Minister Joly, isn’t it time to call Israel on its treatment of Palestinian children?

Ottawa, October 21

Hon. Minister Joly,

On Tuesday, October 18th, I wrote to you and Prime Minister Trudeau about the case of young Shadi Khoury, a 16 year old grade 11 student in a Quaker School, taken by Israeli military in the middle of the night from his parents home in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. He was beaten, handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away before the eyes of his horrified parents. I told you he was being held in Israel’s notorious “Russian compound” without access to a lawyer or his parents.

At the time of writing, his family still did not know what the charges are against Shadi. (One of the most frequent charges Israel uses against children is that of “stone throwing”. Punishment on conviction can go as high as ten years for throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles, twice that for throwing stones at soldiers.)

Shadi Knouri, grade 11, Quaker public school, Jerusalem

I explained to you that Shadi’s violent arrest is not at all uncommon. There are hundreds of young Palestinian children in Israeli jails. Currently, 160 Palestinian children remain in Israeli prisons, most are in pre-trial detention, have limited access to any lawyers and have not been convicted of any offence.

I asked you and Mr. Trudeau to stand up for Palestinian women and children in the same way you stand up for the rights of Iranian women and children.

Three days later, you condemned the Iranian regime for its treatment of its children, framing it in sweeping moralistic terms. “Canada is appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing targeting of children”, you said. Good for you.

But you have still not said a word about Shadi Khoury, or made any comment about the Israeli regime for its treatment of Palestinian children.

The blood spattered floor after Shadi was dragged out by Israeli police

Nor, for that matter have you commented on the fact that the Israeli government raided and shut down the Ramallah offices of Defense of Children International – an organization that defends Palestinian Children in Israeli jails, on the pretext that DCI is a terrorist organization.

Last November a letter was signed by 60 full time law professors across Canada urging the Prime Minister to take action. “We have come together to urge you and your government to take immediate action to defend the work of Palestinian human rights organizations from unfair suppression by Canada’s close ally, Israel.” As of this date, no answer has been forthcoming from the Prime Minister.

Minister Joly, if you want to know more about Shadi’s case, articles have appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz. His case has been taken up by the various Christian groups including the United Church of Canada and the Christian group Friends of Sabeel North America. I urge you to direct Canada’s representative in Ramallah to attend his next appearance in court and ask to see his bruises, or talk to his lawyer.

It’s time to call Israel on its treatment of Palestinian children

Ms. Joly, the way for your government to resolve this flagrant inconsistency (which some might even characterise as hypocrisy) is simple: stand up for children all around the globe. Don’t make an exception for Israel. Be as forthright in your criticism of the Israeli regime as you are of the Iranian one in their treatment of children.

What can readers do?

Readers who agree that Canada should stand up for all children can write directly to the minister at: All you have to say is “Dear Minister, please don’t hesitate to call Israel on its brutal treatment of Palestinian children.” She will get the message.

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.

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  1. Great letter, Peter. Thanks for this. Later in the week a Palestinian teen was abducted and beaten by settlers, left by the side of the road until a taxi cab picked her up. There are far too many stories of mis-treatment of children which only adds fire to Palestinian resistance. Please, readers, contact Minister Joly. Marianna

  2. Peter, I think it shows her level of ignorance, not recognizing or really knowing the situation, in regard to Palestine/Israel. In her conditioned and biased mind, when she saw the word “Russian compound” in your letter, she instantly thought you are referring to Russia. Israeli crimes are not in her frame of mind. It’s sad to have a person like her with limited knowledge and biased , is in charge of Canadian foreign affairs. (We can’t be sure that she wrote it or even saw your letter).

    1. Hey Jake,
      thanks for sharing your thoughts. I doubt the minister will see the letter, let alone reply to it.

      But IMHO Canada’s policy toward Israel/Palestine is not decided by the minister of foreign affairs, but by the Prime Ministers office and the Liberal party. It isn’t a question of knowing the situation, its a question of counting potential votes. Joly and Trudeau will only consider changing their minds if they sense that a large number of Canadians disagree with them.

      1. I was in South Hebron Hills (Masafer Yatta area) earlier this year with an organization called EAPPI to monitor/observe and accompany Palestinians. I met with the Canadian Political and Trade Officer from Ramallah and described to her much of what I had seen to that point. She did assure me that their office is providing the Federal Government will all of the information they need to make the right decisions and left it at that. Since returning, I’ve met with my own MP (Andy Fillmore) as well has Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin. While they seemed to be sympathetic, I’m not confident there will be any change forthcoming.

      2. Hey Bill, good for you. Keep up the gentle pressure.

        I imagine that our local officials keep telling Ottawa what is going on.

        But IMHO Canada’s policy toward Israel/Palestine is not decided by the minister of foreign affairs, but by the Prime Ministers office and the Liberal party. It isn’t a question of knowing the situation, its a question of counting potential votes and potential sources of funding.
        At the moment I think CIJA can probably mobilise 10X as many emails and more than 10X as much money as those who are interested in Palestinian rights can do. Joly and Trudeau will only consider changing their minds if they sense that a large number of Canadians disagree with them.

  3. Mr. Larson. You are so anti semitic, you stink. It is so obvious how much you hate Israelis and Jews. You are the most prejudiced person, I have ever come across. You make Kanye West look like a Jew lover. Palestinians have killed Jewish children, but that doesn’t matter to you. You are a disgusting human being.

    1. Hello Mr. Ehrenworth, Really? If I am the “most prejudiced person you have ever come across’, you must lead a charmed life. I don’t hate Jews. But I do strongly object to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, including children.

      But… apart from saying you don’t like me, do you have a comment on the post? Do you agree that there are hundreds of Palestinian kids in Israeli jails? And that they are treated abonimably? Do you know how many Israeli kids are in Palestinian jails? Well…. none actually.

    2. Mr. Ehrenworth,

      As a Jew, I have never felt hatred when I talked with Peter Larson or read things he has posted. I sense a concerned human being who cares about all of the people in Palestine/Israel. However, whenever I have read anything that you have contributed to this list, I sense hatred. That hatred seems so strong and so broad that that I feel that it is directed at me and all who value the discussions in this forum. Is that the message that you are intending to send?

      Most (not all) of those who contribute to this form seem to want human rights to extend to all humans. Do you agree?

  4. Good points Peter. If only justice in the world could come more easily. I feel deeply upset about Shadi Khoury and his family.
    As you know Ministers Joli and Trudeau, and others, have already heard from me.

  5. Dear Mr . Ehrenworth. IMO Peter is a fine person who cares deeply about human rights . Your personal attacks on his character do little to enhance the conversation on the Israel/ Palestine issue.

    1. Mr. Chappell. Larson is anything but a fine person. He hates Israel, Israelis and Jews as well as Palestinians who cooperate and work in Israel at wages much much higher than Palestinians pay Palestinians. How can you defend Larson. Look At the history of his remarks. I think my attack on him does a lot to enhance the biased and prejudice shown towards the Palestinian/Israeli Cause

  6. Well done Peter. Unfortunately when it comes to Israeli HR abuses the conversation descends into defending oneself against antisemitism and not the issue at hand. Critics of abuses in other countries are defenders of the victims, not islamophobes, sinophobes, anti Russian etc. it’s a sign of desperation that Israeli defenders have to resort to this same knee jerk response to every criticism of Israel. There’s a very clear solution. End the occupation and accept Palestinians and Israelis as equals deserving of equal rights. Stop framing the conversation as an existential struggle between “us”and “them”.

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