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Instances of antisemitism stemming from anti-Israel protests across Canada have prompted a petition aiming to outlaw popular slogans heard at anti-Israel rallies as hate speech. 

The e-petition, which closes for signatures at the end of this week, calls on the federal government to provide clarity on whether rallying cries such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free,” “Globalize the Intifada,” and “Long Live Oct. 7” contravene sections of the Criminal Code concerning the willful promotion of hatred.

The e-petition claims that the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” violates section 319(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

“Everyone who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction,” reads the Criminal Code of Canada.

Petition e-4960 opened for signatures on Apr. 25, 2024, and was sponsored by Independent MP Kevin Vuong. The e-petition closes on Saturday.

“Students across Canada are being attacked. In what world is that okay?” asked Vuong. 

While the e-petition seeks to clarify the legality of hateful slogans, it also calls on the Government of Canada to convene a national summit on antisemitism in Canada before June 21, 2024.

Despite the e-petition not focusing specifically on university campuses, Vuong shared a post to X on May 15, featuring stories of students who had been subject to antisemitism on their campuses and in their everyday lives, calling on people to sign the e-petition.

He posted again to X on Tuesday, where one of the students, Laura Barkel, told her story for almost five minutes about the antisemitism she’s faced, which has skyrocketed since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Barkel gave numerous examples of antisemitism that she’d encountered.

“It’s too bad Hitler didn’t finish what he started, or you and your family would be dead,” one person said to her while attending an anti-Israel protest on her campus. She said three security guards from her school sat idly by and watched it happen, doing nothing.

“I am scared to just walk around myself in the city now,” said Barkel.

Other students shared their stories in the first video of their harrowing experiences of antisemitism on campus and around their local cities.

One student, Jaime, said that students played with gas in the science room, telling her that was how her ancestors died and how she would die.

Samantha, another student, said that there were death threats with her name on them spanning six flights of stairs and threats of sexual assault against her mother.

“That’s the whole reason why people are saying ‘Never again is now,’” said another student, Daniel Brown.

“What you’ve heard these students talk about are things that no rational, decent, normal person would say or do. If someone hates someone for being Jewish, they’re going to hate me for being Chinese, and they’re going to hate someone else,” said Vuong.

“We can’t allow this normalization of hate that we’re seeing on our campuses, on the streets of our cities, and across the country. We need to draw a line in the sand,” added Vuong.

The e-petition notes that the U.S. House of Representatives voted 377 to 44 in favour of deeming the slogan antisemitic and condemning it. The e-petition added that the slogan has been banned in Germany.

Canadian Women Against Antisemitism, a grassroots movement seeking a world where violence and hate for Jews is not accepted, were vouching to get the e-petition to 10,000 signatures.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the e-petition has 11,447 signatures. It will remain open for four days, until Saturday.