Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)
Statement for Immediate Release
2 June 2009
**CAIA APPLAUDS TORONTO PRIDE COMMITTEE’S DECISION NOT TO BAN ANTI-APARTHEID QUEER GROUP FROM CITY’S ANNUAL PRIDE PARADE**
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA) attacked by pro-Israel B’nai Brith; Toronto’s Pride Committee stands up to political pressure to exclude QUAIA from city’s annual celebration of LGBTQ pride.
On May 27, a National Post article by Joseph Brean incorrectly reported that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid “has been banned this year” from Toronto’s annual Pride parade. In response, Pride Toronto has issued a public statement which makes absolutely clear that “it has no intention of banning any participants from the Dyke March and the Parade because of their political agenda”. CAIA applauds Pride Toronto for standing up to attempts to discipline this year’s Pride parade grand marshal, El-Farouk Khaki, for speaking at a recent public event organized by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.
CAIA stands with Pride Toronto in its refusal to cave in to pressure tactics from B’nai Brith and other groups that aim to silence well-founded criticism of the Israeli state for its ongoing violations of international law. Violations include Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories; its settlement-building and construction of an apartheid wall on occupied land; its refusal to respect the right of Palestinian refugees to return; and its recent attacks on Gaza which resulted in 1400 Palestinian deaths and over 500 injuries in 23 short days.
Despite boisterous and persistent claims by B’Nai Brith, criticism of the Israeli state is not anti-semitic or “hateful and divisive propaganda”.
B’nai Brith has issued several press releases recently, each aimed at silencing critics of Israeli policy, including queer community activists and artists. B’nai Brith has, for example, tried without success to shut down a reading of Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, featuring the acclaimed writer and theatre artist, Anne-Marie MacDonald. Queer Jewish artist Reena Katz has also been attacked for her support of the Palestinian cause. At the same time, B’nai Brith chooses to ally itself with Christian fundamentalist homophobes.
As an organization committed to ending racism and homophobia, CAIA recognizes Queers Against Israeli Apartheid as a vital and legitimate LGBTQ group in the tradition of the Simon Nkoli Anti-Apartheid Committee (SNAAC). SNAAC was active for many years in Toronto and organized the city’s LGBTQ community against South African apartheid. Comparisons between Israeli apartheid and South African apartheid have been made by a number of well-known figures including former US President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In the face of growing support and understanding of the Palestinian plight, including that faced by Palestinian queers, the Zionist movement is responding with intimidation and repression. We are fully convinced these actions will fail and be seen for what they are: a desperate attempt by a failing movement to shut down free speech and the right to organize.
CAIA fully supports Pride Toronto’s refusal to exclude QUAIA and stands in solidarity with queer activists and artists and all those who refuse to remain silent in the face of silencing and intimidation.
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) statement, also endorsed by:
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (University of Toronto)
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (York University)
Educators for Peace and Justice
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