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Jewish group asks Pride to ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (TORONTO STAR) Daniel Dale 06/12/12) Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1210370--jewish-group-asks-pride-to-ban-queers-against-israeli-apartheid
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A Jewish gay and lesbian group has asked a Pride Toronto arbitration panel to ban the activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from the festival.
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QuAIA plans to march in Pride’s signature parade on July 1. The Jewish group, Kulanu Toronto, filed a complaint on Friday with the festival’s arm’s-length dispute resolution body.
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The dispute resolution chair, lawyer Douglas Elliott, said he doesn’t know whether the three-member arbitration panel will be able to render its decision in time for the parade.
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“It will depend to some extent on the parties to the complaint and how quickly they are able respond,” Elliott said Tuesday.
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City council voted last week to condemn the use of the phrase “Israeli apartheid.” But it also decided to give Pride a $124,000 grant whether or not QuAIA is allowed to participate.
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Kulanu said in the complaint that QuAIA’s “behaviour and rhetoric are hurtful to Jewish parade participants and to supporters of Israel.” Kulanu also said Jewish gays and lesbians find the analogy between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa false and offensive.
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“QuAIA is hijacking the parade with their anti-Israel propaganda. Their hateful, hostile messaging alienates the people of Toronto and has no place in a parade that celebrates inclusion, tolerance, and diversity,” Kulanu executive director Justine Apple said in an email.
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Kulanu alleged in the complaint that QuAIA violates the anti- discrimination policy that applies to recipients of city grants. However, the city’s top bureaucrat, city manager Joe Pennachetti, ruled last year that QuAIA does not violate the policy. Pennachetti also said there is “no legal precedent” to suggest the phase “Israeli apartheid” constitutes a hate crime or a violation of the provincial human rights code.
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QuAIA says the phrase is factually appropriate, that the group has never preached hate, and that Pride has a long history as a forum for political expression. Banning QuAIA would set a “precedent of censorship,” spokesperson Tony Souza said Tuesday.
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“All we are asking is for justice and equality for Palestinian queers and for Palestinians. That’s our point. So they can make a complaint, but it doesn’t stand,” Souza said.
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“People are uncomfortable with the term ‘Israeli apartheid.’ If you’re uncomfortable with the message, should you ban it?” he said. “There are all sorts of social issues that have been dealt with in the parade, and there are always people who are uncomfortable with stuff.” (© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2012 06/12/12)
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