In Canada and Israel, death threats against Palestinian human rights activists

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.


  1. Israel’s insanity must be stopped. We have to focus upon this crises extending back, at least, to 1948.

  2. I thought that the Canadian legislative was a beacon of hope and humanity. I would dare any Canadian parliamentarian to come and live in the occupied territories for one day. Checkpoints, walls, land grabs, destruction of livelihoods, destruction of homes and rhe list goes on and on. Palestians want to live like everone else but Israel has been and continues to destroy this dream. Whoever thinks Israel wants peace is either blind or stupid. BDS is what the international community wanted from Palestinians. A peaceful mean to stop israeli aggression and now we are told it’s anti-Semitism. It is not. Open your eyes world. The world said never again. Never again not only for jews but for all humans. Enough is enough.

    1. Hey Marwan,
      I understand your frustration. Many of them know your reality. If I were you, I would invite Canadian parliamentarians to come to visit you in the WB. Offer to show him or her around. They will see what you see, learn what its like. I think ‘ahlan wasalan’ is better than ‘Daring’ them to come. It better reflects the welcoming Palestinian attitude I see every time I go anywhere in Palestine – from Gaza to Hebron to Nazareth. Best.

    2. BDS can’t succeed. But even if it could what it would leave behind is a wasteland of chemical and nuclear pollution from the various wars that would result. There wouldn’t be some destructions of homes, all or almost all of them would be destroyed. There wouldn’t be diminished hope of livelihood there would be none — while it is doubtful that there would be enough population left to starve to death if there is that’s what the livelihood would be in a post Israel, Palestine. Imagine Libya with much deeper tribal hatreds and thermonuclear, chemical and viral-biological weapons rather than just light infantry.

      There is no means to stop “Israeli aggression” while preserving the population of the West Bank. You can either accommodate “Israeli aggression” or have destruction of homes, land and livelihood far beyond even 1947-9.

      Of course Israel wants peace. Everyone wants peace. The Israel that exists today is a product of circumstance same as any other country. What Israel has said is they want the territory. For Israel that territory is a vital national interest worth killing and dying for. For Canada which government rules the West Bank will never be a vital national interest worth dying for.

      The Palestinian people in the West Bank have a bad situation. Provinces of states capable of maintaining order generally make it unpleasant to be in a rebellion against them. Ask the people of the South Eastern United States about how humane the North’s response was to their rebellion, and they weren’t even asking for anything as strong as condition (1) much less (2) and (3). The best way to create a good situation is to come to a reasonable accommodation with the de-facto government of the West Bank which accommodates both of your respective needs.

      Israel is helped not harmed by a vibrant West Bank economy. Israel is helped not harmed by good quality housing being the norm. Israel is helped not harmed by quality infrastructure. Israel is helped not harmed by a free flow of goods within their territory. Almost everything you want is consistent with what they want.

      You want to end these problems create a win-win not a win-lose.

  3. Tony Clement is a Jew by birth – not only is he a traitor, he is a thief …he defrauded Canadians of $60 million and watched as federally employed lawyers over-billed Canadians – this jackass should be in jail not promoting an Apartheid state

    1. Dear Joseph,
      I dont know if you are anti-semitic or not, but most decent Canadians would interpret it that way.

      It does not matter whether Mr. Clement is Jewish, Muslim or Christian. What is important are the ideas he promotes. Unfortunately, we know Jews, Christians and Muslims who support those views. When you make comments like this, i am afraid you reinforce the idea that those that support Palestinian human rights, and BDS, are motivated by anti-semitism.

      I’m afraid you discredit yourself in the eyes of decent Canadians by such comments. But what is even worse, is that you discredit the legitimate struggle of Palestinians for their human rights.

      Please do not post these kinds of racist thoughts on my blog again. PL

  4. Did you send this to Liberal MP’s? they should know what is happening.



  5. Humans are human all over the world – there is no room for classification by colour, sex, religion or anything else that divides us.

    Of all the people in all the world the Israeli’s know the effects of ethnic cleansing – which is what is happening right now.

    How would any western nation react if this was Canada building walls, demolishing people’s communities to eliminate them and make more room for more of ‘us’?

    The situation in the Middle East will never end as long as Israel continues to push their weight around the entire globe.

    Where are the human rights activists, who is going to stand up for the human suffering?

    None of these comments are anti-Semitic (what would anti-arab be called) or hateful.
    These are the facts.

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