An Ontario NDP MPP is again in hot water after making controversial comments regarding the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7.
Sarah Jama, a first term MPP, released a statement on the deteriorating conditions in Gaza, urging both sides to implement a ceasefire whilst calling Israel’s declaration of war “apartheid.”
With the death toll in Israel surpassing 1,200 citizens and foreign nationals, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised swift retaliation against Hamas and the Gaza Strip, which the latter has controlled since 2007.
The country said a “complete siege” of the area had begun, including cutting electricity, food and fuel supplies.
So far, at least 1,055 Palestinians have been killed due to Israeli bombardment of the territory.
In her statement, Jama demanded Israel “end all occupation of Palestinian land and end apartheid.”
Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles ordered a retraction of her remarks, claiming they do not align with the party’s values and had not been approved prior to release.
“I have asked that she retract her statement, and state clearly that she decries any violence against both Israeli and Palestinian people,” said Stiles.
But a retraction does not go far enough, says one organization that specializes in Holocaust education.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded Jama receive the boot from the party caucus, calling her comments “abhorrent.”
“Her continued presence in the party not only undermines the values and principles that the NDP stands for but also sends a disturbing message that her views are tolerated, or worse, condoned,” they said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has also condemned the NDP for not holding Jama accountable for “publicly supporting the rape and murder of innocent Jewish people.”
“Her views do not represent Ontario,” he said, calling on the elected representative to resign immediately.
Before becoming an MPP earlier this year, Jama faced an onslaught of criticism from the Jewish group B’nai Brith for her stance on Israel.
B’nai Brith called her a “radical anti-Israel advocate” over a 2021 video accusing Hamilton police of targeting Palestinian organizers.
“Over and over and over again, the Hamilton police protect Nazism in our city,” she said.
She also claimed Israel is led by “the same people [who] will continue to fund the killing of people here, locally and globally,” despite a change of government then.
Though Jama later apologized for her “poor choice of words,” she would put herself at the centre of more controversy in May following the death of a Palestinian militant.
Elected as MPP in May, Jama shared a post condemning the death of Khader Adnan, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) — a militant organization listed as a terrorist entity in Canada.
The original post called Adnan a “martyr for freedom” after succumbing to an 87-day hunger strike while in Israeli custody.
His May 2 death sparked a brief exchange of gunfire between Israel and armed groups in Gaza, before both sides agreed to a ceasefire.
An NDP spokesperson at the time tried to walk back the post, claiming neither the party nor the MPP endorsed the tweet.
“ […] the MPP for Hamilton Centre retweeted a tweet by an American academic Noura Erakat concerning the death of Khader Adnan and later un-retweeted it. The content of the tweet does not reflect the views of Ms. Jama or the Ontario NDP,” read the statement.
B’nai Brith Canada condemned the post, calling Adnan a “convicted terrorist.”
They said endorsing the narrative he is a supposed “martyr” is “an affront to his innocent victims and is unbecoming of an elected official,” said the organization.
Michael Bueckert, vice-president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, defended Jama and lambasted the “unfair attacks” against the MPP.
“It would be wrong for the ONDP [Ontario NDP] to punish their MPP for drawing attention to a powerful example of non-violent struggle against Israeli apartheid,” he said.
Canadians for Justice is also in hot water after accusing Israel of “brutal daily violence” and ulterior motives following the terrorist attack committed by Hamas on Israeli soil.
“Israel appears to be using this crisis as a pretext to escalate its devastating violence on the people of the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip,” wrote the charity in a statement.
Roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis had been killed in the ongoing conflict since 2008, not counting the recent fatalities.
They also called Israel a “racist military occupation” that promotes “apartheid policies” upon the Palestinians.
According to the Income Tax Act, the federal government prohibits charities from “directly or indirectly” supporting any listed terrorist group.
Canada blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist organization in November 2002.
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