The op-ed the London Free Press refused to print: ‘Blue Berets for Peace vigil in London,’ by Gary McHale

The article & photo below were submitted to the Editor of the London Free Press on July 11/11 who informed Mr. McHale the same day that it would not be published. Hyperlinks in body text added for publication here. (Feel free to reprint article & use photo w/link-back, please)

Blue Berets for Peace vigil outside London Muslim Mosque on Oxford St. In foreground, Pesach Ovadyah (Chair, Jewish Defence League - London), Mark Vandermaas (organizer), Steve Scheffer (Never Again Group, Hamilton). PHOTO: Christine McHale, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality.

Blue Berets for Peace vigil outside London Muslim Mosque on Oxford St. In foreground, Pesach Ovadyah (Chair, Jewish Defence League – London), Mark Vandermaas (organizer), Steve Scheffer (Never Again Group, Hamilton). PHOTO: Christine McHale, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality.

Blue Berets for Peace vigil in London 

by Gary McHale

David Heap, a UWO professor, and Muhammed Hamou, a teacher, chaplain, and former operations manager at the London Muslim Mosque are part of an international team who attempted to travel to the Gaza Strip aboard a 10-ship flotilla in an attempt to break Israel’s blockade of weapons to Hamas. While it was promoted as a humanitarian effort, the trip now appears to have been more about embarrassing Israel then helping people. While there are true humanitarian disasters in the world, Gaza is not one of those places.

In April 2011 Mathilde Redmatn, Deputy Head of the Red Cross stated, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” Recent news stories tell of how Gaza is opening luxury hotels, a large water park, schools, large malls and how food is abundant. Khalil Hamada, a senior Hamas official with Gaza’s Ministry of Justice stated, in June 2010, “There is no starvation in Gaza. No one has died of hunger.”

Mark Vandermaas, a Londoner who served in the Mid-East as a United Nations peacekeeper in 1978, has been conducting a daily Blue Berets for Peace vigil at the mosque on Oxford St. since June 23rd. to call attention to the fact that the mosque held a fundraising dinner for the Canadian boat to Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas, labelled as a terror organization by the Canadian Government.

“As a former peacekeeper I feel compelled to defend Israel’s right to exist in peace,” says Mr. Vandermaas. ” The people of London should be concerned that a religious institution in their community such as the London Muslim Mosque is playing a key role in supporting an effort that, if successful, will make it possible for the Hamas terrorist organization to import even more arms for the purpose of carrying out its stated objective of killing Jews and seeing Israel ‘obliterated.’”

He has also expressed concern for the innocent Palestinians who will suffer if Israel is forced to defend itself against those weapons. Vandermaas has gained support from local residents and others from Southern Ontario. The Toronto-based Jewish Tribune, Canada’s largest Jewish weekly newspaper, and the Toronto Sun’s legendary founder Peter Worthington have both covered the story. Gary Gerofsky, a Jew who traveled from Hamilton to lend his support, said: “Let’s step back for a moment and conduct a reality check. When the 8,000-10,000 Jewish inhabitants were pulled out of Gaza by Israel to allow the 1.5 million Muslims a Jew-free terror enclave – Israel expected the move would create an opportunity for peace. Instead, the Palestinians destroyed their own economy by destroying green houses that were left behind because they were built by Jews. They also got involved in a bloody civil war over power between the two main factions, Hamas and Fatah, with the more extremist and militant Hamas the victor.”

Jacob Peretz, from the London Jewish community, stated, “After absorbing thousands of rockets on its people and homes near the Gaza border, Israel implemented a blockade to prevent Hamas from acquiring even more sophisticated weapons into their territory and use it against Israel. There is nothing illegal in preventing murderers from trying to kill your people. If these activists really want to help the Gazans, they should not support this terrorist monster, Hamas, as it is ruthless against anybody not going their way, even the people of Gaza.”

The National Post reported that the “United Nation Inquiry on last year’s Gaza flotilla incident aboard the Mavi Marmara found that Israel’s blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza is legal and the Israeli government owes no apology or reparation to Turkey.” During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis the USA created a blockade to stop nuclear weapons from being installed. Imagine if the French-owned islands of SaintPierre & Miquelon off the coast Newfoundland were shelling towns in Canada. Do people really believe Canada would not have the right to stop arms from being delivered to these Islands? Similarly, are we to believe Israel is not permitted to protect itself from missiles launched by a terror group whose charter calls for the death of Jews?

Canadians need to stand up for peace, and not find ways to encourage violence.

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Gary McHale is the Executive Director of Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality. His civil rights work in the Caledonia crisis was featured in Christie Blatchford’s 2010 book, Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear And Anarchy, And How The Law Failed All Of Us.

CITATIONS:  (see ‘Background & References’) https://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/former-blue-beret-to-protest-london-ontario-muslim-mosque-support-for-canadian-boat-to-hamas/ ========== END OF SUBMITTED CONTENT ==========

Announcement sent out earlier today…
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PROTEST TOMORROW AT LONDON FREE PRESS BUILDING vs. ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS DURING GAZA FLOTILLA MISSION
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I first announced my plan to protest the anti-Israel bias during the Gaza flotilla mission at the London Free Press on Day 15 (July 7th) of my Blue Beret vigil . In an attempt, on his part, to work with the LFP in good faith to try to make my planned protest un-necessary, Mr. McHale asked if I would be prepared to cancel the protest if he could convince LFP Editor Joe Ruscitti to print an op-ed setting out the facts I felt were not being reported. I agreed, and he attempted to work out the details with Mr. Ruscitti who advised he would make a decision by today. Unfortunately, he has decided not print Mr. McHale’s op-ed, citing a ‘lack of reader interest.’
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Mr. McHale’s op-ed is attached.
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I am calling on all those who value good journalism free from bias and the undue influence of special interest groups to join me in front of the London Free Press building tomorrow from 11:15 until 1:00pm in protest against the paper’s biased reporting of the Gaza flotilla story.
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Members of the pro-Israel Never Again Group from Hamilton and Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality in Caledonia are coming to offer their full support. They will also be joining me during my daily Blue Beret vigil at the London Muslim Mosque, and you are welcome to be part of this vigil as well.
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  • 10:00 – 11:00 am: Daily Blue Beret vigil, London Muslim Mosque, 151 Oxford St. W., London, ON [MAP]
  • 11:15-1:00 pm: London Free Press, 369 York St., London [MAP] There are parking lots in area. Do NOT park at LFP building.
  • Protest Instructions: before deciding to attend – especially at my daily vigil – I ask that you review the attached ‘OUR GOALS TODAY’ document [PDF]
  • Please…NO signs (I will bring), NO bullhorns, NO yelling, NO swearing, keep sidewalk clear.
  • More info re Blue Beret vigil: https://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/updates-blue-beret-protests-at-london-ontario-muslim-mosque/
Thank you in advance for your support.
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BACKGROUND
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As outlined in my daily updates about my Blue Beret vigil in front of the London Muslim Mosque, which is now in its 20th day, despite interviewing me twice, and despite my reaching out to their editor with my evidence and an offer to meet with him after no stories appeared, and despite Jews and non-Jews coming from as far away as Hamilton to offer support (see photos in Days 3 & 11), the London Free Press has steadfastly refused to run stories about the vigil, and refused to report verifiable facts which directly contradict the anti-Israel claims made by the Canadian Boat to Gaza mission. They have also refused to report the London Mosque’s role in furthering the mission to break the anti-Hamas weapons blockade.
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Mr. McHale advises that the reason given by Mr. Ruscitti for turning down his op-ed is a ‘lack of reader interest.’
Despite this alleged ‘lack of reader interest,’ however, the paper has run several pro-Palestinian local-angle stories built around the two ‘delegates’ from London who were part of the Tahrir’s attempt to break what the UN has stated is a lawful blockade.

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I wish to make clear – as I did to the London Free Press – that I am also speaking out on behalf of the innocent Palestinians who will be harmed if Israel is forced to defend its citizens against Hamas weapons. I believe the LFP has an obligation to report the truth so that both Palestinian and Israeli citizens are not harmed by its role in spreading the hysterical anti-Israel propaganda that has been used to undermine her legitimacy, and her right to live in peace.
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NOTE: I have written to Editor Ruscitti seeking his side to the decision not to cover the Blue Beret vigil or the facts I have been trying to share with the public. I have promised to publish his response in full.
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References
POSTED BY: Mark Vandermaas Editor, VoiceofCanada info@voiceofcanada.ca
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2 responses to “The op-ed the London Free Press refused to print: ‘Blue Berets for Peace vigil in London,’ by Gary McHale

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