Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism Irwin Cotler.

Irwin Cotler, a retired Canadian politician, international human rights lawyer, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism was scheduled to give the keynote speech on November 15 at the Ariel University Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights. Cotler is a great friend of Israel, married to an Israeli woman, and a great supporter of institutions like Ariel University. But early Friday morning, Mona Abuamara, the Ambassador and Chief Representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to Canada tweeted:

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I couldn’t reach anyone at Ariel University because today is Friday, Israel’s semi-Sunday. Hopefully, they’ll get back to me in time for Sunday’s news. For now, here’s what I know:

A group calling itself Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, which is dedicated to the creation of a Palestinian state, announced on its website, citing Abuamara’s tweet: “The circumstances surrounding the event and its cancellation are still not clear (you can say that again — DI), and Canadians deserve a full explanation for how Mr. Cotler was scheduled to speak at this event in the first place, as giving an honorary address in an illegal Israeli settlement is clearly in violation of Canadian policy. CJPME demands an explanation and looks forward to seeing Mr. Cotler’s name removed from the conference program.”

On June 21, the group issued a statement saying, “CJPME Urges Canada’s Special Envoy to Cancel Speaking Event at Illegal Israeli Settlement.”

Vice President of CJPME Michael Bueckert said, “It is absolutely scandalous that a Canadian Special Envoy would legitimize Israel’s illegal settlement presence by giving an honorary address to a university located on stolen Palestinian land. As a representative of the Canadian government, Mr. Cotler is showcasing an appalling disregard for international law and Palestinian human rights.”

Our old friend Philip Weiss suggested that “Irwin Cotler has long been an aggressive proponent of Israeli apartheid. But the crass nature of his anti-Palestinian activism may be thwarting the efficacy of his position as Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, which is designed to not-so subtlety protect Israel from criticism.”

All of the above makes me wonder how real Abuamara’s tweet was. Here’s more:

Irwin Cotler was responsible for establishing six categories of antisemitism and thirteen indices of discrimination against Jews that he characterized as the “new anti-Jewishness.” New Antisemitism is the idea that a new form of antisemitism has developed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, masquerading as anti-Zionism and criticism of the Israeli government. Cotler’s concept is included in some definitions of antisemitism, such as the Working Definition of Antisemitism and the 3D Test of Antisemitism.

Cotler is a member of MEMRI’s Board of Advisors – not exactly a group easily intimidated by pro-Palestinian leftist hacks. Cotler is an Honorary Member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation – would he do anything to soil its good name by boycotting a legitimate Israeli university (which has only very recently been admitted into Israel’s higher education conference). And Cotler serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Genesis Prize Foundation – again, as pro-Zionist as one can get (with the singular faux pas involving Natalie Portman, don’t ask – see Natalie Portman Snubs $2 Million Genesis Prize, ‘Does Not Feel Comfortable Participating in Any Public Events in Israel’).

I hate posting this story without confirmation from someone who is not a staunch enemy of Israel, but I promise to add detail and confirm whether the cancelation is real as soon as I find out. The only possibility the Arab reports are correct would be if the Canadian foreign ministry became involved and ordered Cotler to cancel his engagement.

Shabbat Shalom.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.