Human Rights Organizations Denounce Far-Right Israeli Settler Speaking Tour in Toronto

Regavim_web.pngMontreal, December 14, 2022Canadian human rights organizations are denouncing a Toronto speaking tour which features an Israeli settler organization with ties to Israel’s most extreme anti-Palestinian politicians. The Israeli NGO Regavim, which promotes the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and campaigns for the demolition of Palestinian homes and schools, will be hosted in Toronto throughout the week by several Canadian pro-Israel groups. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA) are condemning the decision to platform such an extreme perpetrator of anti-Palestinian racism, and call on all Canadians to denounce Regavim’s hateful agenda.

Regavim is an Israeli NGO which seeks to promote exclusively Jewish settlement and “sovereignty” within the entire “Land of Israel.” For them, this includes the occupied Palestinian territories, which they claim belong to Israel, but they also target regions within Israel with large Palestinian Arab or Bedouin communities, notably the Galilee and the Naqab/Negev desert. Regavim portrays the presence of these communities as a threat to Jewish sovereignty, and files legal petitions to demolish supposedly ‘illegal’ or unregulated Palestinian properties, including homes and schools, on both sides of the Green Line.

“By seeking the cruel and inhumane demolition of Palestinian homes and schools, Regavim is a key enforcer of Israel’s discriminatory, apartheid policies,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. CJPME notes that Palestinians in all regions are forced to build without Israeli-issued permits due to Israel’s profoundly discriminatory and restrictive zoning and construction policies, and this has been identified by Amnesty International as a key aspect of Israel’s system of apartheid.

“It is shocking that this extremist settler organization is being invited to Toronto at the same time as its political allies are gaining unprecedented influence in the Israeli government,” said Corey Balsam, National Coordinator of IJV. Regavim was co-founded by far-right Israeli lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, whose political party Religious Zionism is a major player in the emerging Israeli coalition. Smotrich himself is expected to be given sweeping powers over policy in the occupied West Bank, governing many aspects of life for both settlers and Palestinians.

Regavim’s tour is the latest instance in a trend of Canadians hosting far-right figures who disseminate anti-Palestinian racism. In November, the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada hosted Chaim Silberstein, a far-right settler whose organization “Keep Jerusalem” is predicated on the idea that there are ‘too many Arabs’ in Jerusalem and which seeks to reduce the Palestinian population in the city from 40% to 15%. “Canadians need to start acknowledging these sentiments for what they are, as expressions of anti-Palestinian racism,” said Dania Majid of the ACLA. “We would not tolerate such forms of explicit racism against other communities, and it is time to call it out,” added Majid.