Immediate release, May 14
Canada should respond to Israeli violence by applying its laws
The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, Just Peace Advocates and thousands of Canadians want the federal government to apply Canadian laws concerning support for foreign militaries to help protect Palestinians from Israeli violence.
The Foreign Enlistment Act makes it illegal to induce or recruit for a foreign military and Canada Revenue Agency guidelines state that “supporting the armed forces of another country is not” a charitable activity. Yet Canadians are regularly recruited into the Israeli military and some registered Canadian charities support the IDF.
“Supporters of Israel are not exempt from Canadian law”, noted Yves Engler, a fellow of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute. “With Israel escalating its violence against Palestinians now is the time for Canadian officials to apply this country’s laws regarding support for foreign militaries.”
Within 24 hours almost 600 individuals have emailed all MPs calling on them to “Protect Palestinians from Israeli Violence by Applying Canadian Law.” Since it was launched last month a parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada has been signed by four times the number required to be read in the House of Commons.
It is a crime in Canada to recruit anyone for a foreign military. It is also a crime to aid and abet such recruitment by offering incentives and encouraging any person to serve in a foreign military.
In June United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto publicized a webinar titled “Joining the IDF”, which claimed to offer participants “everything you need and want to know about joining the IDF”. On several occasions the Israeli consulate in Toronto has advertised that they have an IDF representative available for personal appointments for those wishing to join the IDF.
According to 2017 statistics from the IDF, 230 Canadians served in the Israeli military. In 2020, according to the IDF, 9 per cent of “lone soldiers” in the Israeli military were from Canada.
“Canadians are generally appalled when they learn about illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada”, explained Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates. “They are also troubled when they discover that they are subsidizing charities supporting the Israeli military.”
“Canadians want the government to ensure that officials aren’t ignoring the Foreign Enlistment Act and charitable regulations for supporters of Israel”, added Rodman.
A number of registered Canadian charities support the Israeli military in probable contravention of Canada Revenue Agency regulations. The Jewish National Fund of Canada has openly financed numerous projects supporting the Israeli military. Other taxpayer subsidized charities such as Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel and Beit Halochem Canada (Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel) have directly or indirectly supported the IDF. In 2018, the Toronto-based charity HESEG Foundation, which was established “to recognize and honor the contribution of Lone Soldiers to Israel”, spent more than $9 million in Israel.
“Registered Canadian charities raised over a quarter billion dollars for Israel-focused projects in 2018 so it’s likely that millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidized donations support the IDF”, added Engler.