Today the Ontario Crown finally dropped charges against Rabbi David Mivasair. While the authorities devoted significant resources to harassing Mivasair for embarrassing the Israeli consulate in Toronto, they’ve ignored a far more serious criminal act the Rabbi sought to highlight.
In May Mivasair was the spokesperson for an action in which fake blood was poured on the steps of the Israeli consulate to protest Israel’s killing of over 260 people including 65 Palestinian children in Gaza. The media focused action caused little disruption and the water-based tempera paint washed off easily.
After the protesters dispersed, the Israeli consulate called the police onto the scene and the Consul General accused Mivasair of vandalism through the media. In response two Toronto police officers drove to Hamilton to arrest Mivasair at his home at 11 pm the next (Saturday) night and, as if they’d made a big bust, the police released a statement drawing attention to the arrest.
The police reaction was over-the-top and so was the prosecution. In an unusual move, the Crown assigned a Deputy Director to the Attorney General and Assistant Crown Attorney General to prosecute a charge of mischief under $5000. Lawyer Rochelle Direnfeld received $295 000 in compensation in 2020 and lawyer Kim Motyl $278 000 so it can’t have been cheap assigning two Crown attorneys to a case the Crown took several months to abandon.
While the police and Crown got tough on Mivasair for decrying violence against Palestinians, they have ignored the far more serious criminal act the Rabbi had brought to the attention of the Minister of Justice only months before. Mivasair has been one of the public faces of a multifaceted campaign to pressure Canadian authorities to apply the Foreign Enlistment Act to Israeli military recruiting in Canada. As part of the campaign, a formal legal complaint was submitted to Justice Minister David Lametti in October 2020. That complaint listed Israeli Consul General Galit Baram, who accused Mivasair of vandalism, as one of those who should be investigated for contravening the Foreign Enlistment Act.
On several occasions the Israeli consulate in Toronto has advertised an Israel Defense Forces representative available for personal appointments for those wishing to join the Israeli military. In addition to facilitating enlistment at their offices, the consulate has arranged for Israeli soldiers and veterans to present in Canadian schools, summer camps and other venues with the apparent goal of inducing teenagers to enlist. But, inducing or recruiting Canadians to enlist in a foreign military contravenes the Foreign Enlistment Act.
The authorities have largely ignored evidence of illegal recruitment for a foreign military committing significant human right abuses. Apparently, they have been preoccupied with washable paint.
Why did Canada’s legal establishment use criminal charges to suppress legally permitted speech while allowing a foreign government to violate federal law?
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