A group on the Canadian government’s terrorist list has celebrated Selina Robinson’s resignation from the NDP cabinet.
“The downfall of a minister biased towards the zionist entity in Canada is an important precedent,” reads the headline of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Central Media Office statement on Feb. 7. It appears on a Telegram channel that carries live updates from groups fighting against the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), but does not mention Robinson by name.
PFLP said it “salutes” those who helped oust Robinson from her post as the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills on Feb. 5 for comments that critics deemed Islamophobic and racist.
“This resounding fall of one of the Canadian ministers, biased towards zionism, and the shift in the official Canadian stance on the aggression against the [Gaza] Strip confirms that the Palestinian cause is present in the conscience of the majority of the Canadian people, and that it means a lot to them, and is even inspiring to the indigenous people in their just struggle to reclaim their rights in Canada,” reads the PFLP statement, which runs 352 words.
The message was posted after Robinson’s Maillardville riding office was vandalized Feb. 6 and before Premier David Eby’s X account revealed Feb. 8 that she had been targeted with a death threat. There is no evidence that these incidents are connected.
“Hatred and violence are completely unacceptable in B.C. There is no excuse, ever,” Eby’s message read.
“We can confirm that an investigation is underway, but we are not in a position at this time to discuss any specifics or provide any other details,” B.C. RCMP public information officer S. Sgt. Kris Clark said about the alleged threats against Robinson.
A human rights lawyer in Toronto said Canadians should be alarmed by the PFLP wading into British Columbia politics.
“The PFLP is a listed terrorist organization, plain and simple, this is not a governance group, this is not an innocent human rights body,” said Sarah Teich, a legal advisor to Secure Canada and senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. “This is a group that supports and engages in acts of terrorism overseas and they have a presence in multiple other countries and they’ve been designated and banned in multiple other countries.”
Canada banned PFLP in 2003. The Public Safety Canada profile said it formed in 1967 with the goal of “destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a communist government in Palestine.”
PFLP has a history of guerrilla warfare, suicide bombings and hijacking civilian airliners. It was responsible for the 2001 assassination of Israel’s Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi and attacked a Jerusalem synagogue in 2014, killing six.
Ahmad Sa’adat, PFLP leader since 2001, was sentenced in 2008 to 30 years in jail by Israel for masterminding the Ze’evi assassination.
A Vancouver group has campaigned for Sa’adat to be released. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Group is also a co-organizer of many of the Lower Mainland’s anti-Israel protests since Oct. 7.
On Feb. 2, during a Workers World Party livestream called “How to Defend Palestinian Resistance,” Samidoun international coordinator Charlotte Kates called Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel “a fantastic military operation that kind of showcased the power of the Palestinian resistance to take an unexpected action.”
Her husband, Khaled Barakat, was identified on the webcast as a member of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path. Barakat reiterated the far left movement’s goal is to end Israel.
“The two state solution is just a Zionist, capitalist plot to liquidate the Palestinian people… no one should adopt a two state solution,” Barakat said.
Samidoun registered as a not-for-profit in Canada in 2021, shortly after it was banned in Israel. Last fall, the German government followed.
“If you have these groups that are supporting what Hamas did on Oct. 7 —and before and afterwards as well — celebrating the death of innocent civilians, supporting it, I don’t think those organizations have any business being registered charities in Canada,” Teich said.
Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 — the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust — and took 240 hostages. While 105 were freed during a November ceasefire with Hamas, Israel reportedly believes 32 of the remaining hostages are dead.
The Hamas health ministry says more than 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the IDF retaliated, but it does not distinguish between civilian and military fatalities.
On a Jan. 30 B’nai Brith Canada online forum, Robinson said that before Israel was founded, “it was a crappy piece of land with nothing on it, there were several hundred thousand people, but other than that, it didn’t produce an economy.” It sparked complaints from mosque leaders and anti-Israel protesters, who protested at the NDP caucus retreat in Surrey.
Robinson, an MLA since 2013, issued two written apologies and vowed to take anti-Islamophobia training, but was absent from Eby’s Feb. 5 announcement. Robinson simultaneously announced in another written statement that she would not run for re-election.
Coincidentally, the controversy happened the week after the United Kingdom’s Minister of Justice, Conservative Mike Freer, said he would not run for re-election. Freer’s office in a riding with a large Jewish community suffered arson in December and he had been targeted in 2021 by an Islamic radical who later murdered another Conservative MP, David Amess.
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