A few days after the anti-BDS motion was presented in Parliament by Tony Clement, Ottawa Palestinian Canadian community leaders received threatening phone calls to their homes. Is there a link? Hard to tell. But in Israel, one Israeli cabinet minister has gone a lot farther – actually calling for ‘targeted thwarting’ of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti – which in Israel is the common Hebrew phrase for ‘killing terrorists.’
Conservative spokesman Tony Clement used rather extreme language in defense of his motion in Parliament condemning those who call for a peaceful boycott of Israel until it conforms with international law. A review of Hansard showed that the word “anti-semitic’ was used over 100 times in the debate and ‘hatred” another 92 times.
See a table of the words used by the Tories (and a few Liberals) to raise fear in attacking a peaceful protest movement: Who are the real inciters?
No evidence was produced that the movement is either anti-Semitic or hateful. But only a few days following the Parliamentary debate, Palestinian Canadian community leaders in Ottawa received threatening phone calls – one message threatened death, the other snarled “f***ing Palestinian terrorist, keep your eyes open”.
In an open letter to Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa, Burhan Shahrouri, President of the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians (APAC) wrote that on March 8th,
‘two members of our community in Ottawa received explicit death threat messages from unknown individual(s) by telephone targeting their cultural ethnicity. The two incidents have been reported to the Ottawa Police, with the assistance of APAC, and an investigation file has been opened.’
See full letter here: Mayor of Ottawa City
While it is unlikely that the ongoing police investigation will reveal a direct link between the incendiary language used by Clement and these hateful threats, there is little doubt that the extreme language used by some Conservatives has contributed to a climate of fear among both Canadian Jews and Canadians of Palestinian origin. It has encouraged some Canadian Jews to believe that the Palestinian Canadian community poses some kind of threat to them.
‘We are proud Canadians. Our community organization is like that of many other groups in Canada. We have never engaged in violence, and we definitely do not hate Jews,’ said Mr. Shahrouri. ‘But we strongly object to Israel’s continued violation of the human rights of Palestinians. And we call on our fellow Canadians to help us peacefully put pressure on Israel.’
Israeli minister implies death threat against BDS leader Omar Barghouti
However intemperate Clement’s language may have been, it pales in comparison to the words of Yisrael Katz, a member of the Israeli cabinet who recently called for ‘targeted thwarting’ of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti, whom he mentioned by name.
As Richard Silverstein explains, ‘Targeted thwarting’ is the English translation of the Hebrew term used for ‘killing terrorists’.
In an article published by Independent Jewish Voices of Australia, Barghouti points out that although the Minister’s language was deliberately oblique, the threat was very clear.
According to well known human rights lawyer Paul Champ, in Canada uttering words like that would be a criminal offense. So far, no charges have been laid against the minister in Israel.
‘In Canada that would be viewed as a “counselling” offence under the Criminal Code – ie. counselling or inciting others to commit murder.’
– Canadian human rights lawyer Paul Champ
Israel’s defenders in Canada like to claim that Canada and Israel ‘share the same values’. But in Canada, threatening to murder peaceful opposition leaders, even in a veiled way, is not accepted.
The Israeli Minister’s statements are all the more worrisome because gangs of Jewish thugs now roam the streets of Tel Aviv at night openly calling for killing Arabs. Some observers like Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy have speculated about Israel’s worrying drift toward fascism.
Agree? Disagree? Do you think I am exaggerating? Your comments always welcome if they are respectful and based on facts. Lets talk Israel Palestine.