Some Jewish residents of Victoria are voicing their support for Victoria Coun. Susan Kim, who has faced calls to resign after signing an open letter advocating for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
The letter contained a controversial line referring to an allegation that Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israelis included rapes as “unverified.”
An online petition in support of Kim has been signed by more than 1,200 people.
The petition says it was started by Jewish residents of Victoria from the local chapter of Independent Jewish Voices, a national organization that describes itself as grounded in Jewish tradition and an advocate for peace for everyone in Israel and Palestine.
“We admire Susan Kim’s courage, in a time of extreme political repression, to represent the views of so many of us in Victoria calling for peace,” the petition says.
Kim came under fire for being one of more than 2,100 people who signed the open letter, including Ontario MPP Sarah Jama, who was removed from the Ontario NDP and censured after an earlier statement calling for an end to the “occupation of Palestinian land” that did not acknowledge the deadly Hamas attacks.
The open letter criticizes NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, claiming he “repeated the unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence.”
The letter received international media attention, and led to thousands signing a petition calling for Kim’s censure. BC United Leader Kevin Falcon has also called on Kim to resign.
The petition in support of Kim points out that thousands of Canadians are marching each week calling for a ceasefire.
“Across the country Jews have stood in these marches, in solidarity with Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. Councillor Kim was representing us when she made a public statement in support of a ceasefire,” it says.
The woman who started the petition could not be reached for comment.
Kim also did not respond to a request for comment, but in a statement Tuesday, she said she did not write the open letter and regrets how the inclusion of her name on it has polarized the community.
Kim said she will not resign from council and she believes survivors of gender-based violence.
Mayor Marianne Alto has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and condemned a rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism in Victoria.
Health officials in Gaza have said more than 12,000 people have been killed in less than seven weeks since Israel launched a retaliation campaign in response to the Hamas attacks, which killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel. Another roughly 240 were taken hostage during the Oct. 7 attacks.
Israel’s cabinet has agreed to a four-day pause of its attack on Gaza in exchange for the release of 50 of the hostages. The Israeli government said it would extend its pause by a day for every 10 additional hostages released. It’s unclear when the pause would take effect.
Around 200 Canadians remain in Gaza. Ottawa says more than 450 Canadians, permanent residents and their relatives have left Gaza for Egypt through a tightly controlled border crossing since the conflict began.