Toronto police investigate teacher’s comments at Al-Quds Day rally

Screenshot of a YouTube video - Toronto teacher Nadia Shoufani speaking at the Al-Quds Day rally July 2.

B’nai Brith Canada has filed a complaint with police against Mississauga teacher Nadia Shoufani for allegedly glorifying terrorists and calling for violence against Israelis at the Toronto Al-Quds Day rally near Queen’s Park on July 2.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is also launching an investigation into the incident after B’nai Brith Canada issued a complaint against Shoufani July 5.”We are actively investigating the issue,” school board spokesman Bruce Campbell told CJN freelance writer Ron Csillag, but wouldn’t comment on “the structure of the investigation.”

A spokesperson from the Toronto Police Service told The CJN that the incident is being investigated.

Amanda Hohmann, national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s agency The League for Human Rights, said B’nai Brith’s key concern is that Shoufani, who teaches at St. Catherine of Siena Separate School in Mississauga, expressed in a speech she delivered at the Al-Quds Day rally “support for listed terrorist entities in Canada.”

Further, Hohmann said Shoufani’s nine-minute speech, which a B’nai Brith Canada supporter filmed and which the organization posted on YouTube, is anti-Semitic.

“[Shoufani] calls for the support of supposed martyrs that are working to ‘liberate’ Palestine. One of the basic definitions of anti-Semitism is the idea Israel has no right to exist. She is supporting people who are calling for the destruction of Israel and actively working towards it,” said Hohmann.

Hohmann added that Shoufani’s comments are particularly concerning to B’nai Brith Canada because she’s a teacher.

“She deals with a vulnerable population. Children are very susceptible to particular ideologies,” Hohmann said.

B’nai Brith Canada’s press release states that Shoufani praised Ghassan Kanafani and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, two men with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group that the government of Canada classifies as a terrorist entity.

In her speech, Shoufani implored those who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people to speak out against what she referred to as “the brutal occupation and ongoing Israeli aggressions and crimes committed against Palestinians.”

She urged the crowd assembled to heed the words of “our martyr” Kanafani – a Palestinian writer and leading member of the PFLP who was assassinated by the Mossad – who Shoufani quoted as saying, “the Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only but for every revolutionary, wherever he is. It’s a cause for all the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”

Later in the speech Shoufani referred to as illegal the imprisonment of Abdallah, a Lebanese militant who was arrested in France for the 1982 murder of an assistant US military attaché and an Israeli diplomat in Paris,.

She stressed that Abdallah was a “struggler for Palestine.”

Shoufani also called on the audience to “break the silence of the international community and the complicit media,” raise awareness for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and “urge our governments to condemn Israel’s illegal policies of administrative detention [of Palestinian prisoners].”

At another point in the speech she exclaimed: “No to the so- called peace with an occupier…When they steal your land, demolish your house, put forth all sorts of discriminatory, racist laws to push you out…kill your family and friends, what do you do? You have to have the right to resist. We have the right to fight back.”

Hohmann emphasized that promoting “known terrorist organizations and martyrs” could lead to “radicalization.”

She also noted that the incident is part of a larger series of investigations B’nai Brith Canada is undertaking to “expose these sorts of radicalized people promoting terrorism.”

B’nai Brith Canada and other Jewish groups have unsuccessfully tried in the past to have the Al-Quds Day rally banned by the Ontario Legislative Assembly.

International Al-Quds Day, typically celebrated after the fast month of Ramadan, was started in 1979 by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The day is held in solidarity with the Palestinians and in opposition to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Al-Quds Day rallies are held each year in cities across the world.