Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) on Thursday criticized an invitation to the editor of a notoriously antisemitic newspaper to an event hosted by Canadian members of Parliament.
On November 29, Nazih Khatatba, editor-in-chief of Meshwar, an Arabic newspaper based in Toronto, was in Ottawa as a guest at an event hosted by the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, chaired by MP Salma Zahid, FSWC said in a statement.
Khatatba has come under fire on numerous occasions for promoting Holocaust denial and distortion, pushing antisemitic conspiracy theories and celebrating terrorist attacks in Israel through his Meshwar newspaper.
The newspaper has in the past praised a 2014 massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue, called Judaism a “terrorist religion,” blamed Jews for the Holocaust and glorified suicide bombings.
In 2020, Meshwar published an article falsely accusing Israel of burying Palestinian Arabs alive and stealing their organs.
In April of this year, the newspaper praised the terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, hailing it as an “operation of exceptional quality.”
In a series of tweets on Thursday in response to Khatatba’s attendance at this week’s event, MP Zahid failed to show any accountability or denounce Khatatba’s antisemitism and attendance, stating, “We are not able to research the history of every attendee.”
FSWC noted that Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, who attended the event, released a statement denouncing Khatatba’s antisemitism, stating, “The individual who attended the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group event should not have been invited” and “What this individual said is offensive and antisemitic and must be condemned.”
MP Larry Brock, also in attendance, denounced Khatatba, tweeting, “I deeply regret and apologize for the harm and hurt this has caused. I am a strong supporter of our Jewish community in Canada and the world and reject racism and anti-Semitism in all their forms.”
FSWC said it has reached out to MP Zahid asking for an explanation of how and why an individual with such a long and well-documented history of promoting antisemitism could have been invited to take part in a parliamentary event, and what steps will be taken to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.
“It is disturbing that an individual with such a long history of promoting antisemitism could be invited to such an event,” said Dan Panneton, Director of Allyship and Community Engagement. “The rhetoric that Nazih Khatatba espouses makes our society a less safe place for Canadian Jews, and his presence on Parliament Hill, hobnobbing with Canadian political leaders, is reprehensible."