There is a growing Canadian backlash against Israeli Apartheid Week, the on-campus campaign to delegitimize Israel.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued a strongly worded statement Friday, asking students to think twice before joining activities tied to the week, taking place across Canada and internationally this month.
The events, which seek to promote Palestinian human rights, are frequently “accompanied by anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and bullying,” Mr. Kenney said, and are at times planned and promoted with disregard for the safety of Jewish students, professors and others on campus.
“These activities can cultivate an atmosphere exactly the opposite of one that is open to the free exchange of ideas and the development of the mind with the aid of facts and logic,” he said. Repeatedly singling out and condemning Israel year after year creates a “hateful environment” that “offends not only our sense of fairness, but also our core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
“Such scapegoating becomes yet another symptom of a worrying new acceptance of the vilification of Israel and of Jews around the world.”
At a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Community fundraiser Thursday evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper slammed anti-Semitism on Canadian campuses, saying the organized Israeli Apartheid Weeks had become increasingly sophisticated and “intellectually acceptable.”
“At one time, friends, we could’ve expected threatening behaviour toward Jewish students to be rejected in any form at institutions of higher learning,” he told a crowd gathered at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. “Unfortunately, it is now often the behaviour of the anti-Israeli mob that is allowed to prevail.”
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who also spoke at the event, said it’s time activists stop comparing Israel to South Africa, where apartheid was in place for approximately 45 years and finally abolished in 1993. He, too, released an official statement Monday condemning the week as a “dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance” that threatens “the mutual respect” of Canadian society.
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Well said Prime Minister and kudos to Michael Ignatieff for standing up for the right and setting partisan politics aside for once.
Let them say what they want. And then shame them, refute them, disown them and make them responsible for their hateful, biased, prejudiced and ignorant talk. That is what free speech is for.