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Smearing, Silencing and Antisemitism PDF Print E-mail
Jan 20, 2021 at 12:00 AM

On June 10, 2020, I participated in an online debate. It was organized by Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression (CFE) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). The debate was entitled, “Fighting Anti-Semitism or Silencing Critics of Israel: What’s Behind the Push for Governments to Adopt the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism?”.

The debate was purposefully produced in the spirit of free expression and open dialogue. Two panelists, myself included, argued that the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition does risk silencing critics of Israel. Two other panelists argued that it doesn’t. I was the only panelist who was not Jewish.

Two weeks later, based on comments I made on the panel, I became the target of a national petition calling on my employer, York University, to ban me from teaching human rights. The petition was part of a smear campaign initiated by B’nai Brith Canada, designed to falsely make me look like an antisemite.

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Palestinian rights and the IHRA definition of antisemitism PDF Print E-mail
Nov 29, 2020 at 05:52 PM

A group of 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals express their concerns about the IHRA definition

We, the undersigned Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals are hereby stating our views regarding the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and the way this definition has been applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries of Europe and North America.

In recent years, the fight against antisemitism has been increasingly instrumentalised by the Israeli government and its supporters in an effort to delegitimise the Palestinian cause and silence defenders of Palestinian rights. Diverting the necessary struggle against antisemitism to serve such an agenda threatens to debase this struggle and hence to discredit and weaken it.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Suspension From the Labour Party Is Part of a Wider Assault on Democracy and Dissent PDF Print E-mail
Oct 31, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Keir Starmer’s disgraceful move to suspend Jeremy Corbyn as a member of the Labour Party doesn’t come out of a vacuum. It’s part of a much wider push to stifle political dissent in Britain by coercive means, in which Starmer is now complicit.

As Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn inspired millions because he represented the promise of deep freedom and democracy, for people in Britain and around the world. “We stand with Jeremy Corbyn — just as he has always stood with us,” wrote a collective of BAME organizations, activists, and revolutionaries two days before the 2019 general election. And so defeat at the ballot box wasn’t enough — Corbynism had to be buried.

In his place, Keir Starmer, surrounded by cadres of Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair, hopes to show that he is a trusty custodian of Britain’s decaying imperial state apparatus. What better way — having already waved the legalization of torture and state murder through parliament — than to humiliate the man who threatened to topple this fragile order of domination and misery?

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The Smearing of Ken Loach & Jeremy Corbyn PDF Print E-mail
Apr 14, 2020 at 12:00 AM

The vilification campaigns against the two men — both passionate defenders of Palestinian rights and champions of unabashed class struggle — is the face of our new toxic politics.

Ken Loach, one of Britain’s most acclaimed film directors, has spent more than a half a century dramatizing the plight of the poor and the vulnerable. His films have often depicted the casual indifference or active hostility of the state as it exercises unaccountable power over ordinary people.

Last month Loach found himself plunged into the heart of a pitiless drama that could have come straight from one of his own films. This veteran chronicler of society’s ills was forced to stand down as a judge in a school anti-racism competition, falsely accused of racism himself and with no means of redress.

Voice of the Powerless

There should be little doubt about Loach’s credentials both as an anti-racist and a trenchant supporter of the powerless and the maligned.

In his films he has turned his unflinching gaze on some of the ugliest episodes of British state repression and brutality in Ireland, as well as historical struggles against fascism in other parts of the globe, from Spain to Nicaragua.

But his critical attention has concentrated chiefly on Britain’s shameful treatment of its own poor, its minorities and its refugees. In his recent film “I, Daniel Blake” he examined the callousness of state bureaucracies in implementing austerity policies, while this year’s release “Sorry We Missed You” focused on the precarious lives of a zero-hours workforce compelled to choose between the need to work and responsibility to family.

Inevitably, these scathing studies of British social and political dysfunction – exposed even more starkly by the current coronavirus pandemic – mean Loach is much less feted at home than he is in the rest of the world, where his films are regularly honored with awards.

Which may explain why the extraordinary accusations against him of racism – or more specifically anti-Semitism – have not been more widely denounced as malicious.

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Academic freedom at UBC threatened by false allegations of anti-semitism PDF Print E-mail
Feb 12, 2020 at 12:00 AM

https://thetalon.ca/academic-freedom-at-ubc-threatened-by-false-allegations-of-anti-semitism/

In 2018, six members of the UBC community were the subjects of an investigation based on allegations that they had engaged in antisemitic behaviour after they declared their opposition to holding the Geography Department’s year-end party at Hillel UBC. 

Their email comments explaining this opposition became the subject of a six-month investigation that ended with an outside investigator finding there had been no expression of antisemitism. Although the 52-page report was completed in October 2018, UBC officials have refused to publicly acknowledge the fact that the case was dismissed. In addition, they have not released the investigator’s findings.

As members of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), a grassroots organization that opposes all forms of racism and advocates for justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine, we provided support to the students who were the subject of the investigation. Because we were participants, we were given redacted copies of the investigator’s report. After careful consideration, we have become convinced that the findings in this investigation are too important to be kept secret.

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Discussing Hamas with Gazan Expatriate Samah Sabawi

I caught up with Samah Sabawi on August 1st, 26 days into the Israeli assault on Gaza. Samah is a Canadian Palestinian with family roots in Gaza. I wanted to ask her views on the current situation in Gaza and particularly on the role Hamas is playing. She is a playwright, a policy advisor to AlShabaka and is former public advocate for Australians for Palestine. She was for many years a media spokesperson for National Council for Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR) and moved in 2009 to Australia where her parents and many other members of her Palestinian family have found refuge.

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