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Ontarians outraged by Wynne's acceptance of award from Israel lobby group

June 22, 2015

TORONTO, ON – Ontarians representing eight organizations have voiced their strong opposition to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's acceptance of an award from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), to be presented at a gala this evening. CIJA serves as a lobbying group for the Israeli government in Canada, while also claiming to represent Canadian Jews.

After sending Premier Wynne a letter with a request for a face-to-face meeting, and waiting nearly four weeks for a reply, eight organizations signed their name to an “open letter” to Premier Wynne protesting her acceptance of this award, published on several websites. Petitions have also been launched by Independent Jewish Voices - Canada (IJV) and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

“CIJA does not speak for the thousands of Jews throughout Ontario that support a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinans,” said Sheryl Nestel, spokesperson for IJV. “CIJA falsely equates criticism of Israel’s oppressive laws and policies with a hatred of Jewish people, and has lobbied aggressively for politicians to accept this dangerous idea. Meanwhile, CIJA unquestioningly supports Israel’s behaviour and conflates Jewish people everywhere with the Israeli state. This serves to fuel anti-Semitism rather than to challenge it.”

Palestinian organizations active in Ontario are irate that their Premier is colluding with an organization that denies the most basic of human rights for Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“Why would our Premier align herself so publicly with an organization that lobbies on behalf of a state that maintains an apartheid regime over millions of people?” asked Nazih Khatatba, spokesperson for Palestine House. “We repeat our call to our Premier to refuse this so-called ‘honour’, since there are so many residents of Ontario of Palestinian descent whose family members are being brutally oppressed through the active support of organizations like CIJA for the Israeli government.”

“Considering Wynne’s refusal to commit to removing toxic mercury in Grassy Narrows, and that Israel and Ontario are both guilty of appropriating lands and resources from indigenous populations leaving death and destruction in their wake,” says Dianne Moore of Dykes and Trans People for Palestine (DTPP), “it is sadly not surprising that Wynne would align herself so closely with the state of Israel, which continues to dispossess Palestinians in the West Bank and the Bedouin, who are citizens of Israel, in the Naqab (Negev), of their lands and resources while denying an almost completely destroyed and heavily polluted Gaza the freedom to rebuild and clean up Israel’s toxic mess.”

For more information contact:
Tyler Levitan
Campaigns Coordinator for IJV
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV)
Phone: 613-400-2550

Nazih Khatatba
spokesperson for Palestine House
Palestine House
Phone: 416-302-7664

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