Campaigns Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices - Canada
Tyler Levitan is the Campaigns Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices - Canada, a national human rights organization that supports a just peace in Israel and Palestine based on the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.
Tyler seeks to engage with the full spectrum of opinion regarding Israel in Canada's diverse Jewish communities, and to bring critical Jewish voices to the forefront of Canadian discussions on justice and peace in Israel and Palestine.
After 50 years of this occupation, it's important for Canadian taxpayers - who have a government that considers itself to be a close friend of Israel's - to understand how we may be implicated in the perpetuation of these injustices.
Annually, on May 15, Palestinians in countries all over the world commemorate the Nakba, including in Canada. This national day of commemoration is known as "Nakba Day." The Nakba often refers to events occurring between 1947-1949, in which the Palestinians were violently displaced from their homes, and hundreds of their villages were destroyed. Many are beginning to see the Nakba as an ongoing process of dispossession, though, which continues to this day.
If this government is truly committed to justice, then it must take swift action. At a minimum, the Liberals must demand that Diab be released on bail, particularly given the French judge's finding that Diab was in Lebanon during the bombing.
This is an interview I conducted with Professor Yakov M. Rabkin of the Université de Montréal, author of the recently published What Is Modern Israel. Professor Rabkin's earlier book on the subject of Israel was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award and for the Hecht Prize for Studies of Zionism.
What does the Canadian government and the Israel lobby have to gain by passing an anti-BDS motion? What is the purpose of this massive mobilization of resources against a non-violent civil society movement? In demanding that Palestinians and the international community accept Israel as a "Jewish state," Israel and its lobby groups like CIJA are in fact conflating the behaviour of this state with all Jewish people. Many Jews, like myself, see this conflation of Jewish people with militant Zionism as actually endangering Jews, both inside and outside of Israel.
Rather than debate these issues or merely discuss them openly, the Canadian Jewish establishment has preferred to bully Canadian individuals and organizations into silence by repeatedly utilizing the term "anti-Semitism" to quell legitimate criticism of Israel.
All liberal democracies link nationality to origin from or residence in a territory. Not Israel. If you're a non-Jewish citizen, you can never be accepted as a national of the "Jewish state," and are hence subject to discrimination based on dozens of laws.
The term apartheid in reference to Israel is by no means uncommon within Israeli society itself. In Canada, however, the term has been the subject of enormous controversy, where Israel's advocates have expressed outrage towards use of the label, and have made consistent efforts to disparage both the phrase "Israeli apartheid" and those who dare to utter it.
If the Liberals wish to maintain the stance that using the term apartheid to describe Israeli state practices amounts to a form of Jew-hatred, then they should be aware that under that logic, they are labeling a lot of unlikely people as anti-Semites.
With Canada's federal election less than two weeks away, I felt it important to address a highly topical matter: the Conservatives' close relations with the controversial Jewish Defense League. In 2001, after it had engaged in a series of bombings, an assassination, and several other violent incidents, the JDL was labeled a "violent extremist Jewish organization" and a "right-wing terrorist group" by the FBI.
Anti-Semitism is what many Canadian Jews experienced who faced quotas when applying for professional degrees, or who were barred from joining certain golf clubs. Anti-Semitism is what my ancestors experienced in Eastern Europe with pogroms, frequent assaults and massacres in Jewish communities. Anti-Semitism is the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. How can it be in any way appropriate to use this term to describe individuals who criticize a modern political entity -- the state of Israel -- which systematically violates the rights of Palestinians?
In a Canada in which our current government has expressed undying loyalty to Netanyahu's regime, and where the opposition parties appear unwilling to publicly shame the government for its appalling disregard for the human rights of Palestinians, we cannot realistically expect the enactment of state sanctions against Israel any time soon. If the NDP wants to prove to Canadians that it is indeed the government in waiting, and that it's visibly different from the Conservatives, then we should all expect it to commit to taking action on this issue. Will the NDP, at the very least, commit to reforming CIFTA to exclude tariff-free imports of illegal Israeli settlement products
07/31/2015 12:08 EDT
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