Criticizing Israel isn’t anti-Semitic, say 80 percent of Canadians

A woman holds a sign

Israel lobby groups in Canada are pushing lawmakers to pass measures to shield Israel from criticism over its human rights violations.

Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. ZUMA Press

Most Canadians don’t believe that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, a new poll conducted by the research firm EKOS shows.

This means that ordinary citizens do not support the government’s announcement last year that it would formally adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.

According to the survey’s results, 80 percent of Canadians believe that accusing Israel of committing human rights violations is not an anti-Semitic act. Neither is calling for a boycott of Israel, 76 percent say.

Nearly 70 percent say that comparing Israel’s apartheid policies to South African apartheid laws is not tantamount to anti-Jewish bigotry.

And three quarters of Canadians polled think that students who advocate for Palestinian rights exhibit legitimate political expression.

Furthermore, the majority of Canadians understand the difference between classic anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

“Rather than seeing a correlation between criticism of Israel and otherwise anti-Semitic views, we saw the opposite,” states Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, which sponsored the poll along with Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel.

“Those who were most likely to see criticism of Israel as legitimate were also the most likely to say that statements about Jewish Canadians were anti-Semitic, and those who viewed criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic were the most likely to say that statements critical of Jewish Canadians were legitimate,” CJPME explained.

This is the final survey in a three-part series that has shown Canadians support investigations into Israel’s human rights abuses and want their government to oppose Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank.

Israel lobby pushes agenda

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada would use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism as part of its strategy to “combat racism and discrimination.”

Israel lobby groups have pushed Canada to adopt the IHRA definition in order to shield Israel from criticism over its human rights violations.

Three major Canadian cities – Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver – have rejected the implementation of the IHRA definition.

Human rights activists in Ontario have been organizing to stop provincial lawmakers from passing a bill to adopt the IHRA definition.

“The IHRA definition threatens to restrict forms of speech that a majority of Canadians, including many Jews, evidently hold to be legitimate,” stated Corey Balsam, national coordinator with Independent Jewish Voices.

“Any institutions currently considering adopting the IHRA definition need to reconsider whether doing so would be at the expense of public opinion, let alone the important fights against genuine anti-Semitism and for Palestinian human rights,” Balsam added.

IJV has launched a national campaign to oppose the codification of the IHRA definition into Canadian law.

This latest survey shows that “any initiatives to legislate limits on criticizing or protesting Israel, or to enforce the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism in this regard, would strongly conflict with the views of average Canadians,” according to Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

Jerusalem Post removes story

Last weekend, The Jerusalem Post – a stridently pro-Israel newspaper – published an article on the poll’s findings, but removed the story shortly afterward without explanation.

Researcher Michael Bueckert, who is vice president of CJPME, noticed the removal.

“Considering that the article is still missing, we can probably conclude that [The Jerusalem Post] pulled it because they didn’t like the survey conclusions,” Bueckert said.

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Criticising the Church of Rome or the Church of England over sexual abuse is not anti-Christian. Nonone has difficulty understanding that. As ever, the Zionists proclaim their exceptionalism. The Canadian people are right, as are the common folk all over the world who take the right to criticise power as fundamental. It is power which must justify itself. We, the common people, having no power have nothing to justify.

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The reality is that the majority of Canadians don't support a lot of government positions, regardless of government political stripe. We don't elect governments, we un-elect the lying sobs when they become intolerable. We know they lie, and we know they pander to groups that grease their palms, because that is the nature of the system. It's designed to keep the power out of the voters' hands.

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).