OFIP open letter to hon. Jim Carr: “How does criticism of Israel pose a threat to public safety and national security in Canada? See his answer.

On June 8th, the Federal Government Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security issued a report on violent extremism in Canada. One of its 30 recommendations called for the government to “condemn” strong criticism of Israel on Canadian campuses. How criticism of Israel might be related to violent extremism was not clear. OFIP wrote an open letter to Mr. Carr asking for an explanation. His answer was less than satisfactory. Read more…

Just before the federal parliament rose for the summer break, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security issued a report on “Ideologically motivated violent extremism” in Canada. A committee made up of over 20 members of Parliament, chaired by Hon. Jim Carr, a former cabinet minister, had been holding hearings and reviewing information for over six months.

The topic of the report is significant. From attacks on Muslim worshippers at a Mosque in Quebec City to reports of infiltration of right-wing movements into Canadian military and police ranks, the Canadian public and the Government of Canada need to understand and address the threat of violent extremism to the security of Canadians.

However, the report included a surprising and alarming recommendation apparently aimed at limiting Canadians’ right to freedom of speech when it comes to Israel.

Report Recommendation 20:

“That the Government of Canada thoroughly reject the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and condemn all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups, or individuals, including university campus associations, to promote these views, both at home and abroad.”

Curiously, this recommendation was not supported by any evidence cited in the report. And no argument was made anywhere that criticism of the State of Israel – even “demonization or delegitimization” – represents a threat to Canada or its public safety or has any link to organized violent extremism.

OFIP noted that the committee had called on several pro-Israel lobby groups as expert witnesses including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Bnai Brith Canada. Had the pro-Israel agenda of those groups, we wondered, somehow been insinuated into the report of a Parliamentary Committee on terrorism?

We decided to ask Hon. Jim Carr directly. Following are excerpts from a letter OFIP wrote to him asking what Recommendation 20 had to do with “Ideologically Motivated Hate crime”.

Dear Hon. Mr. Carr”, we wrote, “The Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine has read with some concern the recent report of the Standing Committee on “Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE) in Canada.”

As you are likely aware, Israel is a state under investigation by the ICC for war crimes. We also know that a wide range of well-known and respected human rights organizations, both international and Israeli, have accused the Israeli regime of the crime of apartheid.

The Israeli government claims that these reports amount to “delegitimizing and demonizing” of Israel motivated by antisemitism.

We are concerned that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has inadvertently allowed interest groups to insert wording conflating legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism and even with “violent antisemitism”.

We concluded our letter with a suggestion to Mr. Carr
OFIP suggests that the Committee revisit recommendation 20, and either eliminate it completely or revise the report to bring forward evidence to justify its inclusion including the threat to Canadian citizens’ public safety and national security.

A complete copy of our letter to Hon. Mr. Carr can be found here.

Follow up – Mr. Carr answers... sort of

Mr. Carr’s office did respond with a short letter from his parliamentary assistant on July 22.

Dear Peter Larson,

Thank you for contacting the Office of Hon. Jim Carr MP in his capacity as Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

We have ensured that MP Carr has read the attached letter. 

The committee adopted this recommendation not in any attempt to prevent scrutiny of Israel but to counteract the sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years.

“You are certainly correct in suggesting that rational and balanced discussion about Israel is important.  The committee does not view this recommendation as a threat to those discussions.

“Thank you for reaching out with your concerns.”

Kind Regards


Conclusion

Mr. Carr made no attempt to answer the question we asked of how criticism of Israel is linked to hate motivated violent extremism. Instead, his answer refers to an alleged “sharp rise in antisemitic incidents”.

OFIP is strongly opposed to antisemitism, of course, but the effort to link criticism of Israel to a rise in violent hate crime and antisemitism is part of the Zionist “scaremongering” rhetoric, that CTIP has already identified.

Parliamentarians should be cautious about interested parties who are seizing any opportunity to introduce their corrosive narrative into the Parliamentary agenda.


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.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org

10 comments

  1. There you go again Peter. Jim is a proud and devoted Canadian who has made a tremendous contribution to Canadian and Manitoba society over the years. He is also a devoted supporter of Israel as 99.9 percent of Jews are. All you do is criticize Israel, which is far more democratic than Palestine, a territory where Palestinians have killed tens of thousands of Israelis and Jews over the last hundred years and they continue to assassinate Jews on a daily basis. Why have you never talked about this slaughter and the fact that the Palestinian government pays a huge sum of money to the family of the Palestinian terrorists who commit these crimes. By the way, I am sure Jim would call your organization anti Israel and you anti Semitic. Why do you include Israel in the title of your organization. You never have anything good to say about it although it has made a huge contribution to the world and is the only democracy in the Middle East. Palestinian leadership thinks like you and hopes that Israel will be demolished and Jews will be replaced by Palestinians from sea to sea even if was to become a secular state.ie. No Jews.
    And why are you Chairman of an organization that you created. Who appointed you. You mean you are self appointed to an organization that is against the Jewish state, against everything Canada stands for with respect to Israel and in most peoples eyes is anti Semitic. Also, why have you never acknowledged that more Jews either left or were forced out of Palestine and Arab countries than Palestinians who left or were forced out of Israel

    1. Dear Reader,
      I have some difficulty responding to the critiques voiced by Sheldon Ehrenworth as he raises several unrelated issues. But I am thankful he raises them because it gives me the opportunity to address points that might be in the mind of some other readers.

      I note in passing, that none of his comments have anything to do with the substance of the article which was that interest groups are trying to make the link between criticism of Israel and “violent extremism”.

      Here are my responses to six different points Mr. Ehrenworth raises.

      1. Hon. Jim Carr MP may well be an outstanding Canadian. My post was not a personal attack on him, but a question about the logic of the report from the committee he chaired, which I thought made some unsupported (and dangerous) recommendations

      2. My organization includes “Israel” in the title because we try to address the Israel/Palestine conflict based on universal values of human rights and international law. Israel exists. It is a member of the UN. Palestine is also recognized by over 130 countries.

      3. About the charge that I never say anything “good” about Israel) to some of Israel’s remarkable achievements. I have responded to this elsewhere, mentioning some of them. China and the USA also have many remarkable achievements, but I don’t have to mention them to have the right to criticize their policies. Israel’s achievements don’t wipe out its dispossession of the Palestinians in 1947/48 or its treatment of them today.

      4. Yes, I am Chairman of OFIP. We have an executive. You can see the executive on our website. (www.ottawaforumip.org) In addition, we enjoy the support of a Council of Advisors which has now grown to include over 30 former Ambassadors, senior public servants, academics, ministers and others. None of them would have consented to join if they thought that OFIP (or I) was antisemitic.

      5. I don’t know of any serious Palestinian organization that calls for Jews to be “replaced”, “thrown into the sea”, etc. etc. not PA, not Fateh, not Hamas, not anybody in the joint list. (I admit that I don’t know what a fringe group like Palestinian Islamic Jihad says, but they are a very marginal political force despite their frightening sounding name.)

      6. Finally, of course I agree that many Jews came to Israel from Arab countries (especially Morocco) in the 1950’s. (Irwin Cotler calls this “Nakba II” to compare it to “Nakba I”, which was the expulsion of the Palestinians.) Some of those Jews felt the need to escape (just as the Palestinians had), others decided to immigrate because of Israel’s active recruitment efforts. I support the right of all refugees, whether Jewish or Palestinian, to return to their homelands if they want. That is international law. In fact, Arab countries like Tunisia and Morocco now accept Jewish tourists and have said Jews from those countries are welcome to return if they want.

  2. Reading the above really disturbed me and left me feeling awful. Is Canada becoming a “police state”, concerning the state of Israel. If an Alien from outer space came to earth and became aware of this dangerous behavior of our government, would conclude that our government is an agency of the Israeli state.

    1. Hey Jake, thanks for your comment.
      The recommendation of the committee is only that a “recommendation’ and is very far from being enacted in law. I think this is more about trying to establish a “narrative” which equates criticism of Israel with hate crime or terrorism.

  3. Thank you OFIP for this. The ‘extreme’ reaction by B’nai Brith and CIJA tells me how frightened they are of any criticism of Israel, and that tells me that the Israeli government is increasingly fearful and on the defensive. That tells me that they know that they are losing support around the world, if not in Israel itself. I feel sad that Israel, and its blind supporters have become part of the problem, rather than being open to any efforts at dialogue.

  4. Frankly, I don’t see anything honourable about a politician who will use his political powers to threaten and discourage fellow Canadians from holding and, or speaking out about political actions by foreign nations of any stripe.

  5. This post moves me to comment on how the young can develop radical ideology – from a psychological perspective.

    Young people of non-mainstream ethnic identity pretty well all detect incoming racist slurs at least occasionally. A subset of these young people are deeply affected and react with various degrees of defensive ideation with an “us vs them” perspective. They may see an exaggerated dichotomy of victims and perpetrators.

    Depending on their mentors, resilience and background values, this can expand into ideological extremism and acceptance of violent “solutions”.

    The antidote is open discussion and kindness at all levels of society. The young will be particularly influenced by their school peers and teachers, by teams and groups they belong to, and by their sense that Canada aims for a just society.

    Those are the points of leverage that can be modified by proactive interventions and programs by government, our institutions, and society at large.

  6. Thanks Peter for your excellent reply to Mr. Ehrenworth. I wonder if Mr. Enrenworth is aware that B’Tselem , a Jewish organization based in Israel , has referred to Israel in a recent report as an Apartheid State.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s