New “Antisemitism” Envoy’s Record of Anti-Palestinian Bigotry

Who is Canada’s new antisemitism envoy?

At a big apartheid lobby convention in Ottawa last week Justin Trudeau’s government announced its new Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. Deborah Lyons will replace Irwin Cotler in a position the Liberals created three years ago.

Cotler used the platform and public funds allocated to the envoy to defend Israeli apartheid and said he sought out Lyons to replace him. Apparently, Cotler wanted an anti-Palestinian non-Jew to take over in a position designed to entrench apartheid.

Canada’s Ambassador to Israel from 2016 to 2020, Lyons has an anti-Palestinian track record. In January 2020 Lyons held an event at the embassy in Tel Aviv to celebrate Canadians fighting for Israel. They invited all 78 Canadians in the Israeli military to an event to demonstrate the embassy’s appreciation. Referring to non-Israelis who join the IDF, Lyons told the Jerusalem Post, “Canadian lone soldiers are a particularly special group … This is something we want to do on a yearly basis to show our support.” At the event Lyons’ said, “we both share a love of Canada and a love of Israel. We at the embassy are very proud of what you’re doing.”

Through an access to information request Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates received 150 pages of email messages between Lyons and other Canadian officials who organized the pizza party for lone soldiers. The diplomats under Lyons supervision worked on it for months and said their objective was to boost the morale of Canadians in Israel’s occupation force after a lone soldier committed suicide.

It’s outrageous that Canadian diplomats celebrated those humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints in the West Bank, firing on protesters in Gaza and bombing Syria in violation of international law.

That a Canadian ambassador instigated a pizza party for Canadians fighting in another country’s military is outrageous. But it reflects Lyons’ anti-Palestinian tenure.

In an October 2019 story titled “Is Canada’s Ambassador to Israel an Anti-Palestinian Racist?” Dimitri Lascaris reported on 423 tweets and retweets issued by Lyons: “In those tweets: Lyons has disseminated fifteen condemnations of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis, but not once has she condemned or expressed a modicum of concern about an attack by Israelis on Palestinians; On only one occasion did Lyons tweet or retweet a comment that was remotely critical of Israel; On September 19, Lyons praised Israel’s former President Shimon Peres — a war criminal — as a ‘great man;’ Lyons tweeted or retweeted 24 tweets by or about CIJA and/or the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), whose core function is to promote the Israeli government’s agenda in Canada; By contrast, Lyons has tweeted or retweeted only one tweet from a pro-Palestinian organization; that tweet was issued by Jewish Voice for Peace, but it related to a terrorist attack in New Zealand and had nothing to do with Israel’s relentless abuse of Palestinian human rights; and Lyons retweeted a tweet praising Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, a racist ideology. Yet Lyons’ one tweet that was modestly critical of Israel’s government did not relate to the settlements, annexation or Israel’s wanton murder and maiming of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. Rather, that tweet was an expression of the Canadian government’s purported ‘regret’ that Israel had unilaterally terminated the mandate of a temporary observer force in the Palestinian city of Hebron, where Israel is brazenly committing the crime of apartheid.”

Based on her record as ambassador to Israel it appears Canada’s new Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism is an anti-Palestinian racist.

Yves Engler is the author of 12 books. His latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People's History of the Canadian Military . Read other articles by Yves.