B’nai Brith demands El-Chantiry denounce Syrian political organization

WEST CARLETON The B’Nai Brith, a Jewish service organization, is demand Mayor Jim Watson and Ward 5 Coun. Eli El-Chantiry take back a letter of congratulations sent to the Syrian Canadian Club in 2016.

The B’nai Brith says Coun. El-Chantiry presented a letter of congratulations to the Syrian Canadian Club in 2016 and gave remarks on behalf of the mayor in 2018 at the club’s event to celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

The organization wants the mayor and the councillor to denounce the Syrian political organization, which has been linked to acts of violence, after a letter of congratulations and remarks made at an event on behalf of the mayor.

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) advocates for the establishment of one state spanning Syria as well as surrounding areas including Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, Sinai, and part of Turkey.

The B’nai Brith calls the SSNP “bitterly antisemitic,” and in 2010 the Federal Court rejected a refugee application from one of the group’s members, saying the SSNP had “engaged in acts of terrorism.”

Other elected officials in Canada including Ottawa South MPP John Fraser and Laval MP Fayçal El-Khoury, have apologized for attending SSNP-linked events in the past, but B’nai Brith says there’s been no similar apology from City Hall.

The B’nai Brith launched a petition to demand that Mayor Watson and Coun. El-Chantiry immediately rescind their letter of congratulations, as well as condemn and disassociate themselves from the SSNP.

City staff replied to the B’nai Brith’s chief executive officer in a letter stating “their attendance and the issuance of letter of congratulations, like the many proclamations issued by the mayor, do not constitute an endorsement of the views of any individual member of those organizations.”