Two days ago Jason Kenney’s communications director Alykhan Velshi tweeted that Con MP Tim Uppal from the inquiry panel at the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will be looking for unanimous all-party approval when he introduces a motion to condemn the use of the word “apartheid” as applied to Israel in the House of Commons this week :
“That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of “Israeli Apartheid Week”; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.”
While I suspect that Uppal and friends would still condemn the protest even if the name was changed to “Israel Not Very Nice This Week,” Antonia Zerbisias at The Star pointed out :
“The moment that Israel is generally recognized as an apartheid state is the moment when the boycotts and divestments begin in earnest. Which is why Israel must fight to keep the label out of the language surrounding the Jewish state.”
Here’s the UN’s definition of apartheid. You can make up your own mind whether it fits :
United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, Article II :
For the purpose of the present Convention, the term “the crime of apartheid” shall apply to the following inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:
a. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person
i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;
b. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;
c. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
d. Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;
e. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
f. Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.
Last Thursday MMP Peter Shurman put forward a similar motion condemning Israeli Apartheid Week to the Ontario legislature, where it purportedly received support from all parties, including Cheri DiNovo of the NDP.
“I move that in the opinion of this House, the term ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ is condemned as it serves to incite 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.”
This would work better for Shurman had many Israelis and South African leaders who once lived under apartheid in South Africa not already offered their opinion that Israel does practice apartheid.
Back to Shurman:
“In fact, the values of Judaism and of Israel were bedrock values for the foundation of Canada, and those values from Judaism and from Israel date back over 3,000 years — all to say that if you’re going to label Israel as apartheid, then you are also calling Canada apartheid and you are attacking Canadian values.”
Canada does indeed have its own apartheid problems, which is why we have not signed on to the above UN Convention on Apartheid nor the UN Declaration on Aboriginal Rights.
But Shurman’s Canada = Israel equation just echoes last week’s “An attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada” from Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kent, and this government’s determination to defund and muzzle any Canadian NGOs which have had the temerity to suggest that the slaughter and oppression of Palestinians should not go unremarked upon in Canada. (Very good discussion as to the fairness and efficacy of using the word apartheid in comments over at Pogge’s.)
But why are the Cons pushing so hard on this?
Because it’s a perfect issue with which to divide the opposition. The Con base will just agree to the McCarthyite motions en masse; some Libs and more particularly the NDP will tear each other apart over it while risking being smeared as anti-Semitic to their ridings by the Cons if they refuse to give preference to Israel over the rights of Canadian citizens.
Stinks, doesn’t it?
Update: Well, that was quick. Iggy goes the HarperCons one better via