March 5, 2010
Ontario Communists Oppose Tory Private Member’s Motion Equating Criticism of Israel with Hate Speech
The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) is unequivocally opposed to the Private Members’ motion titled “Israeli Apartheid Week” moved by Tory MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill), and passed “unanimously” by about 30 MPPs present in the Ontario Legislature last Thursday February 25th.
The motion reads:
“In the opinion of this House, the term “Israeli Apartheid Week” is condemned as it serves to incite hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word “apartheid” in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa.”
In fact, Israeli Apartheid Week is recognized in South Africa, in Canada, and around the world as a week of public events and activities focusing on peace in the Middle East and the main obstacle to peace in the region: Israeli expansionism, and Israel’s refusal to abide by United Nations resolution 242 which calls for Israel to withdraw its troops to its pre-1967 borders, and for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Also recognized around the world is the shameful US – and now Canada’s – role in supporting Israel’s flagrant and long-standing flaunting of this and many other UN resolutions, as well as the continuation and escalation of Israel’s policies of war, occupation, assassination, kidnapping, torture and detention, partition, economic de-stabilization, starvation, the withholding of water, the bulldozing of homes and shops, and the targeting of civilians generally and particularly in the bombing that leveled Gaza.
These are war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by successive Israeli governments against the Palestinian people, against Israeli citizens, against the peoples of the Middle East and the world’s peoples.
Canada stands virtually alone on the global stage in its unconditional support for Israel, to the shame of millions of Canadians who look to their legislatures for political solutions that will lead to a just and lasting peace in the region – not threats and intimidation here at home.
Canada’s role in supporting these crimes against humanity is disgraceful and it is to the credit of the youth and academics on Ontario campuses, to the labour and democratic movements, and to progressives in some secular institutions, who were among the first (but by no means the last) to speak up for peace, democracy, and justice in the Middle East, and for democracy, truth, and justice in Canada.
To state the facts and to demand a change in Canadian, US and Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism, it is the fresh air of democracy. The anti-Semites are those who would equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, thus ascribing to all Jews an intrinsic or inherent support of Israeli government policy. But the truth is that many Jews in Israel, in Canada and elsewhere around the globe, do not support Israeli government policy and growing numbers are speaking out and becoming active and involved in campaigns such as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign. These campaigns are also supported by anti-apartheid veterans such as COSATU and the ANC in South Africa.
While it’s no surprise that the Tories in Ontario are a small echo of their extremist and reactionary federal cousins, it is shocking and disturbing that the Ontario NDP also supported this resolution which threatens free speech and assembly here at home, while distorting the truth of Canada’s foreign policy supporting war crimes and crimes against humanity abroad.
The NDP should disavow itself of this motion, and clarify its policy on the Middle East and on free speech and free assembly here at home. As things stand, the NDP caucus accepts that criticism of Israel is hate speech in Ontario. Is this new NDP policy?
For our part, the Communist Party is proud to sponsor and participate in the numerous events being organized this week, that will help Ontarians learn more about the causes of the crises in the Middle East and in the process help build the movement for a just political solution as laid out in UN resolution 242, for lasting peace and mutual security in the region.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Rowley, Ontario Party leader at 416-469-2446 or via email at Rowley@cpc-pcc.ca
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