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BC Premier caved in to cancel culture when he forced Selina Robinson to resign

Hymie Rubenstein:We have just witnessed a nasty case of cancel culture in British Columbia, where Selina Robinson was forced to submit to mob rule and driven out of her position as the province’s Minister of Post-Secondary Education, both within a period of a few days.

In an online event on Jan. 30, Robinson, the highest-ranking Jewish politician in her province, said that 18 to 34-year-olds “have no idea about the Holocaust; they don’t even think it happened.”

She also said Israel was offered to Jews who were misplaced and displaced from their homes.

“They don’t understand that it was a crappy piece of land with nothing on it. You know, there were several hundred thousand people, but other than that, it didn’t produce an economy. It couldn’t grow things; it didn’t have anything on it,” she claimed.

Many critics immediately jumped in to dispute these remarks, reinforced by an angry protest outside an NDP caucus retreat in Surrey, BC, on Feb. 5, where they delivered a petition said to have 11,000 signatures calling for Robinson to be removed as a government minister.

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This show of force seems to have been a tipping point for BC Premier Dave Eby who had earlier claimed Robinson “crossed the line” because her words were “wrong,” “hurtful,” and “increased divisions among people in our province.” In a hastily arranged news conference later on Feb. 5, he opined that Robinson’s “belittling remarks” were incompatible with her remaining in cabinet, so it was “agreed” she would give up her ministerial post.

Translation: threats by angry protesters in a province facing an October provincial election and with far more Muslim voters than Jewish ones were more than enough to throw Robinson under the bus even though Robinson had made two fulsome apologies and pledged to take anti-Islamophobia training.

As in similar debates pitting free speech against cancel-culture cries of belittlement and defamation, what has been ignored is its evidentiary basis.

Even a cursory review of Middle East history shows that Robinson’s statements, as crudely as they were expressed, were completely accurate.

During the 1875 Annual General Meeting of the British-based Palestine Exploration Fund, the Earl of Shaftesbury said of Palestine, “We have there a land teeming with fertility and rich in history, but almost without an inhabitant – a country without a people, and look! Scattered over the world, a people (the Jews) without a country.”

This sounds like the region “didn’t produce an economy. It couldn’t grow things. It didn’t have anything on it,” including many people.

In 1880, on the eve of Zionist-inspired immigration, and the area still under Ottoman Turk rule, Palestine’s Jewish population numbered less than 15,000, many direct descendants of its Old Testament inhabitants. The Arab population numbered some 400,000 people. The population density of what became British Mandated Palestine after the dissolution of the Turkish Empire four decades later was 46 people per square mile, a terra nullius by any measure.

The Jewish population increased by 470,000 between the First and Second World Wars, while the non-Jewish population rose by 588,000. The permanent Arab population grew by 120 percent between 1922 and 1947 to more than 1.3 million, thanks mainly to the effects of Jewish immigration.

The Arab population also grew because of the improved living conditions created by the Jews as they drained malarial swamps and brought improved sanitation and health care to the region. For example, the Muslim infant mortality rate fell from 201 per thousand in 1925 to 94 per thousand in 1945, and life expectancy rose from 37 years in 1926 to 49 in 1943.

Overall, on the eve of Israel’s statehood in 1948, the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza were better off than they had ever been in the millennia-long history of the region.

This history, compounded by endless falsehoods about the current conflict in Gaza, proves yet again that the first casualty of war is truth. Also revealed is that when it comes to power politics, historical facts are irrelevant when the mob is at the door and an election is on the horizon.

Hymie Rubenstein, a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Manitoba, is editor of REAL Israel & Palestine Report and REAL Indigenous Report.

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