The press release below comes from Independent Jewish Voices, ‘a national human rights organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.’

The statement is in response to the latest aggressive attempt to shut down criticism of the Israeli state and smear supporters of Palestinian self-determination in the form of ‘Motion 36’ which is being debated today in the Ontario legislature. The motion alleges that the BDS movement, which uses non-violent tactics to pressure Israel to respect international law and Palestinian rights, promotes ‘hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance’.

Sadly, the Ontario legislature has form, and reflects the stranglehold of Israeli apologists on Canada’s entire political and media establishment.

Just last May, Liberal and Tory MPPs in Ontario put aside their differences to propose a private member’s bill that would have blacklisted those who support boycotts of companies complicit in the denial of Palestinian rights and support for Israeli settlements, whose illegality is ostensibly the position of the Canadian government. Apparently, we’re allowed to call the Israeli government’s behaviour illegal, but doing anything about it constitutes ‘anti Semitism.’ Last week, the Canadian government joined just seven other nations in opposing a UN resolution simply supporting Palestinian self-determination. Wow. In doing so, it found itself in the esteemed company of Narau and the Marshall Islands and Palau, alongside Israel and the US.

Before you get to IJV’s media release here’s a clever and snappy video they posted on Twitter, which provides a bit of context about both attacks on BDS and the role of boycotts as tool of dissent in contemporary history.

Toronto, Ontario— Numerous organizations which support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are disturbed by MPP Gila Martow’s latest motion. Motion 36 will be debated and voted on at Queen’s Park later today. The private member motion suggests that BDS promotes or encourages “hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance” and calls on the Ontario Legislature to “reject” it.

“BDS rejects all forms of discrimination, including antisemitsm,” says Mariam Nokerah, a student activist with the group Students for Justice in Palestine at UOIT/DC. According to the BDS movement’s website, BDS only targets businesses and institutions that are directly aiding in the ongoing violation of Palestinians’ human rights.

“We agree that any action that stands for hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance has no place in the province of Ontario,” stated Atif Kubursi, spokespseron for the Canadian Arab Federation. “However, it is defamatory to suggest that those advocating for human rights through non-violent actions stand for hatred.”

“While we strongly condemn antisemitism and any other form of bigotry, the motion’s endorsement of the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism is highly problematic,” says Independent Jewish Voices Canada spokesperson Tyler Levitan. “The Protocol’s definition of antisemitism accepts that opposing the historic and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians amounts to a form of Jew-hatred. The definition has been widely discredited and was rejected by the European Union.”

“This motion is based on falsehoods about the BDS movement and serves to whitewash the reality of Israel’s ongoing and systematic mistreatment of the Palestinians,” says Dania Majid of the Canadian Arab Lawyers Association. “Officially condemning a perfectly lawful and legitimate form of protest creates a serious chill on freedom of expression.”

“Rather than rejecting the BDS movement, the Ontario Legislature ought to be rejecting dishonest and defamatory efforts by MPP Gila Martow to demonize Palestinian human rights supporters,” says Thomas Woodley, spokesperson for Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

Critics of the motion are calling on MPPs to vote against Motion 36. They want Ontario to uphold the human rights and freedom of expression of all Ontarians; and have equal regard for all forms of racism and discrimination, including Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism and antisemitism.

Statement calling for an end to intimidation of Palestinian rights advocacy in Ontario by over 70 civil society organizations: http://ijvcanada.org/2016/the-ontario-government-must-end-its-intimidation-of-palestinian-rights-advocacy/

For more information:

Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices Canada, tyler@ijvcanada.org

Dania Majid, spokesperson for Canadian Arab Lawyers Association, info@canarablaw.org

Thomas Woodley, spokesperson for Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, thomas.woodley@cjpme.org

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