Canadian Jews Against the Witchhunt

March 18, 2009

In News

By James Deutsch, M.D., Ph.D.,
Judith Deutsch, M.S.W., R.S.W.,
Miriam Garfinkle, M.D.

This statement was rejected by both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail (as an op-ed). Please help this important statement get into broad circulation – pass it on to your networks (faculty, community, MPs, university presidents, unions etc.). You may also wish to write to the Star and Globe editorials and express your dismay that they have chosen not to publish it.

Over 150 Jewish Canadians signed a statement expressing their concerns about the campaign to suppress criticism of Israel that is being carried on within Canada. The signatories include many prominent Canadians, including Ursula Franklin O.C., Anton Kuerti O.C., Naomi Klein, Dr. Gabor Mate, and professors Meyer Brownstone (recipient of Pearson Peace Medal), Natalie Zemon Davis, Michael Neumann, and Judy Rebick. *

The signatories are particularly concerned that unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism deflect attention from Israel’s accountability for what many have called war crimes in Gaza. They state that B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have led campaigns to silence criticism of Israel on university campuses, in labor unions and in other groups. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff unquestioningly echo the views of these particular Jewish organizations.

They strongly state that they are against all expressions of racism. While firmly committed to resisting any form of prejudice against Jewish people, their statement explicitly states that these spurious allegations of anti-Semitism bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. The statement underlines the immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people due to the severe poverty, daily humiliations, and military invasions inflicted by the State of Israel.

Statement: Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of Israel

We are Jewish Canadians concerned about all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and social injustice. We believe that the Holocaust legacy “Never again” means never again for all peoples. It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, with its ideals of democracy and its dream of being a safe haven for Jewish people, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people.

We are appalled by recent attempts of prominent Jewish organizations and leading Canadian politicians to silence protest against the State of Israel. We are alarmed by the escalation of fear tactics. Charges that those organizing Israel Apartheid Week or supporting an academic boycott of Israel are anti-Semites promoting hatred bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. We believe this serves to deflect attention from Israel’s flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have pressured university presidents and administrations to silence debate and discussion specifically regarding Palestine/Israel. In a full-page ad in a national newspaper, B’nai Brith urged donors to withhold funds from universities because “anti-Semitic hate fests” were being allowed on campuses. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have echoed these arguments. While university administrators have resisted demands to shut down Israel Apartheid week, some Ontario university presidents have bowed to this disinformation campaign by suspending and fining students, confiscating posters, and infringing on free speech.

We do not believe that Israel acts in self-defense. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving $3 million/day. It has the fourth strongest army in the world. Before the invasion of Gaza on 27 December 2008, Israel’s siege had already created a humanitarian catastrophe there, with severe impoverishment, malnutrition, and destroyed infrastructure. It is crucial that forums for discussion of Israel’s accountability to the international community for what many have called war crimes be allowed to proceed unrestricted by specious claims of anti-Semitism.

We recognize that anti-Semitism is a reality in Canada as elsewhere, and we are fully committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, we condemn false charges of anti-Semitism against student organizations, unions, and other groups and people exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and association regarding legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.


Abigail Bakan

Adam Balsam

Sharon Baltman

Julia Barnett

Lainie Basman

Jody Berland

Sam Blatt

Geri Blinik

Anita Block

Elizabeth Block

Sheila Block

Hannah Briemberg

Mark Brill

Stephen Brot

Meyer Brownstone

Eliza Burroughs

Smadar Carmon

Gyda Chud

Charles P. Cohen

Nathalie Cohen

David Copeland

Natalie Zemon Davis

Eliza Deutsch

James Deutsch

Judith Deutsch

Abbe Edelson

Jack Etkin

Elle Flanders

Danielle Frank

Ursula Franklin

Dan Freeman-Maloy

Miriam Garfinkle

Alisa Gayle

Jack Gegenberg

Mark Golden

Brenda Goldstein

Sue Goldstein

Cy Gonick

Marnina Gonick

Rachel Gotthilf

Amy Gottleib

Kevin A. Gould

Daina Green

Lisa Frances Greenspoon

Ricardo Grinspun

Cathy Gulkin

Rachel Gurofsky

Deboran Guterman

Yesse Gutman

Freda Guttman

Judy Haiven

Michael Hanna-Fein

Jean Hanson

Jan Heynen

Maria Heynen

Adam Hofmann

Jake Javanshir

Jeannie Kamins

Marylin Kanee

Howard S. Kaplan

Gilda Katz

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta

Mira Khazzam

Bonnie Sher Klein

Mark Klein

Martin Klein

Naomi Klein

Joshua Katz-Rosene

Ryan Katz-Rosene

Judy Koch

Anton Kuerti

Jason Kunin

Aaron Lakoff

Michael Lambek

Natalie LaRoche

Richard Borshay Lee

Andy Lehrer

Gabriel Levin

Gabriel Levine

Joel Lexchin

Kim Linekin

Abby Lippman

Lee Lorch

Martin Lukacs

Audrey Macklin

Elise Maltin

Richard Marcuse

Wayne Mark

Gabor Mate

Arthur Milner

Anna Miransky

Dorit Naaman

Joanne Naiman

Neil Naiman

Michael Neumann

David-Marc Newman

David Noble

Clare O’Connor

Robin Ostow

Andre W. Payant

Jenny Peto

Simone Powell

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Fabienne Presentey

Yacov Rabkin

Diana Ralph

Naomi Rankin

Judy Rebick

Ester Reiter

Jillian Rogin

Richard Roman

Joseph Rosen

Herman Rosenfeld

Martha Roth

Marty Roth

Ruben Roth

E.Natalie Rothman

B. Sack

Ben Saifer

Miriam Sampaio

Jacob Scheir

Fred Schloessinger

Alan Sears

Shlomit Segal

Edward H. Shaffer

Noa Shaindlinger

Ray Shankman

Eva Sharell

Elliot Shek

Sid Shniad

Max Silverman

Samuel Singer

Elizabeth Solloway

Susan Starkman

Greg Starr

Jonathan Sterne

Jeremy Stolow

Rhonda Sussman

Vera Szoke

Joe Tannenbaum

Howard Tessler

Marion Traub-Werner

Ceyda Turan

Sandra Tychsen

Cheryl Wagner

Jon McPhedran Waitzer

David Wall

Naomi Binder Wall

Kathy Wazana

Karen Weisberg

Barry Weisleder

Paul Weinberg

Judith Weisman

Suzanne Weiss

Abraham Weizfeld

Ernie Yacub

B.H. Yael

Yedida Zalik

Melvin Zimmerman