By Tevy Pilc
B’nai Brith Canada
A prominent member of the Green Party of Canada thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be barred from entering Canada.
Dimitri Lascaris made his remarks about Netanyahu after he was introduced as justice critic in the shadow cabinet of the Green Party at a “town hall meeting” to discuss the party’s resolution to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which was passed at its national convention last month.
The meeting, which attracted about 65 participants, was held at the Beit Zatoun Centre in Toronto this past Wednesday night.
B’nai Brith has previously spoken out against Beit Zatoun for its recent decisions to host controversial speakers such as the notorious antisemite Ken O’Keefe and pro-BDS Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas.
When asked by a university student from outside Canada about what he could do to support the Green Party since he couldn’t legally join the party as a foreign citizen, Lascaris replied by saying he should support the BDS movement. The justice critic then went on to blast Canada’s relationship with Netanyahu.
“You must, if you care about human rights, support the BDS movement in any way shape or form,” Lascaris said. “Whether or not you want to be a member of our party, it’s time for us to take a stand. And it is a blot, a stain on the reputation of our nation, that we embrace as one of our dearest friends on the international stage with the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu. He should be barred from entering our country and not called one of our dear friends.”
Lascaris repeatedly referred to the Israeli Prime Minister as a “fascist” during the meeting.
According to Beit Zatoun’s website, the event was “not a Green Party of Canada event, nor is it endorsed by the Green Party of Canada. However, the event is about a policy resolution of the Green Party and organized by individuals and groups as a public forum for education and action.
But, of the estimated 65 people who attended, many identified themselves as Green Party members and former candidates when prompted by the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
It was revealed Wednesday night that the Green Party has scheduled a “special meeting” next December 3-4 in Calgary, where it plans to revisit the BDS resolution. There’s strong speculation that the resolution will be amended significantly or withdrawn altogether. Lascaris told his listeners he had no doubt the resolution would survive the special meeting, but he also said he would resign from his party’s shadow cabinet if the resolution were discarded.
Lascaris also said he didn’t know if Green Party leader Elizabeth May would resign if the resolution were to be withdrawn. May has gone on the record as saying she opposes the resolution and that she has no plans to step down as leader.
Lascaris further added that a resolution calling for the revocation of the Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) charitable status, which was withdrawn before a vote at the convention, may be revived at December’s special meeting.
The Wednesday event was recorded by a B’nai Brith observer who heard a considerable amount of discontent towards B’nai Brith from both the audience and Lascaris. They called out the Canadian human rights organization for its leadership in opposing the BDS movement.
While showing an excerpt on a presentation slide of a B’nai Brith press release, Lascaris questioned the validity of B’nai Brith as a human rights organization.
Lascaris said: “The B’nai Brith, which audaciously claims to be a human rights organization… is it their stance to turn a blind eye to egregious human rights violations?”
Lascaris read to the crowd this excerpt from the B’nai Brith press release: “This clearly reflects how out of touch the Green Party has become with Canadian culture and values and it has made itself less relevant after its convention this weekend by voting for the politics of division and demonization.” Lascaris called it ironic, saying the “demonization has been flung from the apologists of the Netanyahu government for those who support this resolution.”
“It’s disappointing that someone who wants to be in a position of authority in our country sees fit to snub one of our closest allies in Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Moreover, any human rights organization worth its salt is naturally opposed to a movement steeped in antisemitism and which is contrary to Canadian public policy.”