Controversial anti-police NDP candidate accused of anti-Semitism wins by-election

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Sarah Jama (pictured with microphone) won over half the Hamilton Centre vote last Thursday. Photo credit: Twitter/Sarah Jama


Sarah Jama, the controversial anti-police NDP candidate who was recently accused of anti-Semitism and endorsement of violent anti-Israel uprisings, won the Hamilton Centre by-election Thursday night.

The March 16 contest was to fill the seat vacated by current Mayor Andrea Horwath. 

Jama and the NDP received 54 per cent of the vote – a four-point decrease from the 58 per cent vote share that Horwath received in June 2022.

Hamilton Centre is one of the strongest NDP ridings in the entire country, so the result was not a huge surprise.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Liberals increased their vote share by seven points from 13 to 20 per cent since June 2022, the Ontario PCs maintained their level of support at 16 per cent, and the Ontario Greens’ support fell two points from 9 to 7 per cent.

Hamilton Centre runs east-west from Kenilworth Avenue to the 403 and north-south from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment.

Jama made headlines multiple times over the past few years, particularly over the past couple of weeks.

In the past, Jama commented in support of “abolishing” and “dismantling” the police, was involved in a 2020 protest where a mob of people targeted the personal residence of former Mayor Fred Eisenberger, and was even arrested for refusing to cooperate with Hamilton Police at a homeless encampment clean-up at a local Hamilton park.

Then, two weeks ago, Jama came under fire from multiple Jewish human rights groups, including B’nai Brith Canada, for alleged anti-Semitism.

The organisation called on the Ontario NDP to withdraw Jama’s candidacy for her association with controversial anti-Israel groups and her involvement in “radical” anti-Israel events.

Jama has reportedly called Israel an “apartheid state” and a racist country. 

John Best, political commentator for local news outlet “The Bay Observer” located social media videos from July 2021 where Jama addressed a pro-Palestinian rally saying that “Hamilton Police protect Naziism” and “target Blacks, Muslims, and Palestinians.”

In the video she reportedly continued by saying, “we know these systems are corrupt – they need to fall. Disarm, dismantle, abolish the police.”

The video has since been removed.

Jama also supported a move for McMaster University to “boycott, divest, and sanction” Israel, an initiative known globally as the BDS movement and highly criticised as having anti-Semitic motivations.

Canary Mission, another Jewish human rights group that “documents individuals that promote hatred of Israel and Jews,” has compiled 93 screenshots and four videos that they say show Jama “demonising Israel” and supporting events that call for “freeing terrorists” and for “terrorist violence.”

They also allege that Jama attended events and took part in chants supporting Palestinian Intifada (i.e., an act of violent uprising by Palestinian people against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip).

Chants included in the anti-Israel events include “Israel is a racist state,” “Israel and USA – how many kids did you kill today,” “Viva, Viva, Intifada,” and “No justice, no peace.”

Despite her alleged anti-Semitism making headlines two weeks ago, Jama ended up waiting until election day to issue a statement.

She wrote, “These issues are complex and my poor choice of words in the video that has been circulating has not helped. I apologise for my comments which have been harmful.”

But the apology is not good enough, says B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn.

In addition to Jama’s long delay in responding, he says that she only addressed the one video and not her numerous other concerning words and actions.

“Jama’s first attempt at an apology is not at a level acceptable to B’nai Brith Canada or Ontarians in general,” he continued.

“Her apology appears to inherently deny her pattern of radical behaviour and is solely on the language recorded in one disturbing video.”

Despite all the controversy, the people of Hamilton Centre voted Jama into the Ontario Legislature. 

Her swearing-in ceremony will take place in the coming weeks.


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