The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in British Columbia is “obviously thrilled” that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak is set to visit Surrey on Feb. 27 to attend an economic conference, despite efforts by militant Palestinian supporters to block him.
In an “open letter” to Surrey, B.C., Mayor Diane Watts and Surrey city council, the Canada-Palestine Association calls Barak an “Israeli war criminal.”
“It is like inviting a bank robber and killer with blood on his hands to address the banking industry.”
The letter also supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Darren Mackoff, director of CIJA’s Pacific region, told The CJN in an email that his group was “obviously thrilled that… Barak will be speaking at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit and highlighting the budding partnership between Israel and Western Canada.”
But he did not address a specific question about the effort to stop him from attending.
Surrey city councillor Linda Hepner told The CJN Feb. 21 the summit is strictly non-political and that her city would not consider rescinding its invitation.
“It’s all about an economic summit, not a political platform,” she said. “We’re thrilled to have the three former prime ministers here for the occasion.”
Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and former Greek prime minister George Papandreou are scheduled to join Barak at the annual Surrey summit to discuss what can be learned from their economies.
The open letter calls Barak a “terrorist” and cites alleged examples of his “war crimes.” They include the 1988 targeted assassination of Palestinian leader Khalil El Wazir in Tunis, and a “Gaza massacre” from Dec. 28, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009.
“It seems to us that the city of Surrey is following in the footsteps of the Canadian Conservative government which is making Canada and now Surrey part of Israeli occupied territory,” the letter states.
“We ask all the Surrey councillors to come clean and disassociate themselves from what they mayor is doing.”
Other signatories of the letter include Canadian Boat to Gaza, and Independent Jewish Voices Vancouver.