AA, Ankara - A Palestinian led campaign group, promoting various forms of boycott against Israel, has hailed Canadian Vancouver City Council decision, rejecting a motion to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, working to end international support for Israel, said the motion if adopted, would have clubbed criticism to Israeli activities and speaking for Palestinian rights, within the scope of antisemitism.
"Good news. Vancouver City Council rejects misguided definition of antisemitism," the BDS tweeted late Sunday.
In a statement, the Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), a group that works in partnership with Palestinian groups and advocates free speech, said their campaign helped the majority of the city council members and the mayor to understand the motive behind the motion.
The motion was introduced on July 23 by Councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung to combat antisemitism in Vancouver, a bustling west coast seaport and third largest city of Canada. But the text of motion had added criticism against Israel also in the realm of promoting antisemitism.
Palestinian and other human rights groups, besides launching a campaign, reached out directly to councilors by writing letters and explained to them the impact of this motion on Palestinian rights. Many Jewish residents of Vancouver also joined them to oppose the motion.
"Opponents of the motion emphasized that this definition of antisemitism would promote prejudice. Also, it would encourage officials to label all criticism against the state of Israel as antisemitism and thereby, will silence support for Palestinian rights “the IJV statement said.
"The councilors ultimately were convinced, to support the argument that fighting racism in a multicultural city, by singling out the fight against antisemitism alone, was not the best approach," the statement added.
The city council later voted to refer this motion to the advisory committee on racial and ethnocultural equity, with no mention of the IHRA definition.
The government of Israel and its lobbies are persuading countries the world over, to outlaw the BDS movement. Tel Aviv has already imposed a travel ban on the BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti in 2016. He was denied entry to the U.S. in April.
Israel’s act of curbing free speech, restricting freedom of travel and banning a rights movement, has invited condemnation from Sweden, Ireland and Denmark, besides international rights organizations such as the Amnesty International.