TORONTO, May 19, 2016 /CNW/ - On Thursday May 19, the Ontario Legislature will discuss Bill 202, the "Standing Up Against Anti-Semitism in Ontario Act, 2016." The bill's focus is entirely on the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and its organizational and individual supporters in Canada.
"Prohibiting public bodies from affiliating in any way with non-violent tactics such as boycott and divestment from companies complicit in Israel's violations of international law poses a serious threat to Canadians' charter-protected freedoms of political expression and association," says Hammam Farah, alumni member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University.
This bill comes on the heels of a Tory-led motion in the House of Commons in February, which condemned individuals and organizations in Canada that promote BDS. It can also be understood as part of a global campaign led by the Israeli state and its lobbying groups abroad, which are aggressively pressuring foreign legislatures to adopt punitive measures to quell the growth of this grassroots movement.
"The proposed Act presents a false and defamatory characterization of BDS. It claims that BDS targets Israeli students and individuals, as well as businesses and cultural institutions owned by or affiliated with Jewish Canadians. The BDS National Committee in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has always been clear that its campaigns target Israeli academic and cultural institutions—it is not a boycott of Israeli individuals," says Hossam Sleiman, a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Group at the University of Windsor.
"Claiming that BDS targets Jewish Canadians is simply ridiculous. This bill is filled with outright lies. BDS has nothing to do with Judaism. Palestinians have chosen this method of resistance due to the Israeli state's historic and ongoing dispossession of their lands, which it conducts with impunity. Jews around the world, including in Canada, continue to be active in disproportionately large numbers in the BDS movement," says Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for the national human rights organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV).
BDS has the support of the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Student unions at no less than a dozen universities in Ontario have passed motions endorsing BDS and calling for divestment from companies complicit in Israel's violations of international law.
Even the United Church of Canada—of which Premier Wynne is a member— has voted for boycotting goods produced in Israel's illegal settlements, and for divestment from corporations complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
SOURCE Human Rights Groups
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