Tag Archives: iaw

SFSC Article: Bill C-13 – Criminalizing Criticism of Israel in Canada

A Hate-Propaganda Trojan Horse in Bill C-13 serious JAIL web

Joint Submission by SFSC and IJV-Canada to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights about Bill C-13, the supposed Anti-Cyberbullying Legisation.

Written by Dr. Michael Keefer

The international campaign calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as a peaceful means of persuading that state to abandon its systematic violations of international law and its policies of apartheid dispossession, colonization, and blockade in the occupied Palestinian territories, has recently enjoyed a burgeoning number of successes.1

In early February 2014, The Economist noted that BDS “is turning mainstream,”2 and former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg wrote in Haaretz that the “BDS movement is gaining momentum and is approaching the turning point […. at which] sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli.”3

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of indicating that he and his allies would respond vigorously to this trend. Some of the reports about a cabinet meeting where tactics were discussed revealed more about internecine divisions between those ministers invited to take part and those who were excluded than about the substance of the meeting.4 Yet although Israeli media indicated “that ‘the discussion was held in secret’, with an imposed ‘media blackout’,” one source that reported this fact was able to give a fairly precise sense of what went on behind closed doors:

Ideas apparently discussed by senior ministers included lawsuits “in European and North American courts against [pro-BDS] organizations” and “legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements … [and complicit] Israeli companies”. There is also the possibility of “encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra”, and “activat[ing] the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.” for such a purpose.5

This kind of “lawfare,” as it is sometimes called, is nothing new (nor, one can add, is the notion, also discussed at this meeting, of bolstering surveillance of pro-BDS organizations by military intelligence, the Shin Bet Security Service, and the Mossad). It’s also evident that the pro-Israel lobby has been active in mobilizing politicians in the “friendly capitals” of Washington, Ottawa, and Canberra for many years.

Recent fruits of that labour have included, in Canberra, threats made in June 2013 by Julie Bishop, a senior member of Julia Gillard’s incoming Australian government, that “supporters of an academic boycott of Israel” would have their “access to public research funds summarily cut off.”6 In Washington, a bipartisan “Protect Academic Freedom Act” that would deny federal funding “to colleges and universities that participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars”7 has been brought before Congress.

But what of Canada, whose Prime Minister is Mr. Netanyahu’s most faithful friend?8

This essay will argue that revisions to the Canadian Criminal Code proposed by the Harper government contain wording that is designed to enable lawfare prosecutions of human rights activists in precisely the manner desired by Mr. Netanyahu and his associates.

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B’nai Brith: First Campus Victory in Canada

Toronto, April 12, 2013 — B’nai Brith Canada extends its congratulations to the students at University of Manitoba that spearheaded last night’s University of Manitoba Students Union (UMSU) resolution that stripped Students Against Israel Apartheid (SAIA) of its status as a student group and banned Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) from UMSU property.
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Electronic Intifada: Israel lobby uses discredited anti-Semitism definition to muzzle debate

Ben White, The Electronic Intifada. 28 September 2012

Top administrators at the University of California are considering what action to take against speech and activities alleged to be anti-Semitic. As part of their discussions, the university may endorse a seven-year-old document, which — despite not having an official status — is often called the European Union’s“working definition” of anti-Semitism.

Although the administrators have indicated that their motive is to protect Jewish students, a careful examination of the definition indicates that the real agenda may be to stifle Palestine solidarity activism and criticism of Israel in the classroom.  Continue reading

CAIA: Joint Statement on Minister Jason Kenney’s Condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week

March 9, 2012

As organizations and groups committed to protecting freedom of expression and public debate on Palestine/Israel, we demand that Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney immediately retract his March 7th statement “condemning Israel Apartheid Week”. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/statements/2012/2012-03-07.asp

This statement is the Conservative government’s latest attempt to silence activist groups and organizations in Canada that act or speak in support of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. While Kenney’s statement claims to value “free exchanges of ideas” and “academic dialogue,” his targeted condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week events on Canadian universities this week (and in previous years) is a blatant attempt to shut down free expression for Palestine solidarity on campus.

The Harper government’s track record clearly reveals that it does not actually value the university as “an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely”. Indeed, it has been actively involved in undermining this ideal that it claims to uphold. Continue reading

CIM: Minister Kenney issues statement on ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’


Ottawa, March 7, 2012 – The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’:Like many Canadians I am concerned with the rise of anti-Israel activities on campuses across Canada, culminating in the so-called ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ (IAW), which is often promoted in a manner that disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.Universities are meant to offer an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely. Jewish faculty and students have the right to engage in this debate without feeling the need to conceal their identity, or to self-censor.  Continue reading

SPHR: Urgent Call for Solidarity with SPHR – University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa Administration had threatened to cancel our Thursday event booking on campus, due to “an incident”.
But thanks to the immediate support that we’ve received, the University of Ottawa has re-confirmed the room reservation for the lecture event on Thursday, March 8th. As such, the panel discussion, entitled “Legalized Apartheid and Women’s Resistance in Palestine: Principled Solidarity and the Global Struggle for Liberation” will proceed as planned at 7:00pm that evening. 

However, the University has imposed the presence of agents from the Protection Services as a condition for the event to take place, after evaluating a complaint by unknown persons regarding our event on March 5th (“Arab Spring, Apartheid Falls? The Egyptian Uprising and Possibilities for Palestinian Resistance”). While we will not be contesting this decision at this point, it is our belief that such a security presence is unnecessary and does not contribute to a safe and open environment for our guests and speakers. Furthermore, despite repeated demands, we have received almost no information on the details and exact nature of the aforementioned complaint, leaving us entirely in the dark as to the reasons why a previously confirmed lecture event was precipitously placed in jeopardy only two days before it was due to take place.

We encourage you to demand more transparency from the University of Ottawa’s administration through the release of information about the complaint, as well as information as to how it was evaluated by the administration and how the latter motivated the decisions it took in consequence. It is both unacceptable and highly suspect that the University of Ottawa has taken such arbitrary action without any due explanation. 

Please refer to the detailed and updated call-out: 


Call on the University of Ottawa Administration to follow clear and transparent procedures.  Continue reading

SFSC Letter: Support for Israeli Apartheid Week Keynote at the University of Ottawa

March 7, 2012

Dear President Rock and Mr. Bergeron,

I recently learned that the University of Ottawa is threatening to prevent the keynote event for Israeli Apartheid Week in Ottawa from taking place, by cancelling the students’ pre-approved room booking. Hiding these silencing tactics behind the cover of bureaucracy is worrying. Israeli Apartheid Week is a week of educational and cultural events that critically engages with the policies undertaken by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.  Continue reading