Here's what I think of the Lesley Hughes affair:
For non-Canadian readers, Lesley Hughes was the Liberal candidate for the Winnipeg riding of Kildonan-St. Paul. She was asked to resign from her campaign after it came to light that she had written an article in 2003 that included the statement, “Israeli businesses, which had offices in the [World Trade Center] Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks [of 9/11], breaking their lease to do it.”
Aside from the grammatical issues, what's wrong with this statement? Well, a lot. I've already addressed one of the problems (with sources) here, but to quickly rehash...
There were at least two businesses with majority Israeli ownership in the WTC on 9/11. Six months earlier, the Zim Israel American Shipping Company had announced that it was relocating to Virginia, but on 9/11 there were still around a dozen Zim employees at work in the WTC offices. I have not found any evidence that the company's lease was broken (if you know of some, by all means let me know).
The second company of which I am aware was ClearForest, and it did not have plans to vacate the premises. It was operating as usual on 9/11.
The second problem is what is being implied here.
If you received word from a trusted, reliable source that your workplace was going to be attacked by terrorists (or otherwise destroyed) on a specific date, what would you do? You'd alert the authorities, of course. And you'd probably warn all of your colleagues, or at least a superior, ASAP. You wouldn't just call one or two colleagues who, say, belonged to your bridge club and warn them, telling them to keep the information a secret, would you? Of course you wouldn't. So why would Israelis - Jews - do this?
They wouldn't. Not any more than Jews would abduct a randomly selected Christian child at Passover, ritually murder him in a subterranean chamber beneath their synagogue, and use the child's blood to make their matzah. Yet thousands of Canadian voters are criticizing Stephane Dion's decision to oust this woman. It wasn't only because she's a 9/11 Truther, as the Truthers are complaining, because her views on that subject were already known. She was not ousted for "being critical of Israeli policies", because she was not even critical of Israeli policies; she was resurrecting discredited rumours about Israel. And she was not ousted simply because the opposition is trying to thin the Liberal ranks, or "sacrificed on the altar of Google", as one editorial put it. You can't fire the fatal bullet without any ammo, after all, and that ammo was provided by Ms. Hughes herself. She is not the victim of a smear campaign.
No, Ms. Hughes was ousted because she expressed a truly hateful, reprehensible opinion. She probably didn't intend to be malicious or hurtful, but she was. We have become so desensitized to anti-Semitism that Hughes and her supporters actually wonder what she's done wrong. She honestly doesn't consider herself to be an anti-Semite.
Try substituting "Israeli companies" with "companies owned by woman", or by Mexicans, or by Irish people, and you'll see what I mean.
One point that's been glossed over in this affair is that even if Dion had not forced Ms. Hughes to resign, her comments likely would have cost her the election. Even if she did win, the Liberals could have been held accountable for any further idiotic statements that she made about the Jewish people while in office. Any way you look at it, the woman is a political liability who should have known better than to run for public office in the first place.
Another, very significant, point: The Israeli-company rumour can be put to rest with Google searches that will take you 15 minutes, tops, to complete. A 5th-grader could do it. Does anyone really want a representative who can't be bothered to make a cursory check her inflammatory info before rushing it into print?
Even her "apology" wasn't thought out enough to make much sense. She said, ""I find any interpretation of my journalism as anti-Semitic personally offensive and I heartily apologize for that perception." You can't apologize for someone else's perception, so this was clearly no apology. Also, the idea that her silly article could be considered "journalism" by anyone is horrifying. And Hughes was a CBC broadcaster, editor of Canadian Dimensions, an educator! Has she fallen on her head recently or something? It all gives me hives.
Lesley Hughes has the right to think whatever she wants about Jews, Israel, and 9/11, but the Liberals have a right to boot any candidate who they believe may damage the party's credibility and integrity. They did. And I'm OK with that. Ms. Hughes can complain about being sacrified "like a soldier in the trenches", but you simply cannot expect to slander an entire ethnic/religious minority and make it into public office in a multicultural country such as Canada. You have to choose to do one or the other. Ms. Hughes has made her choice.
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