A University of Manitoba student, Arij Al Khafagi, was suspended for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year after she made a series of posts on social media. One of the posts depicts an Israeli soldier looking in a mirror wearing a swastika. That is antisemitism, plain and simple. Arij Al Khafagi was in the nursing program at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.
The post was undeniably anti-Semitic, so I was very surprised that two Conservative MLAs wrote a letter to NDP Minister Cable, Minister of Advanced Education and Training, asking her to step in on behalf of the student. The letter penned by Conservative MLAs Richard Perchote and Obby Khan said, “it sends an unacceptable message to academically penalize a student for expressing herself.” The post was clearly anti-Semitic, and it's disappointing to see anyone, particularly a fellow conservative, lack clarity on this issue.
Nobody wants a war, nor wants to see people die. The unnecessary deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians are heartbreaking, but many forget that Hamas entered Israel illegally, killing over 1,200 people and taking women and children as hostages. These are the facts, and they are irrefutable. Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, as all countries have.
As a conservative, I believe it's essential to be clear about who we are and what we believe. We stand with the Canadian Jewish community and against antisemitism. We must be united in our support for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community, and we need to stand up for what we believe. One of the reasons we lost the last election provincial election in Manitoba was because we didn't know who we were or what we stood for as conservatives. We can't continue with that. We need to recognize clearly that radical ideologies like anti-semitism are spreading within our institutions, like our universities, and we need to fight back against that. Common sense conservatives are united in their support for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community, and we need to stand up for what we believe.
The situation is growing out of control. There have been reports of damage to homes owned by members of the Jewish community. We have witnessed some angry protests, with people on both sides becoming enraged. Recently, a group of people blocked the CN Rail line in Winnipeg to stop the movement of goods by Jewish-owned businesses. CN Rail has filed a lawsuit, given the millions of dollars in damage that the protest caused.
During a press conference regarding a mass shooting in Winnipeg that left four people dead, police chief Danny Smyth responded to a reporter's question, stating the service is stretched thin and alluded to the protest consuming a lot of the service's time.
Individuals here in Winnipeg want to bring the issues to our community and streets through protests that negatively impact businesses and people. They are creating a greater divide in our community.
Thousands of people immigrate to Canada to escape persecution. The very fabric of our nation is acceptance of all races, colours, and religious beliefs. We must stand up and oppose all racism, antisemitism, and discrimination. The increasing hatred toward Jewish Canadians is unacceptable.
Some people choose to ignore that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for suicide bombings and using Palestinians as human shields. They impose their extremism on the people under their control in Gaza. This includes the persecution of women, Christians, and gay people. We would not allow this in Canada. So why bring these issues to our community where it is dividing our society and hurting people in our own community?
The Jewish community in Winnipeg should not be subject to the hate of protesters. We are all Canadians; we choose to live here and honour the Canadian values that all people are equal. Canada was long a beacon of hope for millions of people around the globe because of our diversity. And we must keep it that way. Canada is the land of opportunity, a safe place to raise a family and a caring country. Not a land of hateful protests and discrimination based on race, colour, or religion.
Let us see the world as it is and be clear about what we believe, Hamas is a terrorist organization that must be defeated, Israel is a fellow democracy that must be supported, and we must stand with the Canadian Jewish community against hate and anti-semitism.