a euphemism that the suck-up American press has readily adopted: "targeted killings." A British journalist told me once, "The Palestinians have a talent for picking bad leaders, and the Israelis have a talent for murdering their good ones."

What are the top five countries from which we (USA) import oil? (Think before you answer!)

Here they are in order of volume: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela. The next time you hear some blowhard politician ranting about how the Arabs control our oil imports, remind him or her of the facts. By far, a majority of oil imports come from non-Arab countries.


Which countries in the Middle East have attacked U.S. ships in international waters?

Iraq and Israel. A lone Iraqi plane fired one missile at a U.S. ship by mistake. The Iraqi government quickly compensated the U.S. In 1967, Israeli airplanes and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans. The U.S. government declared it an accident even before the ship limped into port, and to this day Congress has never held a public hearing and allowed the survivors to tell their story. Their story, by the way, is that the attack was deliberate. Israel compensated the families of those who were killed, but resisted for years paying compensation for the ship.

Qais Ghanem (Member of the Group of 4)

Daryl Vernon's response entitled, "see through it," was the following:

Soumis par Daryl Vernon le 13 juin 2008 - 7:11am. 

Which demagogue seems to have joined the Green Party  of Canada for singular motive?

This blogsite is being degraded. 

Where balance and argumentation are consistently absent, there is no reason to spill any more words in debate or corrective.

Ghanem has had some trouble in the past for comments like these:

"Hijackers were Saudis with box cutters, NONE were Afghans or Iraqis.
2001-Sept-12: (ONE day later) Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz declared that Iraq should be attacked!

Here is a list of questions that need answers:
Why was the FBI investigation of hijackers shut down?
Why were military response stand down orders issued?
Why were distracting war games set up on 9/11 of all days?
Why did building 7, not attacked at all, collapse like controlled demolition"

The comments imply that Ghanem is in sympathy with 9/11 "truthers." (I attempted to contact Ghanem through his facebook account after the excerpt was revealed around September 6. Ghanem did not respond to my request for elaboration on the comment.)

It should also be pointed out that Ghanem is well-known in his community for his multicultural radio program. He has also hosted a "potluck for peace" between the Arabic and Jewish communities in Ottawa where he was singled out for his positive efforts: "Qais Ghanem... is another example of one person making a huge difference in the Middle East public peace process. In early 2003 he first extended his hands to both Arabs and Jews in Ottawa..."

In a letter to the Ottawa Citizen on September 17, members of the Potluck for Peace responded harshly to criticisms of Ghanem that appeared in an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen:

Re: Guarding the Green gates, Sept. 13.

We are saddened by the scurrilous, inaccurate characterization of Dr. Qais Ghanem and his proposed resolution submitted to a Green Party of Canada policy convention.

Yes, the resolution does call for the withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 borders. It also calls for a halt to all violent actions on both sides as do United Nations resolutions to which Israel is a signatory.

It also suggests that the peace plan put forward by the Arab League in 2002 and reiterated in 2007 calling for full normalization of relations between Arab countries and Israel once Israelis and Palestinians reach agreement, be adopted as a framework for a final agreement. Is this anti-Israel? Is it anti-Semitic? Hardly.

Does columnist Leonard Stern deny that there is a high degree of media concentration? What percentage of the daily press does Canwest own in Canada or does Rupert Murdoch own in the United States? Dr. Ghanem may feel that there is a pro-Israel bias, many dispute that characterization and argue the opposite. Anti-Israel? Hardly.

The Green Party is not just about the environment; it is about a full approach to governing including a non-biased foreign policy.

Dr. Ghanem is the founder of a Jewish-Arab dialogue group, Potlucks for Peace. His views are well known to the undersigned members as being passionate, articulate and sensitive to the understanding of the "other." Strong and conflicting views are often expressed during monthly meetings and annual public events during which Dr. Ghanem's role would be characterized by the most singular proponents of one side or the other as being geared entirely to conflict resolution, human rights and justice for all.

Members of Potlucks For Peace consider themselves Semites, and one of our objectives is to counter anti-Semitism in all our activities.


Christopher Assad,


Brian Rothberg,

Ardoch, Ont.

Members, Potlucks for Peace

We will continue to dig into this story.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 1, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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At no point in any of these email exchanges do any of the writers distinguish between anti-Zionist and anti-Israel. "Anti-Zionist" is nowhere mentioned. Had such distinction been clarified, especially by Mr. Vernon, then the gist of the Greens' supposed anti-Israel sentiments collapses. Don't get me wrong, I'm not big on the Greens, but this is such a trumped up and orchestrated charge to be worthy of only the most simple of the electorate. It speaks more about those who would do the orchestrating than it does about the Greens.

Posted by: Sebastian Ronin | 2008-10-01 4:20:29 AM

This reminds me of when the North American postal system was developed and they changed the rules so that people would stop having to pay for unsolicited junk mailed to them. Hardly an anti-free market decision.

Posted by: ASDF | 2008-10-01 4:21:49 AM

Sebastian has it right, except that this was a private e-mail, which the writer reasonably expected would stay private, so he was under no obligation to clarify his supposed anti-anything status. I'm not a Green supporter either (NDP for me). But I happen to know Daryl Vernon, so it's worth pointing out that he is an observant (practicing?) Jew. And not notably anti-Semitic. He seems to get along quite well with himself.

Great scoop, eh.


Posted by: Bill Cameron | 2008-10-01 7:01:14 AM

The Greens are good examples of "post-left" thinking. I discussed that on the Shotgun here:


The U.S. and Israel are the cause of all evil in the world. Third worldism. A totalitarian ideology that explains any phenomenon in terms of the same villains and victims (evil capitalists/Jews vs. the environment.) Finally, a love affair with Islamism.

The fact that May won't denounce Hezbollah isn't surprising.


Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-01 9:06:36 AM

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