The Ontario PC Party— alongside special interest groups that lobby at the behest of the Israeli government— are continuing their defamatory campaign against supporters of Palestinians’ human rights. On December 1, Motion 36 will be debated in the Ontario Legislature. The motion aims to intimidate supporters of Palestinians’ human rights into silence, and would create a serious chill on freedom of expression.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) rejects this motion, and urges Ontario’s legislators and all residents of Ontario to do the same. Over 70 organizations have already opposed any effort by the Ontario Legislature to intimidate Palestinian rights advocacy.
In May, the Ontario PC Party attempted to push through a private member’s bill—Bill 202—which was riddled with outright lies about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Bill 202 tried to blacklist Ontario residents and organizations that support BDS. This echoes similar efforts in Western countries—promoted by Israel lobby groups— to misrepresent BDS as a form of antisemitism, and work towards criminalizing support for it.
BDS does not target individual Israelis; BDS specifically focuses on companies and institutions—and those who serve as their official representatives— that are complicit in the violation of Palestinians’ basic human rights. It is a non-violent tactic in solidarity with Palestinian civil society, which in 2005 requested that human rights supporters around the world heed their call. As this Ontario PC-led motion refers to BDS as a “form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance”, it is based on blatant falsehoods, and must be voted down by the Ontario Legislature.
This motion constitutes an outrageous attack on freedom of political expression in Ontario, and therefore should be strongly opposed by all those who cherish this freedom. As Amnesty International concluded after the House of Commons’ motion in February of this year which similarly attacked the BDS movement as hateful, the Canadian government can disagree with BDS, but it becomes a violation of international human rights law for any government to “condemn or oppose the offering of the criticism or the promotion of the campaign itself.”
Another troubling component of this motion is its call to endorse the Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Antisemitism. This protocol identifies criticisms of the Israeli state’s foundational laws and policies, and attempts to non-violently challenge Israel’s systematic human rights violations through tactics such as BDS, as forms of antisemitism. The protocol employs the EUMC working definition on antisemitism, which has been rejected by the European Union due to its conflation of opposition to Israel’s laws and policies with a hatred of Jews.
As a Jewish organization, IJV is greatly disturbed by such efforts to manipulate the meaning of antisemitism in order to intimidate and silence critics of Israeli government policy.
This motion should be seen as nothing more than an effort by Israel and its lobby groups to demonize supporters of Palestinian human rights, and use the Ontario government as a means of further intimidating such principled support for human rights. The Israeli government has made no secret of its global efforts to combat the BDS movement. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked even referred to BDS as “the new face of terrorism”.
We encourage all Ontarians of conscience to contact their member of provincial parliament, voicing their strong opposition to this motion. To contact your MPP, you can use this site set up by our fellow activists in Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.