'Odious' Israeli Apartheid Week condemned - Macleans.ca

‘Odious’ Israeli Apartheid Week condemned

Yearly campus event denounced by politicians as a ruse for racism

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Israeli Apartheid Week, held annually on university campuses around the world, has always provoked a strong reaction and this year Canada’s politicians are denouncing the event that began Monday. Later this week, Edmonton Conservative MP Tim Uppal will put forward a motion calling on the House of Commons to unanimously recognize that Israeli Apartheid Week is a  ruse for anti-Semitism.

The proposed motion reads: “That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of “Israeli Apartheid Week”; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.”

A similar motion was passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament in late February, where all present members supported a motion put forward by Tory MPP Peter Shurman. Shurman told the Toronto Star that he would like to see the name changed. “Israeli Apartheid Week is not a dialogue, it’s a monologue and it is an imposition of a view by the name itself—the name is hateful, it is odious.” Similar sentiments were expressed by both Liberal and NDP members of the provincial legislature.

On Monday of this week, federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released a statement that would seem to suggest that the Liberal party will endorse Uppal’s proposed motion. “The very premise of Israeli Apartheid Week runs counter to our shared values of mutual respect and tolerance, regardless of nationality, race or creed. It is an attempt to heighten the tensions in our communities around the tragic conflict in the Middle East,” Ignatieff said.

As for the event itself, at York University, where tensions caused by the event have often run the highest,  the Excalibur reported today that so far Israeli Apartheid Week has been civil. The Excalibur also reported that York’s president Mamdouh Shoukri encouraged students to not use the event to engage in racist behaviour. “Political activism is no excuse for racism, intimidation or hatred of any kind,” he said.