B.C. Post-Secondary Education Minister Resigns over Controversial Remarks on Israel

Selina Robinson, the B.C. minister of post-secondary education, has announced her resignation from the cabinet on Monday, following a public backlash over her comments on the Middle East. Robinson had said that Israel was founded on a “crappy piece of land” and compared the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians to a dispute between two First Nations. Robinson apologized for her comments, but said that she could not continue to serve in her role.

Selina Robinson
Selina Robinson

The Comments that Sparked Outrage and Condemnation

Robinson made the comments on January 30, during an online panel discussion hosted by B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization. The panel featured four Jewish public officials, including Robinson, who discussed their experiences and challenges in politics. Robinson, who is also the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville, said that she was proud of her Jewish heritage and identity, but also acknowledged the complexity and sensitivity of the issues related to Israel and Palestine.

However, Robinson also made some remarks that were deemed offensive and ignorant by many observers and critics. She said that before the creation of Israel in 1948, the region was “a crappy piece of land with nothing on it” and that it had “several hundred thousand people but, other than that, it didn’t produce an economy.” She also said that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was similar to a fight between the Tsleil-Waututh and the Squamish First Nations over land.

Robinson’s comments sparked outrage and condemnation from various groups and individuals, who accused her of disrespecting and erasing the history and rights of the Palestinian people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years, and who have faced oppression and displacement by the Israeli state. They also criticized her for trivializing and misrepresenting the conflict, which has resulted in decades of violence, suffering, and injustice. They also questioned her suitability and credibility as the minister of post-secondary education, which is responsible for promoting diversity and inclusion in the academic sector.

The Apology and Resignation from Robinson

Robinson initially apologized for her comments on February 2, in a social media post. She said that she was referring to the fact that the land had limited natural resources, and that she understood that her comment had caused pain and diminished the connection Palestinians also have to the land. She also said that she regretted what she said and apologized without reservation.

However, her apology did not quell the anger and dissatisfaction of many people, who continued to call for her removal from the cabinet. Some of the groups and individuals who demanded her resignation included the Canadian Palestinian Association, the Independent Jewish Voices Canada, the Canadian Arab Federation, and several NDP MLAs and MPs.

On February 5, Robinson issued another apology, and announced her resignation from the cabinet. She said that she had made a mistake, and that she was committed to making amends. She also said that she would take part in anti-Islamophobia training, and that she would continue to serve as the MLA for her riding. She thanked Premier David Eby for his support and understanding, and expressed her respect and admiration for her cabinet colleagues.

The Reaction and Response from the Premier and Others

Premier David Eby accepted Robinson’s resignation, and thanked her for her service and contribution to the government. He said that he respected her decision, and that he appreciated her honesty and accountability. He also said that he would announce a new minister of post-secondary education in the coming days.

Eby also addressed the media on Monday afternoon, and said that he was saddened and disappointed by Robinson’s comments, which he said were unacceptable and hurtful. He said that he had spoken to Robinson, and that he had accepted her apology. He also said that he had reached out to the Jewish and Palestinian communities, and that he had apologized on behalf of the government. He said that he was committed to fostering a culture of respect and reconciliation in the province, and that he would work with all stakeholders and partners to achieve that goal.

Some of the groups and individuals who had called for Robinson’s resignation welcomed her decision, and said that it was the right thing to do. They also said that they hoped that her resignation would be a learning opportunity for her and others, and that it would lead to a more informed and respectful dialogue on the issues related to Israel and Palestine. They also said that they expected the new minister of post-secondary education to be more sensitive and inclusive, and to uphold the values and principles of academic freedom and human rights.

B.C. Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson resigns over controversial remarks on Israel. Robinson had said that Israel was founded on a “crappy piece of land” and compared the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians to a dispute between two First Nations. Robinson apologized for her comments, but said that she could not continue to serve in her role.

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