Canadian politics

Prime minister owes human rights activist an apology

Open letter to federal party leaders who 'smeared' Dimitri Lascaris
Photo: World Bank

The following is an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh signed by over 360 individuals and organizations including Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, Christopher Hedges, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former Israeli Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira. A full list of signatories is at the bottom.

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We, the undersigned community leaders, academics, writers, lawyers, unionists, anti-racist and human rights activists are greatly disturbed that Prime Minister Trudeau and prominent members of opposition parties, including Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, and NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière, have smeared prominent lawyer, human rights activist and journalist Dimitri Lascaris as an anti-Semite. Mr. Lascaris has a long and admirable record of defending human rights, including the rights of Palestinians. We stand shoulder to shoulder with him against these malicious and baseless attacks.

On Thursday September 6, 2018, Mr. Lascaris called Liberal MPs to denounce death threats made by B’nai Brith supporters against the prime minister and several other MPs seemingly targeted purely because of their Muslim and/or racialized identities. A video posted online by Mr. Lascaris shows the B’nai Brith supporters saying:

I just think we should bring in the death penalty. And that would resolve a lot of problems.… Justin Trudeau be the first one to go. I’d love to see him. And [MP Maryam] Monsef . And Iqra Khalid. And Ahmed Hussen. And Omar Alghabra… And Singh, Singh, let’s make him sing, you know, as he walks toward the guillotine!

Instead of condemning those who called for the prime minister and other politicians to face the “guillotine,” B'nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and our Canadian political leaders smeared the individual who was attempting to draw attention to the death threats. They have accused Mr. Lascaris of anti-Semitism for sending a tweet questioning the failure of two prominent Liberal MP supporters of B’nai Brith to denounce the video. In that tweet, Lascaris said, “Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and colleagues in the Liberal caucus.” He was clearly criticizing the MPs for their political records of unequivocal support for Israel, not their religious identities.

We unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. But the use of the charge of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel’s policies endangers vitally important freedom of expression. As a joint statement released in July 2018 by 40 Jewish organizations from 15 countries states, “it is more important than ever to distinguish between the hostility to or prejudice against Jews on the one hand and legitimate critiques of Israeli policies and system of injustice on the other.”

Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of the Palestinian people are flagrant and severe. They are well documented by international institutions and organizations, including the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. It is bad enough that these violations have been permitted to continue with barely any condemnation from the Canadian government; it is even worse that government officials have now chosen to actively participate in the denigration of the defenders of Palestinian rights and international law.

We call on Prime Minister Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh to retract their slanderous statements and to commit themselves to investigating the circumstances bearing on Mr. Lascaris’s important tweet of September 6, 2018.

We also call on the Canadian government to immediately impose both an arms embargo and economic sanctions on the State of Israel until such time as it brings itself into compliance with international legal norms bearing on human rights.

Signed,

Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona, MIT Emeritus

Roger Waters, songwriter, singer and Pink Floyd co-founder

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Northern Ireland

Leo Panitch, Professor Emeritus, York University

Christopher Lynn Hedges, journalist and visiting Princeton University lecturer

Yonatan Shapira, former Israeli Airforce rescue pilot

Canadian Union of Postal Workers - Syndicate des travailleurs et travailleuses

Colonel Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom Flotilla and Veterans for Peace

David Heap, People for Peace, London, Ontario

Yves Engler, writer and political activist

Yudit Ilany, Parliamentary Consultant and Photographer, Israel

Bruce Katz, Palestinian and Jewish Unity

Bernie Hammond, Professor Emeritus, King’s University College, Western University

Sid Shniad, Member, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Rev. Steve Berube, Chair, United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Isreal

Scott Weinstein, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Canadian Peace Congress

Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, Aucklund, New Zealand

John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Dr. Jeremy Wildeman, University of Bath

Kathy Wazana, filmmaker

Dr. Majed Khraishi

Rabbi David Mivasair

Jim Manly

Eva Manly

Richard T. G. Walsh, Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Ronnie Barkan, BDS activist, Tel Aviv

Ethan Cox, Ricochet Media

Socialist Action / Ligue pour l'Action socialiste

Cy Gonick, Canadian Dimension Magazine

Nadia Abu-Zahra, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa

Dr. Maria Nikolakaki, University of Peloponnese

Judith Deutsch, Independent Jewish Voices

Dr. James Deutsch

Dr. Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto

Claude Leostic, President of the French Platform of NGOs for Palestine

Peter Chidiac, Professor, University of Western Ontario

Christo El Morr, Professor, York University

Dr. Ken Dent MD, Doctors of BC

Dr. Gary Kinsman, Professor Emeritus, Laurentian University

Charlotte Kates, international coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Barry Weisleder, NDP Socialist Caucus

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Freedom Flotilla, Spain

Maureen Korp, PhD

Gordon D. Gosse M.D. FRCP(C)

Grant Penton, CEO, Ottawa West-Nepean Green Party Electoral District Association

Sue Goldstein, United Jewish People’s Order

SandraLaya Ruch, Jewish Liberation Theology Instutute

Stephen Ellis, lawyer

James Benham, lawyer

Robert Massoud, Zatoun and Beit Zatoun

Reuben Roth, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Margaret Rao, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Chandler Davis, University of Toronto

Wendy Goldsmith

Fareed Khan, Rohingya Human Rights Network

Irwin Oostindie, W2Media

Paul S. Graham, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Ed Lehman, Regina Peace Council

Malcolm Guy, International League of Peoples’ Struggles

George Jacoby, Global Affairs Middle East Specialist (retired)

Ismail Zayid, Canada Palestine Association

Ehab Latoyef, McGill University

Judy Goldschmidt, Mid-Islanders for Justice & Peace in the Middle East

Robert Assaly, Canadian Friends of Sabeel

Nora El Taji, Canadian Palestinian Foundation of Quebec

Wendy Gichuru, Catholics for Just Peace in the Holy Land

Joe Catron, journalist

Tyler Levitan

(Rev.) Curtis Marwood

Rehab Nazzal

Torstein Dahle, Department of Business Administration, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

K.N.I. Bell (BSc MSc PhD)

Charles Yin, MD/PhD(C)

John Turnbull

Emilio Alvarez

Timothy Wiley Morris

Karen DeVito

Brian De Matos

Nikolaos Balaskas

Saul Bottcher

Zaki Choudhary

Wala Al-Soofi

Sabrina Fuqhaa

Sami Karaman

Ashoke Dasgupta

Henry Evans-Tenbrinke

Jeanne To-Thanh-Hien

Gerri Mehlenbacher

Valentina Capurri

Mohammed Alshalalfeh

B. Ross Ashley

Suzanne Weiss

Lois Thomson

Chantal Touzel

Corey David

Aiman Shakra

Denis Rancourt

Mitchell Shore

Mona Balche

Khaled Mouammar

Glen Hamilton

Allan Finney

Miriam Meir

J. Rossy

Rosalia Ramirez

Amal Youssef

Vaska Tumir

Brian Robinson

Firas Abu Errub

Hani Abushomar

David Peters

Louise Slattery

John Mark Robertson

Peter R Lake MD

Anne Streeter

Allan Mcrae

Louis Semaan

Susan Oehler

Nadia Shoufani

Kay Basham

Alyssa Saleh

Owen Ford

Barbara Burrows

Sanjeeda Bano

Robert Paoletti

Nader Hashemi

Syed Imtiaz Ahmad

Omar Ramahi

Ali Mallah

Mohammad Fadel

Jeffrey Ashford

Tanzil Islam

Amal Chamas-Ashford

Tom Sandborn

Shahaina Siddiqui

Itrath Syed

Peter Shebib

Khadijah Kanji

Robbie Rosenstand

Lianne Payne

Harold Shuster

Harriet Zaidman

Murray Goldenberg

Naniece Ibrahim

Sam Arnold

Rosemary Hnatiuk

Jose Vaillancourt

Michael Anthony Welch

Joan Jarvis

Mark Kosatsky

Andrew Taylor

Carolyne Epp-Fransen

Gordon Epp-Fransen

Errol Semple

Diana Epp-Fransen

Maryanne Mutch

Gordon Arnold

Carrie Martens

Tusia Kozub

Dean Peachey

Candice Bodnaruk

Marguerite Warner

Ron Halldorson

Paul Lynch

Anita Block

Diana Ralph

George F. Kirkman

Farida Fareh

Ahmed Ahmed

Constantine Kritsonis

Bader Abu-Zahra

Nahla Abdo

Jake Javanshir

Eric Mills

Annette Lengyel

Lynn Hutchinson Lee

Allen Gunderson

Wolfe Erlichman

Walter Thomas Beckett

Helen Riordon

Lesley Levy

Sasha Lofquist

Patricia Mercer

Carol Hunsberger

Dirka Prout

Des Orf

P. Papoutsis

Catherine McLean

Doris Ghannam

Eva Meyer

The Oakville Palestinian Rights Association

Helena Ruken

Carolyn Murray

Anthony Jones

Abram Bergen

John Warkentin

Sara Barker

S. Rayes

Anne Gehman

Karim Naser

John Liss

Jim Christiansen

Mohamed Bhabha

Valentina Capurri

Maryam Nassar

Christopher Assad

Patricia Hayward

Eric Walberg

Norman Perrin

Walter Brooker

Reg McQuaid

Erwin Dreessen

Susan Little

Ali Mallah

Kalin Stacey

Evert Hoogers

Ira Rabinovitch

Jamie Kneen

Lynette Jeursen

Hassan Husseini

Siraj Ali

Denis Lemelin

Husain Modjtehedi

Muhammed Hamou

Walid Elawar

Kurban Versi

Cymry Gomery

Masha Knox

Raji Saad

Helga Mankovitz

Mary Hart

Ellen Lindeen

Bill Skidmore

Ameena Sultam

People For Peace London

Ed Corrigan

Dr. Nazih Khatatba

Sabrina Fuqhaa

Saad Sadi

Sabrina Fuqhaa

Ahmad Hayek

Rahmeh Mansour

Dani Murphy

David Janzen

Saadeh Soudah

Elizabeth Guthrie

Glenna Johnson

Valerie Prat

Susan Breeze

Dave Szollosy

Elizabeth Pickett

Jeff Hanks

Robin Boodle

Evert Hoogers

Anita MacLean

Patrick Furey

Jean Warren

Scott Harris

Najat Bsieso

Sheila Sonder

Murray Lumley

Ameer Daad

John Huot

Corey David

Ronnie Boisvert

James N. Von Riesen

Lisa Ma

Rachel Thevenard

Brenda McDonald

Archie Kennedy

Heidi Hoffmann

Khalil Tarhuni

Basel Abukhater

Amin El maoued

Adnan Chahbar

Roger Fowler

Kay Von Riesen

Palestinian Association Of Hamilton

Sael Hassan

Rebecca Coulter

Liz Pearce

Nyla Matuk

Gail Miller

Patricia Palulis

Debbie Hubbard

Monira Kitmitto

Wolfe Erlichman

Fiona McMurran

Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

John Wilson

Gaetan Bouchard

Lois Thimson

Afia Bandali

Joey Iozzo

Marion Pollack

Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver

Alan Strid

Anne Butt

Rod Morley

Fatima Chahbar

Gerri Mehlenbacher

Charlotte Kates

Ramona Dawe

Maria Elena Mesa

Valerie Hembruff

Samer Albirawi

Sanaa Abu Hejleh

Saja Albirawi

Zaid Albirawi

Yaqin Albirawi

Roia Albirawi

Frank Holden

Asuncia Estrigana

Niaz Salimi

Jane Weeks

Karen Tzventarny

CAPJPO-Europalestine

Antoine Bustros

Ron Benner

Laura Strang

Owen Ford

Ben Losman

Lynn Henderson

Dalia Alkhadra

Lenora Yarkie

Vicki Perkins

Peter Burjorjee

Naheed Gilani

Mark Ayyash

Travis Frampton

Linda Tranter

Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace

Brenda Dolling

Samaa Elibyari

Luke John Morgenroth

Yvonne Schmitz

Wendy Knelsen

Rahmeh Mansour

Gary Porter

Bidi Sam

Jenny Stimac

Melia Helson

Mona Kadri

Socialist Project

Naima Hanafi

Kieran Devine

Betsy Odegaard

Marie-France Arismendi

Matthew Sloly

Carolyn L. Herbert

Rick Odegaard

Diana Chaplin

Abdulla Albaz

Irene MacInnes

Jim Sugiyama

Linda Belanger

Rosemary Williamson

Peter Driftmeier

Nabil Nassar

Siraj Ali

Robert Dodd-Aldred

Dalia Jarir Alkhadra

Timothy Wiley Morris

Ann Kittredge

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