The Canadian BDS Coalition joined in signing this statement against the attack on free speech and the labelling of pro-Palestinian rallies as ‘hate rallies’
See statement below, and here
November 9, 2023, Mississauga – We, the undersigned Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Palestinian and Arab Community, civil society, human rights, faith-based, ethnic, professional, humanitarian and relief organizations are writing to express our deep disappointment and concern with the recent public statements by senior politicians and public figures describing pro-Palestinian rallies as hateful and anti-Semitic. These stances are one-sided, do not adequately represent the sentiments of thousands of Canadians, and create an environment where Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism thrive. This rhetoric is dangerous and based on inexcusable misinformation. It puts entire communities under the threat of harassment and potential attacks. We are already witnessing harsh consequences and censorship for employees, students, and community members. This is unacceptable.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to well over 10,000 people, including over 4,000 children. Carpet bombing of Gaza continues to this hour with targets including hospitals, schools, residential houses, refugee camps, shelters, and critical infrastructure. The situation in Palestine deeply affects our community in Canada. Numerous Canadian Muslim families have seen their loved ones killed or wounded, homes destroyed, and others living in dire conditions without water, food, electricity, or fuel. Additionally, Canadian citizens visiting Gaza are still stranded and cannot return to Canada.
According to a recent poll 77% of Canadians want the attacks on Gaza to stop, and support a ceasefire. Too much human life has been lost.
Let us be clear, condemning these Israeli atrocities against innocent Palestinian civilians is a stance against human rights abuses, not an act of anti-Semitism. Peaceful demonstrations advocating for Palestinian rights are a lawful expression of support for justice and should not be misconstrued as hate rallies. Standing for the rights of Palestinians to their land, dignity, and life is an endorsement of basic human rights, not a promotion of hate or terrorism.
Politicians and law enforcement must educate themselves on the complexities of the longstanding conflict in Palestine, ensuring that their actions and words are informed and not swayed by misinformation or partial narratives. As an example, the chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free”, represents a call for Palestinian self-determination and does not advocate for the erasure of Jewish people. It expresses a vision for a future where Palestinians have autonomy and full rights throughout their land.
We affirm that all activities that our organizations are associated with are not anti-Semitic. We stand against all forms of violence, hate and discrimination against any group of people from any race, religion or background. We stand against the killing of innocent lives. The organized chants, prayers and supplications are in support of victims and against human rights violations and atrocities committed by aggressors. They are not against a specific religious group. They express solidarity with the rights of Palestinians to live freely and with dignity on their lands. These are our collective moral positions against occupation and aggression towards Palestinians. Our demonstrations, rallies and sit-ins are not meant to intimidate or harass communities. They are an open expression of solidarity with the oppressed and the voiceless, and they are an open invitation for the entire Canadian community to join the call for humanity, justice and peace. Taking a principled stand with a particular opinion (even if it is not inline with the government) is a fundamental right for all Canadians and does not equal hate against anyone.
Rather than vilifying those who advocate for peace, we call upon our politicians and leaders to truly hear and represent the concerns of Canadians. We expect Canada to champion the imperative of a ceasefire, ensure access to humanitarian aid, and uphold the principles of justice and peace.
See signatories here