Quebec lawmaker blasted for rally comments

MONTREAL, June 17 (JTA) — A branch of the Canadian Jewish Congress is criticizing the speaker of the Quebec legislature for making anti-Israel comments at a pro-Palestinian rally. “It is totally unacceptable” for Louise Harel “to have been present at — much less to have publicly supported the organizers of — this partisan demonstration,” the president of the CJC’s Quebec region, Joseph Gabay, said. At the June 8 rally, Harel reportedly called the situation in the region “inhuman.” While the language may have sounded neutral, the context of her speech made clear that Harel was criticizing Israel, Jewish groups said. Other speakers compared Israeli military retaliation for Palestinian terror attacks to the actions of the South African Apartheid movement. A rally organizer stated that Israel’s actions are responsible for the spate of Palestinian attacks. In the National Assembly last week, Harel commented on a news release issued by the CJC condemning her attendance at the rally. “I care to mention that my presence was carried out as a concerned citizen worried about peace and justice, and that I neither acted nor gave to understand that I was acting in the performance of my duties as president of the National Assembly,” Harel said. Gabay disagrees. “The speaker is elected by members from every party, representing all Quebecers,” he said. “Her suggestion to reporters that she was attending ‘a titre personnel,’ ” — or in her own name only — “is a meaningless distinction. In public, the speaker of the National Assembly carries the burden of his or her role.”

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