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Dershowitz and Keefer "face off" in Vancouver debate this week whether Israel's critics are anti-semitic

September 19, 2010

Does criticism of Israel constitute antisemitism? The question is being hotly debated this week in Vancouver with controversial US lawyer Alan Dershowitz on the Yes side Monday night and University of Guelph professor Michael Keefer arguing the No side at a speech Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at SFU Harbour Centre. Though not facing off directly, the two speakers provide a rare opportunity for the public to hear back to back both sides of the contentious question.

Keefer, author of the newly published Antisemitism Real and Imagined, is kicking off a book tour of Western Canada to raise awareness that there is a growing campaign in Canada to pressure the federal government to pass legislation to make it illegal to criticize the state of Israel.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, an informal grouping of MPs from the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP formed last year to investigate what they called an alarming increase in a new antisemitism, plans to release its report in November in Ottawa. The CPCCA hearings focused on events that are critical of Israel’s actions, such as Israeli Apartheid Week on college campuses, and organizations such as KAIROS that speak out about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Keefer says the CPCCA is intent on using baseless accusations of antisemitism as a means to defend Israel, no matter what actions it takes.

Micheal Vonn, policy director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, is scheduled to speak on how the federal government might alter human rights laws or hate speech legislation to outlaw political criticism of Israel.

Keefer’s book tour is sponsored by the Seriously Free Speech Committee, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and community organizations in Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg.

For information, contact Dr. Michael Keefer at:
Brian Campbell, chair, Seriously Free Speech Committee at: 604-254-1803 or

For more information contact:
Brian Campbell
Seriously Free Speech Committee
Phone: 604 254 1803

Dr. Michael Keefer
professor, Univeristy of Guelph

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Seriously Free Speech Committee


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