An Open Letter to Michael Diamond of the Canada Israel Committee

I (Meir Weinstein, Director, JDL) sent out a notice last week about two anti Israel problems taking place in Toronto.

The first was an ‘Al Quds’ day event to take place at Queens Park and the second was a colaboration agreement with Al Quds University and York University.

The first event was reported by blogger BlazingCatFur: “When Anti-Zionism becomes Anti-Semitism.”

The second problem was posted by York University: “New agreement extends York’s collaboration with Al-Quds University

It is only a matter of time before York University will host Al Quds Rallies.

I received an email from CIC Board member Michael Diamond. He states that life is good for Jewish Students at York and the collaboration agreement with Al Quds U. is a good thing.

The following information is from a JDL supporter on this subject:

“A recent email by Jewish activist Michael Diamond is making the rounds,” this JDL supporter writes,  “and I am compelled to respond, as his mode of thinking and logic is pervasive within Toronto’s Jewish community. It is at best naive, and at worst, shamefully ignorant.

This is Mr. Diamond’s response upon being informed that York University has signed a University-wide collaborative academic agreement with Al-Quds University in Jerusalem:

“‘I received an email from Meir Weinstein of the JDL indicating anger and consternation that York University had established a relationship with Al Quds University- the largest university in the West Bank. His consternation came from his belief, indicated in his email, that Al Quds university was involved heavily with Hamas. When I emailed him indicating that all of the people mentioned in the article he sent (which was from YLIfe- a York publication) were from Fatah, and that Fatah and HAmas hate each other, his response was simple and quick- he asked me what side of the fence I was on and provided no further information. When I asked him for his research that led to his concern about Hamas and Al Quds University, he was silent.’ – Michael Diamond

“Firstly, had Mr. Diamond taken 2 minutes to Google Al Quds University he would have found the info he wants. Instead, he chose to condescendingly ask Weinstein for his research, as if saying ‘prove it.’ Why?

“On to the more important point of his assertion that Fatah and Hamas hate each other. They may hate each other, but both groups hate Jews more. This also speaks to the point that liberal Jews are adamant in their persistence that Fatah is ‘moderate.’ Hate each other or no, the two terrorist organizations have recently signed a unity deal in preparation for unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN come September. These 2 groups are now partners. As for the moderate Fatah, well, please read this comprehensive report on the folks Mr. Diamond thinks Israel can make peace with.

“’Now, I am generally sympathetic to the JDL- I admire their persistence, their passion, and their investment in what they see as best for Jews and Israel. I have marched with them in the Gay Pride Parade, where some of them put aside their discomfort with the gay community and marched in support of Israel and the Jewish community, and some of their protests are indeed valid and deserve support. But in this case I believe they were misguided for a number of reasons.’ — Michael Diamond

“‘There is a tendency for a lot of us to target York University, mostly for historical reasons- there were some bad events that took place some years ago, and there was a time when the university was definitely headed in the wrong direction. However, as I have written myself, and based on my own research, things are getting much better at York and it is definitely a university that is highly sensitive to any feelings of discomfort that its Jewish students may feel. THere is nothing positive for York if there were to be a belief among the Jewish community that York is unfriendly or unsafe for Jews. And there is nothing good that is going to come out of a false belief among our community that York is an unsafe or unsavoury place for Jewish students. Indeed, While York has a history of attracting unsavoury types, York also has among the most significant Jewish Studies programs in North America, and it has relationships with several Israeli universities that are far more extensive than that proposed for Al Quds. To attack York for having a supportive relationship with Al Quds university makes little sense to me.’ – Michael Diamond

“Here’s the research on Al Quds University that Mr. Diamond won’t go looking for himself, for some reason…..some highlights:

  • Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded the school in 1978.
  • Sheikh Yassin, former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and current Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh have all used the school as a base.
  • Haniyeh sits on the school’s board of trustees.
  • The school’s 16 parliamentarians account for more than one-fifth of all Hamas legislators.
  • Hamas used the campus to host a two-day conference in 2005 on the “martyrdom” of Sheikh Yassin.
  • Students gave 78% of their student council votes in 2005 to the Hamas-affiliated party.

“‘If there were ever going to be peace in the Middle East- and I am not predicting it anytime soon- building capacity in West Bank institutions is critical. And that is the primary outcome one can expect from this sort of relationship between a mature university like York, and an emerging university like Al Quds. As Jews we are aware of the benefits of education, and I wonder how a better educated population in the West Bank can do anything but help in future negotiations and dialogue, in the same way that a stronger West Bank economy works for peace because the Palestinians will then have something to lose with war. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have said or implied as much, in their own policies. To take aim at York for building a relationship which is intended to strengthen an educational institution in the WEst Bank is counter productive in my view. I think the energies of the JDL would be better spent elsewhere.’– Michael Diamond

“Education reduces radicalism, huh? Like with this guy? I can list hundreds more just like Omar Barghouti, but Mr. Diamond will have to do his own research. The new anti-Semitism is as irrational as the old. It has nothing to do with lack of education or poverty or land, and Michael Diamond should know that.

“Meir Weinstein is right to be alarmed and disgusted by the York U/Al Quds partnership, and I for one back him in his efforts to expose this dubious relationship.

“I’ll stand with Meir Weinstein and the other JDLers out there on the front lines. I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave ones who aren’t afraid to come face to face with the anti-Semites among us, who literally risk life and limb to stand up for the Jewish people, Israel and what is right. It’s scary and cold, but it beats preaching platitudes from the comfortable pews of Holy Blossom Temple.”

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Are we going to fight for Israel or Al Quds? That is the question. We have lots of work ahead of us.

— MEIR WEINSTEIN, Director, Jewish Defence League of Canada