Canadian MPs Under Fire for Pushing ‘Antisemitic Conspiracy’ That Israel is Denying COVID-19 Vaccine to Palestinians
Two Canadian parliamentarians have been accused by a leading Jewish organization of adding “fuel to the fire of antisemitic conspiracy theories” after they shared misleading claims on social media that Israel was excluding Palestinians from its coronavirus vaccination roll-out.
The two MPs — Charlie Angus and Leah Gazan, from the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) — posted links to a widely-panned Jan. 3 article in The Guardian headlined, “Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers.”
Angus, who represents the Timmins—James Bay riding in the Canadian parliament, pushed the article alongside the hashtag “apartheidstate,” while Gazan, the MP for Winnipeg Centre, charged Israel with “excluding people from being vaccinated based on discriminatory decisions and a clear violation of human rights.”
In response, B’nai Brith Canada on Tuesday sent a letter to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh urging the “censure of these two MPs, an action we urge you to take without delay.”
“Our elected representatives have a duty to be informed before posting inaccurate information that demonizes Israel,” B’nai Brith wrote. “Statements which contain false information and biased accusations are irresponsible and show lack of judgement.”
In a response to the Jewish advocacy organization, Angus declared himself “shocked” at the charge that he was spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories. He noted that on a visit to Israel one year ago “to participate at the incredibly moving Holocaust memorial at the Yad Vashem Center,” he had made sure to “ask as many officials as I could about the situation in the Palestinian territories.” Since the onset of the pandemic, Angus said, he had hoped that Israel would use its “enormous resources to ensure that people who are denied political independence are given the full protection they deserve.”
Angus’s reply received short shrift from B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn on Wednesday.
“We have always been clear that elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, bear ultimate responsibility for material they post to social media, including conspiracy theories,” Mostyn said in a statement. “Mr. Angus should do the right thing and admit that the story he disseminated is insidiously misleading and that describing Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ is morally, and factually, objectionable. If he is unwilling to do so, then federal NDP leadership must do so for him.”