[catlist tags=sfsc-event numberposts=-1 content=yes]


[catlist tags=sfsc-event-past numberposts=-1 excerpt=yes thumbnail=yes]



October 23 2009: Is Criticising Israel Antisemitic?
Feb 17 2009: Freedom of Speech Under Siege – Watch Webcast
Oct 24: Bob Dylan Concert Leafletted

Sept 26: Canwest: Media Bully – Vancouver
Sept 19: Canwest: Media Bully – Victoria
June 6: Golden Gag Award – Watch Webcast
May 14: Media Bully Panel – Watch Webcast


Watch video of this event on youtube

Understanding recent attempts to silence criticism of Israel in Canada

Free Public Forum
Saturday February 12, 6:30 pm
SFU Harbour Centre
515 W. Hastings St.

Student organizations at UBC have come under attack for opposing
Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza. Jenny Peto’s Master’s thesis, ‘The
Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of
Hegemonic Holocaust Education,’ was condemned in the national media
and by three members of the Ontario legislature. A public forum to
discuss attacks in Canada on freedom of speech about Israel/Palestine.

Featured Speakers:
Jenny Peto – Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto)
Omar Chaaban – Solidarity with Palestinian Human Rights – UBC
Brian Campbell – Seriously Free Speech Committee

Over the past few months, two student organizations at UBC have come
under attack for their efforts to oppose Israel’s illegal siege of the
Gaza Strip.

The situation at UBC began when the Social Justice Centre approved a
donation for the Canadian Boat to Gaza at the request of the UBC
chapter of Solidarity with Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR). The
Canadian Boat is part of an international effort to break the illegal
siege on Gaza and expose the Canadian government’s unjustified support
for Israel.

Since then, zionist groups on campus have engaged in a vicious
campaign to both block this donation from being granted and to
undermine the work of these student groups.

This campaign is part of a wider strategy by pro-Israel groups in
Canada to undermine solidarity work for Palestine. As recently
documented by Al Jazeera, attacks on Palestinian-solidarity
organizations and individual activists are escalating in Canada, from
the defunding of the Canadian Arab Federation and KAIROS to the
banning of British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, the
condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week, and the attempts to ban Queers
Against Israeli Apartheid from the Toronto Pride Parade.

This repression is happening at a time when, around the world,
opposition is growing to the ongoing human rights violations and war
crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. It is also
happening at a time of increased repression within the state of Israel
itself, where efforts by both Palestinian citizens of Israel and
Israeli human rights organizations to challenge Israel’s apartheid
policies are increasingly criminalized.

Join us for a free public forum to discuss why these attacks on free
speech are happening in the context of Palestine support work in
Canada, and what we can do to stop them.

About Jenny Peto:

A member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto, Jenny
has a Master’s degree in Sociology and Equity Studies from the Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of
Toronto. Her Master’s thesis, entitled ‘The Victimhood of the
Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust
Education,’ has been at the centre of a recent firestorm generated by
pro-Israel groups in Canada. Jenny has faced personal attacks in the
media and her work was condemned by three members of the Ontario
legislature. These attacks have been met with a powerful response from
hundreds of outraged individuals and from a wide range of
organizations including Faculty for Palestine, PACBI, IJV, the
Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Committee
on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North
America (MESA).

For more background information please check out the following links:

Sponsored by the SFU Teaching Support Staff Union Social Justice Committee
For more information:organizer (at)

Endorsers (in alphabetical order): Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign Vancouver, Canada Palestine Association, Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet), Canadian Boat to Gaza, Independent Jewish Voices BC, Seriously Free Speech Vancouver, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights- UBC,, Voice of Palestine


Full Webcast of Sept 23 event.
Book tour by professor Michael Keefer, author of Antisemitism Real and Imagined
Other Western Canada appearances by Dr. Keefer

Should Canada criminalize criticism of Israel as antisemitic hate speech? Some Canadian parliamentarians think so. The Harper government recently gave $450,000 to support an international conference that brings together in Ottawa in November Zionist supporters from parliaments around the world. Their goal is to expand the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) is the Canadian branch of this effort. It’s an informal coalition of MPs from the Conservative, Liberal and NDP that has been studying the growing threat of what they call a “new antisemitism.”

The CPCCA , which will release a report at the conference in Ottawa, is expected to recommend changes to the human rights legislation or hate laws that would make it illegal to criticize Israel.
Responding to this threat to free speech, Michael Keefer, a University of Guelph professor, has written an important book, Antisemitism Real and Imagined, that provides an in-depth investigation of the extent of antisemitism in Canada, the ideology of the “new antisemitism,” and the role of the CPCCA as a mechanism to protect Israel.

In order to raise awareness of this threat, Dr. Keefer is beginning a western Canada tour in Vancouver. Hear MICHAEL KEEFER, along with MICHEAL VONN, Policy Director for the BC Civil Liberties Association.

The meeting is co-sponsored by Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), and organized by the Seriously Free Speech Committee.

Other appearances by Dr. Keefer:

SFU Maggie Benston Centre
Thursday, September 23, 2010, 12:30pm
Room 2290
Sponsors:SFU PIRG (Public Interest Research Group),
SFU TSSU (Teaching Support Staff Union)

University Of Victoria
Friday, September 24, 2010, 12:30pm
David Strong Building, C116
Sponsors: U. Of Victoria Social Justice Studies

Friday, September, 24, 2010, 7:00pm
BCGEU Hall,2994 Douglas St.
Sponsors: Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria Goods For Cuba

Saturday, September 25, 2010, 1:00pm
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library, 90 Commercial St.
Sponsors:Mid-Islanders For Justice And Peace In The Middle East

Saturday, September 25, 2010, 7:00pm
Comox United Church
250 Beach Drive (at Comox Ave)
Sponsors:CV Peace Group,World Community, Island World, Mid-Islanders For
Justice And Peace In The Middle East

Monday, September 27 (7:00 pm)
University of Alberta
Telus Building Room 236/238, U of A Campus (111 St & 87 Avenue)

Wednesday, September 29 (1:30-3:30pm)
University of Manitoba
204 University College

Wednesday, September 29 (7:00-9:00pm)
University of Winnipeg
Room 1L12m Lockhart Hall

October 23: Is Criticising Israel Antisemitic?



Vancouver Public Library Downtown
“Alma and Peter” Rooms, Lower level, 350 West Georgia

A Talk by Alan Sears

Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University and Member of Faculty 4 Palestine
Followed by a Round-table Audience Discussion

Organised by the Seriously Free Speech Committee
Sponsored by Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet),
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJVC) and NECEF

Is Criticising Israel Antisemitic?

Israel’s supporters are becoming increasingly aggressive toward anyone who dares to criticize Israel’s actions. To deflect attention from Israel’s illegal occupation, they lash out at critics, calling them racist or antisemitic.

Over past two years, attempts in Canada to silence criticism include:

  • a SLAPP suit filed by Canwest over a parody of the Vancouver Sun’s pro-Israel bias;
  • banning Israel Apartheid Week posters on some Ontario campuses;
  • attacking the United Church as antisemitic for passing a resolution on Palestine;
  • refusal to allow British MP George Galloway into Canada to speak;
  • attempts to censor the play Seven Jewish Children.

Antisemitism is discrimination or hatred against Jews just because they are Jews. Israel’s supporters are campaigning for a definition of a “new” antisemitism, one that includes political criticism of the policies and actions of the state of Israel.

In February 2007, individual parliamentarians from across the world met in London and drafted The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism based on a definition of “new” antisemitism:

Now Canadian parliamentarians have followed suit, creating an informal coalition to hold public consultations, called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). Many Canadians worry that this coalition will work to incorporate this much broader definition of antisemitism into Canada’s Criminal Code, effectively outlawing legitimate, reasoned and serious criticism of Israel. Groups such as the Seriously Free Speech Committee are calling on concerned citizens to write to the CPCCA to oppose this threat to free expression.

View our submission to the CPCCA
To get involved, please email:

Feb 17: Freedom of Speech Under Siege

Watch webcast at

Freedom of Speech Under Siege
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Room 1700 SFU Harbour Centre
Free Admission

Sponsored by Seriously Free Speech Committee

Gordon Murray – co-creator of the Vancouver Sun parody
Deborah Campbell – author and journalist on the Middle East
Micheal Vonn – Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Assoc.
Kimberly Baker – artist and artographer

Canadians right to freedom of speech is increasingly under attack, from legal suits against a newspaper parody and citizens who criticize government to Olympic officials using copyright laws to crack down on artists.

To discuss this disturbing trend, a public forum called Freedom of Speech Under Siege is being held on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at SFU Downtown, 515 W. Hastings. Sponsored by the Seriously Free Speech Committee, the forum features one of the creators of the Vancouver Sun parody, a director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, an artist who used Olympic imagery to encourage public awareness of homelessness, and a journalist who covers the Middle East.

Gordon Murray, with co-creator Carel Moiseiwitsch, is fighting a legal suit by media giant Canwest that attempts to use copyright laws to muzzle his right to satirize The Sun’s pro-Israeli bias in its news and editorial coverage of the Middle East.

Michael Vonn, policy director for the BCCLA, is worried about the growing use of SLAPPs, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, in which corporate powers such as Canwest or even the Municipality of Powell River use the courts to stifle dissent.

Kimberly Baker is an artist and artographer who found herself in violation of copyright law that gives the Olympic establishment extreme power to protect corporate profit, even to the extent of copyrighting the number 2010.

Deborah Campbell, an award-winning journalist who has written for Walrus, Harper’s, Adbusters and the Economist, still experiences difficulties finding markets that will publish her fair and balanced coverage of the issues in the Middle East.

The Seriously Free Speech Committee was organized to defend free speech by raising awareness of Canwest’s suit over the parody and the dangers of media concentration that limit the free expression of debate and dialogue over the contentious issues of the Middle East.

Oct 24: Bob Dylan concert

Energetic leafletters, and the banner of the Seriously Free Speech Committee, greeted fans coming to the Bob Dylan concert at GM Place in Vancouver on October 24.

Two thousand leaflets were distributed to concert-goers. The leaflets highlighted the chutzpah of Canwest sponsoring a Dylan concert in the name of literacy while they simultaneously trample on the right to free speech. Leaflets were available both outside and inside the concert.

This action follows on an earlier, pubicly well received, extensive leafleting in front of the Vancouver Sun booth at “Word on the Street”. This popular annual event, held in the plaza around the main Vancouver Public Library, encourages reading. Canwest was one of many sponsors, again while it simultaneously tramples on the right to free speech.

Sept 26: CanWest: Media Bully – Rhizome Cafe

Free Presentation and Panel Discussion
Friday, September 26 at 7pm
Rhizome Cafe, 317 Broadway, Vancouver
More info:

Mordecai Briemberg, Carel Moiseiwitsch and Gordon Murray, the three activists being sued by Canwest for “conspiring to produce and distribute” a parody of the Vancouver Sun which satirised it’s biased coverage of Israel/Palestine.

Sept 19: CanWest: Media Bully – Victoria

Free Presentation and Panel Discussion
Friday, September 19 at 7pm
BCGEU Hall, 2994 Douglas Street, Victoria
More info: 250-381-0033

Mordecai Briemberg, Carel Moiseiwitsch and Gordon Murray, the three activists being sued by Canwest for “conspiring to produce and distribute” a parody of the Vancouver Sun which satirised it’s biased coverage of Israel/Palestine.

June 6: Golden Gag Award Ceremony rattles CanWest

Thank you to the more than 100 supporters who turned out despite the weather to help us present the Golden Gag award to CanWest on Friday June 6 – and a special thanks to David Rovics for entertaining the crowd. See Mordecai’s statement, the award citation and photo below of committee co-chair Jef Keighley with the award. If you missed the event, you can watch the webcast on Working TV.

You can read the memo that Vancouver Sun publisher Kevin Bent sent to staff just prior to the Golden Gag event that tries to explain how the lawsuit is consistent with CanWest’s position on freedom of speech.

The award citation read as follows:

2008 Golden Gag Award Winner
CanWest Global and the Aspers

For their SLAPP suit against Mordecai Briemberg, with whose opinions they disagree. For pressing Mordecai to “name names” while they press on with their agenda to suppress the truth. For suing Mordecai for alleged participation in the production of a farcical parody of a daily newspaper while they participate in a daily farce producing a parody of a newspaper. For forgetting that freedom of speech is a right for everyone, and for showing a sense of humour about as deep as their compassion for the fate of Canadian journalism.



Statement by Mordecai Briemberg

This is not a protest! We are here to celebrate!

Honoured guests – you have come by foot, by bus, by bike … to participate in this prestigious ceremony. Limousines, I must apologize, are reserved solely for the winner of the prestigious GOLDEN GAG AWARD. After all, they can afford it.

But to be serious …

Those who would gag the voices of others hide their fear of open discussion underneath a large cloak of contempt for those who have differing views. This tension between fear and contempt requires great effort to sustain. And for all this effort they do deserve public recognition.

Hence the beautiful hand-made trophy to be presented to this year’s winner.

Consider: a media corporation writes an editorial that fervently defends the right of political free speech and lashes out at those who would try to restrict this right. Now consider the qualities it requires for this same media corporation simultaneously to try to suppress the political free speech of those whose opinions it opposes.

Yet Canwest has done just that. It published an editorial May 26th in their flagship National Post newspaper defending political free speech, speech that criticizes scientology (in England) AND it pursues a legal suit that punishes and tries to silence me for speaking critically about Israeli government policy.

On one hand – yes to free speech. On the other hand – no to free speech. It’s not easy to go in opposite directions at the same time. That deserves recognition.

Consider: a media corporation protests violation of exclusive use of its “trade mark”. Now consider the qualities it requires for this same corporation to pinch without request or permission what someone else has written on their website, cut-out the author’s name, and then paste it word-for-word on its own website.

Canwest has been accused of doing just that, of taking a movie review from the website of, removing the author’s name, and then posting it four days later on the website of their Global TV.

If that is true, then it communicates this message. Take your hands off my trade-mark but give me a free-hand to take what you write and use it for my purposes. Not easy to go in opposite directions at the same time. You must agree, this too deserves recognition.
Consider: a media corporation not only reports sympathetically the situation of victims of a SLAPP suit but also gives voice to others who criticize that SLAPP suit. Now consider what qualities it requires for this same corporation itself to press onward with its own SLAPP suit and on top of that refuse to publicize criticism of their behavior.

Canwest has reported sympathetically the situation of residents of Powell River who have been sued by the mayor for daring to criticize his policy. And Canwest has given voice to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association who support the residents. Yet Canwest launched a SLAPP suit against me, and ever since has given no voice to any criticism of this, even refused to report when the same B.C. Civil Liberties Association that has acted in the Powell River case criticized Canwest and called for the suit against me to be dropped.

Two SLAPP suits: one opposed, the other initiated. Two similarly motivated statements by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association: one reported, the other ‘disappeared’ from the paper. This effort deserves recognition, don’t you think?

But there also are times when Canwest is entirely consistent. It launched a legal suit to harass and bully me. Lacking evidence to back-up its false accusation that I published a parody of the Vancouver Sun, what does it do? It doubles its bullying.

Recalling the behavior of the disgraced American whose name has become synonymous with political persecution – Senator Joseph McCarthy – Canwest now demands I provide them the name and address and contact numbers of every participant in the Seriously Free Speech committee, a perfectly lawful committee formed to defend free speech. They demand I not only provide names and contact information but every agenda, minutes of every meeting, every communication ..

Now that’s consistent harassment, and again, it certainly deserves recognition.

I can only conclude: some are recognized for the good they do. And others must be recognized for the danger they pose and the harm they cause.

We are here today to recognize these latter qualities, and to present the trophy to the media corporation that this year has best embodied them in practice.
No Gag

Friday, June. 6th at noon
The Vancouver Sun Building
Granville Square, at the foot of Granville

Please join Mark Edge, author of Asper Nation; David Rovics, songwriter and singer activist for social justice; and Mordecai Briemberg in a special ceremony to honour Canwest’s action to suppress free speech and stifle dissenting points of view.

CanWest: Media Bully

Watch a webcast of the Media Bully Panel Discussion on Working TV

More than 200 people turned out to the excellent panel discussion on May
14th featuring Mordecai, his lawyer Leo McGrady, writer and broadcaster
Murray Dobbin and social justice activist Martha Roth. If you missed it,
you can watch the webcast on Working TV.

Wednesday, May 14 at 7:30pm
SFU Harbour Centre, Fletcher Challenge Auditorium

Mordecai Briemberg
: * Activist being sued by CanWest for ‘conspiracy to produce & distribute’ a Vancouver Sun parody
Leo McGrady, QC
:* Legal counsel for Mordecai against media giant CanWest
Murray Dobbin
:* Journalist, author and researcher for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Martha Roth
: *Speaking for Jews for a Just Peace and Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians

This SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is being brought by Canwest in an effort to silence Mordecai and create a chill among all critical journalists and political activists. Attend this meeting to learn about the SLAPP suit against Mordecai, the dangers of media concentration and the difficulty in getting honest coverage of the Middle East and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

3 Responses to Events

  1. Pingback: CanWest huffs and puffs while free speech burns « We read banned books, and other stuff too…

  2. Hooray for you Mordecai for daring to speak out;
    double hooray, because I am assuming you are Jewish (horrors, how un-politically correct of me to even think about that), and it must be very hard to go against the party line.
    You are working and giving that award and going through all that bullying for all of us.


  3. I support your stand and appreciate what you are doing. Rod

Leave a Reply