Politics and its Discontents: 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.

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