Councillor calls for cancellation of author Max...
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Feb 24, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Councillor calls for cancellation of author Max Blumenthal's scheduled appearance because of his 'anti-Israel' writings

PEN Canada, who is sponsoring event, says Blumenthal takes an extremist point of view

Beach Mirror

Councillor James Pasternak is calling for the cancellation of a Toronto Reference Library appearance tonight by controversial author and journalist Max Blumenthal  because of his anti-Israel writings.

Pasternak issued a news release on Feb. 24, just hours before Blumenthal was to take the stage with Toronto Star journalist Olivia Ward to talk about challenges in reporting from conflict zones, saying he shouldn’t be allowed to speak on city property.

"While freedom of expression is a crucial Canadian value, targeting a group through demonization has no place in a City of Toronto building,” said Pasternak in his news release. “Mr. Blumenthal has been widely criticized for his hateful comments and even had his worked praised by white supremacists. Speakers like this do not reflect our values of respect and tolerance."

The event is being sponsored by PEN Canada and presented as a part of Freedom To Read Week celebrations at the library. PEN Canada executive director Tasleem Thawar said the event will go ahead, with 400 tickets already claimed in the 500-seat auditorium.

“He’s a controversial author, there’s no doubt about it,” she said. “Part of what makes it very interesting is the controversy around his work. He’s written two books about Israel and before that a book about the Republican Party. He doesn’t pretend to be unbiased – his books are really about the extremist point of view.”

York Centre Councillor Pasternak suggested Blumenthal’s “anti-Israel obsession” could violate Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy.
“This anti-Israel obsession is driven by ignorance and a lack of understanding of the politics on the ground,” said Pasternak. “I am asking that the Toronto Public Library take a principled stand and cancel this speech.”

Thawar said  the discussion format means Blumenthal won’t be making a speech, but rather participating in a discussion.

“Even if you disagree with his views, certainly the approach should never be to say let’s cancel,” said Thawar.

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(2) Comment

By Eric | FEBRUARY 27, 2016 06:31 AM
Questions: What is Mr. Pasternak’s evidence that Blumenthal utters hate speech against "a group"? Does Mr. Pasternak consider the state of Israel "a group" whose behaviour cannot be criticized? And if "freedom of expression is a crucial Canadian value," as Mr. Pasternak claims, how can he ask the library to cancel Blumenthal's talk in "a principled stand"? Exactly what principle is he referring to? Mr. Pasternak also claims Blumenthal "is driven by ignorance and a lack of understanding of the politics on the ground." Has the full-time city councillor spent more time in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza than Blumenthal did before writing his detailed book "Goliath" and his recent one on Israel's 2014 attack on Gaza?
By Eric | FEBRUARY 27, 2016 06:28 AM
Too bad the subhead writer didn't read the story carefully. PEN didn't say that Blumenthal **takes** an extremist point of view, but that his books are **about** the extremist point of view.
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