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Canadian Jewish groups protest confab that gives platform to BDS

Critics say at least 20 events at the public-funded World Social Forum promote boycott of Israel, peddle conspiracy theories about 9/11

Poster for the World Social Forum, scheduled for August 9-14, 2016. (YouTube/Foro social mundial)
Poster for the World Social Forum, scheduled for August 9-14, 2016. (YouTube/Foro social mundial)

MONTREAL — Canadian Jewish groups are protesting public sponsorship of an anti-globalization conference giving a major platform to pro-BDS and even 9/11 conspiracy theory voices.

The August 9-14 World Social Forum is due to bring 10,000 delegates to Montreal.

Critics are pointing to at least 20 conference activities that promote boycotting Israel or blame the West for the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001.

Sponsors include the Quebec government, the City of Montreal, major unions, and McGill University.

“Public funding, when granted, must come with the responsibility to ensure that it is not used to promote hatred and discrimination,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Rabbi Reuben Poupko wrote in The Gazette.

“That our tax dollars are going to fund in any way a podium for the likes of self-proclaimed ‘Bolsheviks’ and conspiracy theorists is deeply troubling,” Poupko said.

B’nai Brith Canada also sees parts of the conference as possibly anti-Semitic.

The World Social Forum was founded 15 years ago in Brazil as a meeting place for civil society organizations, but 2016 is the first time the event is being held in North America.

Subjects to be addressed range from xenophobia to the environment to apartheid.

In the wake of pre-conference Jewish protests, the World Social Forum deleted a listing on its website of the Canadian government as sponsor, as well as a cartoon on the site seen as anti-Semitic.

The Jewish Defense League has promised to come to Montreal to protest the conference.

One provincial political party, Québec Solidaire, criticized Ottawa for denying entrance visas to 200 participants for what it sees as no legitimate reasons.

But Immigration Canada said all visitors to Canada must meet the requirements for temporary residence. “The onus is on the applicant,” it said.

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