Here is the text of the motion introduced to Vancouver City Council. We encourage all supporters to sign up to speak against the motion either in-person or by phone through this link. #NoIHRA
Update: The BC Civil Liberties Association put out a letter on Nov. 7 reaffirming that they “are strongly opposed to the IHRA definition because of its threat to freedom of expression”. And in a welcome move, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs also penned a letter to Vancouver City Council in which they expressed “grave concerns” and urged them to “not proceed” with adoption of the IHRA. They stated: “We do not condone protecting Israel from criticism in relation to its settler colonial policies and mistreatment of Palestinians.”
Three and a half years ago, Vancouver city councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung introduced a motion to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. That motion in July 2019 was not passed; however, the same councillor recently gave notice to reintroduce a similar motion this month to the new Vancouver city council. She is now representing the ABC “A Better City” party that even included adoption of the IHRA definition in their platform. And since they won a majority in the recent civic elections, they seem to be rushing to vindicate themselves this time around.
Back in 2019, Vancouver was one of the first city councils where the pro-Israel lobby attempted to have the IHRA definition formally accepted. Many segments of the progressive and anti-racist community in Vancouver responded quickly and as already noted, the result was that the motion was not adopted. And all the reasons that were valid in 2019 are still valid in 2022, as evidence increases of how the IHRA definition is being used to silence Palestinian voices and criticism of Israel.
The IHRA definition was wrong then and it is wrong now. Passing it now at Vancouver city council will not change that nor will it change our determination as Palestinian Canadians to raise our voices against our oppression, and against anti-Palestinian racism and all those who maintain it. We will continue to speak out forcefully and reject the concept that our narrative must be constricted and restrained. If other communities are granted the right during discussions of discrimination to say: “Nothing about us without us”, then so are Palestinian Canadians. Or are we to be treated differently, like lesser beings?
Passing this anti-Palestinian definition will not deter us, but it will tarnish the reputation of the city of Vancouver. No longer can Vancouver promote itself as diverse and tolerant. Rather, it will be presented internationally as a city that callously engages in racism against vulnerable minorities (in this case the Palestinian, Arab and Moslem communities), a policy that could have negative implications on tourism and investment.
We join hands with many allies, from progressive Jews to anti-racist and human rights groups to church and union organizations, to say #NoIHRA. Adopting this dangerous and vague definition of anti-Semitism will only serve to harm the reputation of Vancouver as a welcoming city for all people.