Council of Advisors Membership List 2020-2021

Honorary Chair
Dr. Joseph Debanne

Dr. Joseph Debanne was born in 1927 in Cairo, Egypt. His father was an official with the British Government owned PALESTINE RAILWAYS. His family lived through the tumultuous events leading up to the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in 1947/48. He started his professional career in Canada in 1950 as a petroleum engineer. In 1969, he was the founder and first Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences of the University of Ottawa. For over 20 years, he was Chair of the Ottawa-based Middle East Discussion Group, a forerunner of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine. 

Members 2020-2021
Alphabetical - by first na

Anita MacLean is a retired Chartered Accountant. She is Chair of the Global Justice Working Group at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa where she has organized many educational sessions on social/humanitarian issues, including human rights for Palestinians and Indigenous issues inviting leading indigenous leaders and thinkers.  She is also an active member of Amnesty International and Chair of the Community Services at Kiwanis Club of Ottawa West that assists disadvantaged children and youth.

Anna Vogt is the Director of the Ottawa Office of the Mennonite Central Committee. She grew up in Dawson City, Yukon. She has previous experience working with MCC in Colombia where she accompanied displaced communities advocating for their rights as victims of Colombia’s armed conflict. She currently oversees all the work of the MCC Ottawa office, including its advocacy and education work around Palestine and Israel.

Arthur Milner is a Canadian author and playwright. His Polish parents lost almost of their family in Poland and spent several years in a refugee camp in Frankfurt, Germany before coming to Canada. Arthur has been continually active in the Canadian theatre community, has written many plays and was Artistic Director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. His play, Facts, toured Palestine and Israel in Arabic in 2013. He currently lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Barbara Dumont-Hill, a First Nation Algonquin, was born on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Reserve and has resided in her traditional territory ever since. She is Turtle Clan and has served as a grandmother with the 2015 Walking With Our Sisters memorial installation in Ottawa.

Bruce Gregersen (Rev. Dr. retired) was a senior staff leader of The United Church of Canada responsible for the oversight of national and international programs. He has been involved in Middle East issues for several decades, travelling to the region numerous times and was lead staff in the development of the UCC Israel/Palestine report.  

David Halton is a retired Canadian journalist, having served as a foreign affairs correspondent in many places including Paris, Moscow, London and Washington. He was stationed in Jerusalem during the 1967 “Six Day War”. Before moving to Washington, Halton was the chief political correspondent in Ottawa for the CBC.

Dr. David Lorge Parnas is a software engineer with a global reputation. Both his parents (both doctors) barely escaped the Holocaust by coming to the USA just prior to WWII. He has been invited to speak and teach at many universities around the world (including German, Israeli and Palestinian). He retired in 2008 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Best known for her work as a legal adviser and a participant in peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian organizations. She currently lives with her family in Ramallah, Palestine.

Doug Dempster is a retired Major-General in the Canadian Armed Forces.  Afterwards he served as NATO Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management in Brussels and subsequently as head of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Executive Leadership.

Eman Ayyoub is a Canadian citizen of Palestinian origin. Her family was forced to flee Palestine in 1947/48. She has a degree from a Canadian university in Engineering Physics and works with a consulting firm in Canada. She is currently completing her M.Sc.

Faisal Bhabha is an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada and is the Faculty Director of the Canadian Common Law LLM degree program. He has published in the areas of constitutional law, multiculturalism, law and religion, disability rights, national security and access to justice. Previously, he sat as Vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (2008-2011). 


Dr. Gerald Wright is currently Senior Fellow, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian International Council. He has a PhD from the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.


Haig Sarafian is a retired Canadian senior diplomat. He had had several overseas postings in different capacities, including Bagdad, Tunis, Damascus as well two postings as Ambassador to Lebanon and Libya; in addition to different assignments in Canada his last one was Director of diplomatic protocol.


Jessica Burnstein is a Canadian lawyer based in Toronto. She formerly practiced law with the Ontario government before spending several years working in the areas of refugee advocacy and human rights in Israel-Palestine.

Karen Walker is a retired consultant who worked in the areas of quantitative analysis, benefit cost analysis, regulatory impact analysis and program evaluation.  She visited Israel and Palestine on a “Come and See” tour.

Lia Tarachansky is a Canadian journalist and documentary filmmaker. Born in the Soviet Union, she calls Israel/Palestine and Canada home. Her work can be seen on

Marina Kun is President of Kun Shoulder Rest, a global supplier of musical equipment. Marina is active in the local arts community supporting many arts and music events including Suzuki, the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, the Ottawa Symphony and the NAC. Marina was designated one of Canada’s top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in 2006 by PROFIT.

Michel de Salaberry is a former Canadian senior diplomat, including many postings in the Middle East. He was ambassador to Iran, Egypt, and Jordan. He has also held diplomatic posts in Israel and Nigeria. He was a director of the National Council on Canada-Arab relations.

Mohammed Abokasem is a businessman and restauranteur in Ottawa. He was born in Gaza and grew up in Saudi Arabia, then arrived in Canada late 1990. Mohamed is graduate of Ottawa University in 2007 (Master of Business Administration). He served in multiple community projects such as mosques, schools, humanitarian organizations and of course, human rights for Palestinians.

Paul Tetrault, a retired labour lawyer from British Columbia. He is the author of “The Wall Must Fall”, published by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Paula Deek, is a Canadian of Palestinian origin living in Ottawa. She is a federal public servant.

Peggy Mason is a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN and an expert on the political/diplomatic aspects of UN peacekeeping. She served on the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament and Chaired two UN Expert Groups on arms control verification and regulation. From 2002-2012 Peggy Mason was a Senior Fellow at The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University. She is currently the President of the Rideau Institute.


Richard Kohler is a retired Canadian senior diplomat. Among other posts he was Consul General of Canada at Sydney, Australia and Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil. He later served in Ottawa as Chief of Protocol of Canada.  Subsequently, as part of the Province of Ontario Cabinet Office, he was Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs and Chief of Protocol.

Robert Massoud is a Palestinian-Canadian born in Jerusalem. In 2004, he founded Zatoun to import and sell fair trade olive oil from Palestine as a way to connect Canadians and Americans to Palestine.  Zatoun helps to provide farmers with a livelihood and to stay on their land. It has donated over $500,000 from proceeds to plant olive trees and support recreational and educational program to youth living in refugee camps.