The second meeting of the CPCCA inquiry into anti-Semitism met this morning, this time to largely discuss the issue of anti-Semitism on Canadian campuses. I spoke to the panel's chair, gay Liberal MP Mario Silva after Question Period about what went down.
Q: Could you give me a quick summary of this morning’s activity?
A: We had a very interesting panel of experts, [including] Professor Yehuda Bauer, who is very well known on issues of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and also students from campuses, who were there to explain some of the issues of campus life and their [being] faced with anti-Semitism, so it was a very good discussion overall, and it was certainly very well received. There were very intelligent questions being asked – a lot of us are concerned about what we’ve been hearing with anti-Semitism both here in Canada and internationally. We continue with our hearings, but overall there’s been very good participation from both Members of Parliament and communities in general.
Q: I know the campus issue has been one that’s been fairly hotly debated because there are arguments that people are trying to offer genuine criticism of Israel’s policies than offering an anti-Semitic statement, but often a critique is labelled as anti-Semitism in certain circles.
A: I think Israel can be criticised like any other country, but the question is where to the lines start to be crossed, and when those lines are crossed then it becomes a problem and it is anti-Semitism. For example, when there’s cartoons depicting Jews in a very derogatory fashion, when there is presentation that all Jews are responsible, when they’re referring to Israel as an apartheid state that doesn’t have a right to exist, then there’s still some lines that are crossed and I think that’s not appropriate. Is criticism of Israel legitimate? Absolutely it’s legitimate, and people have a right to criticise Israel like they have a right to criticise any other country – it’s a free country. The problem is when people start crossing the line into areas that will legitimately be considered anti-Semitism.