Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine mourns the passing of Father Robert Assaly

In Memoriam, Father Robert Assaly

1960 – 2023

Many of us at OFIP, and hundreds of others in Canada supporting the Palestinian cause, mourn the passing of Robert Assaly who died March 26, Sunday morning.. a rather fitting time for a priest to pass.

Robert had a very successful early career as a stockbroker, but felt the call to ordained ministry in the church. More than that he centred much of his ministry in Palestine where he was Director of the Middle East Council of Churches’ Jerusalem office.

While there he was appointed Anglican Vicar of Gaza, returning to Canada in the mid 90’s. While married with six children in Ottawa and then Montreal he co-founded the Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) in support of the Jerusalem-based centre for Palestinian Liberation Theology.

To many of us who knew him, Robert was a firebrand, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights, based deeply in his Christian faith. As Catholic mystic Thomas Merton wrote, ‘the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action’. Robert unhesitatingly put his words and faith into action and movement.

His unique surname Assaly has an interesting etymology. In some Arabic sources it means ‘honey’. In some Berber sources it means ‘rock’. Robert was honey enriching many with his compassion and empathy for those who suffer. And he was also a rock,
like St Peter, founding groups and organizations and advocates for justice and truth.

Thank you Robert Assaly for your witness and inspiration. May those of us who follow continue with our Palestine brothers and sisters and all people of goodwill on that holy road that leads to action for a just world.

The Rev’d William Roberts

On behalf of the OFIP Council of Advisors

March 27, 2023

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 Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine


  1. Steadfast, indefatigable, committed and courageous. A few words that come to mind to describe Father Robert Assaly. His death leaves a void in the ecumenical and civil society solidarity for Palestinian human rights movement. I miss you already, dear friend and mentor.

  2. I am so sorry to know about the passing of Father Assaly. He was such a powerful force behind justice and equality especially in Palestine. I am sure that his work and determination will continue and inspire many of us as we continue this difficult and important struggle.

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