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Israeli Nobel Peace Prize nominee censored in Montreal

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Independent Jewish Voices Montreal condemns political censorship of Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper: calls on Gelber Centre to allow Halper to address Jewish community

Montreal / ¬ Israeli peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jeff Halper and Independent Jewish Voices Montreal (IJVM) will hold a press conference at noon in front of the Gelber Centre, to condemn the Federation Combined Jewish Appeal’s (FCJA) last-minute cancellation of Halper’s public presentation to the Jewish community at the Centre on January 15. IJVM had previously arranged and advertised Halper’s presentation, “Peace in Israel? Peace with Gaza? Yes We Can.” As cause for the cancellation, the FCJA initially cited safety concerns about hosting the Halper presentation at the same time as an event of conservative group Amitiés Quebec-Israel, even though no threats were issued. Later, they said Amitiés Quebec- Israel simply objected to the presentation.

“It is difficult to interpret the banning of this presentation by Jeff Halper, who will also be speaking at McGill University and UQAM, as anything other than an act of political censorship,” said Abby Lippman, a member of IJVM. “The censoring of the talk by Jeff Halper is particularly distressing at this time of crisis in Gaza, when it is more than ever essential that we consider options for reaching peace and security for all Palestinians and Israelis.” IJVM’s mandate is to ensure that there are healthy and respectful exchanges and debates on critical issues facing the Jewish community. The FCJA refused the IJVM’s offer to meet with the FCJA and the other Jewish group to negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome, one that would ensure that Jeff Halper’s freedom of speech is not curtailed.

“The event we had planned would have been one in which the Jewish community could have taken pride, one in which it would have shown clearly that it is not afraid of differing opinions and views. Instead, the FCJA has chosen to censor speech, to prohibit dissent. Censorship of speech and opinions within the Jewish community is a grave act ¬ an assault on our long history of supporting intellectual debate and diverse opinions. Censorship stifles democracy,” said Fabienne Presentey, another IJVM member. IJVM contends that by imposing political censorship, the FCJA appears to be demonstrating fear of the full range of opinions on the crisis in Israel and Gaza, particularly when these may include peace messages from a non-violent Jewish-Israeli Nobel Prize nominee that could run counter to the public positions of the FCJA. IJVM calls on the FCJA to retract its decision and to permit Jeff Halper to speak at the Gelber Centre on Thursday, January 15. Meanwhile, the Reverend at the Unitarian Church of Montreal has allowed Halper’s presentation to be re-scheduled there at 7:30pm, Thursday, at 5035 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest.

Event: “Peace in Israel? Peace with Gaza? Yes We Can” Thursday Jan 15, 7:30pm. Unitarian Church Of Montréal, 5035 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest. between Bulmer and Claremont, NDG/Westmont 3 streets west of Metro Vendome

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