Tuesday, October 2, 2012





PHOTO Immigration Minister Jason Kenney holds up papers as he talks about immigration law during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday June 20, 2012.


TORONTO (JTA) -- The University of Haifa will confer an honorary degree on Canada's immigration minister despite pleas from the Roma (Gypsy) community in Toronto to reconsider.
Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, will receive an honorary doctorate from the university on Nov. 4 at a Toronto dinner planned by the Canadian Friends of Haifa University.

In a recent letter to university officials in Israel, the Roma Community Center of Toronto alleged that Kenney "dismisses" the growing far-right persecution of Roma in Hungary.

"Why does Mr. Kenney minimize the persecution of Roma in Hungary?" the Roma center asked. "Why has he remained silent about [Hungary's] neo-Nazi Jobbik Party, which threatens Roma and Jews with its paramilitary organizations and has advocated fraternal relations with Iran?"

The letter asked the university to reconsider granting Kenney the degree.

"He insults the memory of the Roma who were murdered along with Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. Honoring Mr. Kenney would deliver the same insult and threaten to drive a wedge between Roma and Jews in Canada."

The Roma center noted that serving on the dinner tribute committee is Ezra Levant, a right-wing commentator who attacked Roma refugees in Canada on a Sept. 5 broadcast by the national Sun News television network.

Levant called the Roma "a culture synonymous with swindlers. The [terms] Gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: 'He gypped me!'

Well, the Gypsies have gypped us ... And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries."

Sun News apologized for the remarks.

In an e-mail, Amos Gaver, the University of Haifa's vice-president for external relations and resource development, told JTA that "there is no reconsidering granting Minister Kenney the degree."

Tribute committee chair Arnie Aberman said Kenney is being honored "for his steadfast position against anti-Semitism and for his solidarity with the State of Israel."

Aberman said the University of Haifa and its Canadian friends organization "take no position with respect to Canadian immigration policies. That would be improper for an Israeli university. And we will not comment on these policies."

The degree's conferral, Aberman said, "is not a statement about Canadian immigration policies."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION

Say “No” to Honorary Doctorate for Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney


The University of Haifa has decided to confer an honorary doctorate on Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, in Toronto on November 4, 2012.
The university says Mr. Kenney will receive the award “in recognition of his steadfast position against anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance,” yet his record makes a mockery of this claim.

Under his leadership the Canadian government is acting to deter asylum seekers and refugees from seeking and obtaining protection in Canada. The “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act,” passed in Parliament in June 2012, authorizes incarceration for up to a year of men, women and children over 16 who arrive in Canada in an “irregular” fashion. This echoes Canada’s refusal to admit Jewish refugees in the late 1930s (“None is Too Many”).

Under the new law, Mr. Kenney has sole discretion to determine which countries are “safe” (on a Designated Country of Origin list) without consulting human rights experts. Refugee applicants from these so-called safe countries are being denied former legal rights of appeal and live without healthcare coverage, including emergency care.

Mr. Kenney considers a growing number of claimants from democratic nations in the European Union, particularly Hungarian Roma, to be “bogus refugees.” Hungary is on the DCO list as a “safe” country, despite persecution of its Romani citizens. Kenney, who insists that Hungarian Roma experience nothing more than “difficulty,” remains silent about the extreme right-wing, anti-Roma, anti-Semitic Jobbik Party, which now holds one third of Hungary’s parliamentary seats. Its paramilitary arm and other neo-Nazi groups have targeted, beaten, intimidated and killed Romani men, women, and children, and are now targeting Jews. Yet Mr. Kenney remains silent.

Please sign our urgent petition asking the University of Haifa to rescind its decision to grant Mr. Kenney this degree.


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