“There’s the brilliance, the propaganda brilliance of calling it Israeli Apartheid Week,” she gleefully asserted, “every time these people, you know, put a motion through parliament or through the legislature..they have to say Israel’s not an apartheid state ..and so over time, it really is a brilliant propaganda tactic because each time it becomes more familiar.”
What Rebick seems not to have understood is that her stand has become familiar as one of deceitful propaganda. But that distinction hasn't been lost on Canadian parliamentarians who denounced the “Israeli Apartheid” movement in the strongest terms yet following the declaration by Canadian "Israeli Apartheid Week" organizers that Canada is an 'apartheid' state.
At the same anti-Israel event at the University of Toronto where Rebick spoke, the Israeli Apartheid Week organizers issued a statement saying that:
" In crucial ways, the Canadian state's treatment of indigenous peoples, historically and currently, can be described as an apartheid system. .. As non-natives, we have a role within our communities to further the process of decolonizing Canada. If you are with us in opposition to Israeli Apartheid, we encourage your consistent opposition to apartheid right here in Canada."Peter Kent, Canada's federal Minister of the Environment, didn't mince his words when describing the "Israeli Apartheid Week" organizers' statement and the ideology that drives them.
"These people, if they're Canadians, are either self-loathing, ignorant, or very poorly informed. Successive Canadian governments have spent tens of billions of dollars to improve the lives of our First Nations peoples, who enjoy the same rights, opportunities and privileges as all Canadian citizens. By saying that contemporary Canada practices apartheid, the so-called Israeli Apartheid Movement betrays itself as being made up of intellectually dishonest hate-mongers."
The Liberal Party's Critic for Democratic Renewal, St. Paul's MP Carolyn Bennett, offered the following: "Use of the word "apartheid" is inflammatory and inaccurate and works against any meaningful conversation on the peace process in the middle east or the plight of our aboriginal peoples here in Canada ." She also made reference to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's recent statement about 'Israeli Apartheid Week' which describes it as "a dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance."
Canada is one of Israel's closest allies and that support has made them frequent scapegoats of the anti-Israel movement, which now appears anxious to vilify Canadian policy as well. These sentiments are regularly expressed on the website rabble.ca, which is the media sponsor of "Israeli Apartheid Week." Rabble was founded by Judy Rebick and is published by Kim Elliott, who is the spouse of the same NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies who in June 2010 expressed support for the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel. The anti-Israel activists' ‘Canadian apartheid’ statement was foreshadowed by Rebick who, in defending Ms Davies, said "I don't think the establishment of the state of Canada is just."
Olivia Chow, the NDP MP for Trinity Spadina, the downtown Toronto riding which includes The University of Toronto campus where the "Canadian Apartheid" statement was made, has not responded to requests to comment for this article.
However, Ontario Provincial legislators were not shy in their condemnation. The response of Steve Clark, the Progressive Conservative Critic for Citizenship and Immigration was concise, saying "It's unbelievable to see that level of ignorance."
The representative for Ontario provincial riding of Thornhill, Peter Shurman, expressed disgust at the accusation of 'Canadian Apartheid.' "Idiots" was how he described the Israeli Apartheid Week organizers, adding "and you can quote me on that!"
Mr. Shurman, who last year was a co-sponsor of a unanimously adopted motion in the Ontario Legislature denouncing Israeli Apartheid Week, continued: "Canada and Israel have shared democratic values. Neither country is perfect, just as no country in the world is, and people of good conscience are working to improve conditions in democratic countries every day. But to describe these two countries that place democracy as their highest value as 'apartheid' is beyond absurd. Apartheid describes a racist legal system of enforced racial separation and discrimination that existed in South Africa until 1993. No rational person could possibly say that ‘apartheid’ in any way describes either Canada or Israel in 2011. These fanatics have revealed themselves to be not just bigoted against Israel but opposed to basic Canadian democratic values too."
'Canadian Apartheid' proponent Alan Sears, a Sociology professor at Ryerson University, provided some revealing insight in a recent interview where he suggested the movement to delegitimize Israel is the first step in a broader campaign to combat capitalism. He said he supports "targeting..capitalism at (its) deepest..the question is how do we get there?.. The way that struggles begin to start is with specific targets that are achievable and then ..the movement can get broader."
As a champion of Canada's relationship with Israel, Environment Minister Kent's constituency office has been the target of demonstrations by anti-Israel groups. He has praise for the people who are working towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but was adamant that groups and individuals seeking to falsely label Israel as an apartheid state do not fall into that category.
Of the latter, Mr. Kent's condemnation was unequivocal, "They're making absolutely no contribution to the peace process in the mid-east and are clearly operating on a selective, hateful agenda; peace between Israel and the Palestinians is obviously not on that agenda."