Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

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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Canada’s position on the world stage continues to embarrass and disturb.

On Nov. 4, Canada, along with  Ukraine and United States, voted against a draft resolution entitled “Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

It’s a lengthy document, but worth the time it takes to read. As you read through the resolution, ask yourself why any decent human being would oppose it. Surely, only racists, bigots and nazis could find this resolution offensive.

In this instance, it seems likely that the US and Canada chose to vote with Ukraine because of the influence of neo-fascists in Ukraine’s government. I found myself wondering if parts of this resolution might apply to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – thus providing another incentive for Harper to remain on the wrong side of justice (and history).

Not surprisingly (also on Nov. 4th), Canada was one of a handful of nations to vote against a draft text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The resolution was supported by a record vote of 170 in favour. Seven were opposed (Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United States, Nauru), and six abstained (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kiribati, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Sudan).

The Harper government’s stance on these two resolutions will not surprise anyone who has been paying attention. The next federal election cannot come soon enough.

From the video "Dancing Tragedies and Dreams". Photo: Paul S. Graham

From the video “Dancing Tragedies and Dreams.” Photo: Paul S. Graham

Art, culture, dance and politics blended seamlessly in Winnipeg on September 21, 2014, with the performance of Dancing Tragedies and Dreams, a production of the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba,  at Prairie Theatre Exchange.

Dancing Tragedies and Dreams featured dances from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt as well as an exciting performance of Poi dance from New Zealand, propelled by the music of El Funon Popular Dance Troupe of Palestine. Talk about fusion!

Eleven months in the making, Dancing Tragedies and Dreams was the brain child of Rana Abdulla and involved dozens of volunteers working evenings and weekends to bring it to fruition. In preparing this event, Rana’s dream was to bridge the divide between Western and Arabic worlds and to amplify the cry of Palestinians for peace, human rights and social justice.

Sixty-six years ago, the people of Palestine were forcibly driven from their homeland. Confined to parcels of land that are a fraction of their traditional territory and vilified by the the people who drove them out, their history shows some similarity to that of the indigenous people of this country. Unlike the government of Israel, the government of Canada does not bomb indigenous people (in this country, anyway), but for decades in Canada, indigenous people needed permission from the local Indian Agent to leave their reserves, a parallel that would be immediately familiar to any resident of Gaza or the West Bank. And hence, at Dancing Tragedies and Dreams, Said Hamad, Palestine’s representative in Canada, referred to their “solidarity with the aboriginal people in Canada.”

Like the aboriginal people of Canada, Palestinians have been “ethnically cleansed” and negatively stereotyped by their oppressors. Like Canada’s aboriginal peoples, Palestinians continue to assert their rights and make visible their humanity and their rich culture.

Dancing Tragedies and Dreams makes a stunning contribution to this effort. It’s too bad that the performance was limited to one evening. Fortunately, my friend Ken Harasym and I recorded the evening. So, get comfortable for the next 90 minutes. Enjoy, and share widely, please.

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)

What is your course?
Our course is the conscience of humanity.

What is your final destination?
Our final destination is the betterment of mankind.

Nov. 4, 2011: David Heap, in the wheel house of The Tahrir, in radio contact with Israeli commandos who were preparing to forcibly board the boat.

On November 4, 2011, the Canadian boat, The Tahrir, en route to Gaza bearing medical supplies and solidarity, was boarded on the high seas by the Israeli Navy, as was the Irish vessel, the MV Saoirse. The crews were taken to Ashdod, held in prison for six days, and deported.

David Heap was among those captured, and on May 22, 2012, he was in Winnipeg to recount this gripping story and build support for a new solidarity project, Gaza’s Ark. Harold Shuster and I recorded it for Winnipeg Community TV.



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: