Canadian courts continue to resist attempts by lobby groups to delegitimize critics of Israel

bnai brith counsel david matas

An Ontario Appeal Court Judge has again rejected an attempt by B’nai Brith Canada’s legal counsel David Matas (l) and CEO Michael Mostyn (r) to vilify the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for its strong support of Palestinian rights. The Israel lobby has suffered a number of legal setbacks in the last year, as Canada’s courts seem resistant to their pressure. Human rights lawyer Dimitri Lascaris explained why to OFIP Chair Peter Larson. Read more and watch the interview with Mr. Lascaris….

The pro-Israel lobby has had a number of political successes in the last few years in Canada, (e.g. the Parliamentary condemnation of the BDS movement in 2016), but it has been rather less successful in what is sometimes termed “lawfare” – using the court system to attack human rights organizations which criticize Israel.

The latest setback was a July 23 ruling by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in a long running legal battle between B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). B’nai Brith has made CUPW a particular target for many years since the union has been a strong supporter of human rights for Palestinians, and has endorsed the movement to boycott Israel called BDS.

At issue were extraordinary accusations made by Bnai Brith three years ago claiming that the union supported terrorism and promoted the “murder of its own Jewish CUPW members.”

On July 31, 2018, B’nai Brith published a press release entitled “Canadian Postal Workers Align with Pro-Terrorism Palestinian Union”, which claimed that “CUPW leadership has aligned itself with the path of violence and extremism”. That was followed by a second press release, published on August 2, 2018, which claimed that CUPW’s union dues “may be used to support a foreign organization that wants to see CUPW’s Jewish and Israeli members murdered.”

CUPW sued Bnai Brith Canada for defamation and argued that it was done maliciously. B’nai Brith filed a statement of defence and argued that the action was groundless should be dismissed.

B’nai Brith lost in court in January 2020, as a judge agreed that CUPW had a legitimate case to claim defamation. Bnai Brith appealed the decision.

On July 23, 2021 the Court of Appeal for Ontario again decided in favour of the CUPW.

CUPW is pleased that the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled our defamation case against B’nai Brith can proceed“, CUPW Vice-President Dave Blakely told CTIP. “We look forward to defending ourselves in court against B’nai Brith’s malicious lies and reckless disregard for the truth. Criticism of governments or their policies does not equate to support for terrorism or expression of anti-Semitism. Unfounded and untrue accusations detract from the real menace of anti-Semitism in our world.”

In this video interview, human rights lawyer Dimitri Lascaris explains why Bnai Brith is having a hard time convincing the courts of its arguments. “On social media, you can say whatever you want about someone“, argues Lascaris, “but the courts have rules of evidence that demand substantiation of claims under oath.” Recently, B’nai Brith Canada has had a difficult time convincing the court of many of its allegations.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. I very much appreciate the interview by Peter Larson of Dimitri Lascaris. Dimitri is so clear and beautifully articulate. What he had to say was also very hopeful for Palestinian rights activists.
    Thank you so much, Peter, for doing this interview!
    Frances Combs

  2. Excellent clarification of the difference between what Bnai Brith (or anyone else) can say on social media and what it can allege (and have to prove) in a court of law. It’s one thing to accuse someone of being a terrorist or anti-Semitic on social media (which Bnai Brith does far too often), and quite another to have to prove it in court. The Court of Appeal called its bluff in this case.

  3. How incredibly sinister B’nai Brith is to argue in court that the case be dismissed due to it being designed to silence them, while this is their main occupation to silence others.
    B’nai Brith in its actions along the years, caused the increase of antisemitism.

  4. Perhaps it’s time for more Canadians to seek the court’s intervention against B’nai Brith any time the pro-Israeli government mouthpiece attacks them with it’s fanciful, factless allegations and then to press Canadian media to report on the legal ruling until the general population begins to see through the mistruths.
    To my friend Jake, above, it’s my contention any “increase in antisemitism” in Canada is littlemore than political rhetoric by B’nai Brith and others.

  5. It is gratifying that Canadians are upholding their right to free expression and for their support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to live in peace, freedom and security in their own land.

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