May 18, 2023
LONDON, Ont. – American comedian Amer Zahr, who has glorified the unrepentant terrorist Leila Khaled and has praised the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, is set to perform at several venues across Canada, including the London Public Library’s (LPL) Wolf Performance Hall (WPH).
B’nai Brith Canada was appalled to learn of Amer Zahr’s history of publicly engaging in antisemitic rhetoric and support for terrorists. The organization expressed its concerns regarding the performance in London to the LPL, urging the library to reconsider its decision to host Zahr. As part of the City of London’s public library system, the WPH is a taxpayer-funded venue.
It is essential that publicly funded venues in Canada should be vetting individuals, particularly visitors to this country, prior to hosting their events employing Canada’s antiracism and hate strategy, which utilizes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
In a 2017 video posted to Facebook, Zahr, an American, stated that he supports those who stand against the “Israeli occupation”, specifically naming Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are designated terrorist groups in Canada.
Zahr has repeatedly posted praise of Leila Khaled on social media, referring to her as his “valentine”. Khaled, as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terror group, participated in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and El Al Flight 219 in 1970. Khaled has advocated in favor of using children in terrorist activities and stated that she would have no problem with her own children participating in such.
In his 2017 Facebook video, Zahr denied the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem. He went on to label the Zionist movement “white supremacist” and has tweeted that “israel is based on jewish supremacy.” These are common contemporary antisemitic themes.
Perhaps most disturbing were Zahr’s instructions to his fellow anti-Israel activists, urging them to stop condemning antisemitism. This inexcusably irresponsible message was posted as an unprecedented wave of antisemitism and violence against Jews was being documented in Canada and across the world.
We are calling on the City of London to cancel the event. There is a need for all governments in Canada, including the City of London’s administration, to utilize the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has already been adopted by both the federal and Ontario government, and to employ the IHRA when vetting those who may be granted access to public space.
The necessity for the employment of such a screening process was highlighted in the 2022 scandal surrounding the Canadian Government’s funding of the self stylized “anti-racist consultant” Laith Marouf. Marouf has been widely exposed for tweeting hateful comments against Jews, Francophones, and Black Canadians. While it is commendable that the Government of Canada issued an apology and cut its funding to Marouf’s advocacy group, the ordeal underscores the need for a more robust vetting process to avoid failing vulnerable communities.
“The City of London must do the right thing and refuse to give this radical American access to its municipal space,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s Chief Executive Officer. “All levels of government in Canada need to do a better job of preventing those with a history of propagating hate from accessing public resources.”