A spokesman for the chair of an all-party parliamentary group says it is “carefully” reviewing how it handles events with outside events after a newspaper publisher accused of holding antisemitic views took part in a recent gathering.
Members of Parliament from all parties, including Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, attended a gathering this week hosted by the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Among the guests was Nazih Khatatba, publisher of the Arabic-language newspaper “Meshwar Media.”
Afterwards both B’nai Brith and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs took to social media to say it was reprehensible that he was allowed to attend.
In question period in the House of Commons, Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman called Khatatba a “dangerous antisemite, Holocaust denier and a terrorist sympathizer,” saying his publication has referred to the Holocaust as a hoax and “the biggest lie in history.”
In a written statement to the The Canadian Press, Khatatba says he was indeed invited to attend by Palestinian organizations and denied perpetuating antisemitism and Holocaust denialism.
The Laith Marouf scandal has shown us that antisemitism is completely normalized & continues with impunity. Empty words from the Liberal government while funding this racist publication with tax dollars and then rolling out the red carpet for them on Parliament Hill. #cdnpoli 👇 https://t.co/R0dEWF7gLI
— Melissa Lantsman (@MelissaLantsman) December 1, 2022
Lantsman also asked Alghabra in the House to denounce Khatatba and apologize, and the transport minister responded to say Khatatba should not have been invited or welcomed to the event.
“I don’t know who invited that individual, if he was even invited. The point is that on the one hand, of course it’s unacceptable to see people with offensive views on Parliament Hill. On the other hand, how do you make sure that we will remain accessible to all Canadians?”
— Rachel Aiello (@rachaiello) December 2, 2022
Alghabra, who appears to have been the only cabinet minister to attend the event, also said antisemitism and all forms of hate should be condemned.
Parliamentary friendship group chair and Liberal MP Salma Zahid issued a statement saying invitations for the event were sent around the local Palestinian community and “we are not able to research the history of every attendee that responded.”
The all-party Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group hosted a reception for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29th. The invitation was circulated widely within the Palestinian community, and nearly 150 people attended. (1/5)
— Salma Zahid (@SalmaZahid15) December 1, 2022
Zahid’s spokesman Jeff Jedras says neither their office or the parliamentary group invited Khatatba, but added “we will certainly review carefully how we handle future events with outside attendees.”
In his statement, Khatatba said his newspaper is “not antisemitic, and we have never spoken badly about Jews in Canada or other countries. Rather, we criticize the Israeli occupation policy and stand by the Palestinian people.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2022.