Canada

Ontario man who once belonged to Palestinian terrorist group scheduled to speak at UofT event

Ontario man who once belonged to Palestinian terrorist group scheduled to speak at UofT event

A foreign citizen who has been deemed a security threat to Canada for having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is still listed as a guest speaker at an event hosted by a University of Toronto student group.

But after a number of Jewish organizations protested Issam Al-Yamani speaking on campus, the event has been moved.

The event, called “Worker Solidarity, Israeli Apartheid and Struggle for Palestine” is being hosted Tuesday night by Students Against Israeli Apartheid U of T St George, CUPE 3902 Racialised Workers’ Caucus and U of T Divest.

In a Facebook post about the event, organizers originally said it was being held at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. But a spokesperson for the school told Global News the space was never booked for the event.

On Monday night, the location was changed to the CUPE 3902 office at 208 Bloor Street West, according to the Students Against Israeli Apartheid Facebook page.

The description of the event describes Al-Yamani as a Palestinian activist and trade unionist.

But according to Canada Border Services Agency, Al-Yamani, who has been under a deportation order since 2005 and is currently appealing, played a significant role in the PFLP, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terror group.

According to a CBSA report from 2014, Al-Yamani constitutes a danger to the security of Canada as “a Canadian-based financial operator for the PFLP” and “moved over a million dollars to the Occupied Territories in a way that would circumvent Israeli controls, thereby contributing to the establishment and consolidation of the PFLP’s leadership.”

Two Jewish organizations, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Student and Hasbara Fellowships Canada opposed Al-Yamani speaking on campus, and Monday afternoon, the University of St. Michael’s College announced on its website, “the external groups organizing this event do not have a [booking] at this institution.”

In a press release, Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the FSWC contacted University of Toronto President Meric Gertler about his concerns regarding the event.

“The University should also be questioning why a student group is inviting such an individual to speak,” he said.

U of T media relations also responded to a Global News request for comment and said they passed along the request to the University of St. Michael’s College, a subsidiary of the university.

Daniel Koren, the Executive Director at Hasbara Fellowships Canada, said he had hoped the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s College would take a stronger stance on the event.

“It’s great to know that the room hasn’t been booked, but if he’s still coming here and he still poses a threat and it’s very unfortunate to learn that there’s students that actually want to come and listen to somebody like this given his sinister relationship with a terrorist organization,” Koren said.

Organizers of the event have yet to respond to Global News as to why they invited Al-Yamani to speak.