Like many Canadians I am concerned with the rise of anti-Israel activities on campuses across Canada, culminating in the so-called ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ (IAW), which is often promoted in a manner that disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.
Universities are meant to offer an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely. Jewish faculty and students have the right to engage in this debate without feeling the need to conceal their identity, or to self-censor.
The irony of this week cannot be overlooked. While singling out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East for condemnation, the organizers of IAW ignore Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal slaughter of his own people and the suppression of basic human rights in many countries around the globe.
Debate over Israeli policy is legitimate and encouraged through academic dialogue. However, there is a point at which well-intentioned debate is overrun by hatred and intolerance, creating a toxic environment that prevents meaningful dialogue on important issues from taking place.
The organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel. In reality, this week is nothing more than an unbalanced attempt to paint Israel and her supporters as racist. This week runs contrary to Canadian values of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.
As Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance, which are unacceptable and completely contrary to Canada’s fundamental values.