Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Earlier this month I attended and recorded the proceedings of the Israel Palestine International Law Symposium, held in Winnipeg September 7 – 9. While I thought I was better informed than the average Canadian going into the symposium, by the time it was over I was overwhelmed by the amount of new information I received.

The credentials of the presenters were impressive:

  • Suha Jarrar is a Palestinian human rights researcher and advocate, and currently the Environmental and Gender Policy Researcher at Al-Haq human rights organization in Ramallah, Palestine. More.
  • Jonathan Kuttab is a human rights lawyer in Israel and Palestine and co-founder of Al-Haq, the first human right international law organization in Palestine. More 
  • Dimitri Lascaris is a Canadian lawyer, journalist and activist and a board member of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. More.
  • Michael Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Western Ontario and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory. More.
  • David Matas is an international human rights, refugee and immigration lawyer and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’Nai Brith Canada. More.
  • Virginia Tilley is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University and co-author of Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid. More.

For me, the main takeaway of the symposium is that by supporting the illegal activities of the State of Israel, our own federal government is in violation of Canadian and international law. If you disagree with this assessment, or want to understand why I believe this to be the case, watch these videos.

Introduction: In this clip, symposium coordinator David Kattenburg explains the origins and purpose of the symposium.

Keynote: In this clip, Michael Lynk explains how international law has largely been ignored or broken by Israel over the past several decades of its occupation of the Palestinian Territory.

One State or Two? In this clip, we hear from Michael Lynk and Virginia Tilley.

Human rights: Rhetoric vs Reality: In this clip, symposium Dimitri Lascaris describes the failure of western governments to uphold the human rights of Palestinians.

Palestinian Rights & Obligations: In this clip, we hear from Suha Jarrar and Jonathan Kuttab.

Palestinian Rights to Resources:  In this clip, Suha Jarrar outlines how Israel has misappropriated key Palestinian resources.

Israeli Rights and Obligations: In this clip, we hear from Michael Lynk and Dimitri Lascaris, who look at different aspects of Israeli’s legal rights and obligations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Is Israel and Apartheid State? In this clip, Virginia Tilley argues that Israel is an apartheid state.

Dueling Perspectives: In this clip, David Matas defends Israeli practices and policies with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Michael Lynk argues that Matas’s arguments are not supported by international law.

Canada’s Rights and Obligations: In this clip, Dimitri Lascaris discusses relevant aspects of Canadian and international law.

Concluding Remarks: In this clip we hear concluding remarks from David Kattenburg, Mark Golden and Dean Peachey.

This symposium will be an important resource for lawyers, scholars and activists for years to come. It was sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba Working Group on Palestine-Israel, Palestinian Canadian Congress, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Jewish People’s Order (Winnipeg) and the Winnipeg Centre Federal Green Party Association. Additional information, including Power Point presentations and other documents will be made available at the conference web site: https://www.israelpalestinelawsymposi…

 

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Winnipeg, July 19, 2014: Winnipeggers march in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeg, July 19, 2014: Winnipeggers march in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Photo: Paul S. Graham

July 19, 2014: Several hundred Winnipeggers rallied in front of the Canadian Human Rights Museum in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are enduring yet another murderous invasion by Israeli forces. The rally, the second in a week, was part of an international day of action.

Here’s my video report, featuring:
• Krishna Lalbiharie, Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Rana Abdulla, Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba
• Terrance Nelson, Grand Chief, Southern Chiefs Organization
• Daniel Thau-Eleff, Independent Jewish Voices (Winnipeg)
• Bassam Hozaima,  Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Glenn Michalchuk, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

The demonstration was sponsored by

• Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba
• Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Independent Jewish Voices (Winnipeg)
• Peace Alliance Winnipeg
• Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA)


On July 9, 2005 , Palestinian civil society put out the call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to compel the Israeli state to follow international law. Specifically, the signatories called on Israel to:

  1. End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantle the Wall;
  2. Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS campaign has been taken up by human rights activists around the world and there is some evidence that it is having an impact. For example, last month the Norwegian retail chain, VITA, announced it would stop all sales of products originating from settlements in occupied Palestine, including Ahava cosmetics. Also, last month, graduate students at Carleton University overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to call upon the university’s pension fund to divest from four companies that are complicit in the occupation of Palestine. The BDS campaign is being credited with the decision of the West London Waste Authority to exclude French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract. Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank; it also takes waste from Israel and illegal  Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.

One measure of its effectiveness may be the passage of a law in the Israeli Knesset last year that facilitates attacks on supporters of BDS.  After all, if BDS were ineffective, there would be no reason to pass a law against it. According to the Jerusalem Post, the law “allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.”

“Can boycott, divestment and sanctions stop Israeli apartheid?” was the title of a forum held March 7, 2012 as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Winnipeg. Featured speakers were Dalit Baum and Mostafa Henaway. Baum is an Israeli activist and co-founder of WhoProfits.org, a website that exposes corporate complicity in Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians. Henaway is a human rights activist who works with Tadamon! Montreal. Moderated by Lisa Stepnuk, the forum was sponsored by Students Against Israeli Apartheid and the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. As usual, I was there for Winnipeg Community TV to record the discussion.


Campaign to divest the Canada Pension Plan from complicity in Israeli Apartheid

The Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade has produced an invaluable resource that forms the first step in a campaign to compel the Canada Pension Plan to divest from companies that support Israeli apartheid. According to COAT’s co-ordinator, Richard Sanders,

“COAT’s research cites data from hundreds of sources to expose 64 corporations that have two things in common:

(1) they profit from links to Israeli government institutions, agencies and corporations that hide behind the euphemisms of “defence” and “homeland security,” and

(2) the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) held shares in these companies, with a market value of $1.4 billion in 2011.

You can learn more here.

As a part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Winnipeg, Paul Burrows and Cheryl-Anne Carr discussed the impact of colonialism on the indigenous peoples of Canada and Palestine. The similarities are disturbing and striking.

The event was sponsored by:

Sept. 30, 2011 - Award-winning Israeli journalist Amira Hass speaking at the University of Winnipeg on the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Photo: Paul S. Graham

“Inhuman, immoral and unsustainable” are the words used by Amira Hass to describe what she terms “the State of Israel and the privileges it endows to Jews only, at the expense of Palestinians.”

Hass was at the University of Winnipeg Sept. 30, to provide a unique perspective on the Palestinian struggle, that of an Israeli Jew, a woman and a journalist for Haaretz, who has lived and worked in either Gaza or the West Bank for the past 17 years.

Hass was forceful in her denunciation of the conditions under which Palestinians live and uncompromising about the need to end the occupation and restore the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. What especially caught my attention, however, was her diplomatic yet unmistakable suggestion that activists outside of Israel take stock of their own societies and refrain from applying a double standard toward Israel.

“I’m fully aware that I’m speaking here mostly to the privileged. You are also a settler society that owes a large part of its affluence and comfortable life to the disenfranchisement of native peoples,” Hass said early in her presentation. She continued, “I also know that many who are engaged in the struggle for justice for Palestine are aware of it and probably some of you are part of the struggle to undo some of the damage that your communities, that your society, has inflicted on the First Nations.”

Hass returned briefly to this theme late in her presentation. While she expressed profound regret that she and other Israeli activists had not succeeded in convincing fellow citizens to end the suppression of Palestinians, she advised activists to get a sense of proportion.

“I would call for some sort of proportion. The calls about Israeli illegitimacy – I understand them – but I also want to understand why Israel is more illegitimate as a settler society – why is it more illegitimate than Canada. . . . let’s not treat Israel as the only evil in the world.”

If you look at the map Hass used in her presentation (click for a larger view) it would seem that the Israelis have borrowed the Canadian playbook – force the aboriginal peoples onto isolated parcels of land, compel them to live in poverty and control every aspect of their existence until they lose the will to resist. The main difference in this regard is that we’ve been doing this to “our” native peoples for a much longer time.

My take-away from Amira Hass’s presentation: stand up for Palestinian rights, but remember your responsibility for stand up for aboriginal rights in Canada.

Please share this video widely, especially with those who have imbibed deeply at the well of Israeli propaganda. For them, it could be an eye-opener.