Statement – Minister Kenney issues statement on ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’
Ottawa, March 11, 2011 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement:
Like many Canadians, I remain deeply concerned about the events and activities associated with the so-called ‘Israeli Apartheid Week.’
In recent years, ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ has become a fixture on Canada’s university campuses, which all too often is accompanied by anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and bullying.
In that context, it is not surprising, but troubling all the same, that sometimes the week’s activities are promoted in a manner that disregards the safety of Jewish students and professors, and campus life in general.
Those participating in these events are of course free, within the confines of our law and consistent with our traditions of freedom of expression, to speak their mind.
But I continue to urge each student who plans on attending or participating in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ to reflect on whether these activities are beneficial.
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.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, ‘”when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”’
When a country is singled out in this way, it offends not only our sense of fairness, but also our core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Criticism of Israel cannot in and of itself be regarded as anti-Semitic. However, if that criticism selectively condemns and denies the only Jewish state’s right to exist, it can create a hateful environment.
When it takes place during ‘Israeli Apartheid Week,’ such scapegoating becomes yet another symptom of a worrying new acceptance of the vilification of Israel and of Jews around the world.
Canada hosted the second Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism Conference in Ottawa in November 2010. Parliamentarians from around the world came together to develop mechanisms to combat anti-Semitism and address anti-Semitic propaganda in the media and on the internet.
By unanimous consent, Parliamentarians issued the Ottawa Protocol, which seeks commitments from governments to collect and report data on hate crimes, including anti-Semitism; to monitor and share best practices; to propose a common working definition for anti-Semitism; and to engage further with the United Nations.
As Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism. All forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance are unacceptable and completely contrary to Canada’s fundamental values.