Why is the Israel lobby in Canada conducting a scare-mongering political campaign against a Palestinian Canadian?

The Israel lobby has launched a full throated attack on a Palestinian Canadian, insinuating that he is an anti-semitic and dangerous terrorist. What is their evidence, and why are they doing this? And why now? OFIP Chair Peter Larson interviews Khalid Barakat in Vancouver about the attack. Read more and watch the interview.

In a full page article in the Citizen/National Post on April 29th entitled “The curious case of Khalid Barakat”, columnist Terry Glavin raises concerns about a Palestinian man living in Vancouver who he claims is “a high-ranking member of a Palestinian terrorist organization best known for dramatic airplane hijackings, and suicide bombings”.

Citing Israeli sources, Glavin suggests that Khaled Barakat is himself a terrorist, implying that perhaps he represents some kind of threat to Canada as well. He also indirectly tars Barakat with the “anti-semitism” brush, by citing allegations of anti-semitic slogans at a demonstration in Toronto, (without providing any evidence that Mr. Barakat was present or directly involved).

Canadians should view Glavin’s dramatic accusations against Mr. Barakat with scepticism for three reasons:

First, Glavin’s generally right wing views have given him a prominent spot as a regular columnist for the National Post. He is regularly cited by Bnai Brith Canada, and has participated in public lectures on behalf of Honest Reporting Canada, both key members of the Israel lobby. That does not make him wrong, of course, but readers need treat his views with caution.

Second, Gavin’s allegations rely almost entirely on Israeli sources. The Israelis have a well-known penchant for applying two negative labels –  “terrorist” and “anti-semitic” – to any person or organization which expresses opposition to their domination over the Palestinians.  Late last year, Israel’s designation of 6 Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations” was rejected out of hand by international (and even Israeli) human rights organizations and the European organizations which fund them. Israel treats any criticism even from reputable organizations like Amnesty International, as inherently “antisemitic”.

Thirdly, Mr. Barakat has been a citizen of Canada for nearly twenty years. According to Glavin, Israel has given Canadian intelligence agencies evidence of Barakat’s supposed terrorist links and activities. He also says that pro-Israel organizations like the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have even lobbied Federal ministers to act against Barakat. But so far, no charges have ever been laid against him. Why not?

Glavin finds it “inexplicable” that Canada has not arrested or expelled Barakat.

But there is a plausible explanation – that Barakat has not been arrested or expelled because he has not infringed any Canadian law, and does not represent a threat to Canada.

It seems more likely that the unsupported claims against Barakat, which Glavin repeats, are part of an elaborate political campaign of intimidation orchestrated by the Israeli embassy because it feels that Barakat’s advocacy for human rights for Palestinians is a threat to Israel’s reputation in Canada. And some of its friends in Canada, like CIJA and Bnai Brith and Gavin himself have joined the campaign. (Bnai Brith has even launched a petition calling for Mr. Barakat to be deported.)

At a time when Israel is losing the battle for public support in Canada, it is increasing its efforts to intimidate human rights defenders by labelling them as “terrorist” and “anti-semitic”.

I interviewed Khaled Barakat about his own background, and how he analyses the campaign against him.

If the National Post wants to promote a serious discussion about what it calls the “curious case of Khaled Barakat”, and why he supports human rights for Palestinians, it would be appropriate to offer Mr. Barakat comparable space in the paper to respond to what appears to be a smear campaign based on so-far unsupported allegations against him.

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org


    1. Mr. Sigman,
      Using the anti semitism accusation against anyone who criticizes Israel is losing some of its value.
      But please do keep on trying.
      If you have a specific accusation of anti-semitism to bring against me (or for that matter, against Mr. Barakat), then please bring it forward so reasonable people can make their own assessment.

    2. Oh Dear Mr Sigman. Have you run out of ideas, or is the antisemitism canard the only thing left in your arsenal?

  1. Hi Peter, Hope all is well with you. I’ve read your piece about Khalid Barakat and then looked up the Glavin article. A couple of thoughts. This sort of guilt by association stuff and innuendo in the absence of any evidence of illegal activity by Barakat is the same sort of crap that was used against Maher Arar. The way to fight it is transparency. Arar and his family fought for a public inquiry that ultimately cleared his name and forced a substantial settlement from the federal government for the complicity of Canadian agencies. Sunlight is a great disinfectant. Barakat may have missed an opportunity by declining an on the record interview with Glavin. Barakat can come back to it, however, by launching a libel suit. Just an idea. I’m also curious about Glavin’s suggestion that there is something fishy about Barakat’s status in Canada. Is he a citizen? Have a great summer, And all the best, Jeff Sallot

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Hey Jeff, thanks for this thought. I think Glavin dodged the “libel” bullet by just citing Israeli information rather than making the allegation directly. Barakat confirmed to me after the interview that he has been a Canadian citizen for nearly 20 years.

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