CBC Radio Gives Anti-Israel Organization Platform To Lobby Against IHRA Definition

June 12, 2023

In recent years, a growing number of Canadian provinces have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the federal government in 2019.

According to CBC, the Yukon Legislature may join other jurisdictions across Canada in adopting the IHRA definition in its fall session.

On May 31, Midday Café with Leonard Linklater, a CBC Radio program with a focus on the Yukon Territory, interviewed Marvin Rotrand from B’nai Brith Canada, a national Jewish advocacy organization, where the two discussed the possibility of the territory adopting the IHRA definition.

During the interview, Rotrand told Linklater that the IHRA definition was of critical importance, highlighting statistics which show Jews in Canada representing a disproportionate number of hate crime victims, and that “If you’re going to combat something, you need to define it.”

But Linklater’s coverage of the IHRA definition of antisemitism ruffled some feathers among anti-Israel groups.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), an organization which has previously spread anti-Israel disinformation, has endorsed the one-state solution (the de facto elimination of Israel as a Jewish State) and which has actively condemned the IHRA definition of antisemitism, condemned CBC the very next day for its coverage.

On June 1, the group published a letter it sent to Linklater and other senior CBC staff, complaining that it failed to “pose any critical questions” to Rotrand regarding IHRA, and referring to the working definition as “notoriously controversial.” It also claimed that the definition aimed to “silence human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian activists by conflating criticism of Israel’s apartheid and settler-colonial policies with antisemitism.”

Listen to the full interview with B’nai Brith Canada below:

 

While the CJPME’s condemnation of the IHRA definition was hardly unexpected for a group with a notorious animus towards the Jewish State, it was CBC’s response which was remarkable.

In a shameful capitulation to the CJPME and its anti-Israel complaint, on June 6, Midday Café with Leonard Linklater once again hosted a segment on the IHRA definition, this time interviewing Michael Bueckert, a senior official at CJPME.

Listen to the full interview with CJPME below:

 

While observers are free to critique Linklater’s initial interview with Rotrand of B’nai Brith Canada, CJPME’s subsequent complaint alleging that the definition seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism is patently false.

While anti-Israel activists have frequently lobbed the allegation that the IHRA definition stifles free expression and legitimate criticism of Israel, this is an easily debunked claim.

On the IHRA website, freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection, the definition’s supporting statements make clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

And while groups like CJPME have regularly attempted to tarnish the IHRA definition as “notoriously controversial,” their criticisms have largely been a self-fulfilling tautology, being considered “controversial” because anti-Israel groups have claimed it to be so.

In reality, the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which is the most widely used definition of its kind, has been widely accepted across Canada, as well as the world, with dozens of countries formally adopting it.

In total, the definition has been adopted by more than one thousand entities around the world.

While the CJPME’s false claims about the IHRA definition come as no surprise, it was CBC’s surrender to the group’s letter which was a major failing for the broadcaster.

The IHRA definition seeks to address antisemitism around the world in a non-binding way by helping to identify it clearly, and critically, it has gained widespread acceptance in Jewish communities around the world, including in Canada.

This is unsurprising, given that the Jewish community has a unique right and responsibility to define what constitutes antisemitism. This is no different than the Black community defining what constitutes anti-Black racism, and the LGBTIQA+ community defining what constitutes hate against its community.

It is therefore highly objetionable for Midday Café with Leonard Linklater, not only to devote a segment of its program to catering to the complaint of an anti-Israel organization, but more fundamentally, to giving credibility to such a group as it seeks to define antisemitism, rather than allowing that to be defined by its victims.

It is shameful and inappropriate for this CBC Radio program to place a non-Jewish organization with a history of demonizing and delegitimizing Israel on equal footing as the Jewish community, which seeks to define the hate which it faces and work to combat it.

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