It has been a long-standing tactic to label the accusation of Israel as an apartheid state as hate speech. But recently, a City of Toronto report concluded that the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) does not promote hatred or discrimination in its use of the phrase “Israeli Apartheid”.
The accusation of apartheid is a political one. It can be argued against in a civilized manner. Facts can be presented for and against it, elaborate arguments can be made about it. It does not dehumanize the accused, first and foremost because it is raised against an institution, a system, a state. And just like in S. Africa, Israeli apartheid can be reformed.
The accusation of hate speech on the other hand is a mystifying one. It is a direct accusation of anti-semitism. It implies irrationality and “toxicity” on behalf of the accused, an accused who is now a specific person. There can be no arguing with an irrational person like that, dialog is stopped in its tracks, it’s “war on terror”, “with us or against us”.
The City of Toronto report is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope voices of reason such as these reach the high profile politicians who have been moving in the exact opposite direction.