“This is anti-Semitism!”— David Kilgour
By P.A. Sévigny
When one of the country’s leading human rights activists calls you an anti-Semite, chances are more than a few people might agree with him. That’s what happened last Saturday. Ten months after PAJU and MNA Amir Khadir began their campaign to boycott Le Marcheur, a St. Denis shoe store, because some of its stock was made in Israel, Canadian human rights activist and former federal minister David Kilgour described the boycott efforts as nothing less than blatant anti-Semitism.
“Someone indicated earlier that what is really going on here is ‘anti-Semitism’ pure and simple,” said Kilgour. As a former federal MP, Kilgour posed the question as to how the city and its law-abiding business community could stand by and do nothing while a tiny marginalized group of political zealots maintained their efforts to destroy a local business and throw all of its employees out of work and onto the street. “Is this how Quebec, this municipality and the government of Canada intend to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement now in effect on this street?”
Following their failure to intimidate Le Marcheur and Khadir’s discretization and ridicule in both English and French media, PAJU (Palestinians and Jews United) militants moved their banners down the street and are now trying to boycott NAOT — another St. Denis Street shoe store which carries an exclusive line of shoes made in Israel. As of last Saturday, Bill Sloan, PAJU president Bruce Katz and another militant wearing a Quebec Solidaire button continued to occupy their edge of the St. Denis Street sidewalk while Montreal journalist Daniel Laprès, community activist Sharon Freedman and some 25 supporters, including Kilgour and Suburban editor Beryl Wajsman, mounted their own counter-demonstration against this new militant PAJU boycott initiative.
“This is ridiculous,” said the indefatigable Freedman. “Don’t they know that over 200 Palestinians work for this company?”
During a five-minute speech, Kilgour covered a number of issues after which he once again condemned the PAJU boycott as nothing less than illogical, probably illegal in terms of freedom of commerce and intimidation and certainly a waste of time.
“Israel is, of course, not perfect, but it is a democracy with, among other things, equal rights for women all religions,” said Kilgour “No serious person can believe PAJU’s tactics will alter the hypocrisy of its claims.”
To their credit, Kilgour and Wajsman then made their way through the crowd to meet Sloan. Kilgour asked the lawyer what could be done to bring this situation to an acceptable conclusion. Sloan kept referring to an obscure text written by a Brazilian bishop. Kilgour tried to keep the conversation on track but soon gave up because it was obvious the Montreal lawyer couldn’t be bothered to answer the question. In response to Wajsman’s question about how to balance PAJU’s right of assembly with NAOT’s right to free commerce, Sloan replied, “We don’t have such a right in our constitution. And I don’t believe in freedom of commerce!”