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B’nai Brith Canada Disturbed by Federal Funding for Anti-Israel “Voting Guide”

October 25, 2019

B’nai Brith Canada

TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada is deeply concerned after learning that a federal grant was used to produce a guide instructing Canadian Muslims on how to vote in last Monday’s national election.

The “Canadian Muslim Voting Guide: Federal Election 2019” was released by the Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project at Wilfred Laurier University on Oct. 18, just three days before Canadians went to the polls. Its front cover acknowledges support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a federal agency that assigns research grants.

Disturbingly, one of the six “key issues” for Canadian Muslims unilaterally selected by the authors of the Voting Guide is support for the anti-Israel and antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement (pages 18-20). The Voting Guide purports to assign a “Fail” grade to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for recognizing that BDS is a form of antisemitism that harms Jewish students on Canadian campuses, and gives the same failing grade to Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer.

In 2016, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to condemn the BDS Movement, as well as “all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS Movement, both here at home and abroad.”

Research by B’nai Brith shows that the Voting Guide’s lead author, Jasmin Zine, received $24,923 from the SSHRC in 2018 for a project called “Mapping the Canadian Islamophobia Industry.”

“It is totally unacceptable that government funds have been used to promote an antisemitic movement in Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

“It is deeply troubling that taxpayer dollars were used to subsidize a document ‘guiding’ Canadians on whom to support in an election.”

The Voting Guide also alleges that “Zionist ideologies play a prominent role” in fomenting Islamophobia in Canada (page 6). No evidence is cited for this absurd and dangerous proposition.

In 2017, B’nai Brith condemned SSHRC funding for an art display at Western University that glorified the Palestinian intifada, or terrorist uprising. The organization has written to Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, expressing concern over government funding for the Voting Guide. Other relevant government officials also have been made aware of B’nai Brith’s concerns.

B’nai Brith will be seeking a commitment from the newly elected Canadian government to ensure that premises and facilities under government administration not be provided to organizations that express antisemitism or call Israel’s right to exist into question. Additionally, B’nai Brith will be seeking a commitment that no government funding be provided to organizations that endorse or support projects and events encouraging the antisemitic BDS movement.