Sunday, February 26, 2012

Canadian Government cuts funding to cheerleaders for murderers, the NDP objects

Fern Rykiss of Winnipeg, 1972 - 1989.
An event at Palestine House last year,
celebrated the release of her murderer,
along with the release of 100s of other
murderers and their accomplices.
Palestine House in Mississauga is the political and cultural centre for Palestinians in the Toronto area. It also helps recent immigrants with learning English and integrating into Canadian society. The government has been funding the centre for the past 18 years, including $950,000 in 2011.

That funding has now ceased. “The government of Canada should not be funding groups that promote extreme positions – particularly under a program designed to promote social cohesion,” Kasra Nejatian told the Jewish Tribune. 

As an example, Nejatian, who is the director of strategic planning for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, cited a Palestine House event that celebrated the release of hundreds of convicted murderers from Israeli prisons. The prisoners were released as part of the ransom paid to the Hamas terrorist organization to free Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas had kidnapped some five years earlier.

Nejatian noted that one of the released terrorists, Abd al-hadi Rafa Ghanim, had Canadian blood on his hands; he was convicted of murdering Dr. Shelley Volokov Halpenny of Vancouver and 17-year-old Fern Rykiss of Winnipeg, along with 14 others in a terrorist attack on an Israeli bus in 1989.

A volunteer at Palestine House defended the event in a telephone interview. “As if we are not entitled to celebrate the political prisoners, as the other side celebrated Shalit. At the same time, we are happy.”

“Palestine House also has a history of associating with people who run afoul of Canadian law,” Nejatian continued. “For example, Issam Al-Yamani, the former executive director of Palestine House, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), a designated terrorist group. Issam Al-Yamani even raised funds for the PFLP while in Canada.”

Personally, all I can say is that it’s about time! Local Palestinians are welcome to call for the destruction of Israel all they want and even to act as cheerleaders for terrorism – it’s a free country after all. But I do object to using my tax money to fund this extremist organization.

Of course there are moderate Palestinians. But they don't run Palestine House. To get some idea of the politics of the people who do run Palestine House, consider that in 2008, they held an event "to commemorate and honour the life and work of Dr. George Habash."

Habash was the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the terrorist group that in 1968 pioneered the hijacking of passenger aircraft. In addition to numerous acts of terrorism, Habash is chiefly remembered for his political radicalism. In 1970, his group set off the Black September War between the Palestinians and Jordan, which resulted in the deaths of at least 3,400 Palestinians. Subsequently, Habash's group also fought in the Lebanese civil war, which again resulted in the deaths of thousands.

But perhaps above all Habash is remembered for his opposition to any peace with Israel. As noted on the Palestine House website, Habash was "violently opposed the Oslo Agreements" between the Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Yassir Arafat, and Israel.  In cooperation with Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad that were also forthrightly dedicated to destroying Israel, Habash helped organize Palestinian opposition to the PLO and to any accommodation with Israel.

And at Palestine House, they consider him a hero.

Naturally, Palestine House objects to having their funding cut. They need the million dollars a year the government has been giving them, and they’ve mobilized all their supporters, including the federal NDP. In a statement echoing the main talking points of Palestine House’s press release, the NDP says:

“New Democrats are disappointed by the decision of the Conservative government to arbitrarily terminate funding for settlement services at Palestine House…. This is the just the latest in a long line of politically-motivated funding cuts to public service organizations. From Palestine House to ecumenical KAIROS, this government’s unbalanced approach to the Middle East is hurting Canada’s reputation and isolating us on the world stage.”

In the NDP’s topsy-turvy world, it’s illegitimate to defund an organization just because it supports terrorism and celebrates murderers. Doing so is “politically motivated.” Perhaps. But if so, that sounds okay to me.

It’s also true that objecting to Palestinian terrorism earns Canada little credit on the world stage. After all, the Arab nations have enormous wealth and influence. They all hate Israel, and for the rest of the world, there’s no downside to giving verbal support to the Arab campaign to make the world’s only Jewish state a pariah.

But does Canada's principled stand do us any real harm? Not at all. No one supposes that China – or even Saudi Arabia – refuses to do business with Canada because we won't join in the name-calling against Israel.

In the world of diplomatic make-believe, Canada suffers a few snubs. In the real world, nations follow their best interests. And in the eyes of the world, Canada looks like a country you can count on.

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