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Letters: Disservice to Jews and Palestinians

A Richmond News reader weighs in as the recent definition of anti-Semitism debate rages on
Richmond resident Michael Sachs spoke in favour of a motion to accept a set of definitions of racism, including one of anti-Semitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Dear Editor,

Re: “Richmond council votes 6-3 for racism definitions, including one of anti-Semitism, News, Feb. 16.

I was disappointed that Maria Rantanen’s article about Richmond City Council’s vote on racism definitions failed to provide any institutional voices opposed to IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. 

While Rantanen mentions the opposition of the BC Civil Liberties Association and Independent Jewish Voices, she only quotes Jewish institutional voices in support of the definition.

In fact, the main issue with the definition are the 11 “examples” provided with the definition, seven of which focus on the state of Israel rather than on Jews as a group. 

The definition, with its examples, disserves Jews because it conflates real anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel.

And it disserves Palestinians and Palestinian-Canadians because it smears them as antisemites for sharing their stories of dispossession at the hands of Israel and Zionism. 

It is for this reason that the BC Civil Liberties Association, Independent Jewish Voices and many other civil liberties groups are so concerned about the IHRA definition.

Thomas Woodley