BC Minister Selina Robinson must resign for her anti-Palestinian racism: CJPME

Montreal, February 5, 2024 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is calling for the resignation of B.C. Minister for Post-Secondary Education Selina Robinson over several incidents that reflect a pattern of anti-Palestinian racism. Last week, remarks surfaced of Robinson using a colonial trope to refer to pre-1948 Palestine as a “crappy piece of land with nothing on it.” The same day, Robinson was criticized for political interference leading to the firing of a professor for their views on Gaza. CJPME calls on B.C. Premier David Eby to demonstrate that racism is not tolerated in the BC NDP, and take immediate action to remove Robinson from her role.

“Minister Robinson’s words and actions reflect an explicitly colonial, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Palestinian worldview, which erases Palestinians to justify their dispossession,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. This was not a mistake or a slip of the tongue, but Robinson’s words clearly reflected her ideological beliefs. Her apologies do not restore confidence in her ability to serve without prejudice or discrimination. She cannot continue in this role,” added Woodley.

CJPME is deeply unsatisfied with Robinson’s commitment to take “anti-Islamophobia training,” noting that anti-Palestinian racism is distinct from Islamophobia and that treating them as identical reflects a deep – and perhaps intentional – misunderstanding of each. “This is not an issue of religion, but of a type of racism that justifies settler-colonial violence through treating Palestinians as backwards or inferior to Jewish settlers,” said Woodley.

Video clips from a recent webinar with pro-Israel lobby group B’nai Brith show Robinson explaining that young Canadians who support Palestinians are doing so from a place of ignorance: “They don’t understand that [Palestine] was a crappy piece of land with nothing on it … you know, there were several hundred thousand people, but other than that, it didn’t produce an economy.” CJPME notes that these comments are not only factually incorrect, but they also echo the ideological underpinnings of colonialism in North America, in which the idea of “Terra Nullius” was used to justify the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples. CJPME argues that these colonial ideas are completely unacceptable in either context, and that they are particularly offensively offensive in light of the mass dispossession and genocide inflicted on Palestinians by Israel in Gaza.

CJPME also echoes the concerns of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of British Columbia (FPSE-BC), who have called for Robinson’s resignation over political interference which led to the firing of a professor over her views on Gaza. Although the professor’s speech at a rally for Palestine was cleared by an internal investigation, she was later fired only 24 hours after Robinson publicly called for her termination. “This is not only an attack on academic freedom, but an act of intimidation to silence and expel critics of a genocidal war,” said Woodley.