Muffling the Palestinian Narrative in Canada

Expanded version of this article
All three major federal parties in Canada need to be sent a loud and clear message that Palestinians and their supporters will not be censored and Palestinian rights are not expendable.

By Marion Kawas

The Canadian election campaign has another 2 months to go and it has already become too much to bear. Palestinian activists are either bullied and targeted by our known adversaries or betrayed by our “friends” and told we’re not even allowed to raise our voices. The blatant pro-Israel stands of the current Conservative government are well-known, but the pervasive and bludgeoning reach of the Zionist lobby seems to have reached new heights (or lows). All three major federal parties in Canada need to be sent a loud and clear message that Palestinians and their supporters will not be censored and Palestinian rights are not expendable.
In the last week, the latest round of brouhaha was instigated by the New Democratic Party NDP leadership with the purge of some candidates mildly sympathetic to Palestinian rights. The resulting dissent has put them in damage control mode, especially since many supporters of the Palestinian people have also historically been involved in some way with the NDP which paints itself as the “party of change”. Several people were even deleted from various FaceBook groups (including Rabble) for refusing to drop the challenges on this issue. But the issues of censorship and the need to hear the Palestinian voice have refused to go away. On August 20, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association issued a strongly-worded letter defending the freedom of speech of two of the ex-candidates and noting that what one of them said was common parlance in Israel’s mainstream media. The letter went on to state – “The NDP’s stance in barring any criticism of Israel is undemocratic and wrong. Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine were not breaking confidence with a democratically-determined party policy platform, or engaged in any such mutiny. They have uttered words critical of Israel, in contexts of democratic discourse.”
Of course Palestine is not the only issue in this election, and Palestinian and Arab Canadians (contrary to some perceptions) are just like everyone else – parents, workers, seniors, disabled etc. with a myriad of concerns . But for supporters of Palestinian rights, the dilemma here is huge. The Zionist lobby are allowed to be “one issue” and have unlimited resources and time to check candidates’ social media accounts for the last 6 years, making any support for Palestine a “red line” issue. Is there no brave voice in the NDP leadership willing to speak out and say this is unacceptable? Sadly, so far, no!
And to ask Palestinian-Canadians and their supporters to vote for a party that is clearly complicit in the trampling of human rights, with the faint hope that after the election things will improve, simply will not cut it. Especially not with the current NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, who proudly pronounced himself an “ardent supporter of Israel”, even before being elected party leader. Palestinians will not be silenced and after 67 years of dispossession, they no longer believe in hollow promises. So if the NDP leadership wants to own up and say they’ve thrown the Palestinians under the bus as have the other major Canadian political parties, then please be honest and do so. And engage in that debate as to why Palestinian rights (and any discussion of them) are expendable and be judged accordingly.
Does criticizing the NDP (or considering voting for another party, say the Greens) mean you’re supporting Stephen Harper or you don’t want change? Of course not! And frankly, it is arrogant and insulting to everyone’s intelligence to use such fear-mongering tactics. Many pro-Palestinian activists and their organizations have historically supported the NDP at one time or another, but for how long do we join the march to the bottom line no matter the cost, even if it means silence on critical issues? The progressive community expected more from the NDP so this is indeed a bitter pill to swallow.

Expanded version of this article at Mondoweiss.net

24 Hour Fast and Day of Action in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners, Vancouver

Fasting: 9pm Monday August 17 to 9pm Tuesday August 18
Leafleting:12pm – 5pm on Tuesday, Aug18 at Broadway Skytrain Station
Facebook Event

24 Hour Fast and Day of Action in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners
Fasting: 9pm Monday August 17 to 9pm Tuesday August 18
Leafleting: Join us between 12pm and 5pm on Tuesday, August 18 at Broadway Skytrain Station
Facebook Event

Responding to the urgent call of Palestinian prisoners for support in the face of an escalation of violence and repression by the Occupation and the Israeli Prison Authority, solidarity activists in Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories will be engaging in a 24 hour fast and day of action.

There are currently 5750 Palestinian prisoners in the Occupation Jails, including 401 administrative detainees, 25 women and 164 children. All of these Palestinians are jailed for resisting the occupation!

Participate in the Fast! Pledge to fast from 9pm Monday August 17 to 9pm Tuesday August 18 and collect donations for Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network from family and friends. Contact aiyanas.ormond@gmail.com if you want to join the fast.

Pledge a faster or make a donation! You can make a donation directly to Samidoun or make a cash donation to a faster. All funds will be used for educational and advocacy work in solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners.

Join us between 12pm and 5pm on Tuesday, August 18 at Broadway Skytrain Station to help raise consciousness of the situation of Palestinian prisoners by leafleting, gathering signatures and talking to the public. This will include gathering support for the recently launched BDS Vancouver campaign for boycott and divestment from security firm G4$.

Organized by: Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network with Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories, and Alliance for People’s Health

Boycott and Divest from G4$

Tell Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority to Drop G4S, Don’t Support War Crimes in Palestine
Please sign and share our Petition

Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority:
Drop G4S, Don’t Support War Crimes in Palestine

In 2011 the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority, the crown corporation responsible for security at Canadian airports, awarded G4S Canada (the wholly owned Canadian subsidiary of a British-based security company) a contract worth up up to $416 million for security at airports in the Pacific Region (which includes BC and the Yukon). The contract covers 20 airports including YVR until March 31, 2017.

Because of contracts with Israel which make it complicit in the maintenance of the repressive infrastructure of the occupation and apartheid state, G4S is the target of an international campaign for boycott and divestment.

G4S provides security systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel. Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.
G4S also provides equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, where human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. Defence for Children-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) has released an urgent appeal to end the practice of holding Palestinian children from the West Bank in solitary confinement in facilities in Israel.
Beyond Israel’s prison system, G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank along the route of Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall and to the terminals isolating the occupied and besieged territory of Gaza. G4S also contracts for equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses based in illegal Israeli settlements. A panel of legal experts has concluded that G4S may be criminally liable for its activities in support of Israel’s illegal Wall and other violations of international law.

Internationally, G4S has been implicated in human rights violations against Indigenous people and poor rural communities, particularly in the Global South where it provides security to international mining and oil&gas companies.

In recent years numerous institutions and governments have heeded the call for boycott and divestment from G4S including the Bill Gates Foundation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the US United Methodist Church and the municipality of Durham County in North Carolina.

With numerous other security options available, it’s time for CATSA to side with human rights and a just and lasting peace and cancel their contract with G4S.
Please sign and share our Petition _________________________________________________________________

#SolidarityWaveBDS – Endorse “Stop G4$ in Canada”

“The ongoing, youth-led Palestinian uprising is a response to Israel’s intensifying ethnic cleansing and oppression of Palestinians, especially in occupied Jerusalem. In recent months, Israel has sped up its theft of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinians homes, stepped up its racist attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, tightened the siege on Gaza and implemented new racist measures against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
“Join an international wave of action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Stand with the Palestinian struggle…..take action, and develop Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts.”

This is an excerpt of a callout articulating just one way people can support the Palestinians who are currently facing another round of Israeli repression and attacks. Recently, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish joined the global campaign to boycott and divest from G4$, the world’s largest security company that has contracts in Israeli prisons and detention centres, including those that incarcerate children and administrative detainees. We are working to intensify this campaign in Canada, and we are asking groups to endorse our statement, which noted in the conclusion:
“Within Canada G4$ is profiting from the most socially and environmentally destructive projects – tar sands, pipelines and mass incarceration of migrants. We therefore call for a complete boycott of G4$ and for all institutions – unions, student and faculty associations, religious, faith based organizations, pension funds and government bodies – to divest from G4$!”
Check out the endorsers to date on our website (at bottom of original post) and please encourage any groups you know to endorse and publicize the campaign.
Also see Letter to United Nations calling for termination of G4$ contracts (endorsed by CPA Vancouver and BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish) and the Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine.

Please join us and help broaden this important campaign; group endorsements should be sent to info@cpavancouver.org.
Also join our Facebook Group
———————————————————-
BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories is joining the global campaign to Stop G4$. In response to the broad Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against institutions complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners whose human rights are regularly violated in G4$ contracted Israeli prisons, we will actively participate in an international boycott of the company. In joining the boycott, we also raise our opposition to the role of G4$ within the borders of Canada where their Canadian subsidiary provides security to pipeline and mining projects on stolen Indigenous lands, environmentally destructive tar sands mega-projects and the racist mass incarceration of migrant people.

British based G4$ which operates in 125 countries, is the largest security company in the world and the third largest private sector employer globally. In Canada, G4$ claims over one thousand customers including a $400 million contract for security at 20 airports through the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA).

In 2007, G4$ was awarded a contract by the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems and services to all Israeli prisons. Since then, G4$ has profited and participated in prisons which are directly implicated in torture of Palestinian prisoners, ‘administrative detention’ of Palestinian activists and political leaders, and maintaining the whole rotten system of occupation and Apartheid through providing security at occupation checkpoints and at the Apartheid Wall. (Addameer fact sheet here) This includes the imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinian children who are also subject to torture and other violations of their human rights. In 2012, while thousands of Palestinian prisoners were on a hunger strike, Palestinian organizations called for actions to hold G4$ accountable for its complicity in Israeli war crimes and occupation. This was the beginning of an international grassroots campaign that has had considerable success in pressuring a wide variety of institutions to boycott and divest from G4S:

● In June 2014, the Gates Foundation divested its entire $170m holding in the company as a result of an international campaign.
● Universities in Oslo and Bergen refused to give G4$ contracts over its role in Israel’s prison system following student campaigns. In the UK, at least 5 student unions voted to cancel contracts with G4$, and students successfully pressured 2 other universities not to renew contracts with the company.
● Major charities in South Africa, the Netherlands and elsewhere terminated contracts with G4$.
● The US Methodist Church, the largest Protestant church in the US, divested from G4$ after coalition campaigning brought the issue to a vote.
● The Scottish Trade Union Congress, and the Dutch trade union Abuvakabo have voted to support the campaign for boycott and divestment from G4$
– See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/g4s#sthash.VTYJN45B.dpuf

While G4$ has felt the pressure, even suggesting they might not renew their contract with the Israeli Prison Authority in 2017, they continue to collaborate with the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, and to operate profitably around the world. It is important to intensify the boycott and to expose and oppose G4$’s profiteering from occupation, exploitation and oppression.

In Canada, G4$’s wholly-owned subsidiary provides ‘security services’ to some of the most environmentally and socially destructive projects in the country:

● Security for Tar Sands oil production with 120 employees at the Shell/Chevron Albia facility and 150 at the Imperial Oil Kearl facility

● Contracts from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to run migrant detention facilities in Ontario including a $22 million contract to run the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre and a separate $14 million contract to run the Immigration Holding Centre in Rexdale. In effect G4$ secures Canada’s temporary foreign workers programs and other immigration policies that drive the super-exploitation of immigrant and migrant workers for the benefit of big business.

● Active pursuit of the ‘emerging opportunity’ to provide security to new pipeline projects which cross stolen and occupied Indigenous territories

● Claiming to be ‘Canada’s leader in mining security’, G4$ provides security at mining sites around the world many of which are targets of popular resistance because of their violations of people’s environmental, economic and human rights, for example the Tampakan mine in the Philippines which has been vigorously resisted by local Indigenous peoples

G4$ profits daily from the Israeli occupation, war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians. Globally, the G4$ business model is based on increasing inequality and exploitation, necessitating the securitization of every aspect of the economy and social life – from campuses to hospitals and from pipelines to prisons. More specifically G4$ specializes in ‘securing’ the plunder of the natural resources of the world for the benefit of a few rich corporations, nations and individuals. Within Canada G4$ is profiting from the most socially and environmentally destructive projects – tar sands, pipelines and mass incarceration of migrants. We therefore call for a complete boycott of G4$ and for all institutions – unions, student and faculty associations, religious, faith based organizations, pension funds and government bodies – to divest from G4$!

To support the campaign:

1. Contact BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories to endorse the call: info@cpavancouver.org
2. Let us know about G4$ operations in your city, community, university campus or any other institution you belong to. We need more information about G4$ operations in Canada to organize effective actions.
3. Organize educational activities and actions to expose and oppose G4$’s anti-people practices in Palestine, Canada and around the world.
4. Bring a motion for boycott and divestment from G4$ in your union, student association or faith organization.
5. If you are currently employed by G4$ we urge you to join the campaign! We also recognize that the call for solidarity and justice for Palestine is linked to a broader vision of a just and liberated world that doesn’t create ‘jobs’ based on occupying, containing and oppressing other people. This is a future worth fighting for!

This call to carry and intensify the campaign for boycott and divestment from G4$ within Canada is initiated by BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories, a committee of the Canada Palestine Association.
Group Endorsers To Date:
Adala Arab Canadian Justice Committee, Vancouver
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, Vancouver
Canada Palestine Association – Vancouver
Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace, Halifax
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria
Immigrant Workers Centre, Montreal
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
International League of Peoples Struggle
Migrante BC
NION (Not in Our Name): Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism
No One is Illegal – Vancouver
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Palestinian and Jewish Unity PAJU, Montreal
Rising Tide Coast Salish Territories
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
Voice of Palestine, Canada

Statement carried on rabble.ca