Shalom Life | July 31, 2014

Ontario Legislature Denounces Israel Apartheid Week

Motion by Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman supported by all parties.

By: Dan Verbin

Published: February 26th, 2010 in News » World

Ontario Legislature Denounces Israel Apartheid Week

Politicians of different parties rarely agree on anything. However, this Thursday Ontario MPPs unanimously supported a motion by Thornhill Progressive Conservative MP Peter Shurman to condemn “Israeli Apartheid Week.”

The motion denounces the sixth annual “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a series of campus events that begins next week in universities and colleges in 35 cities worldwide.

The term “Israeli Apartheid Week” incites “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,” said Shurman.

He rejected the argument that his resolution was not appropriate for the Ontario legislature. “Israeli Apartheid Week” is an annual event in the province and Canada’s values are the same values as Israel – “democracy, education, individual freedom, human rights and the right to defend oneself from aggressors” – he said. He noted that the values of Judaism and Israel, which go back over 3,000 years, were instrumental in the founding of Canada.

“If you’re going to label Israel as apartheid, then you are also calling Canada apartheid and you are attacking Canadian values,” said Shurman. “The use of the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ is about as close to hate speech as one can get without being arrested, and I’m not certain it doesn’t actually cross over that line.”

Shurman said that the event is a “thinly veiled campaign by those whose real agenda is to eradicate Israel entirely.”

“Israel, while demonstrating some very remarkable positives, is, in the end, just like Canada or any other democratic country: not always right, and always dealing with political challenges. My resolution is, however, not about any of that. I raise it by way of asserting that I or anyone else can debate such issues any time, any place, as long as such a debate is respectful and fair to all who seek to express an opinion,” he said. “That is precisely what ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ does not do, and in our free environment, in our hate-free public forum, it has no place.”

Shurman does not have a problem with intelligently discussing Israel or the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with people of any political stripe. He furthermore does not have a problem with one-sided views being articulated by either side.

One of his biggest concerns is with the name “Israeli Apartheid Week” itself which he labelled “assumptive” and described as striking an authoritative position without any debate.

“The name is hateful, it is odious, and that’s not how things should be in Ontario, in our Ontario. My Ontario is not about drawing lines between different elements of our diverse society and fighting battles 10,000 kilometres away by using labelling and unilateral positioning and something even outright intimidation to make points,” Shurman said. “It creates a toxic atmosphere on campuses that labels supporters of Israel as racists and lessens their feelings of security. I have seen it personally.”

Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, said that “inflammatory language (has no place) on either side of this issue” and does nothing to advance dialogue.

“We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We reject it. And is ‘apartheid’ an inflammatory term? Absolutely. There are lots of inflammatory terms flying around the issue in the Middle East. They are not helpful. They detract from the cause we’re all engaged in, and that is peace.”

DiNovo suggested that instead of using inflammatory language to divide, campus groups should seek to start from a place of agreement in order for both sides to move forward and lives to be saved.

“We want all faiths and all peoples to work together. We want to take the level of rhetoric down at least a notch or two and start seeing each other the way we see ourselves,” she said. “That is what the Torah calls us to do. That is what the Christian Bible calls us to do. That is what the Koran calls us to do.”

David Zimmer, Liberal MPP for Willowdale described “Israeli Apartheid Week” as a roadblock on the path to peace in the Middle East, stressing that words such as “apartheid” can have a destructive influence, especially in the context of attempting to create peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

He offered an alternative idea to the organizers of “Israeli Apartheid Week”.

“Why not have an Israeli Palestinian Peace Week? Now that would be a novel and constructive step,” he said. “You see the real victim of Israel Apartheid Week is peace itself. Peace in Israel. Peace in the Middle East. Peace for Palestinians. Why do the organizers want to exasperate an already difficult situation? To accuse one side of practising apartheid does absolutely nothing to promote peace. That’s why I’m supporting the member for Thornhill’s motion.”

Ex-Hasidic Jew Has “Divine Intervention” Over Sexy Photos Ex-Hasidic Jew Has “Divine Intervention” Over Sexy Photos TrendingPenelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Other Spanish Celebrities Call Israeli Operation "Genocide" Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Other Spanish Celebrities Call Israeli Operation "Genocide" TrendingWill Rising European anti-Semitism Lead to a 'New' Holocaust? Will Rising European anti-Semitism Lead to a 'New' Holocaust? Trending
 

Drake Beats Usher For Most R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1’s on Billboard

July 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Drake Beats Usher For Most R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1’s on Billboard

Drake made Billboard history, beating Usher's previous No. 1's record.

Read More

Daniel Radcliffe Trades in His Magic Wand For Electric Hair Clippers [VIDEO]

July 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Daniel Radcliffe Trades in His Magic Wand For Electric Hair Clippers [VIDEO]

The 'Horns' star cut a college student's hair on Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday night

Read More

Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams and Quentin Tarantino Join Forces to Save Film

July 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams and Quentin Tarantino Join Forces to Save Film

A few of Hollywood's biggest directors have struck a deal with Eastman Kodak.

Read More

Lena Dunham to Do Live Reading, Q&A at JFL42 in Toronto

July 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Lena Dunham to Do Live Reading, Q&A at JFL42 in Toronto

The 'Girls' creator will also sit down with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi for an interview

Read More

Six Israeli IPOs to Watch in 2014

July 30, 2014 | By Michael Lefkoe, NoCamels
Six Israeli IPOs to Watch in 2014

A look at those Israeli companies that plan to go public on either NYSE or NASDAQ by the end of the year

Read More

Magic Johnson, Other NBA Players Call Off Visit to Israel

July 30, 2014 | By Peter Herriman
Magic Johnson, Other NBA Players Call Off Visit to Israel

Were originally scheduled to play at the opening of Jerusalem's new arena

Read More

Jewish Hall of Fame: David Rosen

July 30, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jewish Hall of Fame: David Rosen

The American businessman served as CEO of Japanese video game company SEGA from 1965 to 1996

Read More

Ex-Hasidic Jew Has “Divine Intervention” Over Sexy Photos

July 30, 2014 | By Peter Herriman
Ex-Hasidic Jew Has “Divine Intervention” Over Sexy Photos

After Brenda Rosenberg was injured in a car accident, members of her former community called it a "message" from God

Read More

More Headlines