Monday, the B’nai Brith Canada called on the Ontario New Democratic Party to withdraw the candidacy of Sarah Jama who they describe as a radical activist who has been associated with groups that have frequently targeted Israel. The release goes on to say that NDP leader Marit Stiles “needs to do the principled thing. There should be no room in the Legislature for a member whose demonizing of the Jewish state will only lead to more hate aimed at Jews in Ontario.” “Ms. Jama’s candidacy reinforces the perception that there is an antisemitism problem in the ONDP and an unwillingness to seriously confront it,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of the League for Human Rights. “It doesn’t take much research to discover Ms. Jama’s animus toward the Jewish state.”
The Bay Observer conducted some online research to verify that assertion. We came across videos posted on social media from July 2021 where Jama was addressing a pro-Palestinian rally, On the video she is seen declaring, “When Palestinians got together to take up the streets, the Palestinian organizers were targeted by the Hamilton Police…over and over and over again the Hamilton Police protect Naziism and continue to target Black, Muslims and Palestinians, saying “ we don’t have the right to push to exist”
She ended her remarks, saying, “They laugh at us when we say that Palestinians are being targeted. We know these systems are corrupt—they need to fall. Disarm, dismantle, abolish the police and make sure that we continue to gather here…”
The Bay Observer contacted both the Jama campaign and leader Stiles’ office asking:
1. What is the candidate’s attitude towards the state of Israel?
2. Does she continue to believe that Hamilton Police protect Naziism?
3. Does she still believe in the abolition of police?
Stiles’ office acknowledged our query but have not provided a statement. Stiles was quoted in the Toronto Sun as continuing to support Jama’s candidacy. When the Bay Observer revisited the site of the video where Jama appeared at the pro Palestinian rally, the posts had been removed. No response came from the Jama Campaign.
To date, local mainstream media have been silent on the issue of Jama’s past statements and actions. The candidate’s comments on Israel are one thing where some debate or nuance may be justified. The public can make up their own mind, but only if the media choose to make them aware of her track record on the issue. We know the media are capable of such recall. As a councillor in 2007, then Ward two Councillor Bob Bratina threw a pen in the council chamber. Fifteen years, and four elections later, the Spectator was still referring to the incident.
Even if the Israel-Palestine issue is too distant to be adequately evaluated by the voters of Hamilton Centre, Jama’s attitudes towards policing surely bear some serious media scrutiny. She is asking the voters to make her the representative for a riding that is the most challenged from a crime and poverty perspective in the city. She has called not only for the defunding of Hamilton Police, but the abolition of police. These aren’t teenage posts dredged up from ten years ago—they were made less than two years ago by a well-educated young adult. Surely that alone is worthy of some media examination. Hamilton Centre has been an NDP stronghold for decades, and it may well continue to be; but the voters should be entitled to know what they are getting, and that is the responsibility of unbiased news media, applying the same standards to the coverage of this candidacy that they would to any other. This story is being covered by news media in Jerusalem today, but so far not in Hamilton.
” “When Palestinians got together to take up the streets, the Palestinian organizers were targeted by the Hamilton Police…over and over and over again the Hamilton Police protect Naziism and continue to target Black, Muslims and Palestinians, saying “ we don’t have the right to push to exist” sounds pretty accurate. “They laugh at us when we say that Palestinians are being targeted. We know these systems are corrupt—they need to fall. Disarm, dismantle, abolish the police and make sure that we continue to gather here…” sounds fair.
” As a councillor in 2007, then Ward two Councillor Bob Bratina threw a pen in the council chamber. Fifteen years, and four elections later, the Spectator was still referring to the incident” because Councillor Bratinas pen throwing tantrum was not the first time that Mr Bratina had an angry emotional inappropriate outburst. nor was it the last.
Re: Deirdre Pike. It was Deirdre’s leadership that led to Regina Mundi Parish receiving the City of Hamilton Mayor’s Committee Against Racism and Discrimination Award in 1995. The following year Deirdre received the Harish Jain Leadership Award “For Outstanding Contribution and Effort Toward the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination.”, October 24, 1996. I believe these awards well document Deirdre’s caring and concerned approach in these matters.
Rabbi David Mivasair
March 10, 2023 At 9:18 Pm
Ontario Jewish Support for Sarah Jama
We are members of the Jewish community in Ontario. We wholeheartedly, unreservedly support Sarah Jama in the upcoming Ontario provincial bi-election for Member of Provincial Parliament for Hamilton Centre.
Sarah has been a powerful advocate for justice for all people for over a decade with a proven track record of building the capacity of communities to come together and advocate. She has worked tirelessly to change the conditions of injustice in the Hamilton area. Whether as co-founder and executive director of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario or as a co-founder of the Hamilton Encampment Support Network, Sarah has demonstrated advocacy and leadership. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Sarah was instrumental in creating mutual aid networks and centers crucial in helping hundreds of neighbours in Hamilton. She brings communities together to work towards building a better world – one where everyone can thrive free of ableism, racism (including anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-immigrant racism), sexism, xenophobia, poverty, homophobia, transphobia, climate injustice, and all forms of oppression.
Sarah’s very substantial track record in our communities demonstrates her deep understanding of the interconnectedness and intersectionality of all oppressions. She has the experience and expertise required to serve as an effective MPP and will bring all of her experiences to representing all of the people of Hamilton Centre in the Ontario Provincial Legislature. Her ability to build community and to envision a better future for all Hamiltonians is authentic. It derives from her lived experience as well as doing the hard work of advocacy on a variety of issues with a multiplicity of communities.
We wholeheartedly and without reservation support Sarah Jama as the next MPP for Hamilton Centre. We desperately need an MPP like Sarah, who is connected to communities and connects communities. She has our vote, our confidence, and our trust. If you care about justice for all people and about building a better Hamilton and a better world, vote Sarah Jama!
Signed by 88 members of the Ontario Jewish community including 15 from Hamilton Centre (so far)