MONTREAL (JTA) – Canadian Jewish groups are protesting public sponsorship of an anti-globalization conference that is giving a major platform to anti-Israel and 9/11 conspiracy theory voices.
The Aug. 9-14 World Social Forum is due to bring 10,000 delegates to Montreal.
Critics are pointing to at least 20 conference activities that promote boycotting Israel or blame the West for the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sponsors include the Quebec government, the City of Montreal, major unions and McGill University.
“Public funding, when granted, must come with the responsibility to ensure that it is not used to promote hatred and discrimination,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Rabbi Reuben Poupko wrote in the Montreal Gazette. “That our tax dollars are going to fund in any way a podium for the likes of self-proclaimed ‘Bolsheviks’ and conspiracy theorists is deeply troubling.”
B’nai Brith Canada also said parts of the conference are possibly anti-Semitic.
The World Social Forum was founded 15 years ago in Brazil as a meeting place for civil society organizations. This year, the event is being held in North America for the first time.
Subjects to be addressed include xenophobia, the environment and apartheid.
In the wake of pre-conference Jewish protests, the World Social Forum deleted a listing on its website of the Canadian government as a sponsor, as well as a cartoon on the site seen as anti-Semitic.
One provincial political party, Québec Solidaire, criticized Ottawa for denying entrance visas to 200 participants without what it considered legitimate reason.
But the Canadian immigration authority said all visitors to Canada must meet the requirements for temporary residence. “The onus is on the applicant,” the authority said.