Mid East Eye Posted Fri., July 15, 2016
Canada – A Toronto-area school board and Toronto city police are investigating an elementary school teacher after pro-Israel lobby groups complained about comments she made during a rally in solidarity with Palestinians.
The teacher, Nadia Shoufani, addressed a downtown Toronto rally on 2 July, marking al-Quds Day, an annual event held around the world to support Palestinian rights and to protest Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
“Silence in situations of oppression and injustices is a crime against humanity,” Shoufani said in her speech at the rally, in which she condemned the Israeli occupation and Israel’s policies of home demolitions, land confiscation and arrests of Palestinians.
Shoufani also quoted Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, an important figure in the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was assassinated by Israeli Mossad agents in a car bombing in Beirut in 1972.
“We say no, no, no to the occupation. We are here to tell the world that Palestinians are not alone,” Shoufani said:
Tyler Levitan, campaigns coordinator at Independent Jewish Voices-Canada, a group that supports Palestinian rights, said organisations like Bnai Brith Canada and Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal “are shills for Israel”.
“Under international law, those living under military occupation and a system of colonialism have the absolute right to resist. Ms Shoufani spoke as a defender of the rights of an occupied and besieged people to resist an obscenely violent and criminal military occupation over their lands.”
Recently, pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada have launched several campaigns targeting groups and individuals supporting Palestinian rights.
Bnai Brith Canada lauded a parliamentary motion passed earlier this year condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to hold Israel accountable under international law.
In March, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs accused Canadian law professor Michael Lynk of demonstrating a pro-Palestinian bias and of being involved in “anti-Israel advocacy”. Theaccusations came after Lynk was appointed as the new Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Pro-Israel groups have also urged Canada to maintain funding cuts on the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.
They are also pressuring the Green Party of Canada to dismiss two motions, set to be debated at a party convention in August, that would strip the Jewish National Fund of its charitable status and endorse BDS.