(Toronto, ON – June 27, 2022) – StandWithUs Canada firmly rejects the statement issued by the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia (AMS UBC) falsely labeling Israel as an “apartheid state”. This distortion of facts is part of a larger global campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel's existence and the Jewish people's basic right to self-determination.
StandWithUs Canada calls on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) administration to condemn this statement by the UBC AMS. Libelous commentary like this creates space for antisemitism to fester, and it is critical to the Jewish students of UBC, many of whom have been left feeling isolated and vulnerable as a result of this statement, to feel supported by their school’s leadership.
As StandWithUs has documented, Israel is the opposite of an apartheid state. It is a multicultural democracy and the only free country in the Middle East according to the human rights watchdog Freedom House. Israeli law enshrines equal rights for all citizens, and minorities participate fully in public life. While Israel, like other multi-ethnic democracies, struggles with disadvantages its minorities face, its laws seek to eradicate inequality.
Nor does Israel practice apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians are not citizens of Israel and most do not want to be. The vast majority are governed by their own leaders—Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA)—and hope for their own independent state. Israeli measures like the security barrier do not exist to separate people based on religion or ethnicity but rather to protect Israeli civilians of all backgrounds from attacks by racist terrorist groups. This is not an abstract concern, but a real threat to people's lives that UBC AMS is shamefully silent about. In March and April of this year alone, Hamas and other terrorist groups murdered 19 Jews, Arabs, and others in Israel.
Unfortunately, the PA rejected peace proposals and frameworks in 2000, 2008, and 2014, which would have helped end the hardships caused by Israel's efforts to protect its own citizens. Palestinian leaders have also responded to international pressure against Israel by reaffirming their refusal to recognize its existence as a Jewish state.
While none of this negates the hardships Palestinians face, it is a crucial context that must be recognized by anyone hoping to be part of the solution, something that UBC AMS has made clear they are not. Spreading disinformation and falsely accusing Israel of “apartheid” does not advance the cause of justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It only fuels more hatred, division and conflict.
This concerning statement from the UBC AMS comes just one week after the province of British Columbia adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism on June 17, 2022. In a letter to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), British Columbia Premier John Horgan wrote: “To effectively combat one of the world’s oldest forms of hatred, we must first clearly identify it”. Premier Horgan continued “In this light, we see the IHRA definition as an important non-legally binding educational tool to help us determine what is and what is not antisemitic, which allows us to work toward a society that is better for all British Columbians.” This newly adopted definition states that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” can be a form of antisemitism.
About StandWithUs Canada
StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.
The StandWithUs Canada chapter launched in 2014. Through university fellowships, high school internships, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on 7 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and Australia.