Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) was thrilled to learn that Palestinian-Canadian teacher and human rights activist Nadia Shoufani successfully fended off a defamatory campaign that targeted her livelihood and reputation. Shoufani was targeted by Israel lobby groups after she spoke passionately at a rally in Toronto during the summer of 2016 in solidarity with Palestinians. A highly coordinated and malicious smear campaign against her was designed to ruin her career, and ultimately make an example of her, with the aim of silencing others who would consider speaking out publicly in support of Palestinians’ human rights.
IJV is inspired by the steadfastness of Shoufani, who was suspended from her job for a lengthy period of time, and faced the prospect of losing her career after her case was brought before the Ontario College of Teachers. In spite of the malicious and defamatory campaign directed against her, coupled with the unfair coverage she received in mainstream media that unquestioningly parroted the talking points of Israel lobby groups, Shoufani refused to be bullied into silence. She displayed profound courage, and her successful defense at the Ontario College of Teachers, which led to her being exonerated and her case being dismissed, marks a victory for all those in Canada who cherish our right to freedom of speech and expression.
Shoufani’s victory over the well-resourced organizations that tried to make an example of her sends a strong message to Canadian civil society that those of us who support the human rights of Palestinians will never succumb to the bullying tactics of Israel lobby groups. We will continue to resist Israel’s apartheid policies, and expose and challenge the undemocratic organizations that falsely claim to speak on behalf of diverse Jewish Canadian communities. We will also continue to hold our politicians and media accountable for their acquiescence in Israel’s systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians.
We reiterate our desire to promote an honest and open discussion in Canada on the situation in Israel and Palestine. In solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in the Jewish traditions of social justice and support for the liberation of all peoples, we continue to support the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, until Israel ends its occupation, and accepts and recognizes the Palestinians as equal human beings entitled to the same rights, freedoms and dignity that all of us should enjoy as a matter of course.
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