Richard Klagsbrun is a writer, consultant, and filmmaker who blogs at Eye on a Crazy Planet. He submitted this piece to Heebonics in response to an Israeli Apartheid Week lecture he viewed on YouTube earlier this month.
Political activist Judy Rebick, a vocal critic of Israel whose raison d’etre seems to be to have something – anything – to shout into a megaphone about, implicitly admitted the dishonesty of anti-Israel activists’ agenda at a March 7 Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) meeting at the University of Toronto. Rebick, one of the founders of rabble.ca, confessed that the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid” is a propaganda tool.
“There’s the brilliance, the propaganda brilliance, of calling it Israeli Apartheid Week,” she gleefully asserted. “Every time these people, you know, put a motion through Parliament or through the legislature... they have to say Israel’s not an apartheid state... and so over time, it really is a brilliant propaganda tactic, because each time it becomes more familiar,” said Rebick, who is Jewish.
Canadian parliamentarians have denounced the “Israeli Apartheid” movement in the strongest terms yet following the declaration by Canadian IAW organizers that Canada is an apartheid state.
During the event, another speaker said, "In crucial ways, the Canadian state's treatment of indigenous peoples, historically and currently, can be described as an apartheid system.
"As non-natives, we have a role within our communities to further the process of decolonizing Canada. If you are with us in opposition to Israeli Apartheid, we encourage your consistent opposition to apartheid right here in Canada."
With Canada now being targeted by anti-Israel groups, Canadian parliamentarians are denouncing the “Israeli Apartheid” movement in the strongest terms yet.
Thornhill MP Peter Kent, Canadian minister of environment, didn't mince his words when describing the ideology that drives IAW supporters.
"These people, if they're Canadians, are either self-loathing, ignorant, or very poorly informed. Successive Canadian governments have spent tens of billions of dollars to improve the lives of our First Nations peoples, who enjoy the same rights, opportunities and privileges as all Canadian citizens," Kent said.
"By saying that contemporary Canada practices apartheid, the so-called Israeli apartheid movement betrays itself as being made up of intellectually dishonest hate-mongers."
Ontario Provincial legislators were not shy in their condemnation. Conservative MPP Steve Clark, the Critic for Citizenship and Immigration, said, "it's unbelievable to see that level of ignorance."
Conservative MPP for Thornhill, Peter Shurman, expressed disgust at the idea of a "Canadian Apartheid." He called IAW organizers idiots," adding, "and you can quote me on that!"
Shurman, who co-sponsored a unanimously adopted motion in the Ontario Legislature denouncing IAW last year, said that "Canada and Israel have shared democratic values. Neither country is perfect, just as no country in the world is, and people of good conscience are working to improve conditions in democratic countries every day. But to describe these two countries that place democracy as their highest value as apartheid is beyond absurd.
"Apartheid describes a racist legal system of enforced racial separation and discrimination that existed in South Africa until 1993. No rational person could possibly say that ‘apartheid’ in any way describes either Canada or Israel in 2011. These fanatics have revealed themselves to be not just bigoted against Israel but opposed to basic Canadian democratic values too."
Alan Sears, a Sociology professor at Ryerson University who is a proponent of the 'Canadian Apartheid' label, provided some revealing insight in a recent interview where he suggested the movement to delegitimize Israel is the first step in a broader campaign to combat capitalism.
He said he supports "targeting... capitalism at (its) deepest... The question is how do we get there?... The way that struggles begin to start is with specific targets that are achievable and then... the movement can get broader."
As a champion of Canada's relationship with Israel, Kent's constituency office has been the target of demonstrations by Islamic and Marxist groups. He has praise for the people who are working towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but was adamant that groups and individuals seeking to falsely label Israel as an apartheid state do not fall into that category.
Kent's condemnation of the latter was unequivocal.
"They're making absolutely no contribution to the peace process in the Middle East and are clearly operating on a selective, hateful agenda. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is obviously not on that agenda."
Carolyn Bennet, the Liberal MP for St. Paul's and the Critic for Democratic Renewal, said that the "use of the word 'apartheid' is inflammatory and inaccurate and works against any meaningful conversation on the peace process in the Middle East or the plight of our aboriginal peoples here in Canada."
She also made reference to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's recent statement about IAW, which he described as "a dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance."
Canada is one of Israel's closest allies and as such is a target for the movement that seeks to delegitimize the Middle East's sole liberal democracy. The Conservative government, as well as the opposition, have expressed strong support for Israel.
That support has made them frequent scapegoats of the anti-Israel movement, which now appears anxious to vilify Canadian policy as well.