TORONTO (May. 6)
Canadian Jewish organizations have hailed a federal judge’s refusal last week to consider an Arab group’s petition to bar Ariel Sharon from entering Canada.
Sharon, who was Israel’s defense minister during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, is scheduled to address a fund-raising dinner of the Canadian Friends of the Jerusalem College of Technology here on June 11.
The application to bar him from entering Canada was submitted to the Federal Court of Canada by the Canadian Arab Federation, which says it represents 2,000 Canadian Arabs and claims Sharon is a war criminal.
Justice James Jerome denied the petition May 2. He explained that the law allows a person to be barred only if there is the potential for serious harm to the applicant as a result of the visit.
“I have great difficulty in establishing a link between the presence of Mr. Sharon in Canada and direct harm to the applicants,” Jerome said.
Canadian Jewish Congress President Les Scheininger said he was satisfied but not surprised by the decision.
“This was not a public issue,” he said, adding it “was obviously a publicity ploy attempted by the Canadian Arab Federation.”
B’nai Brith Canada commented in a similar vein. “We considered this application all along to be a silly, shallow contortion of our justice system,” said Paul Marcus, national director of the agency’s Institute for International Affairs.
The Canadian Arab Federation said it will continue legal efforts for an injunction barring Sharon and will ask the minister of immigration to deny him entry.
Failing that, the federation said, it will ask the justice minister to have Sharon arrested once he arrives and charged under a 3-year-old law that allows Canadian courts to try war criminals for offenses committed on foreign soil.
The Arab Federation’s complaint stems from an Israeli report that found Sharon indirectly responsible for the massacre by Christian militiamen of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut in September 1982.
A co-applicant in its petition, Oddette Manuel, claimed in a statement that 23 members of her family died when two Israeli jets bombed a Beirut apartment building in August 1982, while Sharon was defense minister.