As a Jewish Canadian who believes strongly in Canadian values, the comments made by Israeli Minister of Finance and minister in the Ministry of Defense Bezalel Smotrich regarding the Palestinian village of Huwara are offensive and disgraceful. His statement earlier this week that the village should be “wiped out” is not only highly offensive but also a direct threat a vulnerable Palestinians that just suffered a deadly attack at the hands of Israeli settlers. Such remarks only serve to incite violence and further destabilize the region.
As you know, Smotrich was recently granted primary authority over the occupied West Bank and therefore his statement carries even more weight and must be condemned unequivocally. His half-hearted attempt to walk back his comments does little to undo the damage caused by his incitement. It is also deeply concerning that Smotrich's ideological partner in the government, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been convicted of promoting racism against Palestinians and supporting a terrorist organization, has been granted authority over military forces in the occupied West Bank and bears culpability for the failure to act during the pogrom on Hurawa.
An implicit acceptance of these comments and actions through meetings with these members of Knesset will be immensely damaging to the Canada-Israel relationship. Canada has always been committed to promoting peace and stability in the region, and Smotrich's remarks are an affront to these values.
I am writing to you today to ask you to take a firm stance against Smotrich's comments and actions. It is not enough to merely condemn his remarks; the government must take concrete steps to ensure the public that no Canadian officials legitimize Smotrich or Ben-Gvir's extremist views by meeting with them. This includes any meetings that may take place in Canada or elsewhere.
Furthermore, the Canadian government should make it clear that promoting grave violations of human rights, such as those made by Smotrich, and convictions on terror-related charges are grounds for the denial of an electronic travel authorization for entry into Canada. This would send a strong message to individuals who promote extremist views that Canada will not tolerate such behavior.