Montreal, March 1, 2023 — Earlier today, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) sent an urgent letter to Canada’s Senate Speaker George Furey and Senators Plett and Laboucane-Benson raising troubling human rights concerns over their recent delegation to Israel. For several days this week, the Senators met with far-right Israeli lawmakers and other Israeli institutions to discuss strengthening Canada’s bilateral relationship with the country. CJPME warned the Senators that their visit is problematic in the context of Israel’s far-right government, escalating Israeli violence against Palestinians, its actions to annex the West Bank, and the growing recognition that Israel’s practices amount to the crime of apartheid under international law.
“It is completely inappropriate and unacceptable for Canada’s Senators to be meeting with and discussing strengthening ties with Israel’s racist and far-right regime,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “Canadians deserve an explanation for this offensive meeting, and we need to see a commitment from the Senate to suspend all partnerships with Israel until it stops violating Palestinian human rights and respects international law,” added Bueckert.
CJPME’s letter notes the alarming immediate context of the Senators’ visit to Israel, including Sunday’s settler pogrom on the Palestinian town of Huwara and genocidal statements from Israeli Ministers calling for the town to be “wiped out.” CJPME’s letter notes that over the past two weeks, Israel’s government has also advanced 15 new illegal settlements and more than 7,000 illegal settlement units in the occupied Bank, and made a significant change to its governance over the West Bank which is widely understood to amount to the de jure annexation of the territory. CJPME also emphasized the emerging consensus within the human rights sector that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians amounts to the crime against humanity of apartheid.
CJPME also raised specific concerns about a meeting between Canada’s Senate Speaker Fury and Israel’s Knesset Speaker, MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who CJPME identifies as a far-right, anti-Palestinian extremist. CJPME’s letter noted that MK Ohana has said that Palestinians are only “guests” in their country and that Muslims possess a “cultural murderousness”; he is responsible for the drafting and passage of Israel’s racist “Nation State Law” in 2018; and as public security minister defended as “law-abiding citizens” a group of Jewish Israelis who murdered a Palestinian citizen of Israel. CJPME’s letter argued that “these dehumanizing statements and actions should disqualify him from working with Canadian officials,” and urged the Senators to rescind their invitation to MK Ohana for an official visit to Canada.