Contempt for Democratic Dialogue in Canada

Only days after the Canadian ArabFederation (CAF) criticized the Canadian government for its one-sided supportof Israel’s violentincursion in Gaza,the Harper government cut off all federal English-as-a-second language (ESL)funding to CAF. Harper’s spiteful move against CAF was not an isolatedincident. George Galloway, the world-renowned anti-war orator and solidarityactivist, was banned from speaking in Canada,while George Bush and Bill Clinton, noted war criminals, were permitted to earnhuge fees to speak in Toronto and Calgary. At the same time,students and faculty at many Canadian campuses who have identified the policiesand practices of the State of Israel as apartheid, are being targeted forharassment, surveillance, and intimidation.

The last two years have seenincreasing efforts to disallow advocacy of Palestinian rights on Canadianuniversity campuses, amounting to a pattern of the suppression of freedom ofspeech and freedom of assembly. These include: 1) Statements from 19 university presidents to foreclose debate onthe academic boycott of Israel, citing "academic freedom";  2) Efforts to ban the use of the term"Israeli Apartheid" at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, overturnedonly through a campaign of  protest; 3)Discipline against students involved in peaceful protests for Palestinianrights at York University, in Toronto; 4)Attempted discipline against a faculty member who addressed a rally againstIsraeli Apartheid at York University; 5)Pattern of cancellation of room bookings for meetings concerning Palestinianrights at the University of Toronto and York University; 6) Use of security clearance requirements and fees to coversecurity costs to impede campus meetings about Palestinian rights; 7) Minister of State for Science andTechnology Gary Goodyear’s unprecedentedinterference in academic freedom when he personally called the president of theSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (the main funding bodyfor academic research in Canada), demanding they reconsider their funding ofthe peer-reviewed conference at York University, "Israel/Palestine:Mapping models of statehood and paths to peace."

We are in the midst of anation-wide propaganda campaign aimed at vilifying any person or group thatspeaks out against the total abrogation of Palestinian rights. B’nai Brith Canada, hasrecently issued press releases and statements including demands to: 

1) Condemn this year’s Pride parade grand marshal, El-Farouk Khaki,for speaking at a recent public event organized by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.2) Condemn annual Israeli ApartheidEvent; 3) Condemn CUPE 3903 asanti-Semitic; 4) Demand cancellationof play "Seven Jewish Children"; 5)Applaud Koffler Art Centre’s decision to withdraw support and shut down exhibitof artist Reena Katz, anti-Apartheid activist; 6) Demand cancellation ofconference on One State/Two State solution at York University; 7) Demand that the LGBTQ community notallow "anti-Israel agitators" to march at Pride; 8) Demand for unilateral stripping of funding from Canadian ArabFederation; 9) Demand that government refuse to allow British MP GeorgeGalloway to enter the country; 10) Applaudand support a motion filed in the Ontario legislature by MPP Peter Shurman, condemning the use of the term"Israeli Apartheid Week."

Fighting Back in Defense of Freedom ofSpeech

Followingare a sampling of campaigns that are confronting these assaults on individualsand groups who continue to speak out against the ongoing violations ofhumanitarian and international law by the Israeli state:

1) Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid(CAIA), Statement, 2 June ‘2009
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA) attacked by pro-Israel B’nai Brith;Toronto’s Pride Committee stands up to political pressure to exclude QUAIA  from city’s annual celebration of LGBTQpride. Pride Toronto has issued a public statementwhich makes absolutely clear that "it has no intention of banning anyparticipants from the Dyke March and the Parade because of their politicalagenda". B’nai Brith has issued several press releases recently, each aimed atsilencing critics of Israeli policy, including queer community activists and artists.At the same time, B’nai Brith chooses to ally itself with Christianfundamentalist homophobes. In the face of growing support and understanding ofthe Palestinian plight, including that faced by Palestinian queers, the Zionistmovement is responding with intimidation and repression. We are fully convincedthese actions will fail and be seen for what they are: a desperate attempt by afailing movement to shut down free speech and the right to organize. CoalitionAgainst Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) statement endorsed by Students Against IsraeliApartheid (University of Toronto), Students Against Israeli Apartheid (YorkUniversity), Faculty4Palestine, Labour4Palestine, Teachers4Palestine, Educatorsfor Peace and Justice.

2) Open Letter to University Community Regarding PalestinianRights and CanadianUniversities -Faculty4Palestine

 We the undersigned:

  • Defend the right to freedom of speech about Palestine for all members of the university community, including freedom to use the term ‘apartheid’ to identify and debate certain policies associated with the state of Israel and the freedom to support, facilitate and participate freely in activities under the rubric of "Israeli apartheid week"
  • Call for an end to the silencing of speech around Palestine, removing extraordinary requirements for security clearance and fees for security services
  • Support increased ties to Palestinian institutions and scholars, and activities to support the right to education and academic freedom of Palestinians

________________________________________________________________________

3) The Political Action Committee of the Canadian Union ofPublic Employees, local 3906 (representing over 2,400precarious academic workers at McMaster University,Hamilton, Ontario) as wellas Faculty4Palestine, apan-Canadian network with over 400 members in over 40 universities and 10colleges, is asking concerned members of the academic, labour and socialjustice communities in Southern Ontario to join us in demanding the immediate resignation of Minister of Statefor Science and Technology Gary Goodyear. Demonstration at the offices of GaryGoodyear _____________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

 

4)Independent Jewish Voices (IJV – National):  EMERGENCY RESOLUTION

 Sincefederal Minister Gary Goodyear has attempted to interfere with SSHRC (SocialSciences and Humanities Research Council) funding of t
he York Universityconference ‘Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace’

AndSince this interference is an unprecedented attempt to silence democraticdebate

Andsince the discussion itself at the Mapping Models conference has been attackedas Anti-Semitic,  IJV resolves:

 1. To publicly state that discussions such as Mapping Models forIsrael/Palestine, whether or not those discussions include proposals for astate that does not maintain an ethnically Jewish majority, is notanti-Semitic;

 2. To write a letter to PM Stephen Harper calling for the resignation of MinisterGoodyear (in support of CAUT and academic freedom); and

  3.To write a letter to the organizers of the conference supporting them andthanking them for their efforts.

Adoptedat the 2009 Annual General Meeting of Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)- June 14, 2009

 _______________________________________________________________________

 

5)Science for Peace (at Universityof Toronto): STATEMENT

Sciencefor Peace is one of the oldest Canadian non-governmental organizations toadvocate persistently for peace and justice.  We maintain that there arealways non-military solutions to conflicts and that wars are illegal aggressiveacts.

  • The Israeli/Palestinian impasse involves sixty-one years of occupation, the siege of Gaza, and  illegal continued expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank
  • The potential use of nuclear weapons the likely use of non-conventional illegal weapons in 2006 and 2009,  currently under UN investigation,
  • The documented ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population (based on Israeli archival evidence).

Sciencefor Peace commends Queens University and York Universityfor organizing the historical conference "Mapping Models of Statehood and Pathsto Peace". Science for Peace also commends York Universitypresident Shoukri for his strong stand in support of this conference.We areunequivocally opposed to Minister Gary Goodyear’s request for a second peerreview of the conference.  We understand that there are allegations fromB’nai Brith and from the Canadian Council for Israeli and Jewish Advocacy(CIJA) that this conference is anti-Semitic and aims to de-legitimize the Stateof Israel.  This entirely misrepresents the conference, its participantsand its aims.  The accusation is provocative and slanderous. Theallegations reflect astonishing ignorance of the research and analytic workbeing done by innumerable scholars and concerned citizens to peacefully resolvethis seemingly intransigent issue. Along with the Canadian Association ofUniversity Teachers, we call for the resignation of Minister Gary Goodyear forallowing this politicized interference in academic freedom.

JudithDeutsch,President                                           Chandler Davis,Treasurer

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *