Is “anti-Palestinian racism” a real thing? A report by the Arab Canadian Lawyers’ Association explores the issue

High school students in Ottawa protested last May against a school board policy which officially “supports multiculturalism”, but won’t allow expressions of Palestinian identity in schools as “too political”. The Arab Canadian Lawyers’ Association calls this anti-Palestinian racism,“a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives“. Watch my interview with ACLA Chair Dania Majid….

Canadians are well aware of many kinds of racism in Canada – including Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, antisemitism and anti-indigenous racism. Since Covid, anti-Asian racism has been added to the list. But anti-Palestinian racism? Is that really a separate issue – or just a subset of anti-Muslim or anti-Arab hostility.?

“Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations“, a new study by the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, claims that anti-Palestinian racism exists in Canada but is sometimes not recognized because it is quite different from other, better understood, forms of racism.

An example of “anti-Palestinian racism”. Prime Minister does not think that discussion of the oppression of Palestinians should be discussed on Canadian campuses.

“Anti-Palestinian racism”, argues Dania Majid, “aims at suppressing, silencing and dehumanizing Palestinians and their narrative”.

Majid is the Chair of the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association which under took the study. Anti-Palestinian racism can take various forms including: denying the Nakba, denying Palestinians as an indigenous people, or vilification of human rights activists who defend Palestinians, as inherently “antisemitic”.

Examples might include:

  • the attempt to delegitimize the BDS movement as antisemitic.
  • attempts by CIJA, Bnai Brith and other organizations to prevent the United Church of Canada from taking a stronger stand in defense of human rights for Palestinians.


Mike Fegelman, CEO of Honest Reporting Canada pressured CBC to apologize for even using the word “Palestine”

For many Canadians, the meaning of the words “Palestine” or “Palestinian” remains unclear. (Some people still even confuse Palestine with Pakistan!!) Part of this lack of clarity is no doubt due to the fact that Palestine is very small and very far away.

But the ACLA report argues that it is also due to a systematic effort to obliterate the recognition of Palestine as a place and Palestinians as a people.

Canadians of Palestinian origin, like those high school students in Ottawa and elsewhere are increasingly reclaiming the right to express their narrative and gain recognition of their history and place in the world. Identifying and combatting anti-Palestinian racism is part of that struggle.

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. Racism against Palestinians among the population at large.
    Most of the public can not be blamed for negative view and racist attitudes, since what is drummed in them for decades, is the Zionist propaganda and deliberate lies, with the collusion willingly or otherwise by the media and governments. Often standing in front of the Israeli consulate in the past, with other activists demonstrating, a passerby would shout: Only if the Palestinians stop killing Israelis, all will be fine.
    When you try to correct them, they brush you off saying: I know everything, you should go and learn the truth.

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