Under pressure, Pride Toronto reverses censorship of “Israeli apartheid”

Posted on June 24 2010 by Cecilie Surasky

We’ve written extensively about the pressure campaign led in part by Canada’s B’nai Brith to ban the group Queers United Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from all Pride Toronto events including the LGBTQI pride parade, the Dyke and Trans marches.

B’nai Brith boasted in a May press release:

B’nai Brith Canada has contacted the organizers of Toronto’s Pride Parade to urge them ensure that the agenda of the annual Pride Parade is not allowed to be hijacked by the propaganda of anti-Israel agitators. The Jewish human rights organization has also contacted the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of Ontario, and the Mayor of Toronto, all contributors to the Pride Parade, asking for a review of the funding in light of the stated agenda of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

And after Pride Toronto remarkably agreed to censor the two words “Israeli apartheid” from the parades (while it’s perfectly legal to utter the phrase in Israel or write it in Israel’s most prestigious newspaper), it seemed as though B’nai Brith and friends won. But after a massive backlash, Pride Toronto has just announced it has overturned the ridiculous decision. Xtra reports:

Pride Toronto (PT) has reversed its May board resolution banning the term “Israeli apartheid” and will instead require all participants to sign and abide by the City of Toronto’s non-discrimination policy.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) — the target of the ban — has declared a victory and congratulated the queer community for pushing PT to reverse its censorship decision.

“This is a victory for the Palestine solidarity movement, which has faced censorship and bullying tactics from the Israel lobby for far too long,” said QuAIA member Tim McCaskell in the release.

Of course, QuAIA now owes a debt of thanks to their opponents who have done more than anyone to make sure the phrase “Israeli apartheid” would be on the lips of just about everyone in Canada following the story. Plus, before the ban was rescinded, QuAIA didn’t waste any time in offering an alternative free speech track for pride events. This is creative organizing.

I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living Zero Waste, and reversing the effects of climate change.

Posted in BDS Success, Boycott, Canadian Organizing
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