Canadian Arab Federation

Canadian Arab Federation

The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) was formed in 1967 to represent the interests of Arab Canadians with respect to the formulation of public policy in Canada. It presently consists of over 40 member organizations.

In discharging its political tasks, it relies on building media and government relations and grassroots support through various capacity-building projects within the Canadian Arab community, also promoting the richness of Muslim and Arab culture.

CAF objectives include protecting civil liberties and human rights as well as combating racism and hate within Canada. It has been most vocal against recent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim activities in Canada, and has issued many position papers to the government with respect to its policies in the Southwest Asia and its domestic policies dealing with immigration.cite web | title=Civil Liberties and Canadian Arab Groups Oppose Deportation Order. | date=July/August 1994. | author=Kutty, Faisal. | publisher=Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. | url=]

The current president of the CAF, Khaled Mouammar, was elected to the post in early 2006. Mouammar was also president in the 1970s, and again from 1980 to 1982. The current executive director is former journalist Mohamed Boudjenane.


Since its founding in 1967, the CAF has formed an integral part of the Canadian cultural and political landscape, representing the Arab community as regards a range of issues, both foreign and domestic.

In "The Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches" (2002), Haim Genizi writes of the CAF's participation in a 1982 - 1983 initiative of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) to launch a tripartite Southwest Asian discussion group for the CCC, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), and the CAF. When the CJC declined to dialogue with Arabs, meetings between the CAF and the CCC alone continued on for eight months, ending with agreement on the need to educate Canadians to dispel anti-Arab stereotyping. For the churches, there was also recognition of the need to formulate a clear policy on Southwest Asia situation.cite book|title="The Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches"|author=Haim Genizi|year=2002|publisher=McGill-Queen's Press|page=26|isbn=0773524010]

In 1982, the CAF commissioned a study on the depiction of Arabs in political cartoons published between 1972 and 1982 in Canadian dailies. Published in 1986, the study determined that Arabs were repeatedly portrayed in a stereotypical fashion as bloodthirsty terrorists, untrustworthy, ignorant, cruel, and backwards. The researcher pointed to the danger of such pervasive negative imagery, recalling the role played by German caricaturists in their similar depictions of Jews as laying the basis for the Holocaust.cite book|title=Discourses of Domination: Racial Bias in the Canadian English-Language|author=Frances Henry, Carol Tator|year=2002|publisher=University of Toronto Press|page=42|isbn=0802084575]

During the Gulf War, CAF documented over 100 violent anti-Arab incidents,cite book|title=Only a Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology|author=Allan Antliff|year=2004|page=132|publisher=Arsenal Pulp Press|isbn=1551521679] calling the security roundup of more than 1,000 Arab-Canadians the most encompassing security sweep in Canada's history.cite book|title="Food for Our Grandmothers"|author=Joanna Kadi (Mona Marshy, contributor)|publisher=South End Press|year=1994|page=120|isbn=089608489]

On 14 June 2004, the CAF, in cooperation with the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), presented before the Arar Commission, a Canadian special commission set up to investigate the extraordinary rendition and torture of Maher Arar.cite web | title=Opening Statement: Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar. | author=Submission by Solicitors Khalid I. Baksh & Melvyn Green. | url=] cite web | title=Supplementary Submission to the Arar Commission Policy Review. | accessdate= 2006-07-05. | publisher=Canadian Arab Federation & Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. | PDF document. | url=] A Canadian citizen of Syrian origin, Arar was detained by American immigration officials at a New York airport on a stopover there between Geneva and Toronto. He was sent to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured for a year before finally being released.

The CAF and the CAIR reminded the special commission that there need, "be no contradiction between security and the fundamental values we share as Canadians". The joint submission continued:

"Democratic and legal rights and liberties, pluralism, respect for human dignity and the rule of law are the principles that define us as Canadians. These are the'basic tenets' of our legal system that find their explicit affirmation in the Charter. They are what safeguard democracy. If, in the name of fighting terrorism, we sacrifice these values for the sake of security, we lose our character, our identity, the very essence of a free and democratic society. We lose the war on terrorism if we become that kind of state that represses democratic rights and freedoms.cite web | title=Opening Statement: Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar. | author=Submission by Solicitors Khalid I. Baksh & Melvyn Green. | url=] cite web | title=Supplementary Submission to the Arar Commission Policy Review. | accessdate= 2006-07-05. | publisher=Canadian Arab Federation & Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. | PDF document. | url=]

Position on Israel

In a press release responding to the recent stepped up Israeli attacks on Gaza known as Operation Summer Rains, the CAF urged the Canadian government to "join Canadian churches and unions by boycotting Israeli goods, divesting from Israeli companies, and imposing sanctions until Israel withdraws from all the occupied Arab territories, dismantles all settlements and tears down the Apartheid Wall."cite web | title=News Release:CAF Urges the Canadian Government to Act Against Israel. | date=2006-06-30. | author=CAF President, Khaled Mouammar | url=]

CAF's president, Khaled Mouammar, has referred to Israel as "the Israeli apartheid regime".cite web | title=NDP’s Martin wrong to attack CUPE| date=2006-06-16 | author=Khaled Mouammar | publisher=The Socialist Worker| url=] In "Impressions of Palestine - 1948 Today", he wrote of a "racist ideology that guides the Apartheid State of Israel" and of his conviction "that one day the nightmare brought about by Zionism and colonialism will come to an end."cite web | title=Impressions of Palestine -- 1948 and Today | date=2005-10-24 | author=Khaled Mouammar | publisher=Media Monitors Network| url=]

Mouammar criticized Toronto Mayor David Miller for participating in Toronto's "Walk for Israel," stating that Israel is "a pariah state," and that Israel "systematically violates international law and practices racism".cite web | title=Mayor Miller walks in support of apartheid Israel | date=2006-05-27 | author=Khaled Mouammar | publisher=Babble - The Rabble Discussion Forum| url=]

In a letter published in the Globe and Mail, Mouammar clarified that the CAF's stance on anyone who supports Israel is that "we [the CAF] assert that any support for Israel is support for apartheid, occupation and war crimes.""cite web | title=Mideast: both sides now | date=2006-12-15 | author=Khaled Mouammar | publisher=The Globe and Mail| url=]

In his capacity as president of the Canadian Arab Federation, Mouammar has condemned Jewish Zionist organizations in Canada for their support of Israel. In January 2007, he wrote that Bnai Brith Canada and the Jewish Defence League were using "bullying and intimidation tactics to silence criticism of Israel" and had launched "a vicious campaign of intimidation" against movements that call for boycotts of Israel within the Canadian political landscape.cite web | title=B'nai Brith and JDL bullying tactics are not Canadian values | author=Khaled Mouammar | publisher=Canadian Dimension | date=2007-01-24 | url=] He also wrote that as more people support boycotts of Israel, "the more difficult it becomes for pro-Israel groups such as B'nai Brith and the JDL to spew their propaganda."

Regarding an October 2007 Hamilton Declaration which stated "“We further specifically caution you against any recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish state.’ Such a recognition would give Israel the façade of moral and legal legitimacy, …” Khaled Mouammar stated that he “certainly agrees” with the declaration. However, the CAF did not sign the declaration because it “does not qualify,” since the document was endorsed at a convention for Palestinians, and not for Arabs in general. [cite web | title=End Jewish state, Canadian Palestinian groups demand | author=Atara Beck | publisher=Jewish Tribune| date=2007-12-12 | url=]

In January 2008, the CAF and the Canadian Islamic Congress stated that " [the] Apartheid regime of the Jewish state escalated its genocidal crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine" and that "Palestinians continue to endure death, deprivation and destruction under more than 40 years of brutal Israeli occupation that has become an insidious and unremitting genocide." [cite web | title=Islamic Congress And Arab Federation Call On All Canadians To Condemn Continuing Israeli War Crimes In Gaza| publisher=Canadian Islamic Congress, Canadian Arab Federation| date=2008-01-21 | url=]

In March 2008, the CAF and the Canadian Islamic Congress stated that "Israel was founded upon the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Between 1947 and 1948, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and lands and over 500 Palestinian villages and neighborhoods were destroyed, and their inhabitants prevented from ever returning to their homeland."

In May 2008, on the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding, CAF president Khaled Mouammar stated that "“CAF applauds the growing isolation of Israel through the boycott and divestment campaign that has been embraced by many labour, academic and religious organizations in Canada and abroad, and the growing realization among youth and students that Israeli practices and policies mirror those of Apartheid South Africa. CAF believes that popular awareness of the plight of Palestinians will bring the day when the Israeli occupation will end and the refugees will return to Palestine." [cite web | title=60 Years of Dispossession, 60 Years Closer to Return| publisher=Canadian Arab Federation| date=2008-05-08| url=]

Participation of Neturei Karta at 2008 CAF Conference

At the CAF's Annual Policy Conference in 2008, the CAF welcomed a delegation of Rabbis from Neturei Karta International, an organization which opposes Zionism and calls for the state of Israel to be dismantled. The CAF stated that a main highlight of the conference was speech by Dr. Salim Vally "outlining the injustices endured for more than 60 years by the Palestinians and the striking similarities between apartheid South Africa and present day Israel." [cite web | title=CAF Annual Policy Conference, Reception and AGM Round-up| publisher=Canadian Arab Federation| date=2008-06-18| url=]

Criticism of Canadian Support for Israel

In July 2006, CAF president Khaled Mouammar wrote that::

The Canadian government has been a major supporter of the Israeli Apartheid Regime, both economically (Canada has a Free Trade Agreement with Israel that grosses over 1 billion dollars) and diplomatically (Canada voted against the Palestinian Refugees Right of Return at the UN in March of this year, Canada was also the first country to declare sanctions against the Democratically elected Hamas government).” [cite web | title=CANADA MUST DEMAND AN END TO ISRAELI AGGRESSION AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF GAZA AND LEBANON!| author=Khaled Mouammar |date=2006-07-13 | publisher=Canadian Arab Federation (posted on Montreal Muslim News| url=]

In April 2007, Mouammar criticized Bob Rae for supporting Israel, stating in the Vancouver Sun that:

Canadians have a duty to criticize politicians like Bob Rae who support an apartheid state that commits serious human rights violations, and those like Paul Martin and Stephen Harper who shamefully declare that "Israel's values are Canada's values." [cite news | title=Israel, Palestinians and apartheid| author=Khaled Mouammar |date=April 10, 2007| publisher=Vancouver Sun| url=]

In February 2008, Mouammar criticised the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, stating that:

“The Harper government’s decision to boycott and starve the democratically elected government of the Palestinians under occupation, and its opposition to a UN resolution calling for the lifting of the siege of Gaza, has given Israel the green light to intensify and escalate its crimes against the Palestinian people. The Harper government’s silence, while Israel commits these massacres against the Palestinian people and engages in an ongoing campaign of assassinations in Lebanon and Syria, makes the government morally complicit in these crimes.” [cite web | title=Israel committing slow genocide of Palestinian people|date=2008-02-16| publisher=Canadian Arab Federation| url=]

Position on Hezbollah

Ali Mallah, a CAF Vice-President stated Hezbollah "is seen as a symbol of the struggle against Israeli oppression, injustice and occupation." [cite news | title=Ugly scenes mar 'peace' rally | author=Alan Cairns |date=2006-08-13 | publisher=Toronto Sun| url=]

During the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah conflict, CAF President Khaled Mouammar criticized the Canadian Government stance on Hezbollah, stating that:

"By refusing to deal with Hezbollah, a political party represented in the Lebanese government whose resistance to Israel's aggression is supported by 87 per cent of Lebanese citizens, Peter MacKay is parroting the Bush administration's stand and is emboldening Israel to launch further wars against its neighbours." [cite news | title=Hezbollah compared to Nazis by Tory MP
author=Graham Fraser |date=2006-08-23 | publisher=Toronto Star| url=

In a policy paper released in November 2006, the CAF defended Hezbollah and Hamas, stating that "Both of these groups are legitimate political parties, with grassroots support, and are represented in the legislature and the cabinets of Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority respectively. Both groups are resisting theillegal Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine respectively which right is guaranteed under international law" and called on the Canadian Government to "remove Hezbollah and Hamas from the list of banned organizations." [cite web | title=Policy Paper - Promoting Fair and Effective Canadian Foreign Policy| date=2006-11-27 | publisher=Canadian Arab Federation| url=]

tatement on Racism in Israel

In January 2007, CAF President Khaled Mouammar wrote in the Toronto Star that:

“for the Jewish president of Israel to believe that he is being targeted because of his Middle Eastern origin speaks volumes about the racism permeating Israeli society. This does not come as a surprise to the 1.2 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel who are Christians and Muslims. The racism they face is a result of official racist policies by the Israeli government ... Racism in Israel is becoming mainstream.” [cite news | title=Racist policies exist in Israel|author=Khaled Mouammar| publisher=Toronto Star| date=January 25, 2007| url=]

B'nai Brith Canada, a Canadian Jewish organization, criticized CAF President Khaled Mouammar for his comments on Israel. In response to the letter Mouammar wrote in the Toronto Star, B'nai Brith Executive Vice-President Frank Dimant wrote that :

"Israel is a vibrant, democratic society founded on the principles of tolerance and respect for all of its citizens.This includes the more than 1 million Arabs who call Israel home, who participate in the political process and who have obtained top-level positions in society. This is in stark contrast to Israel's neighbouring Arab nations. While Mouammar may speak of discrimination of Arabs in Israel, it is curious that these same Palestinians have time and again expressed their preferred desire to live in Israel rather than be placed under the control of the Palestinian Authority." [cite news | title=1 million Arabs call Israel home|author=Frank Dimant| publisher=Toronto Star| date=January 30, 2007| url=]

Media controversies


During the Liberal Leadership contest (where delegates met to vote for the new leader of Liberal Party of Canada), a flyer circulated electronically among convention delegates denounced candidate Bob Rae for having once delivered a speech to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), charging that the JNF was complicit in "war crimes and ethnic cleansing."cite web | title=Rae target of anti-Semitism in leadership contest | date=2006-12-06 | publisher=Canadian Press | url=] The flyer's appearance coincided with a wide range of explicitly anti-Semitic smears against Rae.

The flyer stated that "Rae's wife is a vice-president of the CJC (Canadian Jewish Congress), a lobby group which supports Israeli apartheid." It was produced and disseminated to all Canadian Members of Parliament by Ron Saba, the editor of an obscure magazine, the Montreal Planet.

Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, wrote in the Globe and Mail that Mouammar had "forwarded a mass e-mail to Muslim delegates" that included the flyer.cite web | title= Race and religion at the Liberal Party convention - by Tarek Fatah | date=2006-12-06 | author=The Globe and Mail | url=] On the same day, the Canadian Jewish Congress condemned the flyer and its circulation by the "president of the Canadian Arab Federation."cite web | title=CJC condemns vile flyer attacking Bob Rae during Liberal leadership convention | date=2006-12-06 | author=Canadian Jewish Congress - Press Release | url=]

Ed Morgan, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the purpose behind raising the fact that Rae's wife is a member of the Congress's board was "strictly to say that his wife is a Jew." Mouammar countered that the CJC was making "a pitiful attempt to discredit" and denied producing or distributing the flyer to Muslim delegates at the Liberal leadership convention. However, the Canadian Press noted that it had procured a copy of an email from Mouammar forwarding the flyer to others.

In a news release, CAF supported the content of the flyer, stating that "CAF believes that Canadians have the right to know the factual information provided." Characterizing the Jewish National Fund's management of state lands in Israel on which only Jews are permitted to live as a "practice that amounts to ethnic cleansing," the statement added that "Canadians have the right to know who supports the JNF in Canada."

Mouammar also wrote at the Montreal Planet website that the Canadian Jewish Congress is "an ardent supporter of Israel, lam basts (sic) anyone who dares to criticize Israel and resorts to undermining human rights and civil liberties to protect Israel's war crimes."

Speaking in the Canadian Senate regarding the flyer and its distribution, Yoine Goldstein, Canadian Senator and Vice-President of the Jewish National Fund,cite web|title=Yoine Goldstein (The Honourable) Senior Counsel|publisher=MacMillan Binch Mendelsohn|accessdate=2007-10-11|url=] stated:

Mr. Khaled Mouammar, President of the Canadian Arab Federation, who has been invited to the Hill in the past, denied having had anything to do with the flyer, but in a news release last Thursday, the federation supported the content of the flyer and, indeed, reproduced some of it. Moreover, the Canadian Press has in hand an email from Mr. Mouammar in which he forwarded that disgusting flyer to others. His denial, therefore, is a brazen lie, just as his racism is brazenly anti-Canadian." [cite web | title=Statement by Senator Yoine Goldstein - 1st Session, 39th Parliament, Volume 143, Number 60, Page 1486 (4 out of 46) | date=2006-12-12 | publisher=Debates of the Senate - Official Report | url=]

On an immigrant advocacy website which had also posted the flyer, Mouammar wrote that the flyer had "nothing to do with Bob Rae's and his wife's religion and ethnicity but has a lot to do with their political views."

2007 Award to Zafar Bangash

In June 2007, the CAF honoured Zafar Bangash at a gala dinner for his "unwavering" support of Palestine. Bangash was the former editor of Crescent International, an Islamist newsletter, based in Ontario.cite web | title=Gotta hate this idea - By Licia Corbella | author=Toronto Sun | date=2007-06-15 | url=]

According to Licia Corbella of Sun Media, Bangash is a supporter of Hezbollah and uses the term kuffar (non-believers) to refer to non-Muslims derogatorily.

When reached in Toronto by phone by Corbella, Mouammar refused to believe that Bangash used the term kuffar stating: "He's a man of dignity. He has no blood on his hands like those Israeli war criminals who come to Canada and are received by our politicians, like Ariel Sharon."

Other awards

The CAF has also granted awards to CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan, whose union passed a resolution to boycott Israel at their annual convention.

Another CAF award winner is Ehab Lotayef, a Montreal activist who started a boycott of Chapters and Indigo book stores because of Heather Reisman and Gary Schwartz' support for the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers, a charity that provides university scholarships for non-Israelis who join the Israel Defense Forces. [Tabar, Vivian, [ Behind the boycott] , "The Dominion", accessed January 1, 2008]

Opposition to Canadian Boycott of Durban II Conference

In January 2008, the Canadian government announced it was planning to boycott the 2009 World Conference against Racism (referred to commonly as "Durban II"). The Government justified its decision by stating that the first Durban Conference of 2001 "turned into an embarrassing promotion of racist attitudes" and became "a bit of a circus for intolerance and bigotry, particularly but not exclusively directed at the Jewish people." [cite news | title=Canada pulls support for UN anti-racism conference News Staff | publisher=CTV News| date=2008-01-23 | url=

The Canadian Arab Federation strongly opposed this decision, stating in a news release that "Canada’s outright rejection of the conference sends a clear message to the Canadian public that the current government is disinterested in promoting human rights and anti-racism." As for the activities of the first Durban conference in 2001 in relation to Israel, the CAF argued that this "indicates that the international community and human rights organizations are in agreement that the occupation of Arab lands, the mistreatment and killing of Palestinians, and the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return is in violation of international law and will be condemned and no longer accepted" and that “It is ironic that the Canadian government is so outspoken about shunning the conference due to the fear of hearing criticisms against the Israeli occupation, given its own past with hate and bigotry. [cite news | title=Abandonment of anti-racism conference a blow to tolerance and multiculturalism in Canada | publisher=Canadian Arab Federation| date=2008-01-24 | url=]

2008 Essay Competition on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In 2008, the Canadian Arab Federation and the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) launched an essay contest that "invites Canadian high school and university students (ages 17 through 27) to write an essay on the theme "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" and is part of activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of Al Nakba - the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland in 1947-48."cite news |url=|author=Canadian Islamic Congress, Canadian Arab Federation|title=B'nai Brith Denies Reality Of Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine, Attempts To Silence Free Speech And Shutdown Academic Research

Criticism from Bnai Brith Canada

Bnai Brith Canada, a Canadian Jewish Organization, critcized the contest, stating that it is a "blatant propagandistic initiative that distorts reality, delegitimizing the existence of the Jewish state in any shape or form”. The national essay contest announced by these groups encouraging youth to write on “Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, is based on the false assumption that the Jewish presence in the Jewish People’s ancestral homeland is illegal" and that "This sham of a contest joins together Canadian-Arab groups, which purport to reflect mainstream positions, but which clearly hold extremist notions that deny Israel’s right to exist."cite news |url=|author=Bnai Brith Canada|title=‘Essay contest by Canadian-Arab groups encourages hatred against the Jewish State and its supporters,’ says B’nai Brith Canada|date=2008-03-03]

Bnai Brith Canada also stated that the contest "intentionally distorts reality and serves only to engender hate against Israel, its Jewish citizens and supporters here in Canada. Rather than constructively look for creative ways in which to address the complex politics of Southwest Asia, the leaders of these Canadian-Arab organizations appear intent on fostering malevolence towards Israel, based on lies and distortions." Bnai Brith Canada called on Universities and highschools "to issue clear directives to staff that the contest, an exercise in hate targeting the Jewish State, is contrary to the equity and human rights policies of these institutions."

Response from CAF and CIC

The Canadian Arab Federation and Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) attacked Bnai Brith Canada, stating that "This call to shutdown academic research and free speech is typical of B’nai Brith’s contempt for the basic principles of academic institutions. These tactics of intimidation are becoming an all too common refrain of pro- Israel organizations, and are simply designed to stem the growing public awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies."

They also stated that "B’nai Brith’s response to this essay competition is one further confirmation that pro-Israel organizations fear the wide support amongst Canadians for justice in Palestine. The myths surrounding Israel’s establishment are being exposed for what they are, and thousands of high school and university students across the country are active in solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people" and that "B’nai Brith has once again proven that its claim to support human rights is nothing but a rhetorical device designed to obfuscate their support of Israel’s policies of discrimination, apartheid and ethnic cleansing."


External links

* [ The Canadian Arab Federation website]

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