BDS activist Gilad Paz. Image: Independent Jewish Voice Canada

Gilad Paz, a 38-year-old lawyer by trade, fled his native Israel to come to Canada in August 2016. He landed in Montreal, where he immediately filed a refugee claim, and has been living in that city ever since.

Paz is an Israeli BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activist, a member of Amnesty International in Israel, and also a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. He became active in the BDS movement following Israel’s brutal “operation protective edge” attack on Gaza in 2014, which killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians.

When a series of escalating Israeli government measures aimed at rooting out BDS activists ramped up in 2016, Paz decided he needed to leave Israel for his own safety, and came to Canada.

Since his arrival in Canada, Paz has received documented death threats from several Israelis, including Avi Ovadia, the ministerial aide to Miri Regev, former Israeli minister of culture and current minister of transportation.

While Israeli attacks against Palestinian activists and the repression of political movements is commonplace, Paz’s case illustrates the extent to which the Israeli government will go to attack its own Jewish citizens who support the BDS movement.

Paz’s refugee claim was denied by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board in the summer of 2017. In December 2019, he appealed the ruling at the Federal Court. His appeal was also denied. Now that Paz has exhausted all legal avenues to remain in Canada, he faces a removal order back to Israel. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Canadian Border Service Agency is not moving to deport him, but Paz worries this will change as soon as pandemic restrictions are loosened.

Paz urges those who wish to support him to write to Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino and ask that he use his ministerial discretion to intervene and stop the deportation.

Listen to an interview with Paz here.

Aaron Lakoff is a community organizer and award-winning independent journalist based in Montreal, Canada. He is current communications and media lead for Independent Jewish Voices Canada.

Image: Contributed by Independent Jewish Voices Canada