Jewish groups are decrying a four-day event being held this week in Ottawa that includes a speaker with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a recognized terrorist organization in Canada.

The event, titled “International League of Peoples Struggles in Canada,” seeks to oppose “Canadian imperialism and militarism.” Among its main speakers are Khaled Barakat, a resident of Vancouver who has been tied to the PFLP, and his wife Charlotte Kates, who runs Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, which the Israeli Ministry of Defense calls a terrorist organization.

That it is being held at a city-owned facility, Foster Farms Community Centre, further troubles the Jewish community.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told JNS that “we are extremely concerned that PFLP-terror tied individuals and organizations have been able to rent space that falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Ottawa, a clear violation of the city’s policies meant to protect religious, national and ethnic groups from hate and incitement.

“We registered our concerns about the potential for this event to promote incitement towards the Jewish community with the city a month ago, and to our dismay, to our knowledge, so far no action has been taken,” he continued. “It is unacceptable to provide a public platform in Canada to those who call for ‘resistance’ against the Jewish people by ‘any means necessary.’ This should concern all citizens.”

JNS reached out to the mayor and deputy mayor but got no response before press time.

B’nai Brith Canada, which first raised concerns about Barakat’s residency in Vancouver despite his ties to the PFLP, also reached out to the city of Ottawa about Barakat’s participation on a panel, which is slated for Friday afternoon.

In response, city officials sent B’nai Brith a letter, part of which was made public by the organization and reiterated its policy of usage, noting that “the city may refuse to provide use of the spaces under its control to ‘an individual or group that supports or promotes views, ideas or presentations which promote or are likely to promote discrimination, contempt or hatred to any person on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, sexual preference, or disability, gratuitous sex and violence, or denigration of the human condition.’

“The city takes these matters seriously and acknowledges its legal and charter obligations regarding same. I can advise that I have contacted the event organizer/contract holder confirming the city’s expectations and for their assurance that the activities taking place will comply with the city’s requirements,” said the letter to B’nai Brith.

Still, B’nai Brith is hoping that the Barakat’s appearance, scheduled for 4:15 p.m. local time, gets canceled.

As they said in a press release on Friday morning: “Insofar as the City of Ottawa prohibits providing venues to groups that promote hatred and commit violence, we trust that it will follow its own policy and prevent [Barakat] from addressing anyone at the community center.”


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