Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When Canada Was a Democracy Paul Calandra Would Have Been Told to Sit Down

On March 3, 2009; Paul Calandra, the Reform-Conservative member of Parliament for Oak Ridge – Markham, stood up in the House of Commons and made this announcement:

“Mr. Speaker, Jewish students across the country are under siege as anti-Semites unveil their plans for Israel Apartheid Week.

Liberal MPs have been quoted in the media and even today in the immigration committee saying that anti-Semitic organizations like the Canadian Arab Federation should receive taxpayer support.

Will the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism explain why the government believes that Israel Apartheid Week is anti-Semitic?”

Now this announcement was not made out of concern for Jewish students, but was just another hyper-partisan assault on the Liberals, in his party's attempt to paint the opposition as being antisemitic, based solely on the notion that any criticism of Israel is antisemitism.

They have actually now taken it a step further, by suggesting that if you don't stand up everyday and declare your love for Israel you are antisemitic. Or if you support the Arab community or if you feel any sympathy for the Palestinian people, you are antisemitic. Or if you're not nuts like Jason Kenney, you are antisemitic.

When and where is this going to end?

Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of university lectures and rallies held in March of every year since 2005. It began in Toronto but has spread to 40 cities around the world including England, the United States, South Africa, the West Bank, Mexico, Scotland and Norway. According to Wikipedia:

The aim of the week was officially said to be a contribution "to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands – including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution

I remember a time when we protested another wall, and that one came down.

So why can't we debate this openly and honestly? If Jason Kenney and Paul Calandra believe that the Israeli occupation is just, let them give us their reasons. Canada has always been a diplomatic, even handed country. Let's hear the arguments.

But there are no arguments, because if arguments are presented in the House, the Reformers immediately start bellowing and squealing and speaking in tongues; denouncing anyone who would even make such a suggestion.

This is absolutely wrong, and completely un-Canadian. It goes against everything we believe in. So why are the Reformers being allowed to get away this nonsense?


They have everyone living in fear. The opposition can't even mouth the words, and our NGOs risk losing their funding if they urge that human rights and the rule of law, be encouraged when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And how dare Calandra suggest that the organizers of this are anti-Semites. In fact, many of them are Jewish.



  1. Now, I am hearing that legitimate criticism of Israel is OK. I'm just wondering which thoughts are legitimate and who legitimizes them.