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Eby condemns 'hatred and violence' in BC after death threat sent to Selina Robinson

Police are investigating after former provincial minister Selina Robinson was sent a death threat, Premier David Eby has said.

Eby said "there is no excuse, ever" for such acts.

"Hatred and violence are completely unacceptable in BC," he said, adding: "She is safe and the police are investigating to find the person responsible."

The former post-secondary education minister was targeted by anti-Israel activists after she made a comment about the founding of the Israeli state that they claimed was racist and prejudiced against Islam.

Robinson said the land upon which the country was built was "crappy," later clarifying – in the first of her three apologies over the remark – that she was referring to its poor natural resources.

She was attacked by numerous individuals and groups, including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and a small group of men claiming to speak for various Islamic associations in British Columbia.

Her constituency office was vandalized on Tuesday. It was also daubed with graffiti stating "Zionism is Nazism" and "We do not accept your apology."

Coquitlam RCMP said they were investigating the vandalism.

Nico Slobinsky, from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in response to the reported death threat that he is "saddened and concerned."

He added: "I can't help but wonder if people are feeling emboldened after the events of the last few days."

Eby has been criticized by some Jewish organizations for wanting Robinson, who is Jewish, to resign.

Ezra Shanken, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, said her departure was “shocking.”

“I think at a time when the intimidation of Jewish students on campus is as high as it’s ever been, to see a Jewish minister of advanced education stepping down sends really a chill down my spine,” he said.

“It’s obviously a very, very shocking thing to see, especially after Minister Robinson was apologetic and also came up with a plan for reconciliation.”

Nine rabbis signed a letter to Eby on Tuesday supporting Robinson and expressing disappointment in the premier’s decision to accept her resignation.

"We believe you have capitulated to a small but loud group of people," said the letter from the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver, chaired by Jonathan Infeld. "This is dangerous for our community and the strength of our province’s democracy."

Robinson made her remarks on Jan. 30 in the context of there being a lack of knowledge among the young about the history of Jews, mentioning both the Holocaust and the founding of Israel.

“They don’t even understand that Israel was offered to the Jews who were misplaced, displaced,” she said.

“So they have no connection to how it started. They don’t understand that it was a crappy piece of land with nothing on it. You know, there were several hundred thousand people, but other than that it didn’t produce an economy; it couldn’t grow things, it didn’t have anything on it.

“And then it was the folks who were displaced that came and the people that had been living there for generations, and together they worked hard and they had their own battles, right? We know the history, most of the world does not know that history, and certainly 18-34-year-olds have no idea.”

Between 1918 and 1948, most of the land now constituting Israel was administered by the British Empire.

In 1947, the UN approved a plan to partition the land – then known as "Mandatory Palestine" – between Jews and Arabs living there.

The Jews agreed to the plan, but the Arabs protested that the deal was unfair and rejected it, leading to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which was won by Israel, a country whose independence was declared in 1948.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Israel has few natural resources, "limited arable land" and "restricted natural freshwater resources."

It also suffers from desertification and a lack of forest resources, the CIA explained.

Jewish settlers in the 19th and 20th centuries had to drain large stretches of swampland to free up land for agriculture and homes, a source of pride for many Israelis.

– WITH FILES FROM CANADIAN PRESS


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