Canada has rejected Amnesty International’s claim in a recent highly publicized report that Israel is an apartheid state.
James Wanki, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, dismissed the report’s claim in a brief statement Feb. 10.
“Canada is a steadfast ally of Israel and a friend of the Palestinian people,” he wrote. “Canada rejects the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid.”
“We continue to support the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” he added.
The human rights watchdog lit a firestorm of objection in the Jewish world on Feb. 1 when it released a 278-page document calling out what it claimed is a history of oppression of Palestinians.
“Amnesty’s research confirms that the government of Israel has created and maintains laws, policies, and practices that deliberately oppress Palestinians. This includes racist seizures of property, and policies that make it impossible for many Palestinians to build homes. Additional violations include unlawful killing and serious injury, torture, forcible transfer, persecution, and the denial of many other basic rights and freedoms,” the document read.
Those allegations have been emphatically rejected by Canadian Jewish advocacy agencies, including B’nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada.
“Canada has done the right thing by rejecting Amnesty’s absurd report, joining the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and other democratic allies in doing so,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said. “B’nai Brith Canada, united with the entire Canadian Jewish community, will continue the fight against these antisemitic efforts to render millions of Israeli Jews stateless and deny them their right to self-determination.”
Marvin Rotrand, national director of the agency’s League for Human Rights, added “Canada has made clear how biased and baseless the Amnesty International report attacking Israel is. The report confirms its refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their historic homeland . . . This report is a call for the destruction of Israel. The report needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. It does nothing more than give voice to the position of banned terrorist organizations.”
Other Jewish advocacy groups have taken a similar position.
“With the exception of the usual outliers on the fringes, the Jewish community is unanimous in its rejection of this report,” CIJA president and CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel told an online meeting about the document Feb. 10.
During that hour-long session, Israeli-Arab Yoseph Haddad, of Together – Vouch for Each Other, an organization dedicated to sparking change in Israel’s Arab community, rejected the apartheid allegation.
“I’m not going to say Israel is a perfect country,” Haddad, who was an officer in the IDF and heads his own marketing company in Israel, said. “Don’t think I’m saying there aren’t problems, but we are only going to fix those problems by working together.”
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada also welcomed the government’s clear statement.
“We commend the Canadian government for its categorical rejection of Amnesty International’s Israeli ‘apartheid’ smear, joining other countries such as the US, the UK and Germany in standing up against this one-sided report that demonizes and delegitimizes the Jewish state,” said CEO Michael Levitt.
“As we witness burgeoning relations between Israel and Arab nations, we must continue to focus our efforts on building lasting peace in the Middle East, not sowing the seeds of further division.”
Meanwhile, NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson signalled her support for the Amnesty report in the House of Commons earlier this week, calling the document’s allegations “extremely serious” and urging the government of Canada to take “concrete steps” against Israel.
McPherson called for an end to Canadian arms sales to Israel and a ban on the sale of products “from the illegal settlements until the end of the illegal occupation.”