TORONTO (May. 19)
The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) has strongly criticized Multi-culturalism Minister James Fleming for not attending its national convention held here this weekend.
“It is shocking that the minister spoke at the Canadian Jewish Congress two weeks ago but would not appear here,” CAF president Khaled Mouammar, declared. He suggested that Fleming, who is a Liberal Party Member of Parliament from the Toronto area, feared a backlash from his constituency which has a sizeable Jewish population.
Mouammar said that while the CAF convention was chiefly concerned with Palestinian land claims, Fleming had been invited in early April to discuss multicultural policy, the same subject he spoke about at the CJC. Fleming said he declined eight invitations this weekend and had suggested that MP Aideen Nicholson could represent him of the CAF convention, but this offer was rejected. Anti-Arab sentiment “was never on my mind,” he told reporters. “I’ve been attacked often in the past for defending the idea of a Palestinian homeland.”
At a press conference during the CAF convention, Hatem Hussaine, a Washington-based spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, blamed the United States for the recent attacks by Israel against Palestinian bases in Lebanon. “Our people are not fighting Israel, but the U.S.A., “he said. “They are guinea pigs for American weapons.”