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Who Is Promoting Racism in Canada?

An Open Response to Manitoba MLA Heather Stefanson

By Hana Kawas

Al-Jazeerah,, April 19, 2010

I just received the email, sent on your behalf, regarding the "debate" you say you are interested in having in the Manitoba Legislature. A reasonable and informed debate, you further state. However, given your statement(1) last month when this issue first came up, we seriously question any possibility of an open debate when certain parties have already said that Israeli Apartheid Week is something we should "condemn.. and eliminate". We and many other concerned people in Canada have long called for an open and transparent debate on Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East and particularly on Israel/Palestine. However your party, the PC Party, nationally and now provincially, is instead singling out a small group of students for expressing an opinion you do not agree with. If any students feel unsafe on campus, it is these brave students who are trying to speak truth to power about what is really happening in Israel/Palestine and why Canadians should be concerned and are now being met with legislative censorship, intended to set a chill on campus activities.
As I said in my first email, lets have a full debate. I even offered a few points for discussion that you refused to answer. When Palestinian Christians need special passes to pray in Jerusalem at Easter, when tens of thousands of Palestinians are facing expulsion from the West Bank for not having the correct Israeli Military permits (passes), then we say the time is ripe for Canadians to stand up and call on all levels of our government to question this uncritical support for Israeli government policies. We find it deeply offensive that you have labelled the students organizing IAW and all people in Canada asking these questions as being the “scourge of racism”(1). They represent a growing sector of the community (including many Jews and Semites) who serve no political lobby group, have no hidden political agenda and are simply working for what they feel serves the search for a genuine peace in Israel/Palestine. Some MPs in the House of Commons recognized this fact and that is why a similar resolution there was defeated last month. We can only hope that the Manitoba Legislature will have the same insight and dedication to genuine and open free speech.
Hanna Kawas
See also:


The following message was sent today to Manitoba MLA's regarding a motion condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, expected to be debated this Thursday Apr. 15th, 2010. If you feel it is worthwhile sending a message as well, I am including the MLA's emails at the end of my email.

Dear MLA:

It has come to our attention that a private members motion is expected to be introduced in the Manitoba Legislature later this week. This motion will reportedly call for censoring a student activity on campuses called Israel Apartheid Week, and is an attempt to use political office to stifle legitimate debate and criticism of Israeli government policies. A similar motion was already defeated in the House of Commons last month on March 11, as it became obvious to many it was a serious infringement on Palestinian human rights and the right to freedom of expression. We urge you to follow the example in the House of Commons and add your voice to those who said no to such abuse of office and censorship. We thank you and we hope you will take the path of standing up for justice and free speech. Regards, Hanna Kawas Canada Palestine Association

Links to a series of open letters sent to Ontario MPPs, who regrettably did pass such a motion (introduced by MPP Peter Shurman) prior to the one defeated in Ottawa, can be found at  I draw your attention to the questions below that were raised in my response to MPP Shurman, which were never answered. They are just a few of the pivotal points to be considered and answered before entering into any debate and vote, especially if you wish to serve your constituents, humanity and the truth.

·         The Israeli "Law of Return" applies only to Jews (Israelis or not) and does not apply to the twenty percent of Israeli citizens who are non-Jews, mainly Muslims and Christians. Is this law democratic or discriminatory?

·         The "Absentee law" was used to rob the Palestinian people of their land when Israel was established, and now there is confiscation (robbery) of much of the West Bank land for illegal settlements, roads, the separation (Apartheid) wall and Israeli military bases. Are these actions democratic or are they part of the Ten Commandments "Thou shall not steal"?

·         The Jewish National Fund JNF and its affiliates that control 93% of the total area of Israel does not lease or sell to Christian and Muslim Palestinians. Is this the democratic principles you are talking about and how would you describe these practices?

·         What is the name of the Israeli Jewish author who wrote the book "Israel: An Apartheid State" in 1987?

·         Is a state that allows for discrimination against women democratic? See: Invoking Rosa Parks, Haredi Women Move to Back of the Bus

·         A recent poll in the Jerusalem Post found that 50% of “Jewish Israeli schoolchildren” are against equal rights for Arabs, Do you think this has to do with their education at home, or school or the Israeli society in general?

·         And finally, I might ask you to give only one quote from any Anti-Apartheid South African leader to prove your assertion that “it is also offensive to the millions of black South Africans oppressed by a racist white regime until the early 1990s”





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