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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 the unfortunate incident and it was a retweet unintentional and very unfortunate," said Linda Sobeh Ali in statement released Tuesday.

Sobeh Ali said the incident was "intentionally magnified and misinterpreted by certain lobbying groups."

In her statement, Sobeh Ali said she and  the PA agreed she  would be reassigned "to maintain a good healthy relationship with Canada."

"I am a personal advocate for a two-state solution and for a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel,"she  said[ emphasis added].

"I am a human before being a diplomat and before being a politician and in no circumstances do I advocate for hate. I am a peace advocate."

"It is a retweet that I regret and it was never my intention to offend any person, Canada is a country that I respect."

In an interview with CTV, Sobeh Ali said she never watched the video and would never have retweeted the link had she known what the video contained.

Fogel  has added his organization CIJA did not call for any action to be taken in response to the incident.

Prior to landing herself in trouble, Sobeh Ali appears to have  spent  the better part of September lobbying to have Canada abstain rather than vote against a Palestinian bid for statehood unilaterally at the General Assembly, as reported in Embassy Magazine, based in Ottawa, on September 14, 2011 . 

"The Palestinian Canadians are a great element, they are part of Canada, they are talking to their MPs...they are good Canadians, part of this society, live in Canada, work in Canada, they are looking for fairness," said Sobeh Ali to Embassy Magazine.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has  said this summer that it would be meaningless for the UN General Assembly to vote in favour of the Palestinian bid.  Baird has calling the Palestinians' campaign a public-relations move, and has said he would willingly support the creation of an independent Palestinian state, but only if achieved through peace negotiations with Israel.

Sobeh Ali  told Embassy Magazine said that she is hoping Canadian officials will change their minds and abstain from voting.

"We expect Canada to be fair, we call on Canada since they are the advocates for The Responsibility to help us and help the world protect Palestinian human rights and self determination."

According to  Emnbassy Magazine, Ms. Sobeh Ali added that while she did not have conclusive evidence of this, she has heard that Canada has been lobbying like-minded democracies, such as Germany and Italy.

Media reports have indciated that Germany and Italy will likely oppose the bid along with the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

Editor's comment: One has to wonder how anyone could possibly take  Sobeh Ali's  statement that she is an advocate of a two state solution seriously--especially in light of what Honest Reporting has exposed about her  CBC interview before this latest incident. It's pretty clear that Sobeh Ali is not interested in a  two state solution involving  a Palestinian state and a State of Israel--When she talks of a two state solution, she appears to be thinking of two Palestinian states... one in the West Bank and Gaza and the other replacing Israel. When she talks about the occupation beginning in 1948,  isn't  this because she wants Palestinian refugees to RETURN TO ISRAEL ON MASSE and overrun it ? Note, that it's only after she gets herself into a rather big mess, do we hear about  how she advocates a two state solution.

I have no doubt that Sobeh  Ali is sorry about this incident--but mainly, for the fact, that she got caught.

 This article has been picked up by  the Women's League For Conservative Judasim: as well as Israel Behind the  News

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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.