Canadian Citizens Say no to Hezbollah's terrorism & its infringements on Canada's laws & Security (quotations from the Windsor Star newspaper) published on August 16/07


The billboard. A message in its wake

Windsor Star
Thursday, August 16, 2007
For the vast majority of Canadians, the ceaseless unrest that has defined the Middle East is viewed from the safety of their living rooms and through the filter of news reports.
Occasionally, our streets will fill with protesters expressing their support for the various warring factions. Last summer, as Hezbollah and Israeli forces exchanged gunfire and bombs over Lebanon, there were protests in parts of the city.
More recently, the conflict made headlines after a billboard was erected at the southwest corner of Marion Avenue and Wyandotte Street East. The sign did not mention Hezbollah by name, but featured a central image of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the controversial political and military group that represents Lebanese Shia Muslims and has clashed with Israeli troops for more than 20 years.
The billboard, which was taken down on the weekend, effectively promoted a group that has been defined by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization. Its leaders have consistently advocated the destruction of Israel.
In a bid to defend the sign, its sponsors said they were merely exercising their freedom of speech. "We're not trying to offend anybody. We have freedom of speech. It's a free country. We can do anything," said Hussein Dabaja, a Lebanese-born Hezbollah supporter.
"Every Lebanese in Canada has somebody that died in Lebanon, the freedom fighters. Who is Hezbollah? Our brothers, our family, our parents, our friends. We came to Canada and they stayed there to fight."
But a broad section of the public correctly viewed the sign -- and its direct link to a terrorist organization -- as an abuse of our freedom. "It should be offensive to all people living in Windsor," said Harvey Kessler, executive director of the Windsor Jewish Community Centre. "It should be offensive not only to the Jewish community, but to any Canadian."
Elias Bejjani of the Lebanese Canadian Co-ordinating Council, a collection of non-profit groups focused on educating people about Lebanese issues, was also offended.
"It was more than somebody putting up a billboard. It is symbolic. As Canadians we cannot be neutral. There is no neutrality when it comes to terrorism."
Mayor Eddie Francis summed it up well when he said, "The politics of Lebanon belong in Lebanon, not on the streets of Windsor."
Canada offers opportunity and peace to Dabaja and thousands of other Lebanese immigrants who chose not to "stay there to fight."
They opted to live in a country that has spun thousands of success stories, particularly for immigrants who have fled the world's trouble spots.
Canadians are not indifferent to the strife that has destroyed lives across the globe.
But, Dabaja and other newcomers who now call Canada their home should focus on continuing the job of building one of world's greatest success stories.


Don't fall for propaganda

Windsor Star
David Harris/Ottawa
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
As someone involved for many years in counterterrorism, I share readers' horror at the spectre of Hezbollah billboards in Windsor.
This disingenuous propaganda, complete with invocations of "peace," reminds us that enemies among us have taken our full measure as a non-violent people. They hope soothing language will pacify and blind us to Hezbollah's operational reality as a racist, genocidal, supremacist Islamic operation. Add to the fact its agents have undertaken targeting reconnaissance in Canada against Canadian sites.
We mustn't be duped by Hezbollah assurances that this Iranian-backed group has hospitals and social welfare programs in Lebanon. Such efforts are primarily used for cover, social control and the recruiting of jihadists for worldwide killer operations, including in Canada. That's why our government banned the organization as a designated terror group under Canadian law.
We must know our enemy, not advertise for it.
David Harris/Ottawa


Windsor Hezbollah sign draws international attention

Trevor Wilhelm,
The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2007
From Washington, D.C., to Lebanon, and Nigeria to Tel Aviv, Windsor is in the news.
Media outlets and bloggers around the world have been talking about Windsor this week after controversy erupted over a billboard that went up on Wyandotte Street with the face of Hezbollah's leader pasted front and centre.
Ilan Goren, a foreign news reporter for Channel 10 News Israel in Tel Aviv, said he started following the billboard story after seeing it on a Hezbollah TV station from Lebanon.
They showed the skyline of Windsor," said Goren.
The sign was erected Friday morning at the corner of Wyandotte Street and Marion Avenue, and immediately drew fire from the Windsor Jewish Community Centre, the Lebanese Christian political group Kataeb and others.
Among other Lebanese leaders, it prominently depicts Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the political and military group representing Shia Muslims. Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, was created in 1982 primarily to resist the Israeli occupation of Lebanon that lasted two decades.
The billboard was quietly replaced Monday morning with an advertisement for a car dealership, after sparking interest and debate around the world.
Mayor Eddie Francis said the Middle Eastern media's interest in the billboard confirms his earlier statement that "the politics of Lebanon are best left to Lebanon."
The publicity, he said, does nothing good for Windsor.
"The fact they're talking about the billboard doesn't help us," said Francis. "I don't think anyone in the Middle East believes -- I hope they don't believe -- that they will solve their problems on the streets of Windsor. This is not something Windsor will get engaged in, it will not be solved on Windsor's streets and we're going to leave it over there."
Abed Foukara, managing editor for Al Jazeera television's Washington bureau, said Wednesday he was considering sending a film crew to Windsor to document the controversy.
Foukara said he's mainly interested in the billboard because it went up around the same time as the first anniversary of last summer's war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
He said the billboard's location, so close to the U.S. border, is also interesting.
"It's fascinating that the billboard has come up in a part of the country where you can visibly see this side of the border," said Foukara.
Goren, from Tel Aviv, said he first saw a story about the Windsor billboard on Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV.
"We're hoping to do something about it," said Goren, who was trying to find video of the billboard. "It's really kind of interesting."
Al-manar.com still had a story posted about the billboard on Wednesday, with the headline "Sayyed Nasrallah on American borders. . . !!!"
Al-Manar reported, incorrectly, that the billboard is visible from the U.S.
"When you stand on the U.S. territories at the Detroit riverbank in Michigan State and look towards the opposite side, you will see a huge picture of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah surrounded by a number of Lebanese figures," the story claimed.
Al-Manar also claimed shopkeepers near the billboard welcomed the sign because it was drawing so many people to the area.
That story is followed by several comments from people as far away as Australia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Germany, Lebanon and Algeria.
"I am extremely proud of those who put that poster and did not fear the reaction of the Canadian authorities. Bravo," a person named Fatima wrote from Algeria.
Ynetnews.com, a leading online news agency in Israel, also posted a story on its website with the headline, "Jews, Christians censure Nasrallah sign in Canada."
The website offers a chance for feedback on the story and there are dozens of comments, from locales including India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"As offensive and shocking as it may be, this display of terrorist advocacy will surely provoke discussion of community values and hopefully there will be lines drawn rather than tolerating evil in the name of 'multi-culturalism,'" wrote Akiva Patysh, from River Forest, Ill.
The billboard is also a hot topic on several dozen blog sites from around the world, such as The Discerning Texan, Israelforum.com and Lebanese-forces.org, most of which have hundreds of comments attached.
twilhelm@thestar.canwest.com or 519-255-5777, ext. 642 The Windsor Star 2007


Propaganda or free speech?
Renee Charron
The Windsor Star 2007
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
I find it incredible the Hezbollah billboard was allowed to be put up in Windsor.
Hezbollah opposes the West, seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state, and seeks to eliminate Israel. Hezbollah, whose name means "party of God," has been implicated in terrorist actions targeting Jews, Israelis and western targets around the world. The elimination of Israel has been one of the group's primary goals, which they claim will bring peace to the Middle East. The people who erected this billboard claim they want peace, so what they're really saying is eliminate Jews and there will be peace, right? They believe acts performed against Israel are justified acts of jihad.
What is incredulous is that in the article, Mr. Dabaja states Canada has "labelled Hezbollah as a terrorist without having respect for the Muslim people." So I guess the suicide bombings, violence and attempted genocide of the Israeli people have nothing to do with Hezbollah being on the terrorist list. Maybe the government will give some respect to Muslims once they stop promoting and importing violence. Canada is not a place where Hezbollah supporters can continue their propaganda in the name of freedom of speech.
Renee Charron/Windsor


Billboard is harmless

The Windsor Star 2007
J. Deslippe/Windsor
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
Regarding the billboard honouring fallen freedom fighters in Lebanon, I urge all religious factions not to bring their fight here to Windsor. The billboard is harmless, although the funds would have been put to better use had they been sent to those in need in Lebanon.
Also, I personally know several Lebanese Canadians who feel Hezbollah is indeed a terrorist organization.
I would remind all immigrants there are many great things about living in Canada; one being that you are free to criticize our government as much as you want, and the other being that you are free to leave any time if you don't like it.
J. Deslippe/Windsor

Who is Lebanon fighting?
The Windsor Star 2007
R. Palmer/Windsor
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
How comforting. It seems we were wrong all along. Supporters of the Hezbollah billboard ensure us they are promoting freedom, freedom fighters and peace. They're not terrorists at all. We can all sleep well.
The trouble is, Lebanon is not under attack by anyone. So from whom are they fighting for freedom? What Hezbollah has done is make unprovoked incursions across the border into Israel to kidnap and kill Israelis and instigate a war costing thousands of lives.
Your actions are so loud, I can't hear what you're saying.
R. Palmer/Windsor


Billboard was offensive

The Windsor Star 2007
Ron Marshall/Windsor
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
It's obvious this sign is very controversial and for that reason alone it should come down. Mr. Dabaja says it is needed to honour those who are fighting for Lebanon's freedom. As a Canadian I am not interested in what is going on in Lebanon, although it did upset me when it cost Canadian taxpayers more than $100 million to rescue those with dual citizenship from vacationing in their country last year. Mr. Dabaja says it is their Canadian right of free speech. I would agree except when free speech threatens or offends others, and clearly this sign does. What's next, bloodshed on the streets of Windsor?
If it is so important to honour this group that our Canadian government has labelled as terrorists than erect the sign somewhere in Lebanon where it belongs.
Ron Marshall/Windsor


Be sensitive to all beliefs

The Windsor Star 2007
Jeff Ryan/Windsor
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
The billboard is down now, but this letter is not moot. It is very sad some people who emigrate to Canada declare it their right to be offensive to many Canadians.
It is also extremely unsettling that Hassan Nasrallah, of Hezbollah (declared a terrorist organization by many governments) would be compared by Hussein Dabaja to Jesus: "They keep talking about Nasrallah. Nasrallah for us is a red light. It is like saying Jesus is bad." (The Windsor Star, Aug. 13)
Although it seems to be forgotten at times, this country was founded on Christian principles.
If you want me to be sensitive to your beliefs, be sensitive to mine, and to those of many in your new home.
Jeff Ryan/Windsor


Terrorism is not peace

The Windsor Star 2007
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
Hezbollah is recognized worldwide as a terrorist organization. It's supporters try to deflect this by highlighting charitable work the group does, but only for its own supporters. They say Hezbollah wants to bring about peace but, peace through terrorism is not peace at all. Terrorism is not the Canadian way.
Canadians are peaceful people. We open our doors to people but there are certain expectations we have of them. We expect them to leave their religious and political disputes behind and to live peaceably here with people of all faiths and political learnings. We want them to support and understand democracy. We certainly do not expect them to openly support terrorist groups.
If the local Hezbollah supporters can't do this, then they should not be allowed to stay in Canada. They don't understand the meaning of democracy and they don't understand that terrorism is anathema to Canadians.
Doug Smith/Amherstburg

Sign an affront to peace

The Windsor Star 2007
Marcia Sugar/Toronto
Letter
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
In response to Aug. 14 article, Billboard Disappears: Backers Defend Controversial Sign. Since 2002, Hezbollah has been officially banned by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization. Thus, it is an affront to all law-abiding and peace-loving Canadian citizens to learn that an oversized billboard with Hezbollah supporter Hassan Nazrallah's image appeared in Windsor. Hezbollah is renowned as a jihad terrorist organization whose funding largely comes from Iran, and whose principal goals are to rid Lebanon of all Christian influence and to eradicate the State of Israel. It is unconscionable that Canadian goodwill and tolerance should be abused and our strong belief in free speech and multiculturalism should be subverted by those who pose a threat to us and to Western democracies by their hateful agenda. It is commendable the billboard was replaced, but it gives one pause such an inflammatory and objectionable sign could have ever appeared at all.
Marcia Sugar/Toronto