OTTAWA– Liberal Leader Bob Rae made the following statement on events planned at several Canadian universities that will demonize Israel:
“The events in the next few days that go by the deeply prejudicial name ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ continue to be a counterproductive way to achieve social justice in the Middle East. When all who desire peace in the region should be supporting and encouraging respectful dialogue between parties, this week sets out to do the opposite.
Canadian universities and academic institutions have a long history of providing a space to engage in enlightened discourse on issues of justice and equality. For this reason, it is all the more difficult to comprehend a focus that ignores terrible atrocities presently taking place in the region.
We should also be wary of group-vilifying speech that seeks to delegitimize or demonize. Indeed, as our own Supreme Court found unanimously just this past week in affirming the constitutionality of hate speech legislation, such speech seeks to delegitimize group members, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society.
The failure to stand up for these real and pressing injustices is undermined by an approach that puts all the blame for inaction on only one country. Demonizing one people and one country does not encourage reconciliation, cooperation or respectful discourse about peace and democratization in the Middle East. A constructive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue would be more effective if it persuaded governments and civil society to work with both parties to reach a negotiated resolution based on dialogue and understanding.”