Elias Hazineh, a pro-Palestinian activist in Canada who called for Israelis to be shot if they don’t leave Jerusalem, said he does not advocate violence and his words were meant to be taken as a metaphor.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post from Canada on Thursday, Hazineh said he doesn’t believe Jews should be killed merely because they live in Israel, “no more than I want to see Jews kill Arabs.”
Hazineh, a former head of Palestine House in Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto, was caught on video speaking at an Al-Quds Day event in the latter city on August 4, saying that Israelis should be given an ultimatum to leave Jerusalem.
“We say ‘Get out or you’re dead!’” he told the crowd of about 400 people. “We give them two minutes and then we start shooting. And that’s the only way that they will understand.”
But Hazineh told the Post his comments weren’t meant to be taken literally.
“I made a comment that when somebody robs a bank, the cops don’t negotiate for 45 years,” he said. “They come and they say ‘Listen, drop your gun, come out with your hands up, or you’re dead.’ This is not an actual threat to move there and shoot people. This is not what I said nor did I mean it this way.”
Hazineh fired back at Canadian politicians who condemned him for his speech, most notably Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney, who tweeted that the federal government was right to defund Palestine House last year.
Hazineh called Kenney a “rabid, anti- Arab” politician with “no principles at all,” and said he has never seen him stand up for Muslims being slaughtered in non-Muslim countries.
“These guys would really have more credibility if they once had the moral courage to speak about the ethnic cleansing that is happening in Palestine on a daily basis,” Hazineh said. “If they are really, truly worried about the Jewish people, they should stop them from ethnically cleansing Palestinians, not only in the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem, but also in Israel-proper, like they’re doing now.”
He also dismissed comments from Shimon Fogel, CEO of Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who said CIJA had contacted Toronto police to determine whether Hazineh’s statements constituted a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada.
“Fogel has never opened his mouth for once to criticize land grabs [and] ethnic cleansing,” Hazineh said. “When somebody like Fogel makes a statement, I really don’t give a damn, because the guy is devoid of principle. He only wants to propagate a few points at the exclusion of all others.”
Hazineh said he recognized international law, which called for a two-state solution, but that laws regarding Palestinian refugees’ right of return must also be recognized by Israel.
“Negotiation is a two-track; one of them over an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem, too, and the other is a settlement of the refugee problem,” Hazineh said, adding that the best way to overcome mistreatment of Palestinians was via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, rather than through violence.
Hazineh, noting he is Christian, said he disagreed with recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, because no country should be inherently religious.
“The Jews are more than welcome to live there. They’re the majority and they need the room. That is a democratic right and I support that, but I don’t believe that there should be any religious state whether it’s Iran, Egypt, Jordan, or Syria,” he said.