Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has just hired Corey Balsam as its new national coordinator. We asked him about why he has taken on a difficult job and the challenges he sees ahead. Watch our video interview…
Many people who read this column regularly will already be familiar with the work of a small national human rights organization called Independent Jewish Voices Canada, or IJV.
IJV describes itself as “a national human rights organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.”
Despite its small size (the total membership is not public but estimated to be in the “low thousands”), IJV carries a big punch. The very existence of a national Canadian organization of Jews who dare to criticize Israel, opens up a terrain of debate that many non-Jews would be hesitant to enter for fear of being tarred as “anti-Semitic”.
IJV has taken on several major campaigns including opposing charitable tax status for the Jewish National Fund of Canada, demanding that the City of Ottawa remove its name from Canada Park built on top of 3 destroyed Palestinian villages, and opposing detention and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
IJV has succeeded in getting under the skin of Canada’s largest pro-Israel lobby group, CIJA, which regularly denounces it as being anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. One post on the CIJA website called IJV “a hate-filled group of people, desperately trying to be accepted by the 7 billion other residents on earth (…) willing to walk away from the 14 million Jews still alive.”
IJV remains undeterred by this name calling. IJV’s previous National Coordinator, Tyler Levitan repeatedly called on CIJA Chairman Shimon Fogel to engage in an open debate about Israel, but so far these calls have remained unanswered.
In September, I interviewed Corey Balsam, about his background, his new responsibilities and the challenges he sees ahead. Click on the video to see the interview.
IJV is a voluntary organization which depends on its members and contributors for its financing. Those wishing to contribute to the work of IJV can go to its page which explains how to become a member or make a donation.
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