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Letter to Jason Kenny on his threat to defund the Canadian Arab Federation

February 19, 2009

The Honourable Jason Kenny
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Mr. Kenny:

The Canadian Arab Federation, representing over 300,000 Arab Canadians, has been a consistent and valued supporter of Canadian Jewish individuals and groups, including Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) and its member organizations. CAF also provides leadership and integrity on a range of initiatives to improve Canada′s human rights policies and its services to immigrant and racialized groups. We are proud to be associated with CAF.

The Conservative government has gone further than any previous Canadian administration in uncritically supporting illegal and brutal Israeli assaults on Palestinian and Lebanese people. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other prominent ministers have pledged complete allegiance with Israel and with Canadian organizations like the Canadian Jewish Congress and CIJA which uncritically support Israel. These Israel Lobby groups characterize any criticism of Israel as "anti-Semitism."

Anti-Semitism refers to hostility and/or prejudice against Jews. Like any other government, Israel has obligations under international law. To responsibly raise critical concerns about the discriminatory, illegal, and brutal policies of another government is an ethical imperative, which our own government should support. To label responsible critics of Israel policy "anti-Semitic" is a dishonest smoke-screen intended to discredit the critics.

As Jews, we affirm that criticizing Israeli policies is NOT anti-Semitic. More and more Jews world-wide, as well as in Israel openly oppose oppressive Israeli policies, and they also denounce this irresponsible use of the label "anti-Semitic."

The issue here is not whether CAF is anti-Semitic, which it certainly is not. We respect Khaled Mouammar as a man of principle and courage, who has consistently put himself and CAF on the line to support Jews. We believe that your government is threatening CAF′s funding because it stands for justice for Palestinian people and because it expresses principled criticism of Israeli policies which oppress Canadian Arabs and their Palestinian friends and family. As Jews, Independent Jewish Voices frequently works in solidarity with CAF in these activities.

We urge you to rescind this punitive and unjust threat to cut CAF′s funding for its settlement program for Arab and other immigrants.


Diana Ralph
IJV Coordinator

For more information contact:
Diana Ralph
Independent Jewish Voices

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