Calgary, Canada – “When asked if he hoped that Canada would one day be governed by sharia, he said yes.”

July 2, 2012
Canada Day 2012 > article by Licia Corbella

I did everything right, or so I thought. After walking through the big main doors of the Akram Jomaa Islamic Centre in northeast Calgary on Friday it became obvious I was in the wrong place, as I was the only woman in sight.

So I walked back outside a little further south and followed some women into another door. Like everyone else, I took off my shoes, placed them neatly on the shelf and climbed the stairs. I sat down on the carpeted floor with convenient stripes that make it easy to ensure those in attendance sit facing Mecca, where I could watch through a glass balcony the men and boys gather below for prayers and to listen to controversial Muslim cleric, Bilal Philips of Toronto.

A kindly older woman offered me a head scarf. I respectfully put it on, despite the heat. A few minutes later, however, an angry greyhaired man in a plaid shirt walked into the women’s area, came up to me and another female reporter from a different Calgary paper and insisted we leave. “No media allowed,” he barked.

“You don’t support us, we won’t support you,” said the man in plaid.

It was a strange occurrence, particularly since I had been invited to attend the event by both Bilal Philips himself, who sent me two complimentary tickets to the conference called: Power of Unity – Islam in a Multicultural Canada, taking place this entire weekend, as well as by Abraham Ayache, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary, who was putting on the event.

During an interview on June 6, Ayache told me no one had ever been kicked out any of the Sunni mosques run by the Muslim Council of Calgary. I guess I very nearly became the first.

Eventually Nagah Hage, the conference committee chair, was summoned and he granted us permission to stay just in time for prayers to start.

Philips, a Saudi-educated cleric, was born in Jamaica and raised in Ontario, where he converted to Islam. He is considered controversial because he is on the record saying that all male homosexuals should be killed for their deviant behaviour.

He is not the only contentious speaker on the agenda. Munir El-Kassem, a dentist from London, Ont., wrote a column back in 2001 that criticized the West as hypocritical and defended the medieval and murderous Taliban for destroying the sixth-century Buddha statues in Bamiyan. Shaykh Hatem Alhaj lost his job recently at the Mayo Clinic because he wrote papers in support of female genital circumcision, which is illegal in North America. He later clarified his position by saying he only supports nicking the clitoris, not cutting it right off.

Shortly after his sermon about the importance of gratitude, Philips clarified his views on homosexuality in a one-on-one interview.

In short, he only thinks homosexuals should be executed in Muslim countries and only after four people have witnessed the homosexual act.

“The media tends to take my words out of context,” Philips said. “If you go back and view the lectures in which I spoke about this, those lectures were basically in defence of the sharia – the Islamic law.

“So, in explaining there that homosexuality, adultery, these are both punishable by execution where there is incontrovertible evidence, they have to have been witnessed by four trusted people in society. That is sufficient then to bring that punishment on them in a Muslim country where the sharia is applied,” he explained.

“This is not a controversial thing for me,” he added. “No Muslim who knows Islam would say otherwise,” he said.

When it was pointed out that the Qur’an was written 1,400 years ago and things have changed, Philips said this judgment against homosexuals would “remain the law until the end of this world according to our belief. It will never change.”

Nevertheless, that evening, Philips intended to lecture about how while the “Muslim identity has to be preserved. . . . Muslims have to respect the laws of their host countries they live in.”

That’s why, he said, “I would never advocate here in Canada the execution death penalty for homosexuals. I would never do so,” Philips added.

It’s a small mercy but a mercy nonetheless.

While Philips wouldn’t shake my hand for religious reasons – he was charming, open and warm. When asked if he hoped that Canada would one day be governed by sharia, he said yes.

“If the majority of people become Muslims that is our hope,” but he said it was highly unlikely.

When asked why if Islamic law is the ideal, why do so many people who live in Muslim countries want to move to Canada, the U.S. and other western democracies, Philips said most Muslim countries do not operate under sharia.

He named Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan as good examples of where sharia is “applied to a large degree.”

Hardly bastions of equality, fairness, freedom, enlightenment, education and prosperity. Frankly, Philips made my point for me.

We were sitting in the large gym that was filling up. The session called “Justice for All – Why Muslims are always profiled” was ready to start. Aman Elvi, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent and Raj Sharma, a Calgary immigration lawyer were going to speak and I was asked to leave – again. I was told CSIS didn’t want me to be present, but when I called CSIS communications in Ottawa I was told that it was the event organizers who established the parameters and “closed this event to the media.”

And so, this time I really was kicked out of the event I was told was open to all.

And so I reflected on Philips’ sermon on gratitude as I left. I was grateful for the sunshine, for the Tim Hortons across the road, for the kind women I met and on this Canada Day weekend, I was grateful most of all for Canada – for our parliamentary democracy and the rule of law that protects us all. I will forever stand on guard for thee.

Licia Corbella is a columnist and the editorial page editor.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

KAPO – “Naomi Chazan”

July 2, 2012

Unsettling Lies About Israel – by Salomon Benzimra, P.E.

Naomi Chazan was deputy speaker of the Knesset and the dean of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. Given her credentials, one would have thought that she would have a good grasp of politics and law. But in a recent article published in The Forward, she stated that “Israel’s settlement enterprise…violate[s] international law” because “colonizing occupied land is illegal [based on] the Geneva Conventions,” notwithstanding the contrary opinion expressed in “the contortions of a few right-wing legal scholars.”

Well, I am no legal scholar but I’d rather be on the side of those right-wing “contortionists” than on Ms. Chazan’s, whose sympathy for the “Palestinian cause”—lamely cloaked in “human rights”—is quicker than her comprehension. Here are a few legal scholars, including eminent ones, whom Ms. Chazan dismisses offhand, and whose so-called “contortions” strongly confirm the legality of the “settlements” and support the legitimate rights of Israel in Judea and Samaria:

  • Stephen M. Schwebel, Professor of International Law at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University (Washington), former Deputy Legal Advisor of the U.S. State Department and President of the International Court of Justice from 1997 to 2000: “Where the prior holder of territory [Jordan] had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.”
  • Eugene W. Rostow, Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace: “The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created… The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated…”
  • Julius Stone, one of the 20th century leading authorities on the Law of Nations, Doctor of Juridical Science from Harvard and Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at universities in Australia and California: “The terms of Article 49(6) [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] however they are interpreted, are submitted to be totally irrelevant. To render them relevant, we would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the state of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever ‘judenrein’.”
  • David Matas, world-renowned human rights lawyer and honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada: “For there to be an occupation at international law, there has to be an occupying and occupied power both of which are members of the community of nations. The only conceivable occupied power for the West Bank is Jordan. Yet Jordan has renounced all claims over the West Bank.”
  • David M. Phillips, Professor at Northeastern University School of Law: “Indeed, the analysis underlying the conclusion that the settlements violate international law depends entirely on an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative that the West Bank is “Arab” land. Followed to its logical conclusion – as some have done – this narrative precludes the legitimacy of Israel itself…The ultimate end of the illicit effort to use international law to delegitimize the settlements is clear – it is the same argument used by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state entirely.”
  • Jeffrey S. Helmreich, author and writer for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “The settlements are not located in ‘occupied territory.’ The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 80 of the UN Charter.”

And yet, Ms. Chazan disingenuously refers to “international law” time and time again in her article–eight times, no less!—to accuse Israel of its “45 years of occupation” which, she says, brought “international obloquy” to the Jewish State and is turning Israel into an “international pariah.” I heard similar accusations at a presentation she gave at the Darchei Noam Synagogue of Toronto on May 9, 2010, where she praised the New Israel Fund (NIF, which she presides) for the support it gave to the infamous Goldstone Commission. In response to a question from the audience she said, flatly: “I don’t call it ‘Judea and Samaria’; I call it the West Bank.” That says it all. Perhaps unwittingly, she bears some responsibility for the “international obloquy” that Israel is facing, by disfiguring the truth in such a grotesque way.

And she is not alone. Many Israelis who share her “naive” mindset (to put it mildly) are eagerly quoted by the most vociferous anti-Zionists. Ilan Pappé is the poster boy of “Israel Apartheid Week.” Neve Gordon discredited his university by supporting the Israel boycott campaign. Gilad Atzmon and Avi Shlaim were quoted approvingly by Turkish PM Erdogan at the Davos Economic Forum in 2009, when he blasted Shimon Peres and the State of Israel before abruptly leaving the conference (video at min. 2:30). These Jews and others have made a career of slandering Israel and distorting the truth, as Ms. Chazan does when she claims that there are a “dwindling number of supporters of Israel’s settlement enterprise.” That statement flies in the face of a recent pollconducted by the Ariel University Center, which showed that 64% of Israelis support continued settlement activity in Judea & Samaria. Some dwindling number!

Factual evidence is the last concern of Israel’s detractors. To peddle their treacherous agenda, they must be sheltered from facts, or turn them upside down, or invent fake ones out of thin air. But Israelis and Diaspora Jews are increasingly aware of their machinations. And this is what exasperates the post/anti-Zionists who feel more and more left in the dust with the colossal failure of their ill-conceived schemes.

As Cicero was worrying, over two thousand years ago, about the survival of the Roman Republic when it was internally threatened by treacherous insiders, we might ask: For how long will the Jewish anti-Israel crowd be abusing our patience? And for how long will their unbridled madness mock and slander the Jewish State?

Salomon Benzimra is a chemical engineer based in Toronto, where he professional work includes process design of water-pumping stations, energy systems and project economic analysis. He is interested in Middle East politics, and, accordingly, he co-founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR), which has been in existence since 2009.
Copyright ©2012. Salomon Benzimra. All Rights Reserved.

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