A photo of three young people waving large flags of Palestine against a clear sunny sky. Superimposed over the photo is "ANTI-ZIONISM IS NOT ANTISEMITISM!" in big yellow letters. Under that it says "Oppose Ontario's Adoption of the IHRA Antisemitism Definition!" in smaller white letters.ANTI-ZIONISM IS NOT ANTISEMITISM! OPPOSE ONTARIO’S ADOPTION OF THE IHRA ANTISEMITISM DEFINITION!

As of October 26, 2020, the government of Ontario has chosen to adopt the definition of antisemitism which has been published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This definition reads as follows:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This can be interpreted broadly, but IHRA has helpfully clarified what this means on their website, for example:

“Manifestations might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

This seems reasonable, at least insofar as it acknowledges that one can be critical of Israel without being antisemitic. Yet, short sentences later, we see what limitations IHRA really considers reasonable. They have listed a number of examples of antisemitism, and one example stands out:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

What does this mean? It means that criticism of Israel must always imply support of Israel: it cannot call into question the right of Israel to exist. Israel’s existence, of course, is at the expense of the self-determination of the Palestinian people who lived on that land when the first Zionist settlers arrived there. It is a nation built from the conquest of Palestine by force, and Palestinians now live in refugee camps of neighboring nations or in the meager territories in the West Bank and Gaza because of that.

The Jewish people have rights, the same rights to their lives and their livelihoods as the Palestinians do, but to support the rights of Jewish people is not the same as to support the existence of Israel. The State of Israel does not represent the interests of the Jewish people; on the contrary, as the great Lenin pointed out, a people can never be free so long as it oppresses another. The Jewish people have lived for millennia without a settler State that commits genocide under the cover of Jewish self-determination, and the vast majority of Jewish people continue to live outside Israel. The IHRA’s conflation of Israel’s existence with Jewish self-determination is in fact a core pillar of settler-colonial Zionist ideology, which must be combated alongside the equally poisonous ideology of antisemitism.

By adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, the Ontario government defines the call for Palestinian liberation itself as being antisemitic, and turns all of its supporters into potential targets for sanctions and repression. Of course, there is an important reason why it benefits the government of Ontario (and, in 2019, the Canadian government) to accept IHRA’s definition: Canada’s interests with Israel. Canada voted in favor of the creation of Israel at the UN in 1947 and continues to be its trade partner through the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), although its voting support for Israel in the UN has changed over the decades. The Ford government’s support for Zionism in 2020 is likely connected with Israel’s signing of peace accords with Bahrain, UAE, and Sudan. All of these are countries which have long been hostile to Israel due to their Muslim majorities, so their growing acceptance of diplomacy and trade with Israel heralds the growing Israeli sphere of influence in the region and the expansionist dreams of the most fervent Zionists. The increased support signaled by these countries as well as by this province, in a time of political upheaval in Israel as well as in its primary ally, the USA, is a statement of support for imperialism and settler-colonialism which we cannot accept.

Canada itself is guilty of the very same crimes as Israel. Canada exists at the expense of the rights of the Indigenous Nations whose land was (and continues to be) systematically stolen by the old Canadian State. To the extent that Canada can help bolster the claim of Zionism to stolen land, it can also reinforce its own claim to stolen land. Sanitizing Israel’s genocide of Palestinians allows Canada to do the same for its own genocide of Indigenous Nations. The big capitalists of both countries have a lot in common when it comes to how they do business, especially when it comes to the way they treat those who rebel against their power, i.e. by the brutal and remorseless use of military force.

Palestine has a right to self-determination. The people of Palestine, subject to brutality, murder, and the robbery of their home, have a right to rebel against this injustice, just as do all oppressed nations and workers of the world. In every country, in every language, the masses of the world cry out “Long live Palestine”, and that too is their right. When the government of this province threatens even our right to express our support for Palestinian liberation, we have no choice but to speak louder, for we cannot let ourselves be silenced.

Our ability to protest freely is not our most important weapon, however. The liberation of Palestine itself, just like the liberation of the Indigenous Nations on this continent, and just like the liberation of the workers of the world, can only be carried out by the masses through revolutionary struggle. It is only by completely tearing down the old world that we can bring about the new world.





★ Revolutionary Student Movement – Toronto (Organizing Committee)

★ Revolutionary Student Movement – Windsor

★ Revolutionary Student Movement – Guelph

★ Coordinating Committee of the Revolutionary Student Movement