Montreal, December 1, 2016 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) denounces the passage of an Ontario motion condemning BDS. The BDS movement – standing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – seeks to non-violently pressure the Israeli government to fulfill its human rights obligations under international law. “This motion will surely put a chill on free speech in Ontario vis-à-vis Israel’s human rights abuses,” asserted Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “It is a sad day when Ontario seeks to censure individuals for their political views.”
Ballot item number 25, Motion Number 36, introduced by Ms. Martow, MPP Thornhill, suggests that the BDS movement promotes “hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance” and that it promotes “differential treatment of Israel.” Unfortunately, such statements seek to deliberately smear and misrepresent the BDS movement. “This is tantamount to accusing a ‘child’s rights’ movement of being hostile towards adults, or a ‘women’s rights’ movement being intolerant of men,” posited Woodley.
BDS calls for 1) an end to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, 2) equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and 3) the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation. The BDS movement is non-violent, grounded in principles of international law, and condemns unjust behaviour. Neutral observers view the BDS movement as a legitimate means of protest and pressure in a democracy – being neither “anti-Israel” nor “anti-Semitic” – in response to a specific 2005 call from Palestinian civil society. CJPME also points out that the goals of BDS actually align with Canada’s official foreign policy positions on Israel-Palestine.
Canada currently sanctions 21 different countries for human rights and civil rights abuses: the BDS movement is no different. “Like many citizens of Ontario, I am shocked and upset by the MPPs’ willingness to undermine our Charter right to freedom of speech. Even if they are unsure of the utility of BDS, politicians with any conscience would still stand up for Canadians’ right to voice their opinion,” concluded Woodley. CJPME expects to expand its “Boycott Israel” sticky note campaign in direct response to the Ontario legislature’s ill-conceived motion and threats.
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 CJPME at 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.
– 30 –