Toronto Star Commentator Claims Hateful Anti-Israel Protesters Are Simply Engaging In “Civil Disobedience”

In the latest attempt to rehabilitate the image of fanatical and extremist anti-Israel occupiers present on a few Canadian university campuses, Faisal Kutty’s May 11 opinion column in The Toronto Star entitled: “Why student encampments and protests should be encouraged,” feebly attempted to defend a fringe movement as a noble endeavour, when it is anything but.

Of the encampments which have attracted “hundreds of students,” Kutty wrote (a miniscule fraction of a percent out of 1.5 million post-secondary students in Canada) that they are an important part of “civil disobedience.” While he acknowledged that hate speech is not welcome, he soon downplayed such incidents at the encampments, saying that “being safe and feeling safe are not the same.”

At the encampments, there have been widespread reports of hate speech, extremism, explicit support for Islamic terrorism, as well as violence, harassment and intimidation. Yet with a wave of his rhetorical hand, Kutty ignored these documented incidents, ostensibly because they do not fit his agenda.

Instead of addressing the very real and documented instances of vitriolic hate on campus, Kutty downplayed them, writing that “Some Zionist students on campuses are claiming that they feel unsafe because protesters are highlighting the Israeli killing of over 35,000  and destruction of hospitals, schools and other civil society infrastructure. This is not hate or antisemitism.”

Here, Kutty is guilty of employing a straw man argument, ignoring the real concerns of students (“Zionist” or not), and replacing those issues with a simplistic argument. As a lawyer, one would think Kutty would be above using elementary logical fallacies, but evidently not.

Kutty’s repeating of Hamas’ unverified propaganda claims of 35,000 deaths is similarly extremely misleading. Not only are those numbers highly suspect, even if accurate, he does not acknowledge that close to half of those are Hamas terrorists and fighters, meaning that they are legitimate combatants. Even with Hamas’ figures, Israel has achieved a lower civilian casualty ratio than virtually any other armed force in history.

Attempting to frame the illegal campus occupations as somehow representing the will of the majority, Kutty cited a poll which said that 81 percent of Canadians say university campuses are acceptable places to protest.

While the poll he mentions is correct, a subsequent poll asked Canadians specifically about the anti-Israel encampments (rather than protesting in general), and found that half of Canadians opposed them, while a much smaller figure (around 30 percent) supported them.

Kutty’s choice of language is so out of touch with reality, readers could be forgiven for thinking they were reading a parody article, with the author referring to the hate fests as being “anti-war and pro-human rights protesters,” when they are simply anti-Israel, not anti-war.

After all, when encampments use the term “intifada,” the Arabic word used for violent terrorism against Israeli civilians – which Kutty claimed simply means “shaking off oppression,” when it means physical violence against Israeli civilians – it is clear that the encampments are not anti-war in any way; they are hateful, fringe voices from a tiny group of extremists.

Kutty has made preposterous claims in his Toronto Star op-ed’s before, writing in a February commentary that a fictional pro-Israel media bias somehow dehumanizes Hamas, a demonic death cult which murders and rapes civilians.

Faisal Kutty’s latest commentary, attempting to defend anti-Israel campus occupiers, ignores their documented hate and violence, downplays Islamic terrorism, and attempts to convince readers that the Canadian public has nothing to be concerned about by hate-filled protesters.

Take action now by sending a letter to the editor to the Toronto Star. Send letters to: lettertoed@thestar.ca.

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