On April 17, 2019, the United Church of Canada (UCC) published a response to NGO Monitor’s April 3 op-ed in the Hill Times. In it, UCC attacks Canada’s consensus position on the IHRA definition of antisemitism and BDS, and refers to these as “false allegations of anti-Semitism.” Given the global recognition of the urgent need to combat this hatred, UCC’s rejection of the consensus working definition is particularly disturbing.
- UCC, an organization receiving nearly $4.8 million in Canadian funding, has implicitly admitted that its employs a definition of antisemitism at odds with the Government’s.
- UCC attempts to defend partnering with and transferring taxpayer funding to a Palestinian NGO, Wi’am, citing the latter’s work “exposing violations of human rights and in holding those in power accountable.” However, the nearly $1 million grant to Wi’am is not for this activity, but rather, according to GAC, ostensibly for empowering “women human rights defenders and organizations to effectively participate in post-conflict development and peace and security processes.”
- UCC claims that “all three organizations continue to condemn hatred and anti-Semitism.” A search on Wi’am’s website does not reveal any indication of any such statement. On the contrary, in addition to the examples provided below, Wi’am uses Holocaust rhetoric to attack Israel. For example, Wi’am’s director Zoughbi Zoughbi stated, “We are the victims of the victims of the holocaust, and thus its direct victims and we too need our home, our safe haven…”
NGO Monitor’s op-ed and report demonstrate that Wi’am’s promotion of antisemitic rhetoric and BDS campaigns against Israel are contradictory to Canadian policy. Global Affairs Canada (GAC) officially recognizes the IHRA definition of antisemitism in combatting this form of discrimination and hate. NGO Monitor highlights that PM Trudeau has referred to BDS as a “new form of anti-Semitism in the world” and has consistently condemned BDS, and Trudeau and the Liberal Party supported the 2016 Conservative motion formally denouncing BDS and calling on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”
It is also important to note that Wi’am’s “Women Coordinator” is one of the authors of the 2009 Kairos Palestine Document, a public call claiming to represent Palestinian Christians, using religious language to deny the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms; rationalize and trivialize terrorism; and promote BDS. The document is seen by many as antisemitic, and has been described by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as “a revisionist document of hatred for Israel and contempt of Jews.” The UCC also promotes the Kairos Palestine Document, and one of its anti-Israel boycott campaigns, which began in 2012-13, is inspired by it.