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Sir, I Will Not Be Deterred From Defending Human Rights PDF Print E-mail
Sep 11, 2018 at 12:00 AM

I am a proud anti-racist and advocate for human rights, yet I now find myself in a situation familiar to so many defenders of the human rights of Palestinians: I am being defamed as an anti-Semite by pro-Israel organizations and pro-Israel politicians, including Canada's own Prime Minister.

Let me state unequivocally that I oppose and condemn antisemitism. Indeed, I oppose and condemn all forms of racism. I am humbled to belong to a principled global solidarity movement against the occupation of Palestine. That wonderful and growing movement includes many brothers and sisters from the Jewish community. We are resolute that fighting all racism is necessary to realize any hope for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.

I have visited and reported on Israel and occupied Palestine. I have born witness to Palestinian suffering. This has moved me to seek an end to the oppression of Palestinians, which the Canadian government tries to sweep under the carpet.

Over the last decade, pro-Israel organizations in Western nations have attempted methodically to expand the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel and of its advocates. Previously, antisemitism was understood as prejudice and hatred of Jews, their religion, their culture and their religious institutions. The nation-state of Israel was not part of the equation.

Canada just signed on to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. In 2016, the Western-dominated IHRA adopted a 'working definition' of antisemitism that is 'non-legally binding'. That definition includes vague language that 'manifestations [of antisemitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.' The IHRA definition also states that 'contemporary examples of antisemitism. . . could, taking into account the overall context, include . . . accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.' [My emphasis.]

This sweeping language has become a weapon in the hands of pro-Israel groups and individuals: deploying it enables them to denounce any critic of Israel as anti-Semitic in order to disrupt, deter, marginalize and even criminalize Palestinian rights activism.

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Dignité attacked: one Canadian on board Gaza-bound French boat
Canadian Boat to Gaza
For Immediate Release - Français au dessus

July 19, 2011- 4:30AM EDT

Organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG), the Tahrir, lost contact with the French flagged boat Dignité from the Freedom Flotilla II, at 10:10AM local time when the boat was in international waters north of Arish, Egypt, and are deeply concerned for those aboard, given the likelihood the vessel has been boarded by the Israeli Navy.  The Dignity had managed to get out of Greek territorial waters and was sailing towards Gaza. The Israeli navy recently threatened to intercept any ships heading to Gaza.
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