City of Toronto: Don’t whitewash racist Israeli policy in the name of equity!

We call on the City of Toronto to withdraw its participation and keynote speaker, through the Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights in the upcoming May 17, 2016 conference, "Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City," in Jerusalem.

The city of Toronto's participation in a conference with speakers from Israeli settlements encourages settlement activity and undermines Canada's responsibility to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. Further, the Jerusalem Conference is endorsed by the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat who will give the opening remarks.  In 2010, Mayor Barkat told the Israeli Knesset (parliament) that the number of Palestinian residents in Jerusalem poses a “strategic threat”, citing a deliberately racist policy target of a 70-30 Jewish majority as “the government’s goal”.  Just recently in October 2015, Mayor Barkat was roaming an East Jerusalem neighborhood with a gun. A statement by the City of Jerusalem affirmed his actions saying that “the mayor encourages licensed gun owners to carry their weapons to increase security. He himself serves as a personal example of this.” These statements not only reflect the mayor himself, but the official policy of the City of Jerusalem towards the indigenous Palestinian population.

The city of Toronto’s participation in the Jerusalem conference also undermines the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). In its May 2, 2016 letter to the City of Toronto, the General Union of Palestinian Women (one of over 170 signatory organizations on the 2005 BDS call) is clear in identifying the problem:  “Your participation in this conference plays in the hands of Israel’s propaganda. Falsely presenting Jerusalem as a ‘culturally competent city’ masks the city’s reality: arbitrary killings of indigenous Palestinians and systematic discrimination with the explicit aim of ridding the city of its Palestinian residents. Equity cannot exist in Jerusalem until Israel’s systematic discriminatory laws are changed. We urge you to refrain from aiding our oppression: cancel your participation in this conference.”

We, the signatories of this petition, urge the City of Toronto to respect international law and equity, by withdrawing its participation from this conference.

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Mayor, City of Toronto
    John Tory
  • Executive Director, Social Development Finance and Administration - City of Toronto
    Chris Brillinger
  • Director, Equity, Diversity, Human Rights - City of Toronto
    Uzma Shakir


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