The host of the Parliament Hill meeting isn’t talking. And the guests that were portrayed alongside invitee Nazih Khatatba –whose Mississauga-based newspaper Meshwar has promoted Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism— issued brief and tepid statements before going into hiding.
Reports indicated Diversity Minister and Minister of Housing Ahmed Hussen knew about the tweets for weeks. It took the federal government a month to end his $133,000 contract (announced in April), which was for him to provide an anti-racism strategy in six cities across Canada.
Transport minister Omar Algabra, who was front and centre at the Nov. 29 event in a kaffiyeh, issued a brief statement on Twitter before moving on to other issues.
This is the leader of the party that has been in turmoil since leader Annamie Paul – the first black and Jewish leader – was forced out. Paul dealt with party infighting over its policy on Israel and the focus on Palestine.
May was recorded as saying at the event: “I take my marching orders from the permanent representative of Palestine to Canada.”
And she tweeted this on the same day:
On Nov. 23, a Meshwar article, translated from Arabic, described terror bombing attacks on innocent Israelis – who were either murdered or maimed – as “beautiful.”
He suggested that the Nov. 23 bombing attack that killed 16-year-old Canadian Israeli Aryeh Shechopek while innocently waiting for the bus was a “beautiful bombing operation” after a long hiatus. Khatatba also warned that the “Palestinian anger is not over yet.”
Khatatba commented under this latest HRC article claiming he is not “anti-Semitic”, that he has a right to attend any event (particularly related to Palestine) and those who accuse him of being anti-Semitic are supporting the “Israeli Occupation who commits daily murders against the Palestinians.”
The reaction from the Jewish community was swift.
Vivian Bercovici, now living in Israel after serving as Canadian Ambassador to Israel under the Stephen Harper government, pressured the federal ministers who turned up and others like Jewish MP Anthony Housefather to explain how Khatatba ended up there.
“You’d think that would have sent a message to the entire government but it hasn’t,” he said.
“I don’t know how it came to be that a bonafide anti-Semite got a welcome mat to a government event.”
He said he can’t imagine that any other community would accept that such a bigot would be invited to an event on Parliament Hill and if those attending didn’t know about his background, it suggests they should have been briefed.
This was not a mass rally, he added saying it looked to be a “handpicked” event.
Fegelman also finds it “alarming” that May said openly she takes her marching orders from the representative of Palestine– that such a person would “dictate” her policies, principles and actions.
“It seems she is saying it almost as a badge of honour,” he said. “She’s sending a message that anti-Semites and Israel haters are welcome in the Green Party with open arms.”