Citizen Action Monitor

New campaign calls on Ontario government to end intimidation of pro-Palestinian rights organizations

Campaign seeks Ontario and National activist organizations to be signatories to a letter to be sent to all MPPs.

No 1732 Posted by fw, July 25, 2016

“Despite the fact that Bill 202 was defeated on May 19th, Premier Wynne stated that she will work with the opposition this summer to bring forward a motion strongly opposing BDS.  Thus, we are contacting you and your organization to add your name to groups who will demand that Premier Wynne and the Ontario legislature that it must end its intimidation of Palestinian rights advocacy…. The letter will be both emailed to all MPPs, and published online to be widely circulated. The point is to show widespread support for the right of Ontarians to engage in the legitimate tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinians. We are Palestinian human rights activists in Ontario, including from the student movement and from Independent Jewish Voices Canada, but this letter will be sent on behalf of all organizations which are signatories.”Tyler Levitan, IJV

The above passage was taken from an IJV-led campaign announcement emailed to the attention of heads of organizations that value free speech, democracy and justice. I received a copy of the email in my capacity as publisher/writer/editor of the eclectic blog, Citizen Action Monitor.

TO CLARIFY

1/ This letter is exclusively for organizations. Groups and organizations that are supportive of the right of Ontarians to use BDS tactics to challenge human rights violations are asked to sign on to the letter by August 19, so that the names of their organizations can be shown in the letter that is sent.

2/ National organizations are also invited to sign this letter. Organizations such as Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), IJV, Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) and so on, are signing on.  Some of their Ontario local communities will also sign. The focus is Canadian and Ontario organizations but others are welcome in solidarity.

3/ A separate petition will circulate very shortly for individuals to sign.

Signatories to the letter are encouraged to promote awareness of the campaign. Questions about the campaign should be directed to OntBDS@gmail.com.

Below is a repost of the letter. To view the original, click on the following linked title.

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The Ontario government must end its intimidation of Palestinian rights advocacy

Please sign below if your organization would like to be listed as a signatory to the following letter.

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We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Ontario government to immediately refrain from defaming and condemning Ontario human rights activists who work in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In 2005, after the International Court of Justice ruling that found Israel’s barrier jutting into the occupied West Bank to be illegal [1], 171 Palestinian organizations, representing a broad segment of Palestinian civil society [2], called upon the international community to adopt the tactics of boycotts, divestments and sanctions [3] until Israel

1) ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles its separation barrier;
2) recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3) respects the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Each of these demands correspond closely to Canada’s official governmental policies, as are stipulated on the Global Affairs website [4]. These demands are based on basic principles of international law.

Nonetheless, the recently defeated Bill 202 [5] claimed that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is “anti-Semitic”, “anti-Jewish” and “anti-Israeli”, and that BDS targets Jewish-owned businesses. In reality, BDS targets Israeli institutions, not individuals, and focuses on corporations—be they Israeli or otherwise—which contribute to Israel’s ongoing violations of international law. While it is encouraging that this bill was resoundingly defeated [6], neither Premier Wynne, nor her governmental counterparts, refuted these baseless allegations put forward by the Ontario PC Party, Liberal MPP Mike Colle, and Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

Furthermore, on June 2nd, Premier Wynne stated [7] in the Ontario Legislature that during her recent mission to Israel and occupied Palestinian territories—upon the invitation of a pro-Israel lobby group—she proclaimed her commitment to “work with the opposition parties and that we would try to come up with a motion that would pass in this legislature that would reflect the inclusiveness of all the members of this legislature… in the coming weeks.”

All of us are in favour of “inclusiveness,” but let us not allow this noble sentiment to become a cover for an attack on legitimate political speech.

Premier Wynne has noted her position on the BDS movement, stating, “I entirely oppose the BDS movement. In fact, any position that promotes or encourages anti-Semitism in any way – we have to stand against that.” Rather than denounce the defamatory lies that were promoted in our provincial legislature, Wynne has given credence to them.

Support for BDS is a legitimate political position, as it is based on solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality. It has been endorsed by numerous Jewish-Israelis, Jews and Jewish organizations in different countries, and by an impressive list of individuals including Stephen Hawking, Desmond Tutu and Alice Walker.

We ask that the Ontario Legislature support the right of Ontarians to engage in peaceful advocacy for human rights in Israel/Palestine, free from defamation or condemnation from our provincial government.

Endnotes

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