TORONTO (JTA) – The Canadian government cut its longtime funding to a Christian ecumenical group after accusing the Toronto-based group of being anti-Semitic.
In announcing the $7 million cut to the group Kairos — half of its annual budget — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accused the organization of "taking a leadership role in the boycott" of Israel. Kenney said that cutting its funding was one step Ottawa was taking to combat anti-Semitism.
Kenney made the announcement in Jerusalem last week at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
Kairos, the social justice arm of Canada’s Roman Catholic and major Protestant faiths, has received funding from the federal government for 35 years. It represents 11 Christian churches and organizations, and promotes "liberation theology" through advocacy, education and research programs around the world.
In a statement issued from Jerusalem, Kenney said his staunchly pro-Israel government "is working to dismantle the client relationship that existed between the government of Canada and organizations whose priority is seemingly to advocate for the legalization of banned terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as deny the Jewish people’s right to a homeland."
On its Web site, Kairos called Kenney’s remarks "false," adding that "criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism."
Kairos noted that in 2007, it "took a public position opposing sanctions and a boycott of Israel," and that it has a "clear position of support for the legitimate right of the Israeli people to a safe and secure state."
In 2005, however, it co-sponsored a controversial conference in Toronto on "Morally Responsible Investment" in Israel.
The group called for its funding to be restored.