New report + Webinar: How Palestinian voices are erased in Canada’s “Anti-racism strategy”

CJPME is thrilled to announce a Webinar for next Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 p.m. EST, entitled, “How Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy erases Palestinian voices and supports Israel.” Register here for this Webinar whose panelists include:

  • Dania Majid, Arab Canadian Lawyers Association;
  • Corey Balsam, Independent Jewish Voices;
  • Alex Paterson, CJPME;
  • Wissam El Cheikh Hassan, CJPME, Moderator 

In parallel, CJPME just published a revealing new report, titled “Defaming the Pro-Palestine Movement.” The 19-page exposes the harmful and malicious behaviour of Canada’s Special Envoy on combatting antisemitism, who has consistently spread misinformation against supporters of Palestine.

Next Tuesday’s Webinar will highlight the disappointing elements of the Trudeau government’s long-anticipated “anti-racism strategy,” which refused to mention anti-Palestinian racism, despite intense pressure from CJPME and many others. This issue is even more important in light of CJPME’s scathing new report on Canada’s anti-Palestinian “special envoy” Deborah Lyons, which demonstrates that she consistently amplifies false claims to misrepresent Canada’s pro-Palestine movement. CJPME’s report recommends that Special Envoy Deborah Lyons be replaced in her position with someone able to combat antisemitism in an intersectional manner, without engaging in anti-Palestinian racism.

Join us next week for the Webinar, and click here to read the full report.

More Information

Over the weekend the Trudeau government finally released its updated “Federal Anti-Racism Strategy,” and CJPME was very disappointed to see that it excluded any mention of anti-Palestinian racism. CJPME had worked with partners including Independent Jewish Voices Canada, the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, and the Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC), to recommend that the strategy recognize anti-Palestinian racism, as well as several other recommendations. You can read the full joint submission here. More than 8,500 Canadians participated in CJPME’s email campaign to Minister Khera calling for these measures. It is outrageous that the Minister has ignored these calls, especially amid skyrocketing incidents of anti-Palestinian racism.

Making this even worse is the fact that the strategy doubles down on its support for the controversial and anti-Palestinian IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which conflates criticism of Israel and pro-Palestinian activism with antisemitism. The IHRA is being heavily promoted by Deborah Lyons, who was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October 2023 as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. Lyons does not have experience in anti-racism work, but served as Canada’s Ambassador to Israel from 2016 to 2020.

Special Envoy Lyons will soon be publishing an IHRA guidebook to purportedly help civil servants, politicians, and police departments apply it to real-world situations. There are strong indications that this guidebook will attempt to maliciously label pro-Palestine speech and actions as necessarily antisemitic, and thereby attempt to eliminate public debate on the current and historic harms inflicted on Palestinians.

CJPME’s new report examines Special Envoy Lyons’ social media commentary between October 2023 and March 2024 to demonstrate how she has consistently spread false claims about pro-Palestine activists, misrepresenting protests, slogans, perspectives, and pro-Palestine positions as antisemitic.

The report looks at three major patterns in Special Envoy Lyons’ online commentary:

  1. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented Palestine protests as antisemitic, often falsely alleging that pro-Palestine protests targeted Jewish individuals or institutions while ignoring the organizers’ actual goals or rationale. This includes the false claim that protestors targeted a Jewish hospital in Toronto.
  2. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented pro-Palestine slogans, perspectives, and positions as antisemitic. For example, Lyons has misinterpreted the Arabic term “Intifada” and popular slogans like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” to paint them as inherently and exclusively antisemitic, further suggesting that these forms of speech should be prosecuted by police. Lyons has even put forward the view that Canada’s December 2023 vote for a ceasefire at the United Nations General Assembly was antisemitic, even though it reflected a mainstream political view against war and genocide
  3. A significant part of Special Envoy Lyons’s role includes collaboration with Israeli officials. CJPME believes that this collaboration is particularly problematic at a time when Israel’s genocidal actions are being investigated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and as the International Criminal Court is about to issue arrest warrants against Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This collaboration includes meeting with Israeli President Herzog, whose genocidal comments have been referenced by the ICJ, and with Israel’s far-right Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli, who leads a covert foreign influence campaign targeting Canadians with racist and anti-Muslim content.

The report finds that Special Envoy Lyons has proven to be incapable or uninterested in undertaking an intersectional approach to antisemitism, and instead has consistently deployed racism against Palestinians. Moreover, she routinely advocates for nearly all types of protest to be shut down or even prosecuted. CJPME believes this is unacceptable, and is calling on her to be replaced with someone with actual credentials in intersectional anti-racist work.

Can you support our work?

We could not do this work without the generous support of our donors. If you believe in what we do, please consider making a gift of financial support to CJPME’s advocacy work for Palestinian human rights. Monthly donations are especially helpful, as they sustain our ongoing work and make it easier for us to strategize for the future. If you don't like to donate by credit card, you may donate via email transfer, over the phone (438-380-5410), or complete and mail in this form.

Thank you for supporting our collective efforts.  Every added voice makes a difference!

Warmest regards,

Tom, Michael, Jason, Lynn, Alex, Fatima, Rose, Wissam and the rest of the CJPME team (CJPME Email)


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