A Canadian pro-Israel group says it has filed a complaint with police over Facebook posts appearing to glorify violence and martyrdom written by a former president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), a student group at the University of Calgary.
Former student leader Ala’a Hamdan wrote on Facebook on December 25, “I was born to become the next Palestinian fighter. In my mother's womb I had a rock in my hand and a Palestinian flag in the other and now I've sworn that every breath I take is that of resistance.”
She went on to write, “[M]y body and soul are ready to fight and die. And if you see my blood coming out of my body please smile and cry of happiness because just then I will lay at peace in my mother's arms.”
“This land will be proud that Palestinian babies are born men and women ready to spill their blood,” Hamdan added.
In a post written from the point of view of a Palestinian mother which the pro-Israel Calgary United with Israel (CUWI) highlighted on its website, Hamdan wrote, “I will soak a koffiah [Palestinian headscarf] with your blood and save it to show to your siblings…I will be named the mother of the martyr.”
“It’s extremely melodramatic and poorly written but beyond that, it’s hate speech, I think,” CUWI activist Ryan Bellerose told the National Post. “This student group talks about justice and peace and she talks about blowing herself up and having her children blow themselves up. It’s hypocritical.”
While Hamdan’s posts highlighted by CUWI did not directly speak about suicide bombers, Palestinians regularly refer to suicide bombers as “martyrs” and to terrorist attacks against civilians as "resistance." Hamdan’s references to “my blood coming out of my body” men and women being “ready to spill their blood” and being proud to be a “mother of the martyr” could, thus, lead a reader of her posts to conclude she was presenting violence against Israelis in a positive light.
CUWI told the National Post it had reported Hamdan’s Facebook posts to police, but the paper was unable to confirm with the Calgary Police Service that it had received the complaint.
After the story was covered in the Canadian media, Hamdan took to Facebook Sunday morning to defend her earlier posts, casting them as examples of “creative writing” and “poetry.”
“Unfortunately, but predictably, these attacks have omitted, misrepresented, or twisted the context and meaning of this creative writing,” Hamdan wrote.
“I do, at times, use powerful and visceral language in my writings. I do this to emphasize how much the Palestinian people have suffered under Israeli occupation and oppression. I also do it to humanize the Palestinians: their families, their fears, their challenges,” she wrote, adding “my writings do not represent things that I want to do with my life.”
She also emphasized that the posts were personal and not statements on behalf of the organizations with which she is affiliated.
“With all these written pieces, it has never been my intent to promote violence; people who take the time to read these pieces from beginning to end will understand this clearly. Nor have my writings been intended to encourage people to use violent means to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” she wrote, adding “I firmly believe that using peaceful means to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict is the only approach.”
Ben Cannon, the University of Calgary’s vice-president of student life told the National Post, “We believe in the right for a club to express their opinions and to keep the dialogue going on campus.”
The paper further reported that the pro-Palestinian group won an award for best campus advocacy club last year.