Faisal Bhabha: “You can’t be a Zionist and claim to care about Palestinian human rights”

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Faisal Bhabha Photo: YouTube Centre for Free Expression

On Wednesday June 10, 2020 the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) held a virtual forum titled “Fighting Anti-Semitism Or Silencing Critics Of Israel: What’s Behind The Push For Governments To Adopt The IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] Definition Of Anti-Semitism.” the event was co-sponsored by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and moderated by Bernie Lucht, the Executive Producer of CBC Radio’s Ideas from 1984-2012 and currently aSenior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto.


  • Faisal Bhabha, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and Former Vice-chair, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Faisal Bhabha is also the legal adviser of the National Council and Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the chair of the NCCM National Security Policy Committee.
  • Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Mosaic Institute, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Paloma Foundation
  • Richard Marceau, Vice President, External Affairs and General Counsel, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
  • Sheryl Nestel, Independent Jewish Voices

Here are excerpts from the debate:

Question: The French people of Quebec are distinct people entitled to self-determination and the rest of Canada accommodates this view without labeling this movement as racist. Why is not Zionism different? Is this not relevant to the topic at hand today?

Faisal Bhabha: I think the analogy there is, you know, French Canadian nationalism does have a history of racism to the extent that it pretends that the indigenous people of Quebec don’t exist, and in that exact same way Zionism pretends or wishes that the Palestinian people do not exist. And it frankly doesn’t give a damn about the Palestinian people and that’s why you can’t be a Zionist and claim to care about Palestinian human rights and Palestinian self-determination at the same time. I think French Canadian nationalism has the same problem, and I think French-Canadian nationalists have attempted but I don’t think sufficiently, not yet anyway, to articulate a truly just vision for what their, how their nationalism could accommodate important issues of indigenous justice.

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