Palestinian envoy apologizes for controversial retweet
The Palestinian envoy to Canada who is leaving her post after retweeting a video accused of being anti-Jewish has apologized for her action.
"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."
The retweet, which said "check this video out" links to a YouTube video featuring a Palestinian girl, who, with music in the background, recites a poem in Arabic. She begins with "Palestinian is my name" and becomes more emotional as she continues.
At one point, according to the translation on the YouTube video, she refers to a "war that raze the injustice and oppression ... and destroy the Jews."
After learning about the retweet, the Foreign Affairs ministry complained to the Palestinian Charge d'Affaires.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Day called Sobeh Ali's actions a "serious transgression."
"We have taken the decision to limit communication with this official until a replacement is selected," he said in an email.
In her statement, Sobeh Ali said she and her own government agreed she 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. 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.
Some have questioned the English translation of the girl's' poem. Salah Basalamah, associate professor in the University of Ottawa's School of Translation and Interpretation, said the girl is "calling for a war against the soul of Zionism."
"There is in fact a big difference between calling for a war against Zionism and a war against Jews," Basalamah told CBC's As it Happens.
The difference between Judaism and Zionism is the difference between a religion and a political ideology, he said.
"You could find Jews who are not Zionists and you can find Zionists who are not Jews which means that those two concepts are absolutely not similar although they have a cross section," Basalamah said.
Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, rejected the attempt to distinguish between Zionism and the Jewish people.
"The two concepts are inherently intertwined. The one is simply the expression of the national will and movement as well as the identity of the Jewish people. So I'm not sure it can be dismissed as easily as some would that somehow it's OK to call for the destruction of Zionism without that being understood as a call for the destruction of the Jewish people or the Jewish state."
Fogel said that even though it was a retweet, individuals in a position of responsibility have an obligation to ensure what they disseminate is something they can defend.
"At the very least, it does in fact show very poor judgment on her part," Fogel told CBC's As It Happens.
But Fogel added his organization did not call for any action to be taken in response to the incident.