After a deluge of negative publicity and pressure from Jewish organizations, a downtown Toronto church cancelled an event that would have glorified a Palestinian terrorist.

In 1972, my parents were visiting Israel while I was in Japan on business. One morning, I turned on U.S. Armed Forces radio to hear that terrorists had opened fire at Lod (now Ben-Gurion International) Airport and slaughtered more than 20 innocent civilians. My parents were meant to be checking in at Lod right around the time of the attack and it took me many hours before I found out through the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo that they were not among the victims.

The culprits responsible for the murderous rampage were members of the Japanese Red Army, assisted by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One of the leaders of the PFLP at the time, who proudly declared his vital role in the mass murder, was Ghassan Kanafani. He was liquidated by Israeli forces some months later.

There is no way to dignify or excuse Kanafani’s record of supporting and directing terrorist attacks on Israelis and Jews (he made no distinction). He was not working to overcome a repressive occupying force because Israel had never forcefully seized territory from anybody. He and his fellow Palestinians were not suffering privation or abuse at the hands of Israel. If such conditions existed among the Palestinians, it was (and still is) their own leadership that is responsible. Israel has extended an olive branch on innumerable occasions, only to be rebuffed and subjected to increased terrorism.

One would think any open-minded and objective observer of Middle East events would recognize the depravity and futility of Palestinian terrorism, but it’s apparent that Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and Center for Faith, Justice and the Arts in Toronto didn’t get the memo.  They agreed to provide space for an event scheduled for later this month organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) – the “Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Scholarship Launch.”

When the church was asked why they were hosting an event glorifying a major terrorist figure, they responded that the PYM had provided a written statement saying they did not support or condone violence. That statement is simply untrue. The church could have easily googled the PYM’s public statements, and if the church had bothered to look up the biography of Mr. Kanafani, they would have learned about his damnable past.

That this church could so unreservedly and so gullibly endorse the Palestinian victim narrative and have no hesitation in playing a part in the glorification of a murderous thug comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the church’s position on the Israel/Palestine question over the past decade.

Church Proclaims Support for BDS

On its website, the church proudly proclaims its support for the BDS movement (nothing anti-Semitic about that?). It also claims to be seeking a “… just peace between Palestinians and Israelis by contributing to the end of the occupation of the Palestinian territories …” (no mention of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza or their presence in Judea and Samaria being the consequence of Arab wars of aggression). The website, in fact, is wall-to-wall lamentations for Gaza victims of “peaceful protests” (no consideration given to what those protestors would have done had they succeeded in penetrating into Israel, no acknowledgment of the Palestinians being armed and anything but peaceful, not a word about the firing of hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians and the burning of acres and acres of farmland and nature reserves).

Then there is the church’s expression of solidarity with their fellow Christians in Gaza who have “ … endured three wars in the past few years” without noting that the wars in Gaza were the direct result of Palestinian terrorism and that Muslims in Gaza have not exactly been welcoming hosts to the Christians in their midst, to say the least.

Predictably, there is virtually no mention on the church’s website or in their published materials of human rights issues in countries such as China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, etc.  It is only Israel that the church deems worthy of exhaustive scrutiny and condemnation.

Only One Explanation: Anti-Semitism

There is only one explanation for this type of wilful ignorance, skewed analysis, outright distortions and fabrications, obsession with Israel and support for a group that has made it their mission in life for the past 100 years to murder Jews: pure, unabashed anti-Semitism.

After the deluge of negative publicity and pressure from B’nai Brith Canada and other Jewish organizations, the church announced this past weekend that they were cancelling the Kanafani Arts Launch but they did not provide the reason(s) for the cancellation. One would like to believe that they realized a church had no business glorifying a terrorist organization and one of its most prominent leaders, but if past history is any indication, it is more likely that this United Church branch simply determined that the negative publicity associated with this event did not serve their greater mission of encouraging and normalizing Palestinian resistance to any peace agreement.

The church can claim to be an unbiased player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but its sneering provocations and continual attacks on Israel’s restrained defensive measures tells you everything you need to know about its true character and motives.

The church can try to hide behind whatever rationalizations it conjures up, but in the words of poet James Riley, when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

Article by Henry Roth

Henry Roth was born in Haifa and immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. The son of Romanian Holocaust survivors, he has been married to Brenda for 43 years, is the father of two sons, Marc and David, the happy grandfather of Nicolas and a proud and loud Zionist.