Montreal, June 28, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is condemning Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather for his recent meeting with Simcha Rothman, a far-right member of Israel’s extremist government. Rothman is leading Israel’s “judicial coup” and has defended racial discrimination and recent settler violence against Palestinians. Housefather shared a photograph of himself with Rothman during a meeting yesterday for their joint ‘Task Force’; Rothman describes himself as a co-chair of the group while Housefather is listed as a Steering Committee member. CJPME urges the government and Liberal caucus to repudiate Housefather for working alongside Rothman and to condemn all forms of far-right extremism.
“It is deplorable that a Canadian MP would work alongside a far-right, extremist Israeli lawmaker like Rothman, who justifies racial discrimination and settler terrorism against Palestinians,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. CJPME notes that the meeting of Housefather and Rothman was intended to build support for the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is used to suppress criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights. “The involvement of a far-right extremist in this initiative further demonstrates that IHRA is not about countering hate and discrimination, but about suppressing speech on Israeli apartheid,” added Bueckert.
Simcha Rothman is the chair of the Israeli Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, and is therefore responsible for pushing the government’s judicial “reform” agenda, which is widely described as a “judicial coup.” As such, he is leading an agenda which threatens to dismantle democracy for Israeli Jews while entrenching apartheid for Palestinians. He has also expressed support for allowing businesses to racially discriminate against customers.
Last week, following acts of terrorism by mobs of Israeli settlers who tried to burn down Palestinian villages, Rothman referred to the attacks as a “protest” and asked, “that’s not alright?” He is a member of the fascist Religious Zionism coalition alongside extremist ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have used genocidal language in support of settler violence against Palestinians: Smotrich previously said that the Palestinian town of Huwara should be “wiped out,” and Ben-Gvir recently referred to settler terrorists as “sweet boys.”
The ‘Task Force’ run by Housefather and Rothman is seeking to compel social media companies to adopt the controversial and discredited IHRA definition of antisemitism, which has been used to shut down speech in support of Palestinian rights. More than 100 Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights NGOs have recently written to the United Nations in opposition to IHRA, and leading Israeli NGOs warn that IHRA is already being weaponized against human rights work. In Canada, IHRA is opposed by a wide range of civil society voices including the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Jewish Faculty Network, and more than 40 academic unions and associations.