Toronto to update anti-discrimination policy over ‘Israeli apartheid’


TORONTO (JTA) — Toronto’s municipal council passed a motion to rewrite and update its anti-discrimination policy so "Israeli apartheid" and other terms would violate city standards.

The June 15 vote came just weeks after the city’s executive committee voted to permit the funding of the Toronto Gay Pride Parade despite the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. That decision followed a report by the city manager, who ruled in a review the term "Israeli apartheid" does not violate Toronto’s anti-discrimination policies.

City Council members now want a review of the city manager’s report to ensure that events funded by the city or which take place on municipal property uphold "respect, tolerance and diversity."

The issue is "the greatest challenge facing Toronto Jewry," James Pasternak, a Jewish city councilman who introduced the motion for the review, told JTA. "It is vital that we amend the policy."

Pasternak said if the city arrives at the same decision as it did earlier, "I would find that very disturbing. He [the city manager] knows what we want. For them to come back [with the same ruling] would really be defying the will of council."

A report won’t be issued for several months — too late for this year’s Pride Parade, scheduled for July 3.

Last year, Pride received a $123,807 city grant and $245,000 worth of services, such as litter cleanup and policing.

Meanwhile, a motion is in place to withhold funding if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in this year’s march. To date, the group has not registered to take part. 

Pasternak said Queers Against Israeli Apartheid would be "thumbing their noses" at Pride and the city if it dispersed and marched as individuals instead of as a group.

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