How To Move Forward From The M-103 Islamophobia Debate

This article was originally published on March 28, 2017 in the Huffington Post.


If you’re like me, Canada’s debate around Islamophobia has left you drained and disillusioned.  Both the Liberals and Conservatives treated this important social issue as if it were political football, seeking to gain cheap yardage with seemingly little concern for the lives involved. Muslim Canadians deserve better.

Many Canadians might be surprised to learn that back in October, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia motion by unanimous consent.  House of Common petition e411, sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis was the basis for this motion.  Sadly, at the time, Liberals didn’t have the political courage to propose a motion on Islamophobia before the House.  Instead, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who showed the sensitivity and political resolve to present this motion, and did so successfully on October 26. 

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Why Has Israel Arrested The Leading Spokesperson for the BDS Movement?


This article was originally published on March 27, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.

On the morning of Sunday, March 19, Israeli tax authorities barged into the home of Omar Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people. They detained and interrogated Omar and his wife Safa for 16 hours that first day. Omar has subsequently undergone at least four more days of interrogation.

The charge against him is “tax evasion”. Israeli authorities claim he has accumulated over $700,000 over the last decade and “hidden it in a Ramallah” bank. It’s hard for an outsider to know whether there is any basis for this, although it would seem surprising that Ramallah banks are not under close surveillance by Israeli authorities. Some commentators have suggested that arresting Barghouti for tax evasion is a safer route for Israel than an outright arrest for political activity.

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To Sanction or Not To Sanction

This article was originally published on March 7, 2017 in the Huffington Post.


Most Canadians have no idea, but our government currently sanctions 21 different countries around the world.  Perhaps most well-known, Canada maintains sanctions against Iran because of Canadian government suspicions around Iran’s nuclear weapons intents.   But Canada also has a general export ban on Belarus for the abuses of President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as various sanctions on 19 other countries.

Government leaders might be reassured by the results of an EKOS poll last week which indicated that 91 percent of Canadians believe that sanctions are a reasonable way for Canada to censure countries for violations of international law or human rights.  But such “support” for sanctions may also obfuscate some problematic aspects of Canada’s sanctions policies.

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Survey Results Dispel Notion of “New Anti-Semitism”

This article was originally published on Feb. 23, 2017 in the Huffington Post.


The jury is in.  According to a new survey, the vast majority of Canadians do not consider criticism of the government of Israel to be “anti-Semitic.”  This finding flatly contradicts those who have been warning of a “new anti-Semitism” in Canada, where criticism of Israel is a veiled form of this despicable historic ideology.

Of those who offered an opinion, 91 percent of Canadians did not believe that criticism of Israeli government policy is necessarily anti-Semitic.  For those respondents who identified with the Liberal party, the number was 97 percent; for those with in NDP, literally 100% said that criticism of Israel is like criticism of any other country. 

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When it comes to Israel, are Quebec’s political elites out of touch ?

This article was originally published on Feb. 20, 2017 in Rabble.


The most recent poll regarding Canadian’s attitudes towards Israel has just been released and the results are telling. Quite strikingly, far more Canadians have a negative view of the government of Israel than a positive one.  Even more remarkable, Quebec respondents have a far harsher view of the government of Israel than their fellow Canadians.

Some have argued that Quebecers have always been more critical of the Israeli government, and more sympathetic to the Palestinians.  This assumption was up in the air, however, when a survey by Crop-LaPresse issued in 2014 during the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas found that the majority (64%) of Quebecers chose not to pick sides in the messy flare up.

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Survey: Government Policy Disconnected from Canadian Attitudes on Israel

This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2017 in the Huffington Post.


New survey results indicate that on the question of Israel-Palestine politics, the Trudeau government is grossly out of step with the Canadian electorate.  New survey results indicate that while Canadians were far more likely to have a negative opinion of Israeli government, most Canadians believe their government is biased in favour of Israel.

In a survey co-sponsored by my organization and conducted by EKOS, 46 percent of Canadians who expressed an opinion had a negative or somewhat negative view of the government of Israel.  Only 28 percent had a positive or mostly positive view of Israel.  On the other hand, 61 percent believed that their government held a pro-Israel Middle East policy, while only 16 percent thought Canada was pro-Palestinian.

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Canada Appears More Interested in Supporting a “2 State Solution” Than in Defending Palestinian Human Rights


This article was originally published on February 16, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.

Israel, its settlers and its military have been on an aggressive roll since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. From shooting a Palestinian member of  Israeli Knesset, to killing a Bedouin citizen of Israel fighting expulsion, to demolishing 11 homes in the Israeli Palestinian town of Qalanswah, to announcing 6000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, to renewed bombing on Gaza, to retroactively legalizing settlements in the West Bank, Israel seems more determined than ever to exert its dominance over the Palestinians.

What has been Canada’s response? A month after being appointed, Canada’s new foreign affairs minister has finally made a comment:

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Poll: Canada’s politicians out of touch with public on Mideast


This article was originally published on February 16, 2017 on Ricochet Media.

In the first all-party leaders’ debate in Canada’s 2015 federal election, Stephen Harper, arguably the most pro-Israel prime minister in Canadian history, challenged Justin Trudeau to clarify his attitude toward Israel. Harper asserted that “there is a movement at the United Nations to isolate and denigrate the state of Israel . . . . The best friend and ally this country has is in a very dangerous region, and we will never go along with that anti-Israel position.”

Justin Trudeau’s response? “All parties are in agreement on this.”

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Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s Message a Challenge to All Canadians


The contrast could not have been more jarring.  Outside, a small group of rabid protesters, shouting threateningly, carrying megaphones, signs, and cameras.  Inside, a rapt crowd of 600 listening quietly to a message of civic engagement delivered by one of the Muslim world’s most articulate writers and thinkers, Dr. Tariq Ramadan.

It’s a shame that the protestors came to disrupt rather than to listen to Dr. Ramadan.  It’s likely that they would have been both encouraged and challenged by Ramadan’s talk.  Encouraged because he calls citizens to be involved and express themselves through our democratic mechanisms – exactly as the protesters were.  Challenged because he calls citizens to think deeply about the issues facing our divided societies, and to face our fears with rationality – precisely where our protesters fell short. 

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Canadian Society’s Double-Standard on the “Terrorism” Label

This article was originally published on February 9, 2017 on Rabble.


In the aftermath of the Quebec City mosque attack we have heard and read all kinds of language to describe the event.  “Hate crime,” “mass murder” and “terrorist attack” were all used and they all, to some extent, do define what has happened. However, one confused TVA anchor said on air that this was a case of “reverse” terrorism. As if terrorism had only one form: Muslim against others.

The TVA anchor has since apologized for his words, but his statement is reflective of a much larger problem: many people seem confused about when to properly use the term “terrorism.” This is no surprise considering the fact that even pundits and governments are unable to agree on when to apply the term.

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