Ottawa reprimanded the Palestinian envoy to Canada last week for disseminating an alleged antisemitic video via her Twitter account and told her she was no longer welcome in the country.
Earlier this month, Linda Sobeh Ali used the social messaging site to tell her followers to “check out” a link to a video posted on YouTube.
The video depicts a Palestinian girl reciting a poem in Arabic, “I am Palestinian.” She becomes progressively more passionate and emotional as she speaks. English subtitles on the video at one point translate her as calling millions to wage a war that will “raze the injustice and oppression and destroy the Jews.”
Once the Ministry of Foreign Affairs heard about Sobeh Ali’s posting, she was called in to explain her actions and was informed her contact with the Canadian government would be curtailed.
The government then sent a formal protest to the Palestinian Authority, who last Wednesday recalled Sobeh Ali back to the West Bank.
In a statement last week, Sobeh Ali said she regretted the “unfortunate incident… it was a retweet unintentional and very unfortunate.”
She added that the incident was “intentionally magnified and misinterpreted by certain lobbying groups.”
The online translation that accompanied the video was disputed by Salah Basalamah, an associate professor in the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation and Interpretation.
He told both the Globe and Mail and the CBC’s As It Happens last week that the passage in question should be properly translated as calling people “to a war that is destroying oppression and kill the soul of Zionism.”
Basalamah added: “There is in fact a big difference between calling for a war against Zionism and a war against Jews.”
The difference between Judaism and Zionism is the difference between a religion and a political ideology, he told the CBC.
Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), refuted Basalamah, telling The CJN the video in question was unabashed in its “hatred and hostility” toward Jews and Israel.
For Sobeh Ali to have been the one circulating it and validating it is “antithetical” to her purpose in Canada, Fogel said. That purpose is the pursuit of “constructive opportunities to advance the peace process and reconciliation.”
“There are many translations that suggest that the to war against those that adhere to the ideology” of Zionism and did in fact call for the killing of Jews.
Fogel said he had worked with Sobeh Ali in Ottawa with the desire to “engage in constructive dialogue” between the Jewish and Palestinian Canadian communities, but that he had become increasingly concerned that Sobeh Ali had, over the last while, become more strident in her anti-Israel views.
He said this latest incident reflected the duplicitous nature of the PA.
“While they talk about a desire to reach peace, they are central in the campaign to incite hatred and violence against Jews and the Jewish state. Her participation in this is just more proof.”