Conservatives Pushing to Criminalize Israeli Boycott

From People’s Voice

The Harper government is signalling its intent to crack down against the movement for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. But it remains to be seen whether criminal penalties will be imposed against BDS activists before the October 19 federal election.

This controversy has been building up for several years, as the Conservatives make Canada the most vocal international supporter for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. PM Harper and his cabinet ministers have become increasingly shrill in their backing for the policies of the Netanyahu government. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction, in support of full Palestinian statehood, and recognizing that Israel’s racist policies resemble the apartheid system created by the minority white South African regime which held power until 1993. Last month, 16 European foreign ministers denounced the “expansion of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories,” demanding that any imported goods originating in the settlements be distinctly labelled.

Here in Canada, there is rising support for the Palestinian cause, particularly in the wake of Israel’s bloody military assaults against Gaza, the growth of settler communities on expropriated Palestinian areas, and the “apartheid wall” which slices the shrinking Palestinian areas of the West Bank into ever tinier, unsustainable chunks.

The Harper Tories have condemned public opposition to these racist policies as “hate speech.” The Conservatives and their allies (and many leading Liberals and NDPers) have spoken out strongly against campus events to mark the annual Anti-Israeli Apartheid week, and in particular against the BDS campaign which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.