“Israel’s values are Canada's values,” Volpe said, and his statement was supported by Baird when he added that slurring Israel with an apartheid label “is really an attack on Canadian society and Canadian values.”
Volpe called the smear campaign “offensive” and identified it as an attempt to foreclose debate by intimidating those with opposing views, while Baird called this misapplication of “apartheid” an abuse of free speech with no basis in reality and delegitimizing Israel its only goal.
“We know how evil apartheid was in South Africa. It is wrong and outrageous to equate what happened in South Africa with Israel,” said Baird. "Israel alone, of all middle eastern countries, respects the same liberal democratic practices and values as we do, such as protecting the rights of minorities, gays and women."
Baird suggested if Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) is going to claim those standards and earn a country a “toxic” label like “apartheid,” they must feel the same way about Canada.
According Catherine Chatterley, founding director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, IAW was conceived by a coalition of 170 Palestinian organizations with the aim of publicizing their strategy of ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS), which was modeled after Black South Africans’ fight against apartheid.
In her article, A history of Israeli Apartheid Week, which appeared in the National Post on March 3, Chatterly recounted, “By the end of the 1980s, 25 countries, including the United States, Canada and the UK, had passed laws placing trade sanctions on South Africa. This is the model chosen by pro-Palestinian activists today to dismantle so-called ‘Zionist racism’ in the Middle East. By framing Israel as a racist apartheid state, BDS is presented as an entirely appropriate and morally correct plan of action.”
The events is not the only response by students to Israel Apartheid Week events in Canada this year. Students at Queen's Universityto speak on the student body's behalf when he took anti-Israel positions in a published letter.