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Jude With a Star of David in flames

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Palestinian official in Canada apologizes for offensive tweet

JTA, October 19, 2011

TORONTO (JTA) – The Palestinian envoy in Ottowa has apologized for tweeting a link to a video that was deemed offensive to Jews.

"I regret the unfortunate incident and it was a retweet unintentional and very unfortunate," Linda Sobeh Ali, the charge d’affaires of the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa, said in a statement released Tuesday, the CBC reported.

Ali, who reportedly has agreed to be reassigned, also said that the incident was "intentionally magnified and misinterpreted by certain lobbying groups."

Officials in the foreign affairs department called in Ali for an official rebuke. Ottawa also has lodged a formal complaint with the Palestinian Authority, and has decided to "limit communication" with Ali until a replacement arrives, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the Globe reported, Ali tweeted a link to a YouTube video showing a Palestinian girl in tears reciting a poem in Arabic. The English subtitles on the video include a passage in which millions are called "to a war that raze[s] the injustice and oppression and destroy[s] the Jews."

In an e-mail to the newspaper, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that "Canada expects the Palestinian Authority to appropriately deal with this serious transgression. We have taken the decision to limit communication with this official until a replacement is selected."

Salah Basalamah of the University of Ottawa's School of Translation and Interpretation said the English subtitle of "to a war that raze[s] the injustice and oppression and destroy[s] the Jews" is a mistranslation of the Arabic. Basalamah said the correct translation is "to a war that is destroying oppression and kill[s] the soul of Zionism."

But Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who sent Ali's video tweet to Baird's office, said both versions are unfit to be circulated by a Palestinian diplomat. Fogel said he "doesn’t see a difference" between the two versions because calling for the destruction of Zionism is a denial of Israel's right to exist.

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