Advocacy group criticizes 3 senators for meeting with right-wing politician in Israel



Three Canadian senators are facing criticism after visiting Israel and inviting a right-wing politician to Canada.

Amir Ohana once claimed in media interview that Muslims are prone to ‘cultural murderousness’

Dylan Robertson · The Canadian Press


The new speaker of the knesset, Amir Ohana, receives his gavel as Israel's new government is sworn in at the Knesset, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022

The new speaker of the Knesset, Amir Ohana, receives his gavel as Israel’s new right-wing government is sworn in on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Jerusalem. (Amir Cohen/The Associated Press)

Three Canadian senators are facing criticism after visiting Israel and inviting a right-wing politician to Canada.

Senate Speaker George Furey joined Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett and unaffiliated Sen. Patti LaBoucane-Benson on a trip to Israel this week.

They met with local officials including Amir Ohana, the speaker of the Israeli parliament, which announced the senators had invited him to visit Canada.

Ohana has caused controversy by claiming in media interviews that Muslims are prone to “cultural murderousness.” When he was the public safety minister, he modified Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination priority list to exclude Palestinian prisoners.

The advocacy group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East is criticizing the senators for posting about the trip without mentioning human rights concerns just weeks after Ottawa condemned the Israeli government’s shift toward right-wing policies.

LaBoucane-Benson said the trio was unable to meet with Palestinian officials. She said she had called for an immediate de-escalation of recent violence and work toward long-term peace.

“We worked with consular officials in an effort to hear diverse perspectives while managing logistical and security considerations,” she wrote in an email.

“We met with current and former Israeli legislators from different parties. Unfortunately, a Palestinian politician was unable to attend a planned meeting.”

A huge crowd of people gather in an urban square. Some carry bodies aloft, wrapped in flags.

Palestinians carry the bodies of 10 men killed in clashes with Israel troops in the West Bank city of Nablus, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. Palestinian officials say that at least 10 Palestinians were killed and 102 wounded during a rare daytime Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry says a 72-year-old man was among the dead. (Majdi Mohammed/The Associated Press)

LaBoucane-Benson noted “alarming incidents of violence” in the West Bank against both Palestinians and Israelis over recent weeks and during their visit.

“Those responsible for these egregious acts — on both sides — must be held accountable, and those whose comments incite further violence must be denounced and condemned,” she wrote.

The offices of Furey and Plett have not responded to requests for comment.

This year, Ottawa issued two statements raising concerns about Israel undertaking “punitive measures” such as banning the Palestinian flag, the building of illegal settlements and a divisive judicial reform.

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