TORONTO – During the heat of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon in July 2006, Ausma Malik was front and centre at a peace rally denouncing the conflict and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hezbollah missile fire.
Pictures from that day show the Muslim woman, wearing a headscarf and attending the University of Toronto at the time, outside the U.S. Consulate, speaking beside Ali Mallah, a well-known pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas activist and CUPE official.
But, it was what Malik, who is running for Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 10 Trinity-Spadina, reportedly said at the time that is nothing short of eyebrow raising, especially considering the conflict broke out after two Israeli Defence Forces soldiers were kidnapped and at least eight IDF soldiers killed during a Hezbollah ambush.
During the 34-day conflict, hundreds of Hezbollah rockets rained on Israel.
Yet, according to published reports from that Toronto protest, Malik called Israel’s actions “state-sanctioned murder.”
She also rebuked Harper, calling on him to get a “backbone” while those around her — sporting Lebanese flags and the yellow flag of the Hezbollah terrorist movement — chanted “shame” and cheered jubilantly when word came Hezbollah had killed another 22 IDF soldiers.
“Today we unite as people of conscience … as people who will not be silent while a nation is torn to shreds, while innocent civilians are killed in the clear light of day,” she reportedly told the Toronto crowd that July day.
Malik would only respond to my questions by e-mail.
She characterized the July 2006 protest as a public anti-war rally organized by the Canadian Peace Alliance.
The Canadian Peace Alliance includes as its esteemed members such vociferous anti-Israel critics as Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Ontario Federation of Labour’s Sid Ryan, Judy Rebick of the website rabble.ca, CUPE and CUPW.
Malik confirmed in her e-mail her quote about Israel is correct — that she condemns the “killing of innocent people, no matter who they are.”
She did not respond to a follow-up e-mail asking whether she displayed similar concern for the ambushed and slain Israeli soldiers.
Malik did insist in her e-mail that she does not “support anti-Semitism in any form.”
But, what’s as concerning about Malik — apart from her seemingly outspoken anti-Israel view — is the number of councillors or would-be councillors who have jumped on the bandwagon to endorse her.
Would-be councillor Joe Cressy and current councillor Mike Layton are sharing a campaign office with her — as if to suggest they are a trifecta of progressives.
Layton is even pictured with Malik on his website, informing us how “thrilled” he is to endorse her “fresh perspective” and the fact she is apparently a “community builder.”
Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who has helped prop up the toxic Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) movement in Toronto’s Pride parade the past four years, also endorses Malik’s “ability to build bridges to get things done.”
No surprises there. But the rhetoric from the left would be laughable if not so sad and hypocritical.
The best came from mayoralty candidate Olivia Chow, who on Sept. 13 tweeted that she was enroute to the office opening for the Layton, Cressy and Malik Trifecta — all “great candidates” that share her values for a “caring, better city.”
At the opening she was pictured posing side by side with Layton, Sarah Doucette, Joe Mihevc (who represents a ward with a huge percentage of Jews), Gord Perks, Cressy and Malik, as if they were all one big happy family.
I asked Chow at a Toronto Sun editorial board how she could align herself with a woman who reportedly contended publicly that Israel committed “state-sanctioned murder” and whether such a woman espoused “caring” values.
At first Chow, looking like a deer caught in the headlights, said she wasn’t 100% familiar with Malik’s background or her “foreign affairs point of view.”
Asked whether she checks people out before she endorses them, Chow said she does know “who she is” and local school boards don’t really have a lot to do with her seemingly anti-Israel views.
In a follow-up e-mail to me, Chow spokesman Jamey Heath said Malik has a “strong record on inclusive education” and that her criticism at the 2006 protest was about “foreign policy” and “not about public education.”
Hmmm. I don’t suppose Malik’s views will ever make their way into the policies of the TDSB. Nope, never.
Malik’s opponent for trustee, Richard Klagsbrun, who happens to be Jewish, said he is running to “rid the TDSB of the egregious politicization” that has made its way into the curriculum.
“Ms. Malik, a speaker at a rally that was out supporting an Islamist terror group … represents much of what’s wrong with public education in Toronto,” he said.