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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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Arrests underway in Toronto Israeli Consulate Sit-in

Toronto: Wednesday January 7, 2009   Time: 11:20 am

Police have moved in to arrest a group of Jewish Canadian women who are currently occupying the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street West in Toronto.

The women took their action in protest against the on-going Israeli assault on the people of Gaza.

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