• By: Dan Donovan

PSAC Leadership Faces Backlash: Jewish Federal Employees Challenge Discrimination and Anti-Israel Stance

In a move to confront alleged antisemitism by the leadership team at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Jewish members of PSAC filed 14 individual complaints at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against their union for advancing an anti-Israel agenda and causing a culture of discrimination and harassment against Jewish PSAC members that developed as a result of the union’s ongoing one-sided advocacy concerning the Israel-Hamas war.

They allege that Immediately following the October 7 terror attack in Israel by Hamas, a Canadian-listed terrorist entity, PSAC began promoting unbalanced and biased views against Israel that led to a hostile environment for Jewish workers.

PSAC officials were made aware of the filing at the Human Rights Commission, including the relief sought by their Jewish members.

“Jewish members of PSAC should not be forced to endure their union’s dissemination of anti-Israel views and anti-Jewish propaganda, which creates an unsafe environment where Jews are villainized in the eyes of their peers,” said Marc Kitay, Partner at Whitten & Lublin Employment Lawyers. “Despite complaints to PSAC’s executive about the problematic conditions, no investigative or remedial action has been taken. In some instances, the union even used these complaints as a platform to further disseminate antisemitic and anti-Israel views. A union’s job is to represent the interests of all its members. No one should be made to feel like a second-class citizen or targeted because of their background and beliefs. There must be impartiality.”

The complainants are all federally regulated employees, and Daniel Lublin and Marc Kitay from Whitten & Lublin Employment Lawyers, one of Canada’s leading workplace dispute firms, will represent them pro bono.

Their grievances stem from PSAC’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, following the October 7th terror attack in Israel by Hamas that killed over 1,600 innocent Israeli and foreign citizens. Independent and verified reports by the BBC, United Nations and other independent organizations have verified the true brutality and barbarity of the Hamas attacks on that day. Forensic investigators involved in collecting and identifying the bodies of those killed in the attack told the BBC that “ they witnessed multiple signs of sexual assault, including broken pelvises, bruises, cuts and tears, and that the victims ranged from children and teenagers to pensioners. Video testimony of an eyewitness at the Nova music festival, shown to journalists by Israeli police, detailed the gang rape, mutilation, and execution of one victim. Videos of naked and bloodied women filmed by Hamas on the day of the attack and photographs of bodies taken at the sites afterwards suggest that women were sexually targeted by their attackers. One woman was gang raped, had one of her breasts cut off and was shot in the head. Hamas posted and shared videos of their members celebrating the barbarity of their acts during and after they occurred.

Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups also abducted 253 hostages from Israel to the Gaza Strip, including children, women, and elderly people. The attacks of October 7th against Jewish people were the worst and most barbaric since the Holocaust. In response, Israeli Defence Forces declared war against Hamas and began an incursion into Gaza to free the hostages and defeat Hamas. More than 27,900 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 67,400 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead. Israeli military officials said at least 563 soldiers and sixty-one police have been killed during the ground invasion of Gaza.

One hundred hostages, including eighty-four Israeli citizens, were released on November 24 in a negotiated deal. However, the Israeli government now reports that at least thirty of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are now confirmed dead.

In late January, the New York Times and multiple other global news agencies reported that at least twelve staff of the U.N. Refugee Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) staff were involved in the Oct 7th attack and assisted Hamas terrorists in carrying out the macabre events. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced nine of these people were fired. Of the remaining three staff, one is dead, while the U.N. was clarifying the identity of the other two. Guterres pledged to act immediately on any new information from Israel or elsewhere related to the “infiltration of Hamas” in the world body.

Last week, Israeli intelligence showed a dossier to news agency Reuters that further alleges that some 190 UNRWA employees, including teachers, have doubled as Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists.

After confirmation of UNRWA involvement in the October 7 attacks, The United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Japan, Austria and Romania paused all funding to UNWRA, and the European Union has temporarily stopped UNWRA funding.

On November 29th, PSAC announced it was donating $50,000 — $25,000 each to UNWRA and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, “recognizing the urgency of the situation.” In the announcement, PSAC made no mention of the hostages.

PSAC has not released any statement since it was learned that UNRWA staff participated in the barbaric October 7 attacks. It is unclear why PSAC, which represents federal civil servants in Canada, is sending fees that come from membership dues and related activities by their members to the Middle East.

The allegations of antisemitism at PSAC follow a comprehensive report card released this week by The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) on antisemitism at Canadian universities. Of the fifty-two universities evaluated, York University, University of Toronto and Concordia received a failing grade, while twenty-three earned an “A.” Five universities found themselves in the “D” range, with twelve falling within the C category. Ten universities achieved a “B+” or lower grade.

The complaints of alleged antisemitism at PSAC are in line with similar complaints that have dogged the Trudeau government since they were elected in 2015.

In 2016, Trudeau and his officials made a gaffe when he issued a statement on International Holocaust Memorial Day about hate and failed to mention Jews. Instead, Trudeau said, “The Holocaust is a stark reminder of the dangers and risks of allowing hate, prejudice, and discrimination to spread unchallenged.”

A year later, in 2017, at the unveiling of a new Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa, officials at Canadian Heritage deliberately, by omission, ignorance, or sheer stupidity, did not mention the word Jews, antisemitism, or the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust on the plaque commissioned for the monument. Instead, then-Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a plaque that said the site honoured “the millions of men, women, and children murdered during the Holocaust. Public outcry caused the plaque to be revised.

So it came as no surprise that in 2020 and 2021, when civil servants at Canadian Heritage who could not figure out that the words Jew, or Jewish, or six million murdered Jews should appear on a plaque at the Holocaust Memorial for Canada determined it would be appropriate to award $133,800  from its ‘diversity programs’ budget to build an anti-racism strategy for Canadian broadcasting to an overtly racist organization called the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC).

The CMAC has two partners/owners, the husband-and-wife team of Laith Marouf and Dr. Gretchen King-Marouf. Officials at Canadian Heritage hired them despite Laith Marouf’s  long history of hate-filled social-media posts, including: “I have a motto: Life is too short for shoes with laces or for entertaining Jewish white supremacists with anything but a bullet to the head.” They also hired Marouf’s wife Gretchen who has a Ph.D. in ‘Communications’ and claims numerous multimedia initiatives, including “Radio Free Palestine,” an international, twenty-four-hour radio broadcast that marks the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

Despite living in Lebanon, Gretchen Marouf succeeded in having the Canadian government fund CMAC’s ‘diversity expertise’ work. Besides Canadian Heritage, the CRTC awarded them upwards of $500,000 since 2016, according to data compiled by telecoms consultant Mark Goldberg.

CRTC, which regulates Canada’s telecoms, failed to do a basic Google search on the Maroufs and CMAC before hiring them. If they had, they would have seen this tweet from the self-described anti-racist diversity expert Laith Marouf (since deplatformed): “You know all those loud-mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine, and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of [their] Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.” In addition to this funding, Gretchen King-Marouf received at least taxpayer-funded SSHRC “scholarship” grant.

Former Chretien and Martin Liberal government Minister and human rights champion Irwin Cotler pointed out that “over 100 of Laith Marouf’s posts have been compiled with these hateful, bigoted comments that target not only Jews, whom he referred to as ‘loud mouthed bags of human feces,’ ‘but also Francophones, and former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whom he described as a ‘Jamaican house-slave’ and rejoiced at his death.” But antisemitism in the Trudeau government and with civil servants in Ottawa doesn’t stop there.

In 2022 Canada’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, Robin Wettlaufer, posted tweets (since deleted) praising Palestinian official and convicted criminal Jibril Rajoub. The tweets showed both sitting on chairs with a Palestinian flag in between them with a picture of a young Yasser Arafat, the former leader of the Palestinian Authority, in the background. The tweet said, “fascinating discussion” about regional politics and described Rajoub as a “great friend of Canada.” Rajoub is chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee and a former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force. He has a well-documented history of inciting violence toward Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1970 after being convicted of throwing a grenade at Israel Defense Forces but was freed 15 years later in a prisoner exchange. Rajoub was rearrested several times after his release for militant activities before becoming a national security advisor to Arafat. In 2013, Rajoub told the Hezbollah-affiliated television network Al Mayadeen that the Palestinian Authority would use nuclear weapons against Israel if it possessed them, saying, “I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.” Then, in 2018, he was suspended and fined by the FIFA disciplinary board for inciting hate and violence by calling on soccer fans to burn jerseys and pictures of Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi ahead of his national team’s expected match in a stadium in Jerusalem.

Antisemitism has also reared its head in a very public way in federal politics. In 2020, the Green Party of Canada committed political suicide when it showed its true colours and prejudiced leanings by disposing of party leader Annamie Paul, a racialized Jewish woman when she called for a de-escalation of violence when Hamas and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into Israel. Israel fired back and defended itself. The controlling members of the Green Party were apoplectic that Paul didn’t condemn Israel and declare it an apartheid state and went on to force Annamie out. In doing so, they suffocated the credibility the Greens had with Canadian voters, and this largely contributed to their disastrous defeat in the 2021 election. Ironically, Paul performed best in the national leader’s debate in that election, but it was too late.

Ironically, New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin, the only Green MP from West of British Columbia, crossed the floor over the incident and joined the Liberal party because she claimed to be uncomfortable with Annamie Paul’s reaction to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Atwin suggested her crossing the floor to the Liberals was a direct result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict saying Paul’s call for de-escalation and a return to dialogue between the two was “totally inadequate.” On May 11, 2021, Atwin tweeted, “I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End apartheid!” Atwin failed to mention that the Israelis were responding to unprovoked missile attacks launched by the Palestinians on their country.

The Jewish PSAC member complainants contend that PSAC’s actions violate the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits differential treatment based on race, national or ethnic origin, and religion. They allege in their legal action that PSAC’s position is one-sided and biased against Israel, and allegedly created a hostile environment for Jewish workers within the union.

According to Daniel Lublin, PSAC’s advocacy has led to a culture of fear, hostility, and bias against Jewish members, contradicting the union’s mandate to represent the interests of all its members. Marc Kitay emphasized the need for impartiality, stating that no one should feel targeted or marginalized because of their background or beliefs.

Among the relief sought by the complainants are a public apology, financial damages, orders to cease funding of UNWRA and BDS initiatives, and a means for them to re-direct their union dues to a Jewish charity of their choosing.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Legal Task Force facilitated the connection between the complainants and legal representation. CIJA says their involvement “underscores the gravity of the situation and the need to address discrimination within union settings.”

A CIJA media statement said, “The outcome of this legal battle will not only affect the relationship between PSAC and its Jewish members but also set a precedent for how unions navigate contentious issues and uphold the rights of all their constituents.”