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March 13, 2012

Kenney's Defense of Human Rights Stops at Israeli Border

Reuel S. Amdur

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Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, celebrated Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) by denouncing it as an effort to "demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel."

His statement on March 7 claimed that IAW impinges on “the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.”  Interestingly, the strongly pro-Israel Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism invited university administrators to give testimony, and it was totally unable to elicit from any of them that Jewish students were under threat or danger on campus.

In response to Kenney, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) charged that Kenney’s attack on legitimate campus discussion of Israeli policy and practice is an attack on freedom of speech, an attempt to intimidate critics of Israel and of Canada’s uncritical support of Israel.

The IJV statement challenged Kenney’s claim that IAW is “singling out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East for condemnation.”  “Firstly,” they charged, “if anyone is singling out Israel, it’s Kenney himself.  He’s singling it out for exemption from international law.  It’s time for an end to the impunity Israel enjoys in its continued violation of international law.  Secondly, we agree with Palestinians living in Israel who are still waiting for democracy (not to mention respect for their rights).”

According to Independent Jewish Voices, the Kenney effort to shut down discussion on Palestinian rights is consistent with other Conservative government efforts to shut down dissent.  They noted the Conservative government’s defunding of the Canadian Arab Federation, KAIROS, and Palestine House for their positions on Israel/Palestine that irritated the Tories.  As well, there was Kenney’s unsuccessful attempt to keep George Galloway from coming to Canada to speak.

Diana Ralph, a member of the steering committee of IJV and one of the founders of the organization, pointed to a disconnect between the government’s wholesale rejection of Israeli Apartheid Week and its stated stand on Israel/Palestine.

“Canada,” she observed, “says it favors a two-state solution.  Israeli Apartheid Week speakers expose the policies and actions of the Israeli government which make a two-state solution increasingly impossible, such as expanding settlement construction and confiscating Palestinian homes and entire villages.  Kenney appears to be contradicting Canada’s own stated policy against these Israeli actions.  He also acts against Canada’s commitment to humanitarian law and international human rights.”

  1. Their joint statement was endorsed by the following organizations:

Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories

Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver

Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)

Canadian Arab Federation (CAF)

Canadian Boat to Gaza

Canadian Peace Alliance

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)

Centre for Social Justice

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Toronto

Coalition of Arab Canadian Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA)

College and University Workers United (CUWU, Montreal)

Edmonton Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (EQuAIA)

Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA)

Educators for Peace and Justice (EPJ)

Faculty for Palestine – F4P (Toronto)

Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Alberta)

Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Carleton)

Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (GTWA)

Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)

Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)

Labour for Palestine

Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network

The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle – Toronto

National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women of Canada - LATIN@S

New Socialist Group

Nightslantern Suppressed News

No One Is Illegal Toronto

Not In Our Name: Jews Opposed to Zionism (NION)

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty - OCAP

OPIRG - Toronto

Palestine House Educational and Cultural Centre

Palestine Solidarity Working Group, Laurentian University, Sudbury

Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton

Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)

Regina Solidarity Group

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Seriously Free Speech Committee

Socialist Project

SPHR UWO – Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Western University

SPHR Ryerson

SPHR – UBC

Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University - Carleton

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA)- Regina

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – University of Toronto

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at York University

Tadamon! - Montreal

Teachers for Palestine (T4P) – Toronto

Toronto Bolivia Solidarity

Toronto Coalition to Stop the War (TCSW)

Winnipeg CAIA

Women in Solidarity with Palestine (WSP)

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