Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff issued a press release on March 1st, shown in full below, condemning Israeli Apartheid Week. In it, he calls upon Canadians to reject this week’s protests against the suppression of Palestinians, linking Israeli Apartheid Week to anti-semitism, but forgets he himself once abhorred the “Bantustan” system used by Israel.

Bantustan. His word, not ours.

We at hope NDP leader Jack Layton will come out as the voice of dignity and reason in the face of censorship and the closing down of dialogue and debate by our elected officials over Israeli Apartheid Week. We feel freedom of expression is at stake.

Parliament Hill is under siege by a neo-McCarthyist mood: it won’t be easy to speak to justice, human rights and the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression, and not play safe politics in that atmosphere. Ignatieff has already succumbed to weak, opportunist politics.

And special thanks to our blogger Derrick O’Keefe for reminding us of how slippery Iggy’s tongue is by locating this piece of op-ed journalism written for U.K. newspaper The Guardian in 2002:

“When I looked down at the West Bank, at the settlements like Crusader forts occupying the high ground, at the Israeli security cordon along the Jordan river closing off the Palestinian lands from Jordan, I knew I was not looking down at a state or the beginnings of one, but at a Bantustan, one of those pseudo-states created in the dying years of apartheid to keep the African population under control.”

– Michael Ignatieff, The Guardian, April 19, 2002. 

Read the entire article by clicking here.

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2010

Statement by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff regarding Israeli Apartheid Week

OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff made the following statement today:

“On university campuses across the country this week, Israeli Apartheid Week will once again attempt to demonize and undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state. It is part of a global campaign of calls for divestment, boycotts and proclamations, and it should be condemned unequivocally and absolutely.

Apartheid is defined, in international law, as a crime against humanity. Israeli Apartheid Week is a deliberate attempt to portray the Jewish state as criminal.

The activities planned for the week will single out Jewish and Israeli students. They will be made to feel ostracized and even physically threatened in the very place where freedom should be paramount — on a university campus.

Let us be clear: criticism of Israeli government policy is legitimate. Wholesale condemnation of the State of Israel and the Jewish people is not legitimate. Not now, not ever.

The very premise of Israeli Apartheid Week runs counter to our shared values of mutual respect and tolerance, regardless of nationality, race or creed. It is an attempt to heighten the tensions in our communities around the tragic conflict in the Middle East.

On behalf of the Liberal party of Canada and the Parliamentary caucus, I urge all Canadians to join with us in condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, and to reject, in principle, all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance, both within this country and around the world.”