Defaming the Pro-Palestine Movement: Looking at the Public Commentary of Canada's Special Envoy Deborah Lyons

The paper analyzes the role and actions of Special Envoy Deborah Lyons, appointed by the Canadian government to combat antisemitism following 7 October. It highlights how her collaboration with Israeli officials and promotion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism work to suppress Palestinian perspectives and legitimate criticism of Israeli apartheid. The paper argues that Lyons' misrepresentation of pro-Palestinian activism and slogans as antisemitic underscore systemic issues of racism and bias within Canadian governance structures and, thus, advocates for her removal. 


On October 16, 2023, the Canadian government appointed Deborah Lyons, former Ambassador of Canada to Israel (2016-2020), as the new Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.[1] Unlike the Office of the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia (led by Amira Elghawaby), which is singularly located in Canadian Heritage, Special Envoy Lyons’ office is a joint unit of Canadian Heritage and Global Affairs Canada, bringing her role into the realm of international relations. Her mandate, coming directly from the Prime Minister, involves promoting the controversial and anti-Palestinian International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism (IHRA),[2] including the creation of an IHRA handbook,[3] purportedly to help civil servants, politicians, and police departments apply it to real-world situations.

Critics have long warned that IHRA conflates legitimate criticism of Israel and Zionism with antisemitism. For that reason it has long been understood as a threat to the full exercise of Canadians’ Charter Rights, as it targets political expression including criticism of Israeli policies and activism for Palestinian rights.[4] CJPME argues that IHRA is an instrument intended to suppress Palestinian perspectives, as well as the discussion of key concepts in international law such as apartheid. IHRA should therefore be understood as a form of state-sponsored anti-Palestinian racism.[5] As such, many groups have spoken out against the IHRA definition and have recommended alternative definitions of antisemitism which do not reproduce these harms, such as the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.[6] Internationally, more than 100 human rights and civil society organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned the United Nations against adopting IHRA.[7] In Canada, groups that oppose IHRA include Independent Jewish Voices Canada, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Confédération des syndicats nationaux, and over 40 faculty associations and academic unions.[8]

Underlining these significant concerns are Special Envoy Lyons’ own comments. In a webinar hosted by the pro-Israel organization B’nai Brith Canada on January 30, 2024, Special Envoy Lyons warned the audience that they should expect significant pushback related to the ‘anti-Zionism’ and ‘anti-Israel’ -related material in the forthcoming IHRA handbook.[9] This is a strong indication that pending government materials on IHRA 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.

Special Envoy Lyons’ mandate began shortly after the October 7, 2023, attack on Israel by armed Palestinian groups under the leadership of Hamas, and Israel’s subsequent assault and siege on Gaza, and coincided with the rise of weekly mass demonstrations across Canada in support of Palestinian human rights. Since then, she has engaged in regular public commentary to demonize pro-Palestine demonstrations, frequently mischaracterizing protests to falsely paint them as antisemitic. By uncritically reproducing the bad-faith claims levelled by pro-Israel organizations against pro-Palestine protests, her office appears to be engaging in a strategy to defame and delegitimize the Palestine solidarity movement based on misinformation and fearmongering, while encouraging police to repress demonstrations across Canada.

Special Envoy Lyons’ routine conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism demonstrates that concerns about the dangers of IHRA are justified. To investigate this further, CJPME reviewed Special Envoy Lyons’ tweets from the creation of her Twitter account in October 2023 to March 1, 2024. This analysis has identified a few significant patterns, revealing that she has dangerously misused her public platform and authority in the following ways:

  1. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented Palestine protests as antisemitic;
  2. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented pro-Palestine slogans, perspectives, and positions as antisemitic; and
  3. A significant part of Special Envoy Lyons’s role includes collaboration with Israeli officials.

Anti-Palestinian racism, as described by the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA), “is a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives,” and includes “defaming Palestinians and their allies with slander such as being inherently antisemitic, a terrorist threat/sympathizer or opposed to democratic values.”[10] Using this framework, Special Envoy Lyons’ behaviour clearly demonstrates a pattern of anti-Palestinian racism. This is particularly distressing coming from an official who is supposed to be tasked with anti-racism programming. Moreover, this points to a wider problem of systemic anti-Palestinian racism within the Federal government, which continues to permit and validate this toxic pattern of racism within its ranks, especially within the National Security context.

Special Envoy Lyons appears incapable, or uninterested, in undertaking an intersectional approach to antisemitism, which would situate the fight against antisemitism as part of a larger struggle against white supremacy, eurocentrism, and all forms of group hatred and systemic discrimination.[11] Instead, her approach to antisemitism has involved consistently deploying racism against Palestinians, including by mobilizing police and other state agencies in strategies of repression. Special Envoy Lyons must therefore be removed from her role. She has proven herself incapable of distinguishing between antisemitism and legitimate criticism and protest of Israel’s structurally racist policies, and she routinely advocates for nearly all types of protest to be shut down or even prosecuted. In doing so, her advocacy threatens to justify the suppression of Charter and civil rights on political expression, and reproduces harm against Palestinian Canadians. On the contrary, protest in support of Palestinian human rights is more necessary now than ever amid Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza. It is evident that Lyons’ diplomatic experience and credentials in promoting bilateral relations with Israel do not equate to the necessary credentials for this role. Going forward, the position of Special Envoy should be filled by someone with actual credentials in anti-racism work.


1. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented Palestine protests as antisemitic

Special Envoy Lyons has consistently spread false claims about many pro-Palestine demonstrations, levelling false accusations and misinformation in a way that is designed to paint the protests in a bad light. These blatant misrepresentations have subsequently been widely shared by elected officials, furthering the harm to the demonstrators, justifying harsh treatment by police and emboldening violent and racist counter-protests.

Below are a few examples.

Special Envoy Lyons spread misinformation about a Toronto “Hands Off Rafah!” protest on February 12th, falsely claiming that it targeted a Jewish hospital and amounted to an illegal protest targeting Jews. She wrote: “We will be calling Toronto’s Mayor and Chief of Police today to discuss how they will put a stop to this despicable targeting and attempted intimidation of Mount Sinai Hospital and Jews across Toronto and Canada. Leaders - at all levels - need to make clear that this is absolutely unacceptable. It is antisemitic, it is illegal and it is indecent” (Tweet 1).[12] However, reporting from the scene contradicts this narrative entirely, showing that the protest briefly passed by Mount Sinai hospital along its main route, during which time a demonstrator dressed as Spiderman scaled an awning with a Palestinian flag (as they had with many buildings along the route).[13] There is no evidence that the hospital was targeted, and it should be evident that waving a Palestinian flag is not inherently an antisemitic provocation. Moreover, it should also be noted that Mount Sinai hospital does not identify itself as a Jewish institution, and its public “About” page only describes itself as an academic hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.[14]

When activists affixed an Indigo bookstore with posters and red paint to protest CEO Heather Reisman’s financial support for “Lone Soldiers” in the IDF,[15] Special Envoy Lyons compared it to Kristallnacht, completely ignoring the legitimate and political nature of the protest: “Shameful that today, on the 85th anniversary of the Kristallnacht - a series of pogroms against Jewish-owned businesses, homes and places of worship in Germany + incorporated territories in 1938 - we witness the vandalism of a Chapters in Toronto” (Tweet 2).[16] Contrary to Special Envoy Lyons, there is no reason to believe that the unfortunate timing of the event was anything other than a coincidence. More importantly, this inflammatory comparison completely ignores the stated political motivation of the protest, which directly targeted Indigo CEO Reisman’s financial support for “lone soldiers” in the Israeli military.[17] Finally, the direct comparison of pro-Palestinian protestors to Nazis is an example of gross demonization meant to trigger and weaponize the historical trauma of the Holocaust.

Special Envoy Lyons shared a Tweet from the pro-Israel group Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) about an altercation at Concordia University on November 8, 2023, which claimed that Jewish students were being targeted by pro-Palestine protestors. She said: “These institutions should NOT be unsafe for Jewish students calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas. I call upon university presidents and administration to take action now” (Tweet 3).[18] However, reporting contradicts this narrative, showing a much more complicated picture in which tensions between two organizations tabling next to each other led to a confrontation, with the pro-Israel activists acting aggressively.[19]

Special Envoy Lyons mischaracterized a January 6th “Sidewalk Protest” on Toronto’s Highway 401 overpass at Avenue Road, claiming that protestors were targeting a Jewish neighbourhood. She wrote: “Many legitimate places to protest in Toronto & instead protesters chose dangerous overpass & peaceful neighborhood. Why? Many better venues for pro-Palestinian rallies. Why not there? A desire to intimidate and target specific communities. Why? Antisemitism, loud and clear” (Tweet 4).[20] However, this is contradicted by a statement from the protestors themselves, who clarify that they were not targeting anyone. They explain that the action was part of a series of demonstrations at multiple locations along the 401, that they chose the location due to its visibility and accessibility, and that they are local community members exercising their right to protest in their own neighbourhood.[21]

Special Envoy Lyons has demonized protests which target MPs at their constituency offices, sharing a statement from MP Kevin Vuong which says: “I will not be intimidated from standing up against hate & the increasingly violent acts of hatred we’re seeing spill out onto our streets. Peaceful assembly is your right, but no one has the freedom to harass, vandalize, or incite violence. #RuleOfLaw must prevail—not mob rule” (Tweet 5).[22] However, closer inspection of the poster in question indicates nothing problematic, only constituents protesting their own MP’s positions on Gaza. Even worse, Vuong himself was sharing a tweet from the far-right Jewish Defence League’s Meir Weinstein (@neveragainlive1)[23] who was referring to pro-Palestine groups as “Toronto Pro Hamas Gangs.”[24] It is completely unacceptable that a public official would amplify such dangerous smears from far-right sources against pro-Palestine organizers.

Special Envoy Lyons mischaracterized a protest at McGill University on February 22, 2024, which had set up a blockade on campus. She wrote: “Why blockade the Bronfman building specifically? This building hosts the management school. It is not an embassy or a political office. It is simply a building named for a Canadian Jewish family. The constant targeting of Jews is undeniably antisemitism” (Tweet 6).[25] However, according to the social media posts of the organizers, the protest was specifically targeting the Desautels Faculty located in the building due to its exchange programs with Israel’s Hebrew University and due to its “Start-Up Nation” courses that include trips to Israel.[26] Special Envoy Lyons either did not look up the actual political motivation for the protest, or she chose to pretend that it didn’t exist so that she could continue to defame the pro-Palestinian protestors and their cause.

The above is not an exhaustive list. As demonstrated, Special Envoy Lyons has a pattern of jumping to immediate conclusions about pro-Palestinian protests which confirm her most negative and bad-faith assumptions about them, while ignoring all evidence and reporting to the contrary. This is done without any care or concern for the impact of her actions on protestors, many of whom are young and racialized, including students, who are being unfairly maligned for legitimate activism targeting systemic racism. For a purported anti-racism professional to make such harmful accusations against young racialized activists is gobsmacking, and it underscores the complete lack of an intersectional or anti-oppressive framework in the Special Envoy’s office.


2. Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented pro-Palestine slogans, perspectives, and positions as antisemitic

Special Envoy Lyons has consistently misrepresented pro-Palestine slogans, perspectives, and positions, casting them as antisemitic to demonize pro-Palestine demonstrators. For example, she has shared a Tweet from CIJA which claims that “!! Anti-Zionism IS #Antisemitism !!” (Tweet 7).[27] However, Zionism[28] is the nationalist political ideology behind the creation of Israel, which promotes exclusive Jewish control over much of the region, including the illegal colonization of the currently occupied Palestinian territories through acts considered war crimes in Canadian law, like settlements. Many Palestinians, Jews, and others oppose Zionism for entirely legitimate reasons based on human rights grounds, especially due to Zionism’s role in ideologically justifying the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians.[29]  Zionism continues to be a source of both ideological and material support for anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia, including in Canada.[30] Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Palestinians are deeply opposed to Zionism due to their own historical experiences. Having a government official responsible for anti-racism programming refer to anti-Zionism as inherently antisemitic is therefore a major threat to freedom of expression and an erasure of Palestinians, especially their experiences of systemic racism. This would be akin to saying that opposition to settler-colonialism in the context of supporting Indigenous rights is inherently anti-white/European. This position undermines Canada’s ability to live up to its international obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to eradicate anti-Palestinian racism within Canada.

Special Envoy Lyons has also misrepresented and demonized the use of the popular Arabic term “Intifada.” Although it refers to popular uprising against oppression,[31] she has reproduced the false claim that the term refers specifically to the promotion of violence or terrorism against Jews in Israel and Canada. She shared a video of a protest in Toronto in which the crowd was chanting “Intifada, Intifada! Long live the intifada!”, and wrote: “Chanting for intifada (uprisings against Israel and Jews, including acts of violence and terror) in the streets of Toronto is a clear tactic of intimidation. The police must ensure that our streets are safe from hate, incitement and threats of violence” (Tweet 8).[32] While it may be reasonable to suggest that the term is viewed differently by different communities, it is completely unjustifiable for a public official to suggest that it could only mean incitement against Jews. This is a slanderous, ethno-centric allegation against the protestors which is only possible by erroneously defining an Arabic word and erasing the perspectives of Palestinians, and the spread of this misinformation threatens to incite harm against racialized protestors. Moreover, this interpretation of the word fails to understand the context of power, as Jewish Israelis are not an oppressed minority in the context of Israel and Palestine but benefit from a system of domination over Palestinians. Special Envoy Lyons is trying to reframe support for an uprising against oppression as an attack on a minority group to obscure the racial advantage currently maintained by Israel’s apartheid system.

Special Envoy Lyons has also demonized the use of the popular phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Although it is a call for freedom and equality in historic Palestine,[33] she has mischaracterized it as incitement to genocide. Special Envoy Lyons has alluded to this misinterpretation several times, including in her joint letter with an Israeli official, writing: “We condemn the incitement of hatred and violence [at pro-Palestine protests], including through chants which echo the Hamas charter with calls for the destruction of Israel and the targeting of Jews around the world.”[34] Most troublingly, she shared a statement from the Jewish Calgary Federation welcoming hate charges against a Calgary protestor who used the phrase “From the river to the sea…”, falsely accusing him of “publicly inciting hate” and hoping that the arrest would set a precedent in other cities (Tweet 9).[35] The charges against the protestor were later stayed,[36] as there was no basis for the allegations. Nonetheless, Special Envoy Lyons appears to support the idea of prosecuting those who use this term for hate speech. On the other hand, Special Envoy Lyons has nothing to say about the use of superficially similar phrases by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose coalition government asserts that the Jewish people have an “exclusive” right to the entire “Land of Israel” (including occupied Palestinian territory),[37] and whose party’s charter asserts that “between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.”[38] Palestinian calls for freedom are deemed controversial, and possibly even criminal, while Israeli claims of supremacy are not.

Special Envoy Lyons expressed concern over Canada’s belated vote for a ceasefire at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), going as far as to imply that the non-binding and symbolic vote was antisemitic, and bringing up the Holocaust. As she wrote on Twitter: “(1/2) Many people in the Jewish community are disheartened and hurt by [Canada]’s decision to support today’s UN resolution. I have heard from so many of you and understand your concerns. Please know that my office and I are committed to standing with you to combat antisemitism” (Tweet 10),[39] continuing: “(2/2) and preserve Holocaust remembrance here at home and around the world. I will raise these serious concerns with Cabinet ministers this week and reiterate the importance and urgency of combatting antisemitism in all its forms” (Tweet 11).[40] Special Envoy Lyons raised this again in a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Joly two days later, noting the “deep anxiety & pain Canada’s Jewish community is feeling, especially after recent events in [Canada], [Israel], the UN & abroad,” which “reinforced the need for a whole of Cabinet approach to tackling antisemitism.”[41] This conflation of calls for a ceasefire, a mainstream demand for an end to violence by all parties, with hatred against Jews is disturbing, especially coming from a public official in an anti-racist role. It sends a message that it is antisemitic to criticize Israel’s military operations, its violence against Palestinians, or its violations of international law. At its root this argument serves to justify violence against Palestinians, implying that Canada’s complicity in the Holocaust and antisemitism requires condoning Israel’s contemporary crimes against Palestinians.

Special Envoy Lyons has also argued that anyone skeptical of unverified Israeli claims about Hamas atrocities on October 7 is directly violating the IHRA definition of antisemitism: “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition on antisemitism says that unfairly isolating Israel/Jews, and holding them to an uneven standard is antisemitic. Refusing to believe Jewish women who were sexually assaulted during Oct 7 is a clear example” (Tweet 12).[42] Similarly, she shared a statement from the University of Alberta announcing the firing of the executive director of a sexual assault centre for signing an open letter which (in part) criticized those making unverified accusations against Palestinians of gender-based violence.[43] Given the still-controversial nature of the Israeli allegations of “systemic mass rape,”[44] it is a serious overreach to accuse someone of antisemitism, and even to support firing them, for raising questions that are being explored by the United Nations and other investigators. Meanwhile, Special Envoy Lyons has remained entirely silent on the many allegations of sexual violence against Palestinian women and girls committed by the Israeli military since October 7, as detailed by UN experts, [45] and she chose not to share a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly on the subject.[46] This is far from an intersectional approach to gender-based violence.


3. A significant part of Special Envoy Lyons’s role includes collaboration with Israeli officials

Even though Special Envoy Lyons’ mandate is related to combatting antisemitism in Canada, a significant portion of her role appears to involve collaboration with Israeli officials, or otherwise deal with subject matter related to Israel. Th emphasis on building ties with Israeli officials is highly troubling given the ongoing International Court of Justice (ICJ) case into allegations of genocidal acts by the Israeli government in Gaza,[47] and pending arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel’s top leadership for war crimes and crimes against humanity.[48] Nonetheless, this work is possible within her mandate because her Office is jointly housed between Canadian Heritage and Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and her primary manager is Jeffrey Marder, the head of global human rights in GAC. In contrast, the office of the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia is housed solely in Canadian Heritage and has no such international dimensions in its mandate. Special Envoy Lyons’ focus on Israel reinforces the impression that the issues of antisemitism and pro-Israel advocacy are deeply entangled in the work of her office. This may help to explain why a former diplomat to Israel was chosen for this role over someone with actual credentials in anti-racism.

Special Envoy Lyons has issued several statements since the attack by Palestinian armed factions on October 7 which discuss at length the harm to Israelis but do not express any sympathy for Palestinians whatsoever.[49] This is a stark asymmetry considering that Israel has killed over 30 times as many Palestinians as Israelis were killed on October 7. She has repeatedly advocated for Canada to assist in the Israeli government’s internal investigation into allegations of sexual violence committed by Hamas, rather than an independent investigation,[50] and she “applaud[ed]” a statement from the National Hockey League (NHL) in support of Israel’s national hockey team.[51]

Significantly, Special Envoy Lyons participated in a delegation to Israel in December 2023 “to show [Canada’s] support” to Israel. She shared photos from the trip indicating that she was toured around Israeli communities near Gaza by Israeli soldiers in uniform[52] (Tweet 13). Two days later, she issued a joint statement with Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel's Special Envoy for Combatting Antisemitism, which talked about Israel’s “right and responsibility to defend itself and to protect its citizens.”[53] This is a political argument, not a legal one (Israel does not have a right to self-defence in territories that it occupies[54]), and has the effect of offering unconditional support to Israel’s devastating siege on Gaza.

Special Envoy Lyons has shared many meetings with Israeli politicians, diplomats and figures, both in Canada and in Israel since becoming the Special Envoy. These include:

  • Israel’s far-right Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, “to establish a link between our offices and [Canada] + [Israel] collaboration to combat antisemitism” (Tweet 14).[55]
  • Israeli President Isaac Herzog (whose statements since October 7 have been referenced by the International Court of Justice as plausible evidence of Israel’s genocidal intent[56]), writing: “Great meeting with the President of Israel @Isaac_Herzog in Jerusalem to share [Canada’s] whole of society efforts to combat rising antisemitism + areas for [Israel] and [Canada] cooperation in addressing hate towards Jewish communities” (Tweet 15).[57]
  • A delegation of Israelis to Canada, which included family members of hostages. “On Monday, Oct 30, I, with @MoedIddo, @JustinTrudeau, and @IrwinCotler, met with Israeli delegation of family members of victims and hostages from the horrific Oct 7 Hamas terrorist attack. I will always carry these powerful, painful stories” (Tweet 16).[58]
  • Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Iddo Moed, who was appointed by Israel’s far-right government (Tweet 17).[59]

While the content of the above meetings is ostensibly about antisemitism in some way, it is not clear why her role involves so much contact with representatives of the State of Israel. Collaborating with Israel on matters of racism is particularly problematic given that the human rights community has accused Israel of practicing apartheid against Palestinians.[60] This reinforces the impression that her office is more concerned with the policing of speech critical of Israel than it is with combatting systemic oppression in our communities. Weaponizing the fight against antisemitism to protect Canada’s military and trade alliance with a government that is killing tens of thousands of Palestinians in territory it militarily occupies is completely intolerable, and exposes a deep-seated hypocrisy on behalf of the Trudeau government.




The above analysis points to a problem of structural racism within Canada’s bureaucracy, and in particular, outlines a pattern of racist behaviour by Special Envoy Deborah Lyons of mispresenting pro-Palestinian demonstrations, slogans, and perspectives in a way that unfairly defames them as antisemitic. Moreover, her close collaboration with Israeli state officials politicizes and muddies the mandate of her office, and underlines the Trudeau government’s ongoing conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism. CJPME has no confidence in Lyons’ ability to evaluate or delineate the boundaries of legitimate speech in a way that safeguards Charter rights and freedoms of Palestinian Canadians and their supporters. Instead, both her public mandate and personal political agenda threaten to criminalize public expression and silence those who are calling for an end to the mass violence and systemic oppression in Palestine. This is particularly troubling given Lyons’ close collaboration with police departments, as her harmful demonization of Palestinian perspectives and her calls for greater police action against demonstrators could contribute to heavy-hand and discriminatory police repression of protests.

Special Envoy Lyons must be removed from her role, and the Prime Minister must ensure the next Special Envoy approaches antisemitism in an intersectional manner, without engendering anti-Palestinian racism. As CJPME and partners have recently urged the government, “Canada’s policy approach to antisemitism must not harm the ability of Palestinians and their allies to address their experiences of structural racism in Canada and in Israel.”[61]

CJPME re-emphasizes its opposition to the adoption of IHRA working definition and maintains that there are ways to fight antisemitism without censoring or reproducing harm against Palestinians and their allies. Respected definitions like the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA), which was developed by scholars from the fields of Holocaust history, Jewish studies, and Middle East studies with the intent of “providing clear guidance to identify and fight antisemitism while protecting free expression,”[62] provide less controversial frameworks through which to address antisemitism. Unlike IHRA, the JDA delineates instances of antisemitism while affirming the legitimacy of most forms of speech and protest. An approach to anti-racism in Canada cannot prevent Palestinians and their supporters from advocating for their own rights or naming the forms of racism and oppression that they face, whether here in Canada or within territories controlled by Israel.


[1] Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, “Prime Minister announces new Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism,” October 16, 2023,

[2] Government of Canada, “Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism,” accessed May 9, 2024,

[3] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “Preserving Holocaust remembrance and creating safer communities,” May 5 2024,

[4] For detailed analysis and resources on the IHRA working definition, see the “No IHRA” campaign by Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV),

[5] CJPME, “Anti-Palestinian Racism in Canada: CJPME’s 2022 Report,” December 2023,

[6] “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism,”

[7] Joint Letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Under Secretary-General Miguel Ángel Moratinos, “Human Rights and other Civil Society Groups Urge United Nations to Respect Human Rights in the Fight Against Antisemitism,” Human Rights Watch, April 2023,

[8] IJV, No IHRA campaign, “Partners,”; IJV, No IHRA campaign, “Faculty against the IHRA definition,”

[9] These remarks were made during the same Zoom session in which then-BC Minister Selina Robinson made racist anti-Palestinian remarks, eventually leading to her resignation. B’nai Brith Canada has since made the video “private” on YouTube.

[10] Arab-Canadian Lawyers Association, “Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations,” April 2022,; CJPME Factsheet no. 227, “Anti-Palestinian Racism,” July 2022,

[11] “Combating Anti-Palestinian Racism and Antisemitism: An Intersectional Approach to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy,” Joint Submission from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC), issued May 2024,

[12] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, February 13, 2024,

[13] David Gray-Donald, “What happened outside Mount Sinai Hospital as a pro-Palestine rally passed by?” The Grind, February 14, 2024,; Ben Cohen, “Police investigating amid backlash over pro-Palestinian protesters outside Mount Sinai Hospital,” Toronto Star, February 14, 2024, 

[14] “About Mount Sinai Hospital,” Mount Sinai Hospital, accessed May 9, 2024,

[15] Martin Lukacs, “In stunning pre-dawn raids, Toronto police ‘terrorize’ Palestine activists,” The Breach, November 24, 2023,; Naomi Klein, “Naomi Klein to Heather Reisman: Charges must be dropped against Indigo 1,” The Breach, November 20, 2023,; Marco Chown Oved, Joshua Chong, and Ben Cohen, “The case of the Indigo 11: How an act of vandalism became a flashpoint in Toronto,” Toronto Star, January 8, 2024,; CJPME Factsheet 238, “Boycott Campaign: Indigo Books & Music Inc.”, December 2023,  

[16] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, November 10, 2023,

[17] Reisman’s HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers encourages foreigners to join the Israeli army, an occupying power which oppresses the Palestinian people and commits systemic violations of human rights and international law, and continue their studies in Israel. CJPME Factsheet 238, “Boycott Campaign: Indigo Books & Music Inc.”, December 2023,

[18] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, November 8, 2023,

[19] Nora Loreto, “Palestine Solidarity Activists Reject Claims About Concordia Altercations,” The Maple, November 11, 2023,; Katelyn Thomas, “What really happened at Concordia?” Montreal Gazette, November 10, 2023,

[20] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 31, 2024,

[21] Statement from Eglinton-Lawrence + Don Valley 4 Palestine (@ELDV4Palestine), January 8, 2024,

[22] Kevin Vuong (@KevinVuongMP), Tweet, December 14, 2023,

[23] Reportedly, Meir Weinstein left the Jewish Defence League in 2021, but his new website ( is filled with content related to far-right and racist Meir Kahane.

[24] Meir Weinstein (@neveragainlive1), Tweet, December 13, 2023,

[25] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, February 22, 2024,

[26] McGill Grad Students 4 Palestine and Divest McGill, Instagram Post, February 22, 2024,; Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at McGill, “The Deadly ‘Start-Up Nation,” The Tribune, February 20, 2024,

[27] Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (@CIJAInfo), Tweet, November 4, 2023,

[28] “Zionism,” Encyclopedia Britannica, October 19, 2022,;

[29] Edward W. Said, “Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims,” Social Text, Number 1 (Winter, 1979),; Jewish Voice for Peace, “Our Approach to Zionism,” n.d., 

[30] Jasmin Zine, “The Canadian Islamophobia Industry: Mapping Islamophobia’s Ecosystem in the Great White North,” Islamophobia Studies Center, Berkely, California, 2022.

[31] Respond Crisis Translation, “Mistranslating the movement: Language is being weaponized to malign the Palestinian liberation movement and justify an ongoing genocide,” November 2, 2023,; Mira Fox, “So what does ‘intifada’ actually mean?,” Forward, December 15, 2023,

[32] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 24, 2023,

[33] Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), “’From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ Is not Hate Speech,” November 14, 2023,; Yousef Munayyer, “What Does ‘From the River to the Sea’ Really Mean?”, Jewish Currents, June 11, 2021,  

[34] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 5, 2023,

[35] “We thank @CalgaryPolice for taking swift action against the protester who was publicly inciting hate. This arrest will hopefully set a precedent not only in Calgary but in other cities. [1/2],” and “There has been an alarming increase around the use of known antisemitic phrases and it is important that they are being called out as hate speech and prosecuted as such. [2/2]”. Jewish Calgary (@Jewishcalgary), Tweets, November 7, 2023, and

[36] Duncan Kinney, “Hate crime charge dropped against Calgary man who led, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ chant,” Progress Report, November 17, 2023,

[37] “Judicial reform, boosting Jewish identity: The new coalition’s policy guidelines,” Times of Israel, December 28, 2022,

[38] Likud Party: Original Party Platform (1977), Jewish Virtual Library,

[39] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 12, 2023,

[40] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 12, 2023,

[41] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 14, 2023,

[42] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 3, 2023,

[43] University of Alberta (@UAlberta), Tweet, November 18, 2023,

[44] While allegations of sexual violence by Hamas on October 7 are being investigated by various Israeli, UN, and international bodies, authorities have struggled to verify many claims while others have completely fallen apart and have been discredited. One influential New York Times story, which alleged systemic mass rape on October 7, has completely fallen apart in the face of questions about the reliability of its sources and its editorial standards. Getting an accurate appraisal of the events of October 7 has been complicated by the Israeli government’s exploitation of sexual violence claims to justify its military operations in Gaza, severely politicizing the issue. In March, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict concluded that there were “reasonable grounds” to conclude that conflict-related sexual violence took place at the Nova music festival, but it did not find a pattern of widespread of systemic sexual violence. The report, which relied heavily on official Israeli sources, was unable to verify incidents of rape in other locations, and determined that at least two widely-reported incidents were actually “unfounded.” United Nations, “Reasonable Grounds to Believe Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Occurred in Israel During 7 October Attacks, Senior UN Official Tells Security Council,” March 11, 2024,; Feminist Solidarity Network for Palestine, “Here’s what Pramila Patten’s UN report on Oct 7 sexual violence actually said,” Mondoweiss, March 11, 2024,; Jeremy Scahill, Ryan Grim, and Daniel Boguslaw, “Between The Hammer And The Anvil: The Story Behind the New York Times October 7 Exposé,” The Intercept, January 28, 2024,; Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Grim, “Kibbuz Be’eri rejects story in New York Times October 7 exposé: ‘They were not sexually abused,’” The Intercept, March 4, 2024,; Arun Gupta, “Claims of Mass Rape by Hamas Unravel Upon Investigation,” Yes! Magazine, March 5, 2024,; Liza Rozovsky and John Breiner, “Israeli Police Ask Victims and Witnesses to Testify About Hamas Sexual Violence,” Haaretz, January 4, 2024,; New York Times, “Israeli Soldier’s Video Undercuts Medic’s Account of Sexual Assault,” March 25, 2024,; Literary Hub, “A Call From the Journalism Academy for an External Review at The New York Times,” April 30, 2024,  

[45] United Nations, “UN experts appalled by reported human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls,” February 19, 2024,

[46] Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly), Tweet, February 21, 2024,

[47] International Court of Justice, Order, Application Of The Convention On The Prevention And Punishment Of The Crime Of Genocide In The Gaza Strip (South Africa V. Israel), January 26, 2024.

[48] International Criminal Court, “Statement of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC: Applications for arrest warrants in the situation in the State of Palestine,” May 20, 2024, 

[49] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 5, 2023,

[50] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, “We strongly support the call … [for Canada] to contribute to the investigation of sexual violence used by Hamas & to support victims & witnesses,” December 31, 2023,; Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, “We were pleased with the response from the Prime Minister and will follow up with Global Affairs & Public Safety this week…” December 31, 2023,; Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, “Also met with @MarciIen Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth to discuss importance of engaging youth on combatting antisemitism + promote a more active role that [Canada] can play on advocating for women and against #SGBV that occurred during 7/10 horrific Hamas attack on [Israel],” December 15, 2023,

[51] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, January 13, 2024,

[52] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 3, 2023,

[53] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 5, 2023,

[54] Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations recognizes the right of self-defence in the case of armed attack by one state against another, but the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined in 2004 that it has “no relevance” in the case of Israel’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories where Israel already exercises military control (ICJ, Advisory Opinion of July 9 2004). As explained by Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel “cannot claim the right of self-defence against a threat that emanates from a territory it occupies, from a territory kept under belligerent occupation.” Instead, Israel is bound by the laws of occupation, which are much      more restrictive and oblige Israel to protect the occupied population. Al Jazeera, “Does Israel have the right to self-defence in Gaza?” November 17, 2023,; Noura Erakat, “Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza—Debunked,” July 25, 2014,  

[55] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 12, 2023,

[56] In its initial order, the ICJ quoted the following statement of Israeli President Herzog as an example of dehumanizing and possibly genocidal language: “We are working, operating militarily according to rules of international law. Unequivocally. It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It is absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’état. But we are at war. We are at war. We are at war. We are defending our homes. We are protecting our homes. That’s the truth. And when a nation protects its home, it fights. And we will fight until we’ll break their backbone.” International Court of Justice, Order, Application Of The Convention On The Prevention And Punishment Of The Crime Of Genocide In The Gaza Strip (South Africa V. Israel), January 26, 2024.

[57] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, December 8, 2023,

[58] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, October 31, 2023,

[59] Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE), Tweet, October 31, 2023,

[60] Amnesty International, “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity,” February 1, 2022,; Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” April 27, 2021,; B’Tselem, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” January 12, 2019,; United Nations, “Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territory is ‘apartheid’: UN rights expert,” March 25, 2022,

[61] “Combating Anti-Palestinian Racism and Antisemitism: An Intersectional Approach to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy,” Joint Submission from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC), issued May 2024,

[62] “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism,”