Trudeau slams activist who suggested Jewish MPs more loyal to Israel than Canada

Trudeau slams activist who suggested Jewish MPs more loyal to Israel than Canada

Dimitri Lascaris’s comments calling on pair of lawmakers to condemn actions of B’nai Brith supporters lambasted as ‘vile and anti-Semitic smears’

Dimitri Lascaris speaks at a rally in June 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Dimitri Lascaris speaks at a rally in June 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lambasted a local activist for “vile anti-Semitic smears” following a tweet which accused a pair of Jewish lawmakers of being more loyal to Israel than to Canada.

On Thursday, Dimitri Lascaris, a board member of the progressive grassroots organization Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), said MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt were more loyal to “apartheid Israel.”

The tweet followed an article Lascaris posted on his website, which criticized a pair of women who participated in a rally organized by B’nai Brith Canada and then posted a video calling for Trudeau and other liberal lawmakers to receive the death penalty.

Lascaris then called on Housefather and Levitt to condemn the women, though it was not clear what their connection was to them or to B’nai Brith, beyond that the lawmakers are Jewish.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to AFP journalists in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 9, 2018. (AFP Photo/Lars Hagberg)

“Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own Prime Minister and their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus,” he tweeted.

Lascaris’s tweets prompted a quick response from Trudeau and lawmakers across the political spectrum.

“Vile anti-Semitic smears like this are completely unacceptable, and should always be called out. Thank you @LevittMichael and @AHousefather for standing up to this, and for everything you do for your communities and our country,” tweeted Trudeau on Saturday.

Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer called it “shameful to see two MPs subjected to such anti-Semitism, accused of dual loyalties, simply because they’re Jewish & support Israel.”

The leader of the NDP social democratic party Jagmeet Singh and Green Party head Elizabeth May also tweeted out criticism of Lascaris.

Anthony Housefather (Wikimeida commons)

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel released a statement noting how “those who seek to demonize and ultimately dismantle the Jewish State, through BDS and other toxic forms of advocacy, are becoming bolder and more aggressive.” Fogel was referencing Lascaris’s position on the board of CJPME, an organization that CIJA claims supports the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

In response, Lascaris released a statement of his own saying that his comments were posted on his own Twitter account and reflected his views alone, not those of CJPME. At the same time, the activist stood by his remarks.

“Politicians are routinely criticized for prioritizing the interests of a particular constituency over the national interests. There is nothing unusual about such criticisms,” he wrote.

In a follow-up statement to The Times of Israel, Lascaris wrote, “It is wrong to suggest… that I criticized the priorities of Levitt and Housefather because they are Jewish. Their ethnicity and religion had nothing to do with my tweet. It had everything to do with their near-fanatical support for Israel.”

Readers, said Lascaris, “cannot possibly understand why I made that statement about Messrs. Levitt and Housefather without knowing of their unambiguous record of unqualified support for Israel, including their appalling decision to support Israel when the IDF shot Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani in May of this year.”

For his part, Fogel thanked Trudeau and the various other elected officials who condemned Lascaris’s tweets.

Michael Levitt (Courtesy)

“We are not alone in this fight. Elected leaders at the highest levels increasingly recognize that hatred of Israel goes hand-in-hand with hatred of Jews. It is a powerful statement to have federal party leaders unite, despite their many other differences, in defense of our community when we are targeted for antisemitism,” he said.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more: