From Israeli Citizens - Letter to Ontario Legislature Members

Dec 1, 2016

Dear MPP

We are writing you from Israel about the proposed Private Members' Notice of Motion Number 36. This motion is designed to counter the movement for Palestinian rights by restricting the rights of Ontarians to express their opposition to Israeli policies through advocating the nonviolent tactics of BDS. We call on you to vote against this patently anti-democratic Motion.

The Motion is a clear infringement of free speech which would render Ontario a politically backward and repressive province in an important aspect. For that reason alone the motion should be opposed but We would like to stress two additional points.

First, the call for BDS and the BDS movement as a whole are an exemplary nonviolent and inclusive movement for human rights, very much in the tradition of the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa and the US Civil Rights Movement. In fact, BDS for Palestinian rights is very much inspired by many aspects of these two great justice struggles.

Second, the so-called Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Antisemitism, which the motion endorses, is an exceptionally deceptive, repressive and offensive document which should be rejected. Most glaringly, the protocol includes the opposition to the political ideology of Zionism in its definition of antisemitism. By doing that the protocol identifies Jews everywhere with the state of Israel--a position that the very same protocol (rightly this time) condemns as antisemitic.

Putting all Jews into one basket that is represented by Israel is not only racist. It is also ignorant of Jewish history and Jewish tradition, which embrace and take pride in political and ideological diversity among Jewish communities around the world, including in Ontario.

In particular, the Ottawa protocol and by extension the Ontario anti-BDS Motion would define a large part of Holocaust victims and survivors who oppose Zionism or are critical of Israeli violations of international law as antisemitic. The largest Jewish political movements in Europe before World War I were anti-Zionist, including Bundists, communists or Orthodox Jews and so were many of the survivors who sought shelter in Ontario. It would be an outrageous insult to them to endorse such a definition.

This anti-BDS Motion adds insult to injury by using this false and misleading identification of all Jews with Zionism and Israel to protect Israel’s occupation and egregious human rights violations.

For these and other reasons we urge you to reject the private member Motion Number 36. Please do not vote for repression.


Ronnie Barkan

Ohal Grietzer

Chaska Katz

Ari Libero

Ofer Neiman

Jonathan Pollak

Michal Sapir

Yonatan Shapira

Tali Shapiro

Michal Sapir

Kobi Snitz