Mohammed El-Kurd Awarded Calgary Peace Prize; Award Presentation Features A Litany Of Anti-Israel Disinformation, Including Calls For Israel’s Dismantlement And Justifications Of Violence

On May 18, Mohammed El-Kurd, one of the world’s most prominent anti-Israel activists who has spread overt antisemitic content and glorified Palestinian terrorism on his social media channels and elsewhere, was awarded the “Calgary Peace Prize” in a virtual ceremony.

The event featured a number of speakers who made false anti-Israel claims and who promoted the antisemitic BDS movement, and who described all of Jerusalem as “occupied Palestine” and proclaimed that Israel as an “apartheid” state.

Ironically, an award ceremony meant to promote the concept of peace ended up extolling the so-called virtues of violence.

As HonestReporting Canada (HRC) exposed on April 26, El-Kurd was announced as the “winner” of the 2023 Calgary Peace Prize, nominated by Mark Muhannad Ayyash, a Professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University (MRU). The prize was scheduled to be awarded in a virtual presentation on May 18 and was promoted as an effort of Mount Royal University.

Following our complaint to the university and our alert which mobilized well over 1,000 complaints sent to the administration, Mount Royal responded to HRC and attempted to downplay their involvement in the award, depicting it as merely a private project of a professor in his personal time and attempted to disassociate their involvement with the award.

However, as we noted in a subsequent HRC alert on May 11 and which was chronicled in coverage by the Western Standard, there are a number of connections between the peace prize and the university, including multiple places where Mount Royal University’s website linked to the prize, along with the 2023 prize poster prominently featuring a logo of the university, along with other links.

Despite the entreaties of HonestReporting Canada and our subscribers, the award was presented to El-Kurd on May 18 as scheduled, followed by a panel discussion by a group of anti-Israel activists that lasted more than two hours, hosted by Ayyash, who’s also an anti-Israel columnist at Al-Jazeera and who in 2023, was himself awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award by Mount Royal University.

You can watch the entire “award” ceremony and panel discussion by clicking here or immediately below:

 

It was noteworthy that Mount Royal University wasn’t mentioned once by Ayyash, El-Kurd or any of the panelists. This begs the question, were they instructed by the administration not to refer to Mount Royal University?

During the Zoom presentation, it didn’t take long for anti-Israel disinformation to be spread.

In his remarks, El-Kurd acknowledged the “great optics” he received for being awarded this prize and said: “I can’t believe I’m already getting a peace prize, I thought you need to bomb the shit out of some place to get those, alas, I’m an over-achiever.”

In his address, El-Kurd referred to Israel as one of the key forces “that have displaced us, that have taken our homes, that have stolen our lands, that have killed our parents and our grandparents.”

But El-Kurd did more than simply wade into the same tired anti-Israel talking points. He also excused and even defended the actions of Palestinians who commit violence against Israeli civilians, describing them in Orwellian terms.

“If you come to Palestine, and you see people burning tires on the ground, people throwing rocks at illegal checkpoints and settlements…these are people who are anxious and eager for peace,” El-Kurd said in his remarks.

There is simply no logic, nor moral defense to the claim that Palestinians who attack “settlements” are somehow “eager for peace.” Settlements, or more accurately Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria, ancient lands of the Jewish People (often called the “West Bank” by the news media), are homes where people live – civilians.

And while El-Kurd portrayed rock throwing as a courageous act against an overwhelming military presence, this intentionally ignores the Israeli civilians who have died as a result of Palestinian rock throwing.

To cite one such example, in 2015, 4-year-old Adele Bitton died after suffering from long-term complications after a rock was thrown at the car her mother was driving two years earlier, causing it to crash into a nearby truck. Similarly, Jonathan Palmer never reached his second birthday; he was killed with his father when stones were hurled at their car.

After discussing the Lion’s Den terrorist group, El-Kurd offered an excusal couched as an explanation of Palestinian terrorism.

“My instinct as a writer… is to offer context explaining why a group of men would want to take up arms against their occupiers,” he said.

The Lion’s Den, a group that has arisen in prominence only in the last year or so, has committed scores of terror attacks against Israelis and recently executed a Palestinian man for allegedly collaborating with Israel, in the total absence of any fair trial. The 23-year-old man was shot in a public street before being dumped unceremoniously in a garbage-laden field.

El-Kurd was far from the only panelist spreading false information about Israel.

Another panelist, Yara Hawari of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, spoke about “dismantling the Zionist apartheid regime” and falsely described Israel as having no right to its land. She described the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, where each party recognized the other as a legitimate negotiating power, as nothing short of a full Palestinian capitulation.

“What else can you call an agreement which forces the Palestinians to acquiesce to the loss of over 80 percent of their homeland?” she asked.

While commonly cited, the claim that Palestinians have lost 80 percent of their land to Israel is patently false. The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine divided the historical land of Israel into a Jewish State, an Arab State, and an international zone for Jerusalem. Israel possesses extensive legal and historical rights to the land in question between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and to describe it as exclusively Palestinian is to not only ignore international law, but to disregard and ultimately erase three thousand years of Jewish history in their ancestral homeland.

Other panelists on the presentation included Desmond Cole, who has a long history of spreading anti-Israel falsehoods, including accusing the Jewish State of being a “settler colonial regime,” as well as Rinaldo Walcott, a University of Toronto faculty member, and a vocal supporter of the antisemitic BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement, which delegitimizes Israel’s right to exist.

While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, even when individuals spread deliberate falsehoods, that does not excuse Mount Royal University from its role in this event, nor from the consequences of its failing to condemn an event which awarded a peace prize to someone who has spread vitriolic antisemitism, nor for its failure to fully acknowledge its extensive history with the Calgary Peace Prize, which it has thus far attempted to downplay and try to disassociate itself from.

It’s time for Mount Royal University to come clean about its involvement in the Calgary Peace Prize, and to forcefully speak out against Mohammed El-Kurd and condemn his antisemitic hatred.

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