Israeli media sources have reported that the Canadian authorities are preparing to take legal action against civil organisations which promote a boycott of Israel, as well as those who support them.
According to Israeli newspaper Yisrael HaYom on Wednesday, Canada’s government is targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The global movement supports Palestinian rights and is seeking an international boycott of Israel in the economic, academic, cultural and other areas of life. “The government intends to activate the laws that aim to counter hate crimes against many Canadian organisations which call for a boycott of Israel,” said a spokeswoman for Canadian Minister of Public Security Steven Blaney. Although officials in the ruling Canadian conservative party denied the claims, the ministry spokeswoman pointed to the existence of provisions in the law that allow action against “incitement and propaganda” and all who exercise it.
Such denials have not calmed the fears of BDS groups. They believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the most pro-Israel government in the Western world, still intends to fight BDS campaigns using “hate crime” legislation.
Such fears appear to be justified. In January, Canada’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government, committing his country to act against BDS groups. Baird described boycott activism as “the new face of anti-Semitism.”