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by Rhonda Spivak, report and comment October 19, 2011


"The English subtitles on the video PA envoy tweeted include a passage where millions are called “to a war that raze the injustice and oppression and destroy the Jews.”


Just as the Palestinian Authority is going to the  U.N seeking a unilateral bid of statehood, and has been trying to project a  "moderate" image as being a responsible partner for a two state solution, the Palestinian  envoy to Canada  appears to have let the cat out of the bag.

The Palestinian envoy to Canada has been told this past week that  she’s not welcome in Ottawa after she tweeted a link to a video that the Canadian government  has found to be an offensive diatribe against Jews.

As the Globe and Mail reported this week

"Now, Linda Sobeh Ali, the chargé d’affaires of the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa, is just one cut above persona non grata. The Canadian government called her in for a high-level dressing down, made a formal protest to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and has decided to “limit communication” with her until a replacement arrives.

The diplomatic cold shoulder was sparked when Ms. Sobeh Ali took to Twitter this month to circulate a link to a video posted on YouTube, telling her followers on the social-media message system to “check this video out.”

The video shows a Palestinian girl, in tears and shouting with passion, reciting a poem in Arabic, “I am Palestinian.” The English subtitles on the video include a passage where millions are called “to a war that raze the injustice and oppression and destroy the Jews.”[emphasis added]

After learning about this some two weeks ago,  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird instructed his deputy minister, Morris Rosenberg, to call Ms. Sobeh Ali in to complain, and also instructed the Canadian representative in the West Bank, Chris Greenshields, who is based in Ramallah to protest to the Palestinian Authority. Ali, is  essentially the Palestinian ambassador, to Canada, but isn't referred to as that because she does not represent a sovereign state
“Canada expects the Palestinian Authority to appropriately deal with this serious transgression,” Mr. Baird’s spokesman, Chris Day, said in an e-mail to the  Globe and Mail. “We have taken the decision to limit communication with this official until a replacement is selected.” He referred to this incident as showing  a "serious lack of judgement".

The Globe also reported that it appears that Ms. Sobeh Ali  will be replaced. 

According to the Globe, when reached by telephone on Monday October 17, Ms. Sobeh Ali said she was not in a position to comment right now. She denied a rumour she was leaving Ottawa this week, "but when asked if the Palestinian Authority has recalled her, she said a polite goodbye, and hung up."

The Globe article also mentions that the English subtitles in the video linked to Ms. Sobeh Ali are a mistranslation of the girl’s Arabic poem in several parts.
"The phrase that the subtitles translate as, “to a war that raze the injustice and oppression and destroy the Jews,” is correctly translated as, “to a war that is destroying oppression and kill the soul of Zionism,” according to Salah Basalamah, associate professor in the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation and Interpretation."
However, Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which first sent Ms. Sobeh Ali’s video tweet to Mr. Baird’s office, told the  Globe that both versions are unfit to be circulated by a Palestinian envoy, and that he was "shocked" on seeing the video.
“You’re speaking to someone who doesn’t see a difference,” Mr. Fogel said. Calling for a war for the destruction of Zionism – the movement to establish a Jewish land – is a denial of Israel’s right to exist, he said, and the passion of the girl, shaking as her eyes well up with tears, makes it an entirely wrong thing for a Palestinian envoy to Ottawa to circulate, he said.

However, Mr. Basalamah told the  Globe there is a substantial difference between the Arabic poem and the English subtitles. He said that the phrase “kill the soul of Zionism” can “not in any way” be interpreted as “destroy the Jews.”  Not all Jews are Zionists and vice versa, he argued, and “the problem that Palestinians have with Israel is the ideology that has conducted the Palestinians to be stripped of their lands, and not their religion.”

But, even if one goes by what  Basalamah says, ( that not all Jews are Zionists)he is arguably still referring to the destruction of Israel, and certainly not a peaceful settlement.

Presently, Ms. Sobeh Ali's Twitter and Facebook accounts are no longer active.

[check it out:]

According to the  Honest Reporting website, "Just a few weeks ago [prior to this twittering incident], Honest Reporting Canada exposed comments that Sobeh Ali made on CBC Radio's The Current's where she claimed that Israel has been occupying territories since 1948, the year Israel declared its independence. In doing so, Ms. Sobeh Ali had essentially claimed that Israel has no right to exist. [emphasis added]Comments for which she never apologized for and which went unchallenged by the CBC host. this point whether she has been recalled by the Palestinian Authority. It's fair to say at this point that this diplomat's reputation as a credible interlocutor is severely tarnished to the point of no return.[emphasis]"

On Tuesday October 18, Ali  apologized, (sort-of).

"I regret t

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.