The Israel lobby has launched another odious and hypocritical attack. They’re calling on the government to expel Palestinian-Canadian activist Khaled Barakat and criminalize the Canadian branch of the Samidoun Palestinian prisoner solidarity network.
Last Saturday the front page of the right-wing National Post was largely covered with Barakat’s face. Columnist Terry Glavin reported that Barakat is believed to be a leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is the second largest political grouping in the Palestine Liberation Organization.
On his blog Glavin wrote that the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) fed him the information for the story. CIJA and B’nai B’rith shared Glavin’s story and tweeted out statements calling for Samidoun to be listed as a terrorist organization and for Barakat to be expelled from Canada. They are reinvigorating a campaign against Samidoun they launched over a year ago after Israel labeled Samidoun a terrorist group.
On Tuesday Conservative Senator Leo Housakos asked why Barakat was allowed to remain in Canada. The National Post decided the question warranted front-page coverage.
The campaign against Barakat and Samidoun rests on the unproven claim that he is part of the PFLP, which Canada has listed as a terrorist organization. Canada criminalizes a great deal of Palestinian political life and its Canadian lobby would like to see more groups added to the terrorist list, making it illegal for Canadians to offer any assistance to that group. Eight Palestinian organizations are listed including the elected Hamas ‘government’ in Gaza. In fact, over 10% of Canada’s terrorist list is from a long-occupied land with one tenth of one per cent of the world’s population.
In 2014 the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) was the first ever Canadian-based group added to the list. It was designated a terrorist organization for engaging in the ghastly act of supporting orphans and a hospital in the Gaza Strip through official (Hamas-controlled) channels.
While Palestinian groups are criminalized, Canada has close ties to the main terrorist organization in historic Palestine. Canada sells weapons to the Israeli military and the two countries’ armed forces work together on various fronts. Additionally, Canadian officials turn a blind eye to illegal recruitment for the Israel Defence Force while the Canada Revenue Agency takes a soft approach to registered charities that defy its rules by financially assisting the IDF.
By number hurt and killed, the Israeli army is responsible for far more violence than any Palestinian group (and they are doing so on behalf of a European colonial project).
Both National Post articles on Barakat mentioned an attack some blamed on the PFLP in 2014 that left a Torontonian dead. But the IDF has killed or hurt far more Canadians. IDF snipers have shot at least two Canadians in recent years, including doctor Tarek Loubani in 2018. In 2009 the Israeli military killed Canadian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish’s three daughters and a niece in Gaza and in 2006 they wiped out an entire Lebanese-Canadian family, including four children aged 1 to 8. Canadian Forces Major Paeta Hess-Von Krudener was also killed in 2006 when Israel bombed his UN post in Lebanon.
Since it was established in 2002 the Israel lobby has used Canada’s terrorist list to great effect. This is how it works. They lobby the federal government to place Palestinian groups on the list and then use a listing to target other groups by (correctly or incorrectly) claiming they have ties to a group on the list. IRFAN, for instance, was listed because Hamas was listed. If they were to succeed in getting Samidoun listed, it would be because they previously pushed for the PFLP to be listed. It’s a virtuous cycle from the standpoint of the apartheid state and its Canadian lobby.
The terrorist list is a way to disrupt solidarity with Palestinians under occupation. It also instills fear among Canadians, particularly among Palestinian and Muslim communities.
Underpinning CIJA and B’nai B’rith’s campaign against Khaled Barakat and Samidoun is a stark double standard in Canada’s treatment of the colonized and colonizer. Unless Canada begins severing its ties to the Israeli military no right-thinking person should support any effort to further criminalize Palestinians.
On Friday the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute will be hosting “Double Standard: Canada’s terrorist list, the IDF, Palestinians and the case of Khaled Barakat”