Wednesday, 11 Dec 2019 - 13 of Kislev, 5780

Former member of Palestinian terror organization hosted by students group in Toronto

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TORONTO—A former member of a terror Palestinian organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was hosted by a students group in Toronto.

The speaker, Issam Al Yamani, was ordered deported from Canada in 2005 for his ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine but the order had not been carried out.

Hosted by the school’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid UofT student group and sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices-UofT, Al-Yamani spoke at a building belonging to a branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing professors and teaching assistants at the university.

The description for the event, which was called “Worker Solidarity, Israeli Economic Apartheid & the Struggle for Justice in Palestine,” said  Al Yamani is a “Palestinian activist/trade unionist on the Palestinian workers’ movement.”

Canada and the United States list the PFLP as a terrorist group.

A spokesperson for the University of Toronto stressed that that the event didn’t occurred on the university ground.

“The groups hosting this event are autonomous organizations and act independently from the University of Toronto in their day-to-day operations. All such autonomous organizations express their own views, not the views of the university,” the spokesperson said.

In a statement leading up to the event, Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center president and CEO Avi Benlolo said “we are very pleased that the Issam Al-Yamani event will no longer be taking place on UofT campus. Individuals connected with terrorism and violence against civilians should not benefit from an audience at our universities. We must stand up to those who promote violence, those looking to spread hate among our students.”

Yet Noah Shack of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs argued that, “It is shocking that CUPE Local 3902 would host an event featuring someone facing deportation for his involvement in terrorism. If the speaker had been a white supremacist or a homophobe, Local 3902 would not have given him a platform. Why are Jews fair game?”

The director of advocacy and issues management for Hillel Ontario, Ilan Orzy, told the Canadian Jewish News: “We are deeply concerned about his presence on campus, and obviously very perturbed by the idea that a person with ties to a terrorist organization would be even invited to campus.

A 2018 Global News investigation noted that “a 2014 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) report alleged (Al Yamani) was a ‘danger to the security of Canada’ who formerly led a terrorist cell that conducted a bombing,” and that the CBSA believed a speech of his from 2014 was intended to incite violence.

 

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