By Ali Naqvi, Ali Visram, Hassain Zaidi, Maysum Allibhai, Ali Al Ashtar & John Philpot
For an organization that claims to support human rights, B’nai Brith takes a lot of liberties with truth.
Looking at its record and modus operandi, the two areas it focuses on are protection of Israel from any criticism, however mild, and targeting those that speak or act in support of justice for the Palestinians.
B’nai Brith has weaponized anti-Semitism. It hurls this scandalous allegation at anyone that even mildly criticizes Israel’s atrocious conduct.
Let us consider its press release of February 11, 2021.
Its target in this instance was the Imam Ali Centre in Toronto for what it described as “praising terrorist leaders”.
The occasion was a religious ceremony held for the two victims of Donald Trump’s terrorist attack of January 3, 2020 at Baghdad airport.
B’nai Brith labeled General Qassem Solaimani and his Iraqi comrade, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, as “terrorists”.
Following Trump’s criminal act, even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the attack and said it would likely increase tensions in the region.
Based on its allegation against Imam Ali Centre, the so-called human rights organization then called on Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to take “corrective action”.
B’nai Brith has for years made similar allegations against individuals and organizations that have spoken out against the Zionist apartheid regime or in support of the oppressed peoples of West Asia especially in Palestine.
We believe this is an attempt to bully the intended victims into silence.
Such vilification has only been successful when the intended victims do not understand their rights. By giving in to fear-mongering bullying tactics, they capitulate to such demands.
This has gone on for too long and it is time to present some facts.
It is important to note that B’nai Brith’s demands of CRA have not yielded any results because we believe the government agency follows the law, not the whims of a pro-Israel lobby group.
B’nai Brith’s false allegations have led some Canadians to lodge lawsuits for defamation in Canadian courts.
Such threats are intended to silence critics of Israeli policies.
Succumbing to fear or allowing blackmailing tactics to dictate people’s morals and actions is not the proper way to live as free people.
B’nai Brith’s slander about a “terrorist leader” being glorified must be challenged.
General Qasim Soleimani was not a terrorist but a leader who fought terrorism.
He was invited by the governments where he was actively engaged against terrorist groups such as ISIS, defending innocent civilians, including millions of members of minority communities, whether Christians, Shi‘is or Yazidis.
He was on an official visit to Iraq, at the invitation of the government carrying a message to potentially extend an olive branch to the Saudis.
It is supremely ironic that a high official of a sovereign state on official visit to another country is murdered by the ruler of a third country whose forces are illegally occupying that country and then call the murder victim a terrorist.
History offers many examples where oppressors and tyrants have accused their opponents as terrorists. This is an attempt to delegitimize the struggle of the oppressed.
Apartheid South Africa and its backers had used the same label for the late Nelson Mandela, an icon of the freedom struggle and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Opposition to tyranny is never tolerated by tyrants.
Nelson Mandela and his political party, the African National Congress (ANC) were placed on a list of key regional terrorist groups by the US government in 1988, a designation that was only lifted in 2008, years after the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Although Canada did not do the same, Ottawa barred some members of the ANC entry without obtaining a visa in advance. Naturally, getting a visa was made impossible.
The ban was lifted only in 2012, many years after honorary Canadian citizenship was conferred on Mandela and he was even invited to address the Canadian parliament!
When the Imam Ali Centre commemorated the lives of General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al Mohandes, they were celebrating their religious values of standing up for the oppressed against the tyrants of the world.
This is a fundamental value of the Islamic faith, and indeed humanity at large, regardless of what faith people may follow.
Such act is not the promotion of any political party or agenda but an expression of our right to celebrate our values. The denial of such right is unacceptable.
To muzzle this expression of faith is a political act discriminating against those that support the oppressed and is vehemently against the values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and against the universally accepted human values.
In fact, it is time for B’nai Brith, that calls itself a 'human rights organization', to be investigated by the CRA for supporting a political entity.
Their website unashamedly promotes themselves as “a staunch defender of the state of Israel”.
This same state has been called “reminiscent of the South African (apartheid) regime” by the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, also known as B’Tselem, in a recent report titled “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
B’Tselem emphasized that there are vastly different laws in many critical aspects of life depending on whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish and clarified that “the Israeli regime does not have to declare itself an apartheid regime to be defined as such, nor is it relevant that representatives of the state broadly proclaim it a democracy. What defines apartheid is not statements but practice.”
Should “staunch defenders” of this regime be allowed to operate in Canada as charitable entities? Should their opponents that operate within the realm of international law be labelled as terrorists as was the case with opponents of the South African apartheid regime?
We will not allow the Nelson Mandelas of our time to be besmirched and vilified by mudslinging. Freedom to resist oppression is a fundamental right of all human beings.
Ali Naqvi, Ali Visram, Hassain Zaidi, Maysum Allibhai and Ali Al Ashtar are representatives of the Canadian Resistance Against Injustice. John Philpot is a senior criminal litigation attorney and is a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1984. He has practiced Criminal Law in Montreal since 1984 and International Criminal Law since 1998.