"Chikli and his far-right government present serious harms to many different groups of people, and Palestinians cannot be left out of this conversation. As a people under Israeli occupation and apartheid, the Palestinians must be included in all reporting on this subject."
May 26, 2023
Stephanie Levitz, Ottawa Bureau, Toronto Star
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Dear Ms. Levitz and Mr. Vincent,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request an immediate update to the story “Mélanie Joly’s office upset over Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis and preacher Charles McVety’s plan to host Israeli minister,” which was published by the Toronto Star on May 26, 2023.
The article describes “Jerusalem Day” only as “a holiday in which Israel commemorates the unification of East and West Jerusalem after the Six-Day War.” However, it does not provide the necessary context that what Israel refers to as “unification” is the belligerent occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, which is considered occupied Palestinian territory.
East Jerusalem’s status as occupied territory is not an opinion but a matter of a settled consensus at the international level, as confirmed by the United Nations Security Council and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. UNSC Resolution 478 (1980) condemned Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem as a “violation of international law,” and this was affirmed by UNSC resolution 2334 (2016) which emphasized the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. The official position of the Canadian government is that it “does not recognize Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.”
I insist that the article is immediately updated to include this context, and should read:
McVety’s event is being billed as a Jerusalem Day celebration, a holiday in which Israel commemorates what it calls the unification of East and West Jerusalem after the Six-Day War. The status of East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and Israel’s unilateral annexation of the territory is illegal under international law and not recognized by the Canadian government.
Secondly, given that the story touches on the far-right positions and associations of Israeli diaspora affairs minister Amichai Chikli, I also request that the story is updated to include context about his racist and dangerous views against Palestinians. For example, Chikli has:
- denigrated and called for the elimination of Palestinian national identity, claiming that it has no “positive content of its own” and that “we won’t be rid of this conflict until this national identity ceases to be”;
- demonized Palestinian society as “a barbaric society that breeds murderous children and admirers of martyrs who slaughter women and babies”;
- repeatedly compared Palestinians to Nazis, referring to the Palestinian Authority as a “neo-Nazi entity” and saying that an entire generation of Palestinians was raised “in the spirit of the Hitler Youth.”
- said of his government’s moves to illegally annex the occupied West Bank that “De facto annexation is excellent. I don’t have any problem with that.”
Chikli and his far-right government present serious harms to many different groups of people, and Palestinians cannot be left out of this conversation. As a people under Israeli occupation and apartheid, the Palestinians must be included in all reporting on this subject.
Thank you for making these updates promptly. Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Vice President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 Government of Canada, “Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” last updated January 20, 2023, https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng#a04