Montreal, September 28, 2018 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is concerned about a double-standard around the Israel-Palestine conflict that seems all too common in Canadian politics. Notably, many Canadian politicians seem foremost interested in vilifying individuals and organizations that criticize the Israeli government and its policies rather than having an honest debate about Canada-Israel relations.
The parliamentary motion in 2016 calling for the government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals” to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel is one example. Tweets earlier this month accusing CJPME Board Chair and human rights activist Dimitri Lascaris of anti-Semitism are another. In both cases, parliamentarians ignored the substance of the issues at hand, seeming to prefer a strategy of smearing and name-calling.
The leaders of CJPME have worked with Mr. Lascaris for years, and can state that Mr. Lascaris is not an anti-Semite. CJPME’s position is also supported by the Jewish-Canadian organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) whose members have also worked closely with Mr. Lascaris. Lascaris is also widely known for fighting against discrimination, supporting the protection of the environment, supporting human rights, and supporting other progressive causes for years. Like anyone else, Mr. Lascaris not perfect, and one of his recent posts over-personalized his political viewpoints. CJPME has pointed out that Lascaris’ tweets are his own, and do not speak for the organization. But politicians seemed all too anxious to accuse Lascaris of anti-Semitism before understanding the context of his tweet criticizing two Parliamentarians. As IJV points out, pro-Israel lobby groups “seize upon a word or a phrase by an individual, label it a manifestation of Jew-hatred, demand that people and organizations dissociate from the accused, and then repeat the allegations in the hope that the accusations, and not the facts, prevail.”
Mr. Lascaris has provided the context for his social media posts which sparked the ire of pro-Israel lobby groups. CJPME invites politicians to engage in an informed discussion on the substance of critiques of Israeli government policy rather than resorting to name calling. IJV has a long-standing open invitation to pro-Israel lobby groups to debate the ethics of Israeli government policy. Dr. Tarek Loubani, shot by the Israeli government this past May while providing emergency medical services in Gaza, also recently invited pro-Israel lobby group CIJA (the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) to debate “Is criticism of Israel anti-Semitic?” Both Mr. Lascaris and Mr. Loubani have offered to donate $10,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society if anyone accepts Loubani’s challenge. If a pro-Israel lobby group has the courage to accept this offer, CJPME invites politicians to attend such a debate as a first step to elevating the discussion on Canadian policy on Israel.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact Miranda Gallo, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
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