First ever study of anti-Palestinian racism in Canada exposes more than 500 examples in 2022

Montreal, December 7, 2023 — A new report from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) highlights the widespread problem of anti-Palestinian racism (APR) in Canadian society, exposing more than 500 examples of this form of racism in online written content in 2022. Titled Anti-Palestinian Racism in Canada: CJPME’s 2022 Report, the report constitutes the first-ever, non-exhaustive study of APR in Canada. As the study is limited in scope, the problem of APR is likely much more serious than indicated here. Significantly, the report argues that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism should be recognized as a key purveyor of APR, as it drives conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel, leading to unfair and defamatory attacks on Palestinians and their supporters.

“Palestinians in Canada face a form of racism tied to their very existence, yet it is rarely recognized as such. On the contrary, anti-Palestinian racism is interwoven into the political and media landscape of Canadian society,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “While the current events in Gaza have brought more media attention to the issue of anti-Palestinian racism in Canada, this study seeks to show how pervasive the problem truly is,” added Woodley.

CJPME’s non-exhaustive study identified examples of APR based on the ground-breaking description published in May 2022 by the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA). These examples were drawn exclusively from online written content from 2022 from institutional Canadian sources known to be frequent purveyors of APR. Of the 507 examples identified in the report, 67 percent were from non-profit organizations, the majority self-defined as pro-Israel, while 33 percent of the instances were from media organizations. Importantly, 70 percent of the examples contained defamation, including slander of Palestinians and their supporters as antisemitic, terrorist-sympathizers, and anti-democratic. CJPME also identified many examples of sources denying the indigeneity of Palestinians and justifying violence against Palestinians.

“Pro-Israel groups and right-wing media routinely engage in racist, anti-Palestinian tropes, seeking to build support for Israel by painting Palestinians and their supporters as antisemitic, antidemocratic, and as supporters of terrorism. This contributes to a climate of intolerance and violence towards Palestinians in Canada, and seeks to justify Israel’s acts of violence and annexation in Palestine,” said Woodley.

The report urges all levels of government to take urgent action to address anti-Palestinian racism. In particular, CJPME insists that the federal government:

  • Incorporate the problem of anti-Palestinian racism into the federal Anti-Racism Strategy;
  • Replace IHRA with a definition that does not promote anti-Palestinian racism, such as the Jerusalem Declaration on antisemitism.

While this particular study was focused exclusively on examples from 2022, the report notes that there has been a huge uptick in incidents of anti-Palestinian racism in Canada since Oct. 7, 2023. Among other things, many people in Canada have been warned, suspended, investigated, or fired by their employers or academic institutions due to the expression of their views on Palestine. CJPME plans to undertake a report on the problem of anti-Palestinian racism in Canada each year, and expects that its 2023 report will highlight the growing and devastating impact of APR on Canadian society. 

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 Michael Bueckert, CJPME VP, 613-315-7947

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

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