May 5, 2010 (revised and updated May 8, 2010)
To: Members of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) et al, via the kind assistance of the Office of the Secretariat
From: Diane V. McLoughlin, writer, peace activist
E-mail: contact at mcloughlinpost.com
Re: Canada on Israel - Defending Oppression - Criminalizing Dissent
Open Letter to the CPCCA - Students Defend Free Speech Equal Rights Justice and Peace - so should we;
Members of the CPCCA, et al:
The CPCCA website explains that 'Nazi' and 'apartheid' are offensive words used to describe Israel's supporters and the State of Israel. The site further alludes that individuals and certain states call for the destruction of the State of Israel and its inhabitants and that altogether the above is antisemitic. [1 a]
Calling for the destruction of anyone is bad. However, to some it is antisemitic to suggest that Israel should be one bi-national state with equal rights for all its citizens.
To some it is antisemitic, as well as an existential threat to the State of Israel, to suggest that Jews and Palestinians, in both Israel proper and within the occupied territories, should have the right to citizenship, political representation, equal rights and the vote.
I believe that it is crucial to understand and note this facet of the discussion. Because to some, the call for democratic reform is actually viewed as a call for Israel's 'destruction'.
Twenty percent of Israel's population within Israel proper are not Jewish; they are Palestinian-Israelis. Many to the right on the Israeli political spectrum want Israel's minorities to swear a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state - not as a state for all its citizens. In the original wording of the Knesset-proposed bill, any Arab-Israeli who refused to uphold the exclusively Jewish character of Israel would be subject to imprisonment. [1 b]
If we count in occupied Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jews comprise around six million and Palestinians four million. A little further out again, there are the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon who want to go home; under international law they continue to have every right to do so. In real terms, the guns of the Israeli Offense Forces continue to keep them out, penned in deplorable conditions in displacement camps.
In truth, outlawing criticism of the State of Israel closes one door and opens another. It will become legal to harass intellectuals, academics, civic and religious leaders as well as peace activists - to silence them.