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Pride Toronto must guarantee a QuAIA-free Pride Week

Pride Toronto must guarantee a QuAIA-free Pride Week

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Homophobic? 'Left-wing pinko rumours': Doug Ford
Mayor Rob Ford wasted no time moving to defer any discussion on Pride Toronto (PT) funding until the next executive committee in May, to allow Jewish community members a chance to argue against investing city funds into the festival.

“Many people who want to be here can’t be here because of this religious holiday [Passover],” Ford told the executive committee April 20, before moving the item to May 24. No debate was allowed once the motion passed.

One question of clarification came from Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

He wants PT to provide “a letter that guarantees” Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) will not participate in any Pride events, not just the parade. PT co-chair Francisco Alvarez has already told Xtra it’s unreasonable to expect volunteers to police every person out of millions at every event.

On April 12, city manager Joseph Pannachetti released his report stating, "City staff have determined that the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ in and of itself does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy.” Then, on April 15, QuAIA announced it would not march in the parade but would instead host a separate community event during Pride Week. So why the need for a guarantee?


Mammoliti said he’s simply not buying it. Xtra cornered him later in the afternoon, but he refused comment.

Although, just hours before the meeting, he appeared on AM640 radio in a debate with QuAIA’s Elle Flanders. Once again, Flanders slammed Mammoliti and the mayor for "bringing a rightwing agenda to city hall."

“[Last year] the message was clear to us that they wouldn’t participate, then at the 11th hour we found out that they would. Of course we felt misled,” he said. “[This year] they say they won’t participate in the parade, but they haven’t said they won’t participate in any of the Pride venues for Pride Week.”

Anna Willats, a queer activist at the meeting, shakes her head. She says Mammoliti’s demand “smacks of homophobia,” adding, “the community should be very concerned of Councillor Mammoliti’s deliberate targeting of Pride Toronto, and by extension the queer community.”

“It seems that no matter what Pride Toronto does to try and meet the demands of this city, it’s never enough,” she tells Xtra after the meeting. “No matter what happens, there will be some excuse to withhold Pride Toronto’s funding.”

Willats is strongly encouraging people to show support for Pride and free speech on May 24. She says council is laying the groundwork for an Orwellian decree, with the “speech police scurrying around the entire week of the festival looking for people with ‘Israeli apartheid’ on T-shirts.”

“It’s not enforceable,” she says. “And it probably opens the city up to some kind of lawsuit that the city is infringing on speech that has been determined to not be discriminatory by this very council. What are they going to do, kick people out?”

Last year, Mammoliti’s motion passed stating that grant funds will not be transferred until after the parade. This year is no different. He told the executive committee he wants the city to “hold all cheques” until after the parade.

Council is trying to withhold about $123,807, plus roughly $300,000 in-kind services like policing and cleanup.

When Xtra tried to ask Rob Ford about the issue, he dashed off through the security doors with director of policy Mark Towhey, who kept repeating, “Talk to Adrienne [Batra, the mayor’s press secretary]. Talk to Adrienne.”

But Councillor Doug Ford did take a few minutes to talk. He tells Xtra he took his family to the Pride parade last year and “had a good time."

“I will support [Mammoliti’s motion]. We can’t let one group spew hate speech. That’s unacceptable,” he says. “We don’t want them there. It’s not just the parade. It’s the whole week.”

Councillor Ford laughs at the idea that Mammoliti and Mayor Ford could be showing homophobic colours. He says, “I know Rob. He is the last guy to be homophobic. Do you know how many gay people worked on our campaign? Endless… He laughs it off.”

He dismisses the accusations as a “bunch of leftwing pinkos all making up rumours.”

But Councillor Josh Matlow considers the matter closed. He is taking QuAIA at its word. “Pride Toronto has fulfilled what council expected.”

Matlow notes that Bernie Farber from the Canadian Jewish Congress is also satisfied.

“We need to celebrate Pride this year,” he says. “This is a wonderful festival, not just for the LGBT community, but the whole city, and it brings in millions of dollars to Toronto. I think we all need to get on board. I look forward to marching at Pride this year and celebrating into the night with friends.”

Still, Councillor Michael Thompson says he thinks all politics of any kind should be kept out of the parade. “[Politics] are not germane to Pride. Pride brings a lot of money to the city. As chair of economic development, of course, I support that.” He doesn’t support the city manager’s report.

At first he denied the notion, but even Thompson admits, after looking at Mayor Ford's voting record and past statements, a case can be made for homophobia.

Willats reminds that without the city funding, PT will almost definitely run another deficit, which means the loss of World Pride 2014, and it’s sure to be an embarrassment on the international stage. “It is also incredibly stupid. It not only hurts the queer and trans community in Toronto, it ruins our reputation around the world as an LGBT-positive tourist destination.”

“[Stripping funding] will hurt tourism, hotels, restaurants and taxis. Threatening the parade hurts businesses in the pocketbook. This makes no sense economically, socially or practically.”

In 2009 PT announced the results of a study that found Pride Week brings in more than $136 million in economic revenue, including around $40 million spent by local residents, the equivalent of more than 600 year-round full-time jobs in Toronto, and a contribution of $29.7 million to Toronto’s GDP.

"There are those on council who would just like to see the Pride festival disappear," Willats says. "That's all you can conclude from this."

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Comments

The Left Wing Agenda
QuAIA and their allies and Xtra keep threatening to expose City Council's 'right wing agenda'. How about the left wing agenda? QuAIA's threatening to expose Council's 'right wing agenda'. How about the left wing agenda? Remember when universities and student councils were for students, not bashing Jews and Israel, labour unions supported workers, not bashing Jews and Israel, feminism was about women's equality, not bashing Jews and Israel, and Pride was about gay rights, not bashing Jews and Israel? Buh bye leftdiots. Imagine Pride Toronto reaching out to Israelis to market Toronto as a proud gay destination. Yeah Israel, we know you hosted World Pride 2006, which most of our lefty nuts boycotted, and they're still chanting 'Viva Viva Intifada' in support of terrorism and advocating boycotts of Israel (with no success) and intimidating Jews and Israelis and trying to use our taxes to do it, while self-serving hustlers want to sell themselves to the lowest common denominator because we're so desperate for tourism and without Jews, well, the drunks and sluts will party on anyway, and we know Israel's economy is outperforming ours because of the smart Jews there, and well, that's all we have to offer. Come to Canada! Be Jewbashed! Enjoy harassment and hate crimes as 'free speech' and try to stomach partying with those who let it happen year after year. Was Xtra or NOW trashed at City Hall? No great loss. Have you noticed how thin they've become since their cultural intifada began? NOW lost 10% of circulation, and Xtra is thinner than ever. Let's sell Toronto! Jewish queers! We have squirt.org, and public nudity and Jewbashers. Come to Pride! You had Elton John at Tel Aviv Pride last year, but we had Elle Flanders and QuAIA. You have the Mediterranean, and we have slurp ramps and Portapotties. Fun? Wow.
QuAIA is not Pride
I also wanted to add that if people have a problem with QuAIA why are they attacking Pride which only hurts all of the LGBT communities in Toronto? To me attacking Pride because you disagree with the message of one out of thousands of participants reeks of homophobia, especially when its coming from the likes of Ford and Mamolitti who are looking for any excuse to see Pride defunded and shrunk into insignificance. It must really annoy the homophobes in Toronto that one of the most successful events in Toronto is Pride. Its true that neo-nazis and anti-semites are also critical of Israel as is QuAIA but the difference between them is that neo-nazis and anti-semites blame Jews in general for the problems in Israel and the occupied territories and believe the solution is to be found in getting rid of the Jews, try reading Stormfront's literature on the issue for an idea of what actual anti-semitic criticism of Israel looks like, you can find them online by googling them, while QuAIA is only critical of Israeli government policy and seeks equal human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. If you bother to look at Stormfront's messaging on the issue you'll quickly realize QuAIA has nothing at all in common with them. Just like not everyone opposed to QuAIA's participation in Pride is homophobic even though some homophobes are using them as an excuse to defund Pride, not every criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. If you bother to look up online what anti-semitic criticism of Israel actually looks like you will quickly realize that QuAIA is not anti-semitic in the least little bit in their criticism of Israel. The difference between anti-semitic hate groups and QuAIA is like the difference between night and day. Besides which labeling QuAIA a hate group when they're anything but gives actual hate groups an air of respectability they don't deserve and minimizes the damage done by actual hate groups just like casually calling some nazis minimizes what the actual nazis di
why not defend Israel's policies?
In response to a couple of the above comments, you must have a very low opinion of the cognitive abilities of LGBT people if you believe that our communities can't tell the difference between criticism of a state's policies and an attack on an ethnic group. Why should Israel be singled out amongst all the nations of the world and given special status that labels criticism of their state policies as unacceptable while every other country in the world can have their policies criticized without recourse. Does anyone really think Israel will cease to exist from having its policies criticized? The notion that criticizing Israel is criticizing all Jews everywhere is blatantly ridiculous and nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at silencing debate of Israel's policies. Besides which the way that claims of anti-semitism get thrown around so casually at those who dare go against the politically correct view that Israel is incapable of doing any wrong only serves to cast doubt on all claims of anti-semitism. If you disagree with QuAIA then protest against them, or even better explain how the policies of Israel in regards to the Palestinians doesn't constitute apartheid. If you support Israel's policies, such as having roads only Jews can travel on and the law that makes it illegal for any Palestinian to be a passenger in any vehicle owned by an Israeli, then say so and explain how such laws are in fact just and not apartheid like. If you believe Israel is serious about a two state solution then explain why recent leaked documents have shown the PA made massive concessions to Israel while Israel refuses to permanently halt settlement construction on Palestinian land. Use your words to convince people that Israel has nothing resembling apartheid instead of simply trying to shut down debate. Its also simply not true that Israel is the only country criticized at Pride, many countries including Muslim countries, Uganda and others have been the focus of protest groups at Pride
RIP Pride - Broke like TWB
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it (Santayana). Apparently in the Xtra/QuAIA/Pride/ElleFlanders/Pride Coalition for Free Speech universe, unlike anywhere else, actions do not have consequences, and freedom is 'do what you like, no matter who gets hurt'. QUAIA, Elle Flanders and the City Manager claim that just because they have NOT yet been convicted of criminal harassment and intimidation, or have not yet been challenged at the OHRC, they should be free to bleat 'apartheid' falsely and demonize Israel and all Jews by association and create intimidating, unsafe and poisoned climates at Pride with our tax and consumer dollars, targetting only Israel, which is itself antisemitic regardless of one's views of mideast politics. Why not ask the Toronto Women's Bookstore how profitable Israel bashing was for them? They're now in private hands and nearly bankrupt, as Pride will likely be soon. OHRC Commissioner Barbara Hall herself recommended defunding and political campaigns against perceived hate speech, which is just what is happening now. City Council and Torontonians are voting with their feet and pocketbooks, and Pride and our LGBT community are unlikely to be truly welcoming or profitable again. Would you invest in or sponsor or attend a 'festival' that permitted bashing Jews and Israel and that lost attendance, sponsors, and profits? Well, you must vote NDP and bank at TD, because the growing public, political, and media consensus is 'Israel apartheid' speech creates hateful and discriminatory climates that are increasingly dangerous in a context of rising hate crimes and security threats against Jewish and Canadian sites thanks to the discourse you promote or enable passively. We are queer and free and equal and unlikely to ever need anything Pride has to offer again. Period. Starve with QuAIA or get real. Queer Pride is not hateful, QUAIA and Pride Toronto have been. Go to Tel Aviv Pride - Elle and QUAIA won't be there.
Re: Jim, Elle is lying again
Of course the lies continue:

Moreover, when it comes to residential land, the ILA sometimes offers Israeli Arabs more favorable terms from than it does to Israeli Jews. Thus, the ILA charged the equivalent of $24,000 for a capital lease on a quarter of an acre in new Jewish communities near Beersheva while Bedouin families in the nearby community of Rahat paid only $150 for the same amount of land.16 In a different case, when a Jewish policeman from Beersheva, Eleizer Avitan, applied to the ILA to lease land in a Bedouin community under the same highly subsidized terms available to the Bedouins, the ILA refused to lease him land there under any terms, so he sued. Israel's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ILA, saying that what might be viewed as ILA discrimination against the Jewish citizen Avitan was justified as affirmative action for Bedouin citizens.17

JNF lands. The purpose of the JNF, according to both its original charter and its 1953 Israeli charter is to purchase land for the settlement of Jews, and this has been interpreted to mean that JNF land should not be leased, at least on a long-term basis, to non-Jews.18There are, thus, formal restrictions on the lease of JNF land to Arabs. That JNF lands are now administered by a government agency does not change this restriction, for JNF land is privately owned and to lease it on exactly equal terms to Jewish and Arab Israelis would violate the 1960 agreement that placed JNF lands under government administration.
http://www.meforum.org/370/can-arabs-buy-land-in-israel
Is anyone else reading Elle's posts?
No wonder she's ended up in the centre of this maelstrom.
The situations are similar
Elle, thanks for taking the time to respond. In general terms, I do think that the situations are similar. As you are obviously quite aware, in QuAIA's case, many Jewish people in Toronto were offended by QuAIA's speech at Pride (they considered it to be anti-Semitic) and City politicians were about to de-fund Pride unless QuAIA was prohibited from marching (even now, Mayor Ford wants Pride to give a guarantee that QuAIA will not march at Pride). In Pardy's case, Pardy was offended by the comedian (his speech was considered to be homophobic and sexist) and the comedian was fined by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. In both cases, government actors moved to limit (or penalize) speech that was considered offensive. I do agree that the Left and the Right can't have it both ways (supporting unrestricted freedom of expression in one case, but not the other). The Left tend to support QuAIA's freedom of speech at Pride, but not that of the comedian in the nightclub. Conversely, the Right tend to support the comedian's freedom of speech, but not that of QuAIA.
Political speech is not hate or hateful
Hi Joe, we've suggested for some time that Galdstone et al file a complaint with the OHRC if they feel we have in any way used hateful speech. As Gladstone is a lawyer, he very well knows that there is little merit to this and hence no complaints have ever been filed. The city manager's report found that QuAIA did not violate their anti-discrimination policy and is further evidence of the words Israeli Apartheid not being discriminatory in any way. It is a critique of Israeli gov't policy (Israel is not above the law or criticism). The word Israeli Apartheid appears over 800 times in the Israeli press. Israeli leaders, professors, journalists, and lawyers use it regularly. The phrase Israeli Apartheid describes an unjust and unequal system akin to that of South Africa as it relates to oppressing and segregating people based on ethnicity. There is a new law in Israel (its record on gay rights notwithstanding) that does not allow non-Jews to purchase homes/land in "Jewish neighbourhoods," (That's like me telling you sorry Joe, no gays are allowed to buy homes in Markham). There are segregated roads for Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. There are many more examples of such laws including the marriage laws that bar Palestinians from living in Israel if they marry an Israeli. (so you marry a guy from Brazil and Canadian law says he is not entitled to live with you in Canada-ever). Etc. These are laws that discriminate and privilege one group over another. That is why QuAIA use the moniker: To try and bring an end to apartheid policies in Israel and to protest the use of gay rights as a pretext for saying what an open and tolerant society it is (true, if you are Jewish). There are many issues in Pride that need attention. many of us work on many issues. QuAIA's work is to end the occupation and many of us are Jewish, so invested in that way. We are critical of a gov't and it's racist policies. No one should be above the law.
Limits on freedom of speech in Canada
Check out the following article on the Vancouver section of Xtra's website. http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Lesbian_wins_Zestys_complaint-10061.aspx It reports that Lorna Pardy, a Lesbian, was awared $22,500 (plus interest) in damages by the BC Human Rights Tribunal after being subjected to homophobic and sexist slurs by a comedian at a nightclub. The Pardy case is interesting given the current controversy over QuAIA and the arguments made by QuAIA supporters in favour of unrestricted free speech at the Pride parade. The Pardy case shows that there are significant limits on freedom of speech in Canada. You can't insult someone or engage in hateful speech against an identifiable group with impunity. There are consequences if you do so.
Helping the cause
Always good to see the 'other side' (nananaheyhey homophobic, racist, well, you get the idea) shooting themselves in the foot with their crazy harangues. Bravo!

Er, I'm sure Israel doesn't exactly want you for their Hasbara project either. thanks and keep it up!

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