Ottawa – Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel are alarmed at the deliberate and harmful politicization of academic discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict at Canadian college and university campuses.
This week marks the fifth annual international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). This partisan international effort aims to label Israel as an apartheid system and to promote the boycott of Israel, divestment from Israel and sanction against Israel. In Canada, IAW is being held this year in Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, Toronto and Waterloo. As all partisan initiatives, IAW does not seek to inform or to foster a dialogue between two sides. Rather, it seeks to lay blame, irrespective of the facts, and to poison constructive dialogue.
As Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff passionately wrote in the March 05, 2009 editorial to the National Post, “…Israel Apartheid Week (IAW)… betrays the values of mutual respect that Canada has always promoted. … Labeling Israel as an “apartheid” state is a deliberate attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state itself. Criticism of Israel is legitimate. Attempting to describe its very existence as a crime against humanity is not. … IAW goes beyond reasonable criticism into demonization. It leaves Jewish and Israeli students wary of expressing their opinions, for fear of intimidation. … Israel Apartheid Week … exploit academic freedom, and… should be condemned by all who value civil and respectful debate about the tragic conflict in the Middle East.”
The atmosphere of fear and intimidation fostered by IAW is sure proof that our campuses are becoming less tolerant and respectful of free speech. “It is a dark day when students are afraid to state their beliefs on a Canadian campus for fear of intimidation or reprisal,” stated Anita Neville, Co-Chair of Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel. “It is a day when our values as Canadians are being threatened in institutions that are built on the tenets of free speech, multiculturalism, diversity, respect and openness.”
Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel call on students, faculty and administration of Canadian post-secondary institutions to help prevent the politicization of Canadian campuses and Canadian discourse on the Middle East by refusing to participate-in and support IAW.
“Canadian universities are places of inclusion, open minds, and dialogue,” said Ken Dryden, Member of Parliament for York Centre. “They must be free from intimidation so that even those who profoundly disagree can openly express their opinions. When the freedom is put in jeopardy, we are all the losers.”