In the wake of growing criticism and calls for her resignation, Victoria City Councillor Susan Kim has issued a formal apology for her signing her name on an open letter that denied sexual violence at the hands of Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack against Israel.
The letter drafted by those sympathetic to Hamas cast shade on the credibility of reports detailing rapes and other abuses against Israeli citizens.
Kim, confronted with public backlash, was forced to publicly apologize for endorsing the letter and has asked for her name to be removed from the document.
“I have asked for my name to be removed from the letter. I regret not being more careful in understanding the impact of the letter on the community members I represent,” wrote Kim in a statement posted on her social media on Thursday.
“I signed this letter in a moment of immense grief and a felt urgency to call for an end to violence and support the people of Gaza. In the process, I failed to critically assess the impact this would have on community members directly affected – including Jewish and Palestinian community members – experiencing loss and grieving loved ones.”
Kim added that she has actively listened to feedback from the involved communities, saying that their guidance helped her make the decision to apologize.
The open letter, also co-signed by independent member of Ontario’s legislature Sarah Jama – who was previously expelled from the NDP over remarks on the Israel-Hamas war – falsely accused Israel of genocide and refuted reports of sexual violence against Israeli women by Hamas terrorists.
In a statement prior to her apology, the city councillor said that she was not the author of the letter.
“On the open letter signed by civil society, I agree that a ceasefire is a necessary next step in de-escalating the horrific conflict we’re seeing on the other side of the globe. To further clarify, that letter was not written by me. It is disappointing that international media did not reach out to verify the letter’s authorship,” said Kim.
Earlier this week, Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto refrained from criticizing Kim for signing the letter, asserting that Kim should speak for herself.
Alto cited a lack of knowledge about the issues at hand as the reason for refusing to denounce Kim.
“I don’t have enough information to be able to answer that in an informed way. I think it would be actually quite irresponsible for me to comment on that without being more informed,” said Alto.