No sooner was he appointed to the Senate than Hassan Yussuff was denounced by a fellow senator as “Israel-hating.”
Yussuff, fresh off completing his second term as president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), was named to the upper chamber by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 22. He was one of three new senate appointments.
Later that day, Conservative Sen. Linda Frum tweeted: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just rewarded an Israel-hating, BDS-supporter with an appointment to Canada’s Senate. This is Trudeau’s Canada: a place where Jew-hatred is becoming normalized and loathing of a democratic ally, Israel, is becoming mainstreamed.”
Frum sent The CJN two tweets from the CLC she said support her view. In one from May 20, during the Israel-Hamas fighting, the labour group said: “As word circulates of a potential ceasefire, Canada’s unions call on the government to condemn excessive violence by #Israeli forces and call for an end to (the) occupation.”
And last year, the CLC weighed in on a bill before Ontario’s legislature that incorporated the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
“Canada’s unions express concern with Bill 168 as it risks shutting down legitimate criticism of Israel. We call on Premier Doug Ford to oppose it & to stand up for the right to freedom of expression & legitimate protest, as well as against hate and anti-Semitism,” the tweet said.
Frum told The CJN the tweets “contain the pro-BDS (anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions) sentiments of Yussuff,” and that she stands by her condemnation of her new colleague.
Yussuff’s term as CLC president ended on the evening of June 18, when Bea Bruske was chosen as the new leader of Canada’s largest labour organization, representing 3 million workers.
Frum did not mention that earlier on June 18, the CLC endorsed a call to ban goods produced in Jewish settlements, divest from Israeli security companies, and halt Canadian arms sales to Israel.
Jewish groups denounced the resolution’s adoption mainly for the way it was handled at the CLC’s virtual convention. They pointed out that a resolution calling for a boycott of Israel was proposed but was never brought to the floor since members gave it such low priority.
But later that day, a committee called the Canadian Council, comprised of the CLC executive and some representatives from affiliated unions, met and adopted the resolution on Israel.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre slammed the council for using “backdoor methods to ram through” the resolution.
B’nai Brith Canada alleged that the measure appeared to contravene the CLC’s own rules, which require that resolutions require approval by convention delegates and a two-thirds majority for adoption.
Biographical material posted to the prime minister’s website notes that Yussuff “is one of Canada’s most experienced labour leaders, and the first person of colour to lead Canada’s union movement.”
He served in a wide variety of positions in government and the labour movement. He was elected CLC president in 2014 and re-elected in 2017.
In 2017, the CLC expressed support for the two-state solution but said negotiations were being jeopardized by Israel’s “aggressive settlement expansion and demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the fragmentation and economic isolation of Palestinian communities in the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, and the endurance of the separation wall.”
The group also defended the BDS movement as a freedom of expression issue and repeated a statement from 2011 that called for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders and for an end to “the occupation and illegal settlements.”
Yussuff did not return calls and messages for comment.