The event, organized by the US-based Palestinian Youth Movement, was scheduled to be held at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto on 13 July.
Kanafani, a communist, intellectual and novelist, was a spokesperson for the Marxist-Leninist PFLP party. He was murdered by an Israeli Mossad car bomb in Lebanon in July 1972.
Along with the extremist Jewish Defense League, which has a long history of violent threats, racism and harassment against Palestinian activists in Canada, Israel advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada bragged about its role in the cancellation and smeared Kanafani as a “terrorist.”
B’nai Brith said it would “continue to investigate” PYM’s scholarship program and threatened that it will “take all possible steps to thwart it.”
The church said the event was “inconsistent” with its policy and canceled the booking.
Its spiritual leader, Reverend Cheri DiNovo – a former politician – stated she “unequivocally supports the cancellation of the event.”
DiNovo indicated she would meet with B’nai Brith and other Jewish communal groups in August, after returning from her vacation in South Africa.
Activists slammed the church’s decision while others pointed out the irony of DiNovo’s denunciation of South Africa’s apartheid history while capitulating to anti-Palestinian organizations that support Israel’s apartheid system:
As Yves Engler, an activist and contributor to The Electronic Intifada notes, DiNovo has regularly appeared at events hosted by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, even attending the right-wing organization’s 2015 presentation on combating the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
She supported a 2010 resolution condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, a global series of events meant to draw attention to Israel’s systematic policies of racism, discrimination and occupation.
Following the unanimous vote in favor of the resolution, DiNovo told the Toronto Star that the word apartheid is “inflammatory” and claimed it is “particularly used inappropriately in the case of Israel.”
Organizers with the Palestinian Youth Movement stated on 9 July that “the desperation that leads Zionist organizations and individuals to continuously challenge even the most modest attempts to promote the struggle and stories of the Palestinian people should be taken as a sign of just how powerful our words and stories really are.”
The group says it has found another venue for the event.