NDP MPP criticizes Israel for arrest of PFLP member

Andrea Horwath (Wikimedia Commons/EK Park/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.fr)

B’nai Brith Canada is calling on Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to distance her party from Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden, who called on the federal government to demand that Israel release a suspected member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Canada and other countries have designated the PFLP as a terrorist organization.

Khalida Jarrar, a PFLP member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was arrested by Israeli security forces in Ramallah on Oct. 31. A senior Israeli security official told the Times of Israel that Jarrar was being held on suspicions of “involvement in terror activity.”

On Oct. 31, Harden tweeted that he was, “Saddened, sickened and disgusted by the continued abuse of Khalida Jarrar, my parliamentary colleague, by Israeli occupation forces.”

He called on Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “demand her release immediately.”

Yet Jarrar, B’nai Brith suggested in a press release, “would be ineligible for entering Canada because of her membership in this terror group. Harden refuses to address or acknowledge her role in this heinous organization, which has murdered Canadians such as Lonna Sabbah and Howie Rothman, and even allegedly murdered an innocent teenager as recently as last summer.”

B’nai Brith also took aim at Horwath for failing to address its concerns over the fact that a member of her caucus was supporting a member of a terrorist organization.

“What is the Ontario NDP’s issue with clearly and unequivocally disavowing an organization that murders Canadians, targets Israeli civilians and is recognized by the Canadian government as a terrorist threat?” the organization asked in its press release.

Horwath did not respond to The CJN’s requests for comment, but Lucy Watson, the NDP’s provincial secretary, sent a statement to the Toronto Sun saying, “Like most people around the world, we hope for a peaceful and sustainable negotiated resolution to the conflict in the region, and a lasting peace that respects human rights.”

Noah Shack, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ (CIJA) vice-president for the Greater Toronto Area, said, “The PFLP is a banned terrorist entity in Canada committed to the destruction of Israel. The group is notorious for highjacking civilian airliners and launching suicide bomb and shooting attacks targeting innocent civilians. We have communicated our serious concerns directly with the leader’s office and they have assured us that the comments made by MPP Harden about the PFLP do not represent the party’s position.”

According to a report from France 24 that cited the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners Club, Palestinian writer Ali Jaradat, a known member of the PFLP, was arrested the same night as Jarrar, along with 10 other people.

Jarrar, 56, was also arrested in 2017 for being a senior member of the PFLP and was held without trial under administrative detention until she was released seven months later.

The Times of Israel reported that Jarrar was also imprisoned in 2015 and 2016, after an Israeli military court convicted her of incitement to violence and promoting terrorist activities. Jarrar denied those charges.

On Nov. 3, Jarrar’s daughter, Jafa, tweeted that an Israeli military court had extended Jarrar’s current detention for eight days.

“No charges, no evidence against her..Typical arbitrary arrest of human rights advocates who speak out & expose #IsraeliCrimes,” Jafa Jarrar wrote. “The prosecutor asked the military judge in charge of mom’s case to postpone her detention based on secret evidence. Secret evidence means that neither mom or her lawyer can have access to anything the state is presenting against her.”

In response to that news, Harden tweeted: “Like @amnesty and other human rights organizations, I oppose the practice of administrative detention where people can be imprisoned arbitrarily without charge or trial.”

Israeli security officials defend their use of administrative detention, saying that proceeding by indictment could force them to reveal sensitive security information.