Criticize Israel, Go to Jail?
with Professor Michael Keefer, author of Antisemitism Real and Imagined
Monday, September 27 (7:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 236/238, U of A Campus (111 Street & 87 Avenue)
(Click here for map)
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In the face of mounting international pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestine and respect Palestinian human rights, pro-Israeli organizations are attempting to brand any criticism of Israeli policies as “the new antisemitism” in an attempt to counter the growing movement against Israeli Apartheid and in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The Harper government has been one of the staunchest defenders of Israel’s illegal policies, defunding respected organizations such as the ecumenical organization KAIROS for its supposed support of BDS. On campuses across Canada, pro-Palestinian events such as Israeli Apartheid Week have been met with censorship in a troubling attack on free speech and academic freedom. Toronto’s Queers Against Israeli Apartheid became the first group to be banned in the history of Toronto Pride before a massive public outcry made Pride organizers reverse its decision to ban the group.
In Canada, this effort to brand legitimate criticism, debate and activism around Israeli policies in the occupied territories is being spearheaded by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA), an ad-hoc coalition of MPs from the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP which, despite its name, has no mandate from Parliament. Since March of 2009 the CPCCA has carried out a biased hearing process which has excluded practically all voices which criticized CPCCA’s mandate or the notion that criticism of Israel is a new form of antisemitism.
The Harper government recently gave $450,000 to support an international conference that in November will bring together Israel supporters from parliaments around the world. Their goal is to expand the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel. The CPCCA, which will release a report at the conference in Ottawa, is expected to recommend changes to the human rights legislation or hate laws that would make it illegal to criticize Israelm speak out against Israeli Apartheid and challenge the illegal policies of the State of Israel.
Responding to this threat to free speech, Michael Keefer, a University of Guelph professor, has written an important book, Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, that provides an in-depth investigation of the extent of antisemitism in Canada, the ideology of the “new antisemitism,” and the role of the CPCCA as a mechanism to protect Israel and “to curtail freedom of speech and academic freedom across Canada, and to stigmatize, even to criminalize, certain kinds of human rights discourse.”
More information on the CPCCA, including extensive links, is available on seriouslyfreespeech.ca
A Globe and Mail review of Professor Keeler’s book is available here.
Michael Keefer Bio
Michael Keefer, who studied at the Royal Military College of Canada, the University of Toronto and Sussex University (England), is a Professor in the University of Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies, and a former President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. His publications include Lunar Perspectives: Field Notes from the Culture Wars, two new editions of Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus, and many book chapters and articles on Renaissance literature and philosophy, on literary and textual-critical theory, and on issues of contemporary cultural politics, including electoral fraud in the United States and Haiti, false-flag terrorism, and the implications of ‘war-on-terror’ politics for Canada. He is a member of The Canadian Charger editorial board. His latest book is Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.