The National Council of Canadian Muslims objected to the inclusion of Toronto Rabbi Daniel Korobkin as part of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s delegation on an upcoming trip to Israel because he spoke at an event featuring outspoken blogger Pamela Geller. Jason MacDonald, the prime minister’s director of communications, slammed the NCCM for even making the suggestion to drop the rabbi, Canada’s Sun News reported on Friday.
“We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas,” MacDonald said. “The delegation accompanying the prime minister to the Middle East includes a range of stakeholders from various business, religious and community organizations.”
Sun News said the official delegation of media, politicians and VIPs for the Middle East trip totals about 170, believed to be the largest delegation to ever travel with Harper. The plane departs Saturday night for the seven-day trip to Israel and Jordan. In Israel, Harper will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and receive an honorary doctorate at Tel Aviv University. He will also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and, during a visit to Amman, with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Rabbi Korobkin, who declined to comment for the article, is the senior rabbi at Beth Avraham Yoseph Congregation, the largest Orthodox congregation in Canada, and is a former regional vice-president of the Rabbinical Council of America.
In an e-mail to Sun News, NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee said Korobkin should be disqualified from going to Israel with the prime minister because, in September, Korobkin “introduced, defended and praised” two American anti-Islamization campaigners, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, founders of a group called Stop Islamization of America. Korobkin gave some brief remarks at an event in Toronto where Geller was the featured speaker, the newspaper said.
The NCCM, which says it is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit group that funds its work through donations, has had a long-running battle with Geller and Spencer. “Mr. Korobkin has chosen to align himself with some of the most recognized and vitriolic anti-Muslim activists of our time,” Gardee said in a letter to Harper. “The highest political office in our nation should not lend its legitimacy to such parties and views that are entirely contrary to our shared values of mutual understanding, acceptance and respect.”
On her blog, Geller fired back: “If only these Muslim groups used their coercive intimidation to shut down hate imams who preach jihad and incitement to violence. No, but they attack those of us who do.”