Winnipeg Free Press Columnist Endorses Valedictorian Speaker’s Historically Ignorant Erasure Of Jewish History

In a May 23 commentary published in The Winnipeg Free Press, columnist Niigaan Sinclair, wrote a commentary entitled: “Difficult but vital discussions are what university is all about.” In it, he discussed and endorsed Dr. Gem Newman’s inflammatory anti-Israel valedictorian speech at the University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine graduation on May 16.

In Newman’s ten-minute speech, he said, “I call upon you to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people everywhere, here in Treaty One territory, where an Indigenous man can expect a life 10 years shorter than mine and in Palestine, where Israel’s deliberate targeting of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure has led to more than 35,000 deaths and widespread famine and disease.”

In his column, Sinclair endorsed Newman’s revisionist history, writing that he “understands ‘settler colonialism,’” and labels his commandeering of the valedictorian speech for his own ideological purposes “brave.”

Newman’s historically ignorant narrative effectively erased three thousand years of Jewish history in Israel. Jewish residency in Israel dates from Biblical times, with the tombs of Biblical figures located within it to this day. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is built atop the ruins of the pre-existing Jewish Temples. As Ryan Bellerose, A Métis indigenous activist, argued in Tablet Magazine: “The Palestinians do indeed have the legitimate ‘rights of longstanding presence’ in Israel, but this does not trump the indigenous status of Jewish people, 90 percent of whom can directly their genetics to the Levant.”

Curating a narrative of indigenous Palestinians is in sync with the flipped perpetrator-victim thread that links pro-Palestinian arguments.

The Jewish People’s historical connections notwithstanding, Israel’s establishment in 1948 was legal. It was in sync with the United Nations’ 1947 Partition Plan – the first two-state solution – which the Arabs rejected and the Jewish people embraced and accepted.

Additionally, Sinclair’s column ignored the dangerous reality that faces Israel today: that according to a recent survey, 71 percent of Gazans support Hamas’ October 7 atrocities against Israelis.

This means that Gazans are largely supportive of killing Israelis. Indigenous Canadians are not accused of that.

Sinclair and Newman, like the majority of anti-Israel voices, can side with the Palestinians by ignoring the context of the war and Hamas’s intentions, but that context is key. The war began on October 7 when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, perpetrating bestial brutalities on thousands of innocents, including beheadings and gang rapes, and taking hundreds hostage. Hamas started this war and continues it today by refusing to release 125 captives.

Additionally, Hamas’s charter calls for the annihilation of Israel, meaning that as long as Hamas survives, the war will continue indefinitely.

Understanding that this war is Israel’s defensive fight for survival against an evil, inhumane opponent is crucial. Calling Israel’s actions “genocide”, as Newman did, and Sinclair seems to support, is nonsensical. Ignoring that Hamas fighters cowardly hide in and under hospitals, schools, and UN buildings is blinkered. Israel has the impossible task of eliminating Hamas amid civilian populations, and yet behaves with incredible consideration for Gazan citizens, giving multiple warnings, providing relocation routes, and even, recently, buying them tents themselves.

Newman’s genocide claim against Israel is reliant on Hamas’ figures from the Gaza Ministry of Health who claim 35,000 Gazan casualties at Israeli hands. This figure has been thoroughly debunked on many fronts and includes Israel’s figure of 16,000 killed Hamas fighters. The UN recently significantly reduced its known casualty figures without giving a proper explanation. However, as Coleman Hughes pointed out so articulately, even if both Israel’s and Hamas’s figures were true, civilian deaths caused by this war are at a far lower ratio than in other urban wars, for example, America’s military operation in Mosul.

Niigaan Sinclair and The Winnipeg Free Press have presented an inverted narrative around the Hamas-Israel war, endorsing Gem Newman in his fallacious anti-Israel accusations. Sinclair’s commentary demonstrated no shame in erasing Jewish history to push an ideological agenda.

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