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QuAIA complaint triggers legal dispute panel

QuAIA complaint triggers legal dispute panel

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Group may still march in Pride parade: lawyer
A gay and lesbian Jewish group has filed a formal complaint about Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) to the Pride Toronto (PT) dispute resolution panel.

Justine Apple, executive director of Kulanu, states in her June 8 complaint that QuAIA's "behaviour and rhetoric are hurtful to Jewish parade participants and to supporters of Israel."

Kulanu’s complaint also notes, “The message Queers Against Israeli Apartheid present in its name, messaging, and signage, is that Israel is an apartheid state. This characterization is contrary to the undertaking required by Pride Toronto in that QuAIA presents images that condone or may condone negative stereotypes against persons or groups. QuAIA’s messages are divisive and damaging to both the parade and the city of Toronto.

"Jewish members of the LGBT community reported to CAP (the Community Advisory Panel) in 2011 that they considered the linking of Apartheid and Israel to be ‘false,’ ‘offensive,’ ‘provocative,’ ‘inflammatory’ and made them feel ‘unwelcome’ and ‘fearful for their safety.’”


It’s the first complaint of its kind to come before the dispute resolution committee.

The dispute resolution process was implemented following a recommendation that came out of a series of meetings held by the community advisory panel, CAP, which were called after a bitter three-year public fight over QuAIA's participation in Pride. PT describes the dispute process as an arm's-length legal arbitration panel for anyone who wishes to complain about any group marching in the parade. The decision of the panel is meant to be final.

Lawyer Doug Elliott, who is leading the dispute resolution process, says QuAIA has one week to respond and indicate whether it plans to participate in the process.

“This is a legal process of interpretation,” Elliott says. “The decision will be based on legal arguments about what the rules mean in the context of this complaint . . . The complaint is against QuAIA, not Pride Toronto.”

The panel will be made up of three local legal experts. QuAIA will be permitted to nominate up to three names for one spot on the panel. The complaint form states that Kulanu has nominated Elliott and Toronto lawyer Andrew Pinto.

One panel member is already confirmed: Toronto lawyer Robert G Coates will serve as chair.

Since Kulanu’s complaint is mainly about QuAIA's signs and messaging, Elliott explains, the panel may only make a decision based on that. “So that may not preclude the group from marching. It may just preclude them from having that kind of sign.”


Last week, Toronto city council approved a motion to “condemn” the phrase “Israeli apartheid.” Elliott says it will be up to the panel to determine if the city’s decision will factor in to the final ruling.

“Because it’s a legal process, [the city’s condemnation] would go into the category of evidence, as opposed to a legal ruling,” he says. “A decision by city council is not a judicial ruling. It’s the opinion of city council.”

The motion by city council contradicts a report by the city manager released last year confirming the phrase "Israeli apartheid" – and by extension QuAIA's participation in Pride celebrations – does not violate the city's anti-discrimination policy, which all beneficiaries of city funds must agree to.

Elliott says the city policy may be submitted to the dispute panel as evidence.

“That’s halfway between evidence and law,” he explains. “The city manager was not exercising a judicial function when he expressed that opinion. It’s not a binding ruling by any stretch. It could be considered by the panel, but that will be up to them.”

The city’s anti-discrimination policy returns to executive committee in September and is expected to contain changes with regard to the phrase “Israeli apartheid.” Council will not approve the updated version until it meets in October.

Apple says she applauds city council for condemning the phrase “Israeli apartheid,” adding that QuAIA “is hijacking the parade with anti-Israel propaganda.”


“Their hateful, discriminatory messaging alienates the people of Toronto and has no place in a parade that celebrates inclusion, tolerance and diversity,” she says.

PT executive director Kevin Beaulieu says the board will be watching the process closely but will not have any involvement. “We will continue planning for a successful 2012 festival.”



QuAIA spokesperson Tony Souza says he is confident in the dispute process.

QuAIA has never preached hatred. We are just stating a fact,” he says. “We are not anti-Semitic. We work for justice, peace and equality for Palestinian queers. The fact remains that Palestinian queers do not have the same rights. Apartheid means separate. [Palestinian queers] have a separate identity and rights within Israel, and that’s our message.

“If people are uncomfortable with that message, and see it as offensive, that’s different than saying it’s a message of hate. Those are two totally different things.”

Assam Alyamani, a representative with Palestine House in Mississisauga, says the term "Israeli apartheid" is an accurate criticism of the Israeli government's policy in regard to the Palestinian Territories.

"It is well documented that the Israeli government discriminates against indigenous people,” he says. “There are different rules for Jewish and non-Jewish people in many aspects, such as services, budgets, [policies] within municipalities, occupations and laws. They evacuate indigenous people from their villages and towns. There are many facts that support the argument that Israel is an apartheid state.”

At a 2010 conference, Jonathan Cook, a journalist and the author of Disappearing Palestine, explained why the phrase accurately describes the political situation in the West Bank.

"There are at least 30 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jews and non-Jews," he said. "They live in entirely separate physical worlds. They live in separate physical communities, separated not through choice, but through legally enforceable rules and procedures." 

Former US president Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, also called Israel an "apartheid state" in 2006.

“When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200 or so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa."


Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said the situation in Israel very much resembles South Africa when it was an apartheid state. “If you change the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa.”

The Israeli human rights group B'tselem reached the same conclusion in a 2002 report, noting "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime . . . is reminiscent of . . . the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

How long the dispute process will take is unknown at this point, Elliott says. “From our perspective, we understand it’s important for everyone concerned to get this resolved as expeditiously as possible, and we will do everything we can to achieve a resolution that’s consistent with a fair process.”

There is no guarantee that a decision will come in time for the 2012 Pride festival. “It’s possible,” he says. PT has already stated that if a decision is not reached before the parade, QuAIA will still be allowed to march.
Kulan u Complaint Redacted
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Comments

QuAIA At Pride
Paul, you are right that QuAIA has every right to their opinions. But do you think the Pride parade is the appropriate place to highlight their disagreements with Israel? If they were called Queer Nazis Against Israeli Apartheid would you have the same view? Hypocrisy has to have some limits.
Israel is a democracy, so should care
Gary, Syria and Saudi Arabia don't claim to be modern western democracies. Israel does, so expectations for human rights are higher, and our expectations that public opinion should influence their actions is greater.

Also, Canada and the USA are major financial and political backers of Israel, not Syria, not Saudi Arabia. Thus, I think it is fair for Canadians to comment on what our government is supporting.

I have little doubt that all of us think that Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. have terrible, repressive governments and horrific records when it comes to queer rights. But do you really think those governments give a shit what western liberals think about them?

QUAIA is putting activist energy into a cause where they think they can make a difference. I personally think their combative and exaggerated approach isn't likely to change any minds, but they have every right to use the tactics they are comfortable with.
Perspective
Across the world, most countries treat the LGBT community poorly, to say the least. This is certainly true for virtually all the countries of the Middle East except Israel. Why, then, is Israel singled out for castigation and opprobrium by QuAIA? Why not Saudi Arabia or Syria, for instance?

While Israel is far from perfect, it is also far from worst. Not even close. It therefore seems that the main reason for the emphasis on Israel is anti-semitism pure and simple. QuAIA does not have a legitimate place at the Pride Parade.
Jake's comments
First, I want to say that my connections with Israel are profound and go back almost 90 years to when my grandparents and other close family members moved there. I am blessed with many Israeli relatives and friends, and have visited Israel many times since 1966. I support Israel but am apalled at what has been going on vis-à-vis the Palestinians for the past 45 years. Having said where I stand, I must say that Rich is correct while Jake seems to be trying to obfuscate the Israeli rules and regulations. For example, Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan, yet the Israeli law (amendments to the "Nationality and Entry Into Israel Law", sadly upheld in 2006 by Israel's Court of High Justice - ie. it's Supreme Court - in a 6 to 5 split decision) holds that a non-Jewish Israeli marrying a non-Israeli who lives outside Israel - in my example a Jordanian citizen - is NOT able to bring into and live with her/his non-Israeli spouse in Israel. The non-Israeli Jordanian spouse cannot enter Israeli and live with the Israeli spouse. In other words, this is NOT a law about security matters and still being technically at war with another country. It is about preventing more non-Jews from living in Israel and having children (even if they are gay this can happen, of course) and thus reducing the proportion of Jewish Israelis (presently 75%), since the children would be Israeli citizens. Secondly, Jake's comments (June 13, 10:30 pm) about my previous posting are confusing. He seems to be agreeing with me that Israeli society displays a great deal of racism and discrimination (against its Arab and other citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish), but he then goes on in his remarks as if I had not made clear that I do NOT consider Israel to be an apartheid state within Israel 'proper'. Perhaps I'm not reading his possibly 'compacted' remarks correctly. I do agree with him generally about the Israeli police and courts courts being tough on racism, with some notable
oh Rich!
You seem not to get different nations have different laws, rules and customs. Something the far left does not seem to get. Also, have you ever been to Lebanon? Palestinians are treated the same as they are in Israel but unlike Israel in Lebanon they are Second Class and are treated like Second Class . Yet, Lebanon is considered a democracy and is very close to something like Turkey political system and Israel gets attack by groups such as the QuAIA but not others nations who do and consider Palestinians as nothing but dirt. I see some can not get this 'double standard'.
justifications don't change the answer
Jake the question, again was "If an Israeli man married me, a Canadian, and we moved to Israel..I would have equal rights there....would that be true if I was from Gaza or Palestine?" You at first claimed that was true, that a Palestinian married to an Israeli could move to Israel and have equal rights, which as you very well know is total BS. All you've done since is try to justify Israel's laws that prevent Palestinians, since expanded to include all Arabs, from living with their Israeli spouses in Israel and having equal rights the same as if an Israel married a Canadian and moved to Israel. As well there is no state of war between Palestine and Israel, Israel is occupying Palestine, not at war with Palestine. What's even worse, in my opinion at least, is that Israel no longer allows family re-unification of Palestinian families living solely in occupied Palestine and not in Israel, see http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/twilight-zone-separation-anxiety-1.370698 There is no consideration at all of a spouse's potential threat to national security in Israel in cases involving Palestinians and other Arabs like you claim, they are just banned across the board and whether or not an individual spouse is a threat to national security or not is never even considered. The lucky ones can get temporary residency cards which they have to apply for every year and which can revoked at any time for any or no reason at all, see http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4205/the-israeli-supreme-courts-decision-in-the-citizen Others are only allowed to visit their spouse and/or children for a very short period every once in a while, see http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/law-leaves-thousands-of-divided-families-in-limbo-1.407021 There's nothing wrong with arguing that Israeli policies are justified but at least get your facts right and avoid outright lying about the reality of the situation like you've done, especially since you claim to be an expert in such t
Rich you seem not to understand
something called international relations. When two nations or Political entities are in a conflict with each other it is not easy to immigrate in any conflict zone and usually they do not treat their nationals as equals neither. Very common around the world not just in Israel. Also, every state has differences in their immigration system since they are allow to control: who enters and who can stay. That is a right of any nation. Also, my area has more to do Canadian and Israeli immigration systems and in some cases I have dealt with this very issue. Each nation has the right to set their own rules as they see fit. Israel's immigration system is selective but not racist. Japan for example has very similar rules. Non-Japanese(ethic group) can not become Japanese National unless they are born there. Also, Non-Japanese even if they are married can not move to Japan on a permanently or can they become nationals because of marriage. Israel's is like this but they do allow non-Jews to have the same rights as their partner and all they have to do is prove they are in a union. Non-Jews can come to Israel as long as the know level 2 Hebrew and if they prove they will not be a burden on the state(IE: collect welfare). They can also become nationals if they join the army for 2 years. Palestinians can immigrate even if they do get married to a Israeli but they have to prove they are not a threat to national security or it is not a marriage of convenience( and yes, I have dealt with a lot of these including ones involving Palestinians ) The reason both side are at war.
Thanks Jake
Thanks Jake for pointing out that I was 100% correct, even if in a roundabout way, in my answer to the question posed, "If an Israeli man married me, a Canadian, and we moved to Israel..I would have equal rights there....would that be true if I was from Gaza or Palestine?" You claimed that if an Israeli married a person from Gaza or Palestine they would definitely have equal rights there when the reality is that Israelis married to Palestinians are prohibited from living in Israel with their Palestinian spouse. How can anyone have equal rights in a country they are prohibited from living in? Despite protesting again that an Israeli married to a Palestinian would have equal rights in Israel you finally acknowledge that "it is different for Palestinians" so the answer to Michael's question is, exactly as I said, no, if an Israel married a Palestinian they would not be able to live together in Israel and therefore do not have equal rights in Israel. You may know about Canadian immigration law, as do I, I memorized Canada's Immigration Act and all related regulations before I started to work for Immigration, you know actually doing the work of determining immigrants admissibility to Canada. Admittedly I quit working for Immigration in 1998 and haven't kept up with all the changes the Harper Cons have made to the system since then. But what you or I know about Canada's immigration laws has nothing at all to do with Israel's immigration laws which bear no resemblance at all to Canada's immigration laws. Don't believe a first hand account of an Israeli married to a Palestinian in the NY Times? Fine then go to any online Israeli newspaper and look there to see if Israeli laws allow an Israel to live with their Palestinian spouse in Israel with full equal rights. You already know the answer but go check anyways.
@parker
I wouldn't say Israel "loves" the gays parker?
If QIA marches
Pride can forget about City funds for next year. This group is so idiotic that it supports an oppressive gay-hating regime but is against a country that loves the gays, has Pride celebrations and allows gays to serve in the military. WTF

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