Canada plans to outlaw support for boycotting israel: Report
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has signaled plans to apply hate crime laws against advocacy groups that encourage the boycott of Israel, a report says.
The report by the Canadian broadcaster, CBC News on Monday said the move would target numerous civil society organizations who promote the boycott over the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the expansion of its illegal settlements in the besieged areas.
“If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” the report read.
The Harper government’s intention was revealed in statements by federal ministers to the broadcaster about a “zero tolerance” policy toward groups supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is part of international efforts to pressure Tel Aviv to stop its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
A vast range of Canadian organizations support BDS including the country’s largest Protestant Christian denomination the United Church of Canada, Independent Jewish Voices, which is the chief organizer of the movement’s activity in Canada, various university groups and labor unions.
Asked what the policy means and what the authorities are doing to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, detailed in a written statement a list of the country’s updated hate laws.
“We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion,” the spokesperson added.
Canadian civil liberty groups criticized the government plans, saying it would almost certainly be challenged under the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This is the latest move the Canadian government is planning to muzzle the BDS movement and supporters of the cause.
In January, Canada’s then foreign minister, John Baird, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Israeli regime in al-Quds (Jerusalem), pledging to combat BDS, a movement the agreement described as “the new face of anti-Semitism.”
Last year, Ottawa changed the country’s Criminal Code, expanding the definition of hate speech to include statements against “national origin” along with race and religion.
Micheal Vonn, a lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, said the change in the country’s criminal code is clearly “a tool to go after critics of Israel.”
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
Last month, 16 European foreign ministers condemned the “expansion of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories,” demanding that all imported goods originating from settlements be distinctly labeled.
More than half a million Israeli settlers live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands. However, the Tel Aviv regime defies calls to abandon its illegal settlement activities.