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October 7, 2010

Solidarity with the Palestinians

Reuel S. Amdur

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On September 28, Canadian activists gathered at the Postal Workers' headquarters under the auspices of the Ottawa Palestine Solidarity Network to share information and make plans for action.

In discussion of the conference on the International Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, to take place from November 7 to 9, it was noted that Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, had allocated some $450,000 for its operation.  One of the topics that the conference will address is “antisemitism on campus.”  What is that all about?

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism conducted a fishing expedition to find this “threat,” and it invited university administrators to speak to the issue.  The fact that the subject is on the conference agenda suggests that the idea may well have come from the Canadian Coalition. 

Fred Lowy, former Concordia University president, told the Canadian Coalition that “By and large, Canadian campuses are safe and are not hotbeds of antisemitism of any kind.”  The other university administrators largely concurred with this judgment.

At that session, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, pointed out that the Harper government’s victimization of groups like Kairos suggests that they “see that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic.”  She wondered if the administrators “feel you’re on trial here and you have to account for that?” 

Then Irwin Cotler identified what for him is “a hard case,” free speech versus a serious psychological assault on Jews, in the form of Israel Apartheid Week.  Of course, we would not want in any way to hurt Cotler’s sensitivities, but is that concern the basis on which universities should operate? 

So it would not be idle speculation to assume that the panel discussion on antisemitism on campus will end up as an attack on Israel Apartheid Week.  Much newspaper ink has been spilled in denouncing the week, but very little on reporting what is actually said at the lectures and discussions during the week.

In another matter, it was noted that an effort is being made to bring George Galloway back to speak in Canada. 

He had been denied entry by Jason Kenney on grounds that he was a terrorist threat.  His denial was recently the matter of a judgment by Justice Richard Mosley.  Mosley found that he could not find that Galloway’s rights had been breached because he had not showed up at the border to request admission to the country. 

However, Mosley did say that the barring “was a flawed and overreaching interpretation of the standard under Canadian law for labelling someone as engaging in terrorism or being a member of a terrorist organization.” 

The reason for keeping him out, said the judge, was “antipathy to his political views.”  Now, it appears that Kenney will have to think up some other reason to keep him out.”

The other major topic of the meeting is the organization of a Canadian boat to Gaza. 

A boat carrying Jews to Gaza had just been intercepted by Israel, its non-resisting passengers brutally attacked by boarding troops.  Now a Canadian boat is being prepared to make the journey. 

The aim is not only to bring aid to Gaza but also to take products out to aid the Gazan economy.  It is estimated that the cost will be approximately $300,000, and about one fourth has already been raised.

To contribute to this project, you can go to 

Or you can mail a cheque.  Cheques should be made out to Alternatives, with Canadian Boat to Gaza on the remarks or comments line.  Mail to Canadian Boat to Gaza,

C.P. 92087, Portobello, Brossard, QC J4W 3K8.

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