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CAEF letter to BC Premier David Eby re: failure to defend Jewish Cabinet Minister Selina Robinson from antisemitic vitriol.

February 8, 2024

Hon. Premier David Eby,

Province of British Columbia

Legislative Buildings

Victoria, BC

Re: resignation of Selina Robinson

Dear Premier Eby;

I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Foundation (CAEF), a charitable organization with a 20 year history of confronting antisemitism and bringing awareness of this ancient hatred to the attention of the Canadian public and our various governments.

It has come to our attention that Minister Selina Robinson resigned from your Cabinet following many complaints about remarks she made during a virtual meeting with Canadian Jews, sponsored by B’nai Brith Canada, at which time she used words unacceptable to some people, to describe the land under the British Mandate for Palestine which ultimately became Israel.

We also note with serious concern the vandalism to her constituency office. This vandalism may have been associated with her remarks; however, such acts are not how we expect people to express their opinions. Harassing a member of government rises to the level in our view, of an offense to be taken seriously.

In our view, her words were an accurate description of the land prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. It is unfortunate that some in the community chose to condemn her words, to misrepresent their meaning, and to assign political intent and thus claim harm. In no way did Ms Robinson speak ill of any people or culture; she merely described the land at the time of the inception of Israel, a time when two states for two peoples was created, Israel and Transjordan.

It is our view that Ms Robinson is an important voice for the British Columbian Jewish community, and for Canadian Jewry, and that she has been falsely maligned. It is our view that despite the inordinate, unsupportable complaints against her, based solely on her remarks, she should not have been under any pressure to resign.

We are very dismayed that accusations about her and attributions about her words became so severe that she felt the need to resign and your support for her was lacking. Pressure coming from people who do not know the history of the land, the topography and its state 100 years ago, and today exercise a political bias, is an attack on the fundamental freedom of expression we are all entitled to enjoy in Canada. Clearly Ms Robinson made no statement or insinuation against any people that can be construed as an insult or bias, let alone a statement of prejudice or anti-Muslim bigotry.

We also are concerned about the impact her resignation will have on the silencing of views, and on statements of facts in this critical time, as war between Israel and Hamas continues to be used to intimidate Jewish Canadians.

In a democracy such as Canada, differing opinions should be heard. And such expression should not be subject to threats of violence or fear. Certainly, her remarks do not rise to the level that requires a resignation.

In closing, we are reminded of the words of Mark Twain, in 1867 on his visit to the land:

“…There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soli, had almost deserted the country.”

And then as has been said, the Zionists made the desert bloom.

We would therefore request that you re-consider accepting her resignation from Cabinet. We hope you will invite her back as she was elected to serve her constituency and is competent to continue to do so.

Yours truly,

Andria Spindel, Executive Director

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