Markham City Council bans criticism of Apartheid regimes

Yesterday, a majority of Councillors from Markham City Council adopted a motion to censor “Israeli Apartheid Week” that is organized each year in March by students on Canadian universities.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is a week of lectures and film screenings that takes place peacefully on campuses each year and hosts prominent academics and community leaders to very high-level political and academic discussions.

IAW condemns all forms of racism and discrimination. It explicitly condemns anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism, and homophobia. Many Jewish students are involved in organizing IAW.

This year, for the seventh year, IAW was held in 95 cities and more than 75 universities on six continents, including 3 cities in Israel and 4 cities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Ironically, the motion passed by Markham City Council aims to deny Canadian students and academics the rights of freedom of expression and academic freedom, rights that are enjoyed by Israeli students and academics. In addition it interferes in University affairs.

The motion creates the absurd situation where Canadian students and academics are allowed to freely criticize their own government but are banned from criticizing a foreign government.

The motion put forward by Councillor Howard Shore is one of those several attempts currently being undertaken to censor and suppress public debate on this subject in order to shield Israel’s actions from scrutiny and criticism.

Such actions are an attack on free speech the likes of which we have not seen since the 1950s McCarthy witch hunts.

By its decision, Markham City Council ignored the comprehensive study undertaken by Toronto City staff that determined the use of the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” does not promote hatred or discrimination, and does not violate the Criminal Code or the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Markham City Council also ignored the compelling evidence introduced from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, the Conference of Southern African Christian Churches, the Association of Civil Rights of Israel and the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, that irrefutably proves Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel are systematically discriminated against and that the situation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza is reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa.

The spectrum of diversity was well-represented by those who spoke against the motion and in support of free speech and Palestinian rights. Those presenters included Jews, Christians and Muslims of all ages and gender, and from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Understandably, Councillor Shore’s motion placed the other Councillors in a corner. Markham City Council had unfortunately decided recently to send a trade mission to Israel. The rejection of Councillor Shore’s motion would have implied that they condone the labelling of Israel as an Apartheid state and would have placed them in the awkward position of doing business with an apartheid regime.

Regrettably, this politically expedient decision runs counter to the Town of Markham’s stated mission to recognize and accept the diversity of its residents, to respect the differences in all peoples and their right to hold different opinions, to promote the value of human rights, and to oppose racism and discrimination.

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  1. Mr. Mouammar’s article is deceptive and disingenuous. It’s never been any kind of secret that proponents of the “Israel aparthecomment_ID” blood libel are intent upon the destruction of the State of Israel and the extermination of its non-Muslim inhabitants.
    The rest is all lies and concoctions which fool some well-meaning and weak minded people, but not those who understand that racists try to misuse our democratic freedoms of speech and assembly to foist a harsh agenda.

    That fact that an issue of this nature is of sufficient concern for municipal politicians to take special action to preserve people’s quality of life and to the keep the peace is significant and well-received.

  2. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.Churchill
    -The lie of naming Israel Aparthecomment_ID going around some time
    -The truth disclosing Muslim countries and the so called human rights activists has put the pans on
    2:They support movements opposing all the values they pretend to defend.
    They are silent when Islamists deny:
    Women equality-human rights-religious freedom-democracy
    And practicing:
    Kill people condemning Islamist values-hate teaching in schools, children garden-genoccomment_IDe preaching in Mosques,TV—indiscriminately targeting civilians—chasing Christians- modern slavery Don’t blame:
    1:Muslim brotherhood leader saying:
    ‘Hitler dcomment_IDn’t finish the jog—The Muslims will finish the job”
    2:Hamas charter:
    The stones and trees will say O MOSLEM, THERE IS A JEW BEHIND ME, KILL HIM
    3:Hcomment_IDing among civilians prevents armies with western values the ability to fight.
    Hamas leader Mash’al

  3. “IAW condemns all forms of racism and discrimination”. If so, why call it “Israel Aparthecomment_ID Week”? Why not, e.g., “Saudi Arabia Aparthecomment_ID Week”? Or “Palestinian Aparthecomment_ID Week”? In these two one can be sentenced to death for selling land to Jews; in Saudi Arabia and in Gaza women and homosexuals do not have equal rights.

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