Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs warns of legal action against two progressive Canadian groups: JSpace and New Israel Fund

All parties are tight-lipped about a warning of legal action from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to two progressive Jewish groups.

Neither JSpaceCanada nor the New Israel Fund of Canada (NIFC) is commenting about a threat of legal proceedings CIJA issued on March 7.

The action arose following the release of a poll by both groups which showed that there is “widespread opposition” in Canada’s Jewish community to the policies of Israel’s recently elected government. A majority of respondents—59 percent—stated the Likud government was moving in the “wrong direction” on several issues, including its controversial plans for judicial reform. Only 13 percent of those polled supported the government.

The survey, titled “United in Opposition: Canadian Jews Oppose Policies Proposed by the Israeli Government” and conducted by EKOS Research Associates and sociologist Robert Brym, also found that 89 percent of respondents opposed gender segregation in Israel’s public places and allowing businesses to restrict services to women.

CIJA objected to one line in the 17-page summary of the poll’s findings, that “notably, Shimon Fogel, President (sic) of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, has publicly defended measures such as sex segregation in public spaces.”

In a letter to JSpace and NIFC, Richard Marceau, CIJA’s vice-president and general counsel, called that passage “patently false and defamatory.”

Fogel, CIJA’s CEO, “is a respected professional in the Canadian Jewish community who has spent years serving the community and Canada,” Marceau wrote. “He has dedicated his professional life to Canada’s Jewish community and has a stellar reputation across Canada and abroad.”

Joe Roberts, chair of the board of JSpaceCanada, told The Canadian Jewish News that his organization “can’t comment on anything that’s a pending legal matter.”

Ben Murane, executive director of NIFC, said he could not comment on “litigation in process.”

Marceau said both groups had a few days to withdraw the statement and issue an apology; to circulate the withdrawal and apology “to every known recipient of your document;” and to post them to social media platforms.

Failing those demands, “you will leave us with no other alternative but to begin legal proceedings against you.”

However, not only has there been no withdrawal of the words under complaint or an apology issued publicly by JSpace or NIFC, but the poll’s findings, including the passage in question, were still on both organizations’ websites as of March 23.

As well, none of those involved would say whether CIJA’s promised legal action would arise given that the deadline for the passage’s withdrawal and an apology has passed.

“This is a legal matter and while it’s in litigation, we have nothing further to add,” CIJA spokesperson Nicole Amiel told The CJN via email.