Former NDP candidate Rana Zaman. (Rana Zaman/Facebook)
The New Democratic Party has removed federal candidate Rana Zaman, after a number of tweets emerged in which the professed social activist accused Israel of committing genocide, acting like Nazis and using money to influence Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In a statement announcing Zaman’s removal as a candidate, the NDP said that the language used in the tweets was “unacceptable. We expect our candidates to engage on important issues respectfully.”
Ironically, Zaman, the NDP candidate for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in Nova Scotia, had complained to the media in May about hateful comments that she had received on the campaign trail.
In a Global News report at the time, Zaman said she had been criticized because of her Muslim faith and because she was an immigrant. She said she tried to inform voters of her immigrant story, so they would be more understanding of immigrants and minorities.
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Yet in several tweets dating back only a year, Zaman employed crude anti-Semitic stereotypes to attack Israel.
On June 4, 2018, she tweeted that Israel is “committing genocide against Palestinians because Israel is not willing to share! Tell me what are Palestinians supposed to do..just die..oh wait! They are!! Where’s your heart?”
In another tweet from Sept. 8, 2018, Zaman questioned why Canada would do business with Israel, which she called an “apartheid state.”
In a different tweet, Zaman wrote, “I wonder if #Israel borrowed this from the #Nazis after they saw how successful they were? At the speed Israel is killing I wonder if they’re aiming higher than six million #Palestinians? #Gaza is the new #Auschwitz and #Israeli the gatekeepers!”
Add to growing list of murders by #Israeli snipers an innocent unarmed nurse #RazanNajjar who was trying to help others in #Gaza @JustinTrudeau what have you done about Cdn. Dr. Loubani @trklou who was shot? @nikkihaley you voted NO at the #UN to stop the slaughter of innocents? https://t.co/OcMa1yKSGi
— Rana ZamanNDP (@ranazamanNS) June 2, 2018
And in a December 2018 tweet, she asks Trudeau, “Is it your plan to ban #BDS after claiming it’s #antiSemitic and then punish individuals and #organizations if they support it? You advocating for #ApartheidIsrael because of their stellar #HumanRight record or wealthy lobby efforts?”
Following her removal by the NDP, Zaman issued a statement on Twitter saying: “I regret to say I’ll no longer be the candidate for the NDP, due to ‘words’ used in tweets about Palestine/Israel. My attempt failed to get engagement to start a conversation a year ago but thanks to interested parties is successful today! Activism has its price, I’m willing to pay.”
Later, she issued an apology addressed to the media, again on Twitter, saying that she published her tweets after seeing “unarmed Palestinian protesters” being shot during the March of Return.
Following her removal as candidate, Zaman said she reached out to “leaders and friends in the Jewish community,” to solicit their input and advice.
“I now appreciate that my tweets comparing Israeli actions to those of Nazi Germany were inappropriate, hurtful and sadly may be viewed as anti-Semitic,” she tweeted.
She claimed her tweets were meant to “raise awareness, engage others in a conversation and dialogue that would be productive…My emotions at the sight of so many innocent Palestinians being shot, maimed or killed during the March of Return overwhelmed me. I have learned an important lesson, the need to be mindful and not to use this analogy in the future.”
Zaman goes on to say that “it is an unfortunate fact of current political discourse that the words we use to describe injustice are often perceived as worse than the injustice itself….I’m learning with each day and it’s clear to me that social activists must also be extremely careful in their choice of words. Words do hurt!”
Around the same time as Zaman’s dismissal as a candidate and her apology, the government of Canada adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which seems to apply directly to Zaman’s tweets.
I regret to say I’ll no longer be the candidate for the NDP, due to “words” used in tweets about Palestine/Israel.My attempt failed to get engagement to start a conversation a year ago but thanks to interested parties is successful today!Activism has its price,I’m willing to pay
— Rana ZamanNDP (@ranazamanNS) June 20, 2019
One of the cases the IHRA uses to illustrate anti-Semitism is “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Also considered anti-Semitic is the assertion that “Jews control the media, economy, government.”
Responding to the Zaman removal, Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, stated that, “There can be no room for anti-Semitism in the NDP, or any serious Canadian political party.
“We commend the NDP for acting responsibly in terminating Rana Zaman’s candidacy, and urge it and all other Canadian political parties to take similar action against any other nominees who breach the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs echoed similar sentiments. “There can absolutely be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in our political system, regardless of party,” said its president and CEO, Shimon Koffler Fogel. “The NDP has shown its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism by swiftly removing Zaman as a candidate as soon as the hateful tweets came to their attention. We commend them for taking swift action on the matter.”