The City of Mississauga says it will take past experiences with a Palestinian group into account when it comes to future bookings because a recent event by the group was counter to municipal policy.
According to B’nai Brith Canada, the Arab Palestine Association of Ontario (APAO) held the event at the Mississauga Valley Community Centre on Feb. 2 to celebrate “the 55th anniversary of the launch of the Palestinian Revolution.”
Loyalists of Fatah, the Palestinian political party, mark this event annually in recognition of a 1965 attempt to destroy Israel’s National Water Carrier – “the first major terror attack staged by Fatah,” B’nai Brith said in a Feb. 7 news release.
The APAO appears to operate as the “de facto” Canadian branch of Fatah, the Jewish advocacy group said.
B’nai Brith said it had warned Mississauga officials that an event “glorifying a terrorist attack” would breach the municipality’s Use of City Facilities policy.
Last reviewed in December 2019, the policy bans activities which “have the potential to incite” the use “or intended use” of violence and/or hatred, and requires that “in light of generally acceptable, prevailing community standards, the event is not likely to cause deep or widespread offence.”
The city allowed the event to proceed “despite its troubling nature,” and despite the fact that, less than two months earlier, the APAO hosted another event in Mississauga at which young children danced to songs celebrating “jihad” and which called on them to “pull the trigger” in order to combat the “despicable ones,” B’nai Brith further alleged.
It said that outgoing Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Mississauga Centre Liberal MP Omar Alghabra attended the earlier event.
In the later matter, city officials “belatedly” admitted that policy was “breached,” B’nai Brith said.
In an email to The CJN, city spokesperson Catherine Monast said the APOA’s initial booking “met the city’s policy.”
However, “there were activities during the booking undertaken by the group that were outside the city’s policy and we have addressed this with the group,” she added.
She said the city would not disclose details about the nature of the non-compliance. The city “has a privacy obligation to individuals, including those who book and use city facilities,” Monast said.
B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said, “We demand that the City of Mississauga cease renting space to the APAO and any other groups intending to use public facilities to celebrate violence.”
Future booking requests by the APAO “will be subject to review having regard to past experience,” Monast said.
The APAO’s website does not list contact information. A message seeking comment sent to the group’s Facebook page was not returned by deadline.
In 2017, police in Peel Region said they had launched an investigation into a rally held in Mississauga Celebration Square that allegedly incited violence and promoted hatred against Jews.