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[At the invitation of Diana Ralph of Independent Jewish Voice's Steering Committee, I took part with her in the

IJV press conference in the Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, at 9:30 a.m. on
November 8, 2010. The press conference introduced a video produced by IJV, Defend Free Speech: The threat is
from the new McCarthyism, NOT the new Anti-Semitism (, featuring statements by
human rights lawyers, professors, experts, and activists: Alex Neve, Trevor Purvis, Terry Greenberg, Brian
Campbell, Sid Shniad, Warren Allmand, Joanne Naiman, Kevin Neish, Khaled Mouammar, Barbara Jackman,
George Galloway and myself. This press conference received coverage from Le Devoir, The Toronto Star, CBC,
The Jewish Chronicle, The Daily Herald-Tribune (Grande Prairie, AB), The Hamilton Spectator, and the
Kitchener-Waterloo Record, and Diana Ralph was interviewed by the Globe and Mail.]

[Index: Canadian politics, antisemitism, Israel, Palestine]

[Date: November 2010]

Statement at the Independent Jewish Voices Press Conference,

Parliament Hill, Ottawa (8 November 2010)

Michael Keefer

A conference has been held during the past two days on Parliament Hill by a
group of MPs calling themselves the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat
Antisemitism (CPCCA); they are hosting the meeting of a group called the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (ICCA) to which they have affiliated
I am here because I believe that conference is being held under false pretenses,
and because it constitutes a threat to free speech and to the proper rule of law in this
countryas well as a potential threat to Canada's already shaky standing as an upholder
of international law.
The conference is being held under false pretenses because the CPCCA and the
ICCA are not so much concerned with real and actual antisemitism as they are with
extending the definition of antisemitism to encompass any systematic critique of the state
of Israel's violations of international law in its oppressive occupation and colonization of
the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the Palestine Freedom of Expression campaign
has observed, the CPCCA is not an equity initiative, but rather an attack on Palestinians

and the global Palestinian solidarity movement. I would prefer to say that the CPCCA is
attempting to create a climate of opinion in which Canadian defenders of Palestinian
human rights and exponents of the universal principles of international law can be
smeared as antisemites and disseminators of hatred.
The CPCCA launched a parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism in Canada
whose report we are still waiting for six months after the announced date of its release
with inflammatory claims about a terrifying resurgence of antisemitism in this country,
and in Canadian universities especially. These claims are refuted by the oral testimony
given in the CPCCA's own inquiry by Canadian university administrators and by senior
police officers. They are also more comprehensively refuted by the analyses contained in
the book Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary
Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, copies of which are available hereand copies of
which have been given to every MP and senator.
The book includes eloquent, incisive texts by eleven Canadian human rights
activists and scholarsa majority of whom happen to be Jewishand by the leaders of
seven human rights organizations. It also includes my own extended analysis of the
relevant hate-crime and antisemitic-incident statistics, and of the rhetoric and ideology of
the so-called new antisemitism (a term which deliberately incorporates criticism of the
state of Israel).
I'd like to emphasize, as I have in the book, that criticism of Israeli policies, and
support for peaceful pressure to bring Israel into conformity with international law
through a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, do not mean being against
Israel. The great English poet William Blake said, Opposition is true friendship.
It is not an act of friendship to encourage Israel's passage down a darkening path
of violence, oppression, and illegality. Nor are we friends to ourselves if we permit our
own government to continue its disgraceful complicity in the oppression of the
The United Nations' rejection of Canada's recent bid for a Security Council seat
should be a wake-up call: this country's international reputation is in tatters. The
CPCCA's attack on human rights discourse and its attempt to discredit and even
criminalize criticism of Israel's policies and actions are a direct threat to free speech and
to the rule of law in this country.