Resisting Attacks on Palestinian Rights

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 7 PM – 9 PM
SFU Harbour Centre Campus Vancouver (Room 7000)

Facebook Event

nullWednesday, October 2, 2019 at 7 PM – 9 PM
SFU Harbour Centre Campus Vancouver (Room 7000)

Facebook Event


Hanna Kawas, Canada Palestine Association
Charlotte Kates, SAMIDOUN Palestinian Prisoner Support Network
Neil Naiman, Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver
Sara Sagaii, COPE Organizer
Marion Kawas, BDS Vancouver

Presentations will analyse recent measures taken by governments outside of Israel to repress Palestinian voices and criminalize Palestinian political activity and Palestine solidarity under the guise of ‘combating antisemitism’. Two cases will be highlighted. First, the recent motion at Vancouver City Council which would have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) of antisemitism which in its examples and guide very explicitly equates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. Second, the move by the German government to ban Palestinian journalist Khaled Barakat, an advocate for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, from speaking at any political event or being in a group of more than 10 people.

Following the presentations will be a facilitated discussion on how Palestinians and Palestine solidarity organizations can resist these moves which attempt to erase the Palestinian narrative, suppress the growing BDS movement, and isolate Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip and inside the borders of the Israel from international solidarity and support.

Organized by BDS Vancouver, Canada Palestine Association, Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Canada, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Support Network
Thanks to the SFU Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) Solidarity and Social Justice Committee for their support.

I Vote Palestine #IVotePalestine

Facebook Event

Facebook Event

Original Statement
Canada Palestine Association encourages all parties, unions, churches and organizations that support the nine basic demands in our campaign to add your names as official endorsers.

If you are a Canadian voter and agree with the event objectives, please mark yourself on the Facebook event as “Going”. Other supporters please mark yourselves as “Interested”.

In the upcoming Canadian general election scheduled for October 21, 2019, we commit to vote for candidates and parties that:
• Support Palestinian human and national rights including the inalienable right to self-determination.
• Oppose Israeli ethnic cleansing, war crimes and apartheid.
• Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
• Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
• Support ending Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
• Oppose Canadian tax-deductible status for the Jewish National Fund JNF, HESEG Foundation and all Zionist organizations that are disguised as charities while supporting the Israeli military and settlements.
• Recognize the rights of Canadians to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions BDS movement as a non-violent strategy to force Israel to abide by UN resolutions and all international humanitarian laws.
• Oppose condemning or criminalizing people or organizations who support the BDS Movement, and
• Oppose the anti-Palestinian, anti-democratic and politically charged IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

A sample letter people can send to all candidates in their riding. Please keep us informed if you get any response and we will post it on the campaign’s Facebook event.

This event page will update voters on the positions of individual candidates and parties regarding these issues.
Si vous êtes un électeur canadien et que vous êtes d’accord avec les objectifs de l’événement, veuillez indiquer «Aller/(Going)». Les autres supporteurs, veuillez vous identifier comme «intéressés».

Lors des prochaines élections générales au Canada, prévues pour le 21 octobre 2019, nous nous engageons à voter pour les candidats et les partis qui:
• Soutiennent les droits de l’homme et les droits nationaux des Palestiniens, y compris le droit inaliénable à l’autodétermination.
• S’opposent au nettoyage ethnique israélien, aux crimes de guerre et à l’apartheid.
• Reconnaissent les droits fondamentaux des citoyens et citoyennes arabo-palestiniens d’Israël à la pleine égalité.
• Respectent, protègent et promeuvent le droit de retour des réfugiés palestiniens et la repossession de leurs propriétés, conformément à la résolution 194 des Nations Unies.
• Supportent la fin de l’occupation israélienne et de la colonisation de toutes les terres arabes ainsi que le démantèlement du mur.
• S’opposent au statut d’organisme de bienfaisance, déductible d’ impôts au Canada, pour le Fonds national juif ( FNJ), la Fondation HESEG, et toutes les organisations sionistes déguisées en œuvres de charité qui soutiennent l’armée israélienne et les colonies de peuplement.
• Reconnaissent le droit des Canadiens d’appuyer le mouvement BDS (Boycott Désinvestissement et Sanctions) en tant que stratégie non violente pour forcer Israël à se conformer aux résolutions de l’ONU et à l’ensemble du droit international humanitaire, et
• S’opposent à la condamnation ou à la criminalisation des personnes ou des organisations qui soutiennent le mouvement BDS.
• Opposez-vous à la définition de l’antisémitisme anti-palestinienne, anti-démocratique et politiquement chargée par l’IHRA

Cette page de l’événement informera les électeurs des positions des candidates et candidats, et des partis sur ces questions.

List of hosts and more endorsers of the event and the campaign (Plus de supporteurs de l’événement et de la campagne):

Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians
Canada Palestine Association
Canadian BDS Coalition
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Coalition against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria
Independent Jewish Voices
Independent Jewish Voices – Winnipeg
Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
Justice for Palestinians, Calgary
Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Oakville Palestinian Rights Association OPRA
OPIRG Guelph
Palestine Just Trade
Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Sudbury)
Palestinian and Jewish Unity (Montreal)
Palestinian Canadian Congress
Peace Alliance Winnipeg
Regina Peace Council
Socialist Action
St. John’s Solidarity with Palestine
United for Palestine – Toronto/GTA

Update #1
The NDP responds to I Vote Palestine questions.

Update #2
Liberal Party Position on Palestine

Bruce Katz: “On the False Notion of anti-Semitism”

This is the presentation given by Bruce Katz at the CISO (Centre International de Solidarité Ouvrière) at the Symposium on Palestinian Self-Determination held in Montreal from November 29th to December 1st, 2018. Translated from the original French.
CISO Symposium on Palestinian Self-Determination

‘On the false notion of anti-Semitism’
Bruce Katz
Palestinian and Jewish Unity

My presentation is divided into three parts: first, a brief overview of the dialectic formed by Zionism and anti-Semitism, because far from being opposing forces, the two have traveled together since the beginning of Zionism. European anti-Semitism, sometimes institutionalized, underpins the creation of Zionism. The second part deals with the Canadian source of the manipulation of the notion of anti-Semitism under the epithet “The New Anti-Semitism” as established by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition Against Anti-Semitism. The third part deals briefly with the conceptual basis on which Zionism (or Israelism, the worship of the State) is based.

The Dialectic
Zionist leaders at the beginning of the twentieth century understood that anti-Semitism was a prerequisite for the realization of their colonial project. Theodore Herzl was unequivocal concerning this. In his early writings he stated that governments affected by the phenomenon of anti-Semitism would be “keenly interested in helping us obtain the sovereignty we want”. Herzl concluded in his diary that “the anti-Semites will become our most trusted friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” This is not a short-term but rather long-term strategy that the Zionist movement and the State of Israel continue to practice.
Thus, we understand better the fact that the far-right Israeli government is rubbing shoulders with neo-fascist European governments and groups to such an extent that the chief rabbi of Europe, Pinchas Goldschmidt, has called on the Israeli government to put an end to its engagement with extreme right parties in Europe. Goldschmidt warned Israeli officials that a rapprochement with nationalist groups in Europe endangers the local Jewish community. “If a party is intrinsically racist, bigoted against large parts of society and intolerant of minorities, if Jews are not the target now, they will be in the near future,” Goldschmidt said. (“Top European rabbi urges Israel to end engagement with far right-parties.”)
This same phenomenon had previously manifested itself in the relations between the Zionist leaders and Arthur Balfour, author of the Balfour Declaration. The fact that Balfour was a known anti-Semite who, in 1905, sponsored a bill (The Aliens Act) to prevent European Jews fleeing pogroms from settling in Great Britain, did not prevent Zionists from soliciting him nor did it prevent Balfour from supporting the Zionist project by way of the Balfour Declaration which, he hoped, would divert Jews from Britain to Palestine. In short, Balfour acted exactly as Herzl had foreseen: as the most reliable anti-Semitic friend!
In the 1960s, Israeli agents seized Adolph Eichmann, high-ranking member of the Third Reich who was executed by the State of Israel after being tried for his crimes. It was this same Adolph Eichmann who in 1937 was the guest of honor of the Zionist emissary Feivel Polkes who took him to Mount Carmel to visit a Jewish colony. This, of course is never mentioned by the Zionists and their supporters.
“In 1933, Labour Zionism signed the Transfer “Ha’avara” Agreement with the Nazis, breaking the international boycott against the regime: Nazi Germany would compensate German Jews who emigrated to Palestine for their lost property by exporting German goods to the Zionists in the country thus breaking the boycott. Between 1933 and 1939, 60 percent of all capital invested in Jewish Palestine came from German Jewish money through the Transfer Agreement. Thus, Nazism was a boon to Zionism throughout the 1930s.” (1)
How ironic is it, then, that organizations like the B’nai Brith and the Anti-Defamation League associate boycott with anti-Semitism, given that the Zionist leadership worked to defuse the anti-Nazi boycott meant to combat anti-Semitism!

The Canadian Source
Let’s begin with what has traditionally been accepted as the definition of anti-Semitism : hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or collective group. The attempt to include in the definition of anti-Semitism criticism of the State of Israel is a phenomenon which has followed on the heels of the call to a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel by 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 and the Goldstone report condemning Israel’s December 2008 to January 2009 attack on Gaza and the murderous attack on Gaza in 2014.

Indeed, the greater the momentum gained by the BDS campaign against Israel’s apartheid system – now having acquired the critical mass which makes it irreversible, as was the case for the BDS campaign against South African apartheid – the more stringent the campaign to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism has become. The so-called “New Anti-Semitism” is a term coined by former Liberal MP and Minister, Irwin Cotler whose defense of human rights does not include Palestinian rights.
The campaign to amend the definition of anti-Semitism to include any and all critiques of Israeli policy toward the besieged Palestinian population living under Israeli occupation has among its sources a Canadian one: The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. This parliamentary committee was put together in 2009 at the behest of Jason Kenney, then Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism in the Harper government and the aforementioned Irwin Cotler, a former Justice Minister in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. Mr. Cotler is credited with coining the term the ‘New Anti-Semitism’ to include in that much broadened definition the critique of Israel’s institutionalized system of discrimination as being that of apartheid. Indeed, Mr. Cotler described Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, illegal under international law, as “disputed territories” rather than occupied territories, a curious sophistry for a law professor at McGill University, whom Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called his “mentor” a few short years ago.
In the introduction to the book entitled ‘Anti-Semitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism,’ Michael Keefer, editor of the book which includes organizational responses from groups such as Independent Jewish Voices, Faculty for Palestine, the Canadian Arab Federation, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East among others, Keefer offers a succinct analysis of what the attempt to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is really about, which I now quote:
The rhetorical tactics being deployed in this attack on free speech are familiar enough. They consist in leveling a charge of anti-Semitism against anyone who draws attention to the State of Israel’s violent, degrading and (under international law) flagrantly illegal treatment of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, or who points to the fact that this treatment is motivated by a systematic and likewise flagrantly illegal project of colonization, apartheid treatment of a subject population, and ethnic cleansing. (2)
I take exception to the idea that Zionism- the nationalist movement- and the religion of Judaism are one and the same, so that consequently to criticize Israel and the Zionist project is to be anti-Semitic. This is a mechanism meant to intimidate and silence critics of Israel’s apartheid regime. The list of Jewish intellectuals who have been critical of the nature of Zionism is as long as one’s arm and include such thinkers as Albert Einstein and Martin Buber. Are they therefore anti-Semitic?
Are Israel’s Rabbis for Human Rights anti-Semitic because they criticize their own government and defend Palestinian human rights? What about the other Israeli human rights groups who do the same? What about the many Jews who are active in the BDS movement? All anti-Semitic?
No, this is simply sophistry of the worst kind practiced openly by a self-serving political class and a supine ‘mainstream’ media who parrot the same falsehood. Let us recall the words of the late distinguished American journalist Edward R. Murrow who, during the McCarthy period, warned his fellow journalists that the fear is already in the room. In terms of consciously averting the Palestinian narrative, the fear has been in Quebec and Canadian newsrooms for some time now.

The Conceptual Basis
Yoav Litvin presents the conceptual underpinning of Zionism in concise terms:
The linkage between Zionism and Judaism is maintained by consistent historical revisionism and manipulation of the trauma produced by European anti-Semitism, which culminated in the Jewish Holocaust. It sustains support for Israel and serves to stifle effective resistance by attributing “anti-Semitism” to any critique of Israeli policies. Notably, this abuse of the term “anti-Semitism” has watered down and trivialized the real phenomenon of bigotry against Jews and thus further demonstrates the ongoing collusion between Zionism and white supremacy.(3)
Zionism succeeded in absorbing Judaism into the idea of the State, thereby secularizing and ethnicizing Judaism while emptying it of its transcendent nature and strict moral code, which issues from precepts of the Torah and Mosaic code. In other words, in order to create the New Hebrew Man as Yakov Rabkin coins the term in his book, A Threat from Within: a Century of Jewish opposition to Zionism, it was first necessary to evacuate the transcendent nature of Judaic normative principles in order to substitute the State for the God of the Israelites.
The State, however, cannot itself be conflated with Judaism or with Jews as a collectivity and no amount of sophistry will change that. In the case of the State of Israel, its worship should be called Israelism and not Judaism. To claim that the State of Israel is the embodiment of all the world’s Jews is not only a falsehood but a dangerous one, for if the State of Israel is guilty of crimes inflicted upon a neighboring people, and if the extrapolation is made that this State also embodies world Jewry, then all Jews are made to share a collective guilt with this same State, though many Jews oppose that State’s actions. This results in refurbishing old prejudices and stereotypes and stokes the fires of anti-Jewish sentiment, this especially at a moment in time when we are witnessing the rise of fascist movements reminiscent of the 1920s and 30s.
Given the actual social and political context of our times, it is necessary that those progressive elements of society that defend human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression stand firmly against all forms of racism including anti-Semitic acts of hatred against Jews both as a religious and collective group, but also make the necessary distinction between protecting the religious and civil rights of Jews and the false worship of Zionism-Israelism.

1. Joseph Massad. «Zionism, anti-Semitism and colonialism».
See also Edwin Black. “The Transfer Agreement: The Untold Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine.” New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984. 430 pages
Lenni Brenner, editor. 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis. New Jersey, Barricade Books , 2002. 342 pages.
Lenni Brenner. Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal. (1983)
2. Michael Keefer, editor. Antisemitism Real and Imagined:Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism. Waterloo, Ontario: published by The Canadian Charger, 2010.
3. Yoav Litvin. «Ethical Jews Reject Zionism».

Bruce Katz is a retired language teacher. He is a founding member and current co-president of Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)*, a Palestinian solidarity organization founded in the year 2000. PAJU is both a member-organization of BDS-Québec and the Canadian BDS Coalition. Bruce has given numerous interviews in English, French and Spanish on the Palestinian question over the past two decades.

IHRA Definition is an Assault on the Palestinian Community

Tell City Council to oppose the motion, ‘Combatting Antisemitism in Vancouver’.
Update: the Council did not adopt the motion

In a vote of 6-5 (the dissenting 5 were all NPA councillors), the Vancouver City Council did not adopt the motion and referred it to committee for recommendations on how to combat all forms of racism. Councillor Michael Wiebe was quoted as saying that “we need a policy that tackles all forms of racism, including white supremacy. It’s too important to get this wrong.”
For detailed background on the campaign and the vote, check the Mondoweiss article:
In victory for activists, Vancouver city council votes against adopting IHRA antisemitism definition
By Marion Kawas.
The following letter was sent today to Vancouver City Councillors and Mayor, regarding an upcoming and dangerous motion to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. We have been moved and encouraged by the grassroots opposition to this motion from a broad cross-section of people in Vancouver, and encourage everyone to send an email to Council or sign up to be a speaker (instructions here). A special thanks to COPE, who have endorsed the campaign against the motion and asked everyone to help in defeating it. Join us to tell Vancouver City Council to not set “…a precedent as being the first municipal council in Canada to be openly complicit in chilling free speech, eviscerating the Palestinian people’s narrative and promoting anti-Palestinian racism.”

Dear Councillor:

I am writing to you as a Canadian Palestinian and the chairperson of Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver. I have lived much of my adult life in Greater Vancouver after first immigrating here in 1974, and like the rest of my community, have struggled to live in dignity while navigating and going beyond the difficulties of immigrant life. My daughter and granddaughter were both raised here, and currently reside in East Vancouver.
I’m asking you to oppose the motion, ‘Combatting Antisemitism in Vancouver’, by councillor Kirby-Yung, coming before council on July 23. This motion if passed will make us feel unwelcome in this city and tell us our voices are not valued.
As Palestinians, most of us are not here by choice; we have been dispossessed from our ancestral homeland and forced to find refuge wherever we could. We have been cast to the four corners of the world; my own extended family has members in multiple countries. I hold the deed to our family’s property in Bethlehem, my birthplace; but due to Israeli policies that are supported by Canada, in flagrant violation of the UN resolution reaffirmed annually, I am not allowed to live there. Why? Because I am a Palestinian Christian and a 1967 war refugee. This motion if passed will tell me that I am not allowed to criticize the very ideology, Zionism, that resulted in the dispossession of my family and my nation; that is both unfair and equally racist in itself.
You may have been led to believe that this motion will aid in the struggle against anti-Semitism. What you may not have heard is that this motion will also end up contributing to another form of racism, anti-Palestinian racism. It is flawed to claim that you are fighting against one form of racism by reinforcing another one; we must unite to fight against all forms of racism.
You may have also been told that this is just a “non-legally” binding motion but it has been made clear that passing this motion is just the beginning of a process. Bnai Brith has already put on record that the Canadian government’s initial adoption was a good first step, but must be followed by enforcement protocols. “We will be looking for concrete actions, however, to give its implementation substance and meaning. B’nai Brith will be writing to (Pablo) Rodriguez and his colleagues to reiterate our specific ideas on how that can be done.”
This is the same B’nai Brith that slandered me, along with my Jewish friend Sid Shniad, in its 2016 yearly report on Antisemitic Incidents (Academic Antisemitism section), and completely misrepresented what was said at a joint workshop we presented in October 2016. The workshop was part of a broader Genocide Conference at SFU Vancouver Campus and was delivered to a full house, despite pressure to have it cancelled. This is just one local example of erroneous judgement on what constitutes anti-Semitism and demonstrates how legitimate political discourse about Israel is targeted.
As the BC Civil Liberties Association noted in their opposition to the IHRA definition: “We fear that if adopted, the IHRA definition will serve to severely chill political expressions of criticism of Israel as well as support for Palestinian rights.”
Most of our community is already terrorized by anti-immigrant, anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim rhetoric. Some are even hesitant to admit their heritage to others, afraid that it may hinder their job prospects or relationships. Passing this dangerous and unnecessary motion will only further that alienation; what a crime that a child has to see their parent hide from the world who they are and where they came from. Not from shame, but from fear.
If this IHRA definition is passed by Council, and Palestinians in the future are told to limit or dismiss their lived history, then our worst fears have been realized. Vancouver City Council will then go down in history as setting a precedent as being the first municipal council in Canada to be openly complicit in chilling free speech, eviscerating the Palestinian people’s narrative and promoting anti-Palestinian racism.

Hanna Kawas
Chair, Canada Palestine Association

Is Cuba normalizing settler colonialism in Palestine?

CPA letter sent to Cuban officials on January 31, 2018 under the title “Expanding Cuba-Israel Relations”.

New articles in Mondoweiss and Palestine Chronicle
“Cuba Should Not Normalize with Israeli Settler Colonialism”
By Hanna Kawas & Marion Kawas

With sadness and outrage, we recently learnt from the Israeli press about the visit of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) delegation to Cuba.
At the beginning of 2018, we became aware of some incidents indicating that Cuba might be on the road of normalizing relations with Israeli apartheid. Out of respect for Cuba’s image, and the rift this might cause with the progressive Palestinian struggle for liberation and its supporters, we pursued our concerns privately with a letter addressed to Cuban officials. Although we did not receive even an acknowledgment of our letter, we were not aware of any further normalization actions since that time. Until now.
With this latest news about Cuba normalizing with the most racist Zionist institution, the JNF, that was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the theft of their land and destruction of their habitat and environment, we feel compelled to release the letter we sent on January 31, 2018 under the title “Expanding Cuba-Israel Relations”.

Dear Friends:

As long-time supporters of Cuban-Palestinian relations and admirers of the example and spirit of the Cuban people and their revolution, it is with a heavy heart that we are forced to write this letter. We are approaching you privately about this issue, rather than publicly, out of concern for the wellbeing of the progressive movement and our common struggles. In October, 2017 Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev (who is a documented neofascist) was reported as travelling to Cuba, the first Israeli cabinet minister to do so since 1973. This strange news forced us to do more research which revealed a distressing and disturbing trend in the last few months of new expanding Cuban-Israeli cultural and business relations. Along with Regev’s trip, most of these fall into the category of being “the first of its kind” in four decades or longer.

For example on the cultural front:
In early November, Cuba’s famed Lizt Alfonso Dance Company gave four sellout performances at the Tel Aviv Opera House, followed by concerts in Ashdod, Jerusalem, and Haifa. It was the first cultural visit of its kind to Israel in four decades. Cuba’s famous Buena Vista Social Club also made a tour of Israel in late December, 2017.

And on the business front:
On Nov. 9, the Israel-Latin America Chamber of Commerce held a “Doing Business in Cuba” seminar in Tel Aviv. Attended by 40 or so Israeli business executives, the three-hour briefing, presented in Hebrew, was a prelude to the planned visit to Cuba of an Israeli trade delegation this December. And indeed the Israeli trade delegation made their trip to Cuba Dec. 5-7, 2017 where according to CamaraIsrael:
“The Israel-Latin America Chamber of Commerce, for the first time in its history, sent a delegation of businessmen to Cuba. The delegation was received by the Cuban official bureau at a festive ceremony and a business seminar with the government officials at the National Hotel.”
We are also aware that former Israeli general and war criminal Rafael Eitan, who has had private business interests in Cuba for over 20 years, has been credited with helping to facilitate this new state-to-state Cuban-Israeli exchange.

We are sure you know about the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement that calls for both a cultural and business boycott of Israel. We know that the Oslo accords and the behaviour of the current “Palestinian Authority”, that dropped the anti-colonialist struggle from its agenda, has set the bar low, very low, regarding what kind of support is needed. And we realize that the impact of the economic blockade on Cuba, as well as the recent damage from Hurricane Irma, has been devastating. But we also know that Cuba and its people have a long history of principled positions even when such decisions are difficult or carry a pricetag.
The picture at the top of this letter is from the December 2017 trade delegation visit and is a chilling visual for all progressives. We are aware that Cuba’s position on the political front is always supportive of the Palestinian cause, but as the beacon of progressive action in Latin America, we urge you to ensure that Cuba’s deeds on all fronts line up with your political support as it did with the anti colonialist struggles in Southern Africa. We beseech you, in the name of the Palestinian struggle, in the name of the unity of two steadfast peoples, to investigate these recent actions and take steps to ensure that such exchanges are not repeated and go no further. Please do not develop any ties with what the late and beloved Fidel Castro in 2014, when referencing Israel, called a “new, repugnant form of fascism”.

In Solidarity,
Hanna Kawas, Chairperson
Canada Palestine Association

Open Letter to Toronto Raptors

“Please take this opportunity to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and liberation, and do not travel to Israel.”

Articles on the Raptors campaign:
Please #SkipTheTrip to Israel, Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors: Please #SkipTheTrip to Israel
Sports-washing and the Toronto Raptors

Open Letter to Toronto Raptors:
“Please take this opportunity to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom..”

June 15, 2019
Dear Toronto Raptors,

We are writing to you as long-time fans to urge you to uphold Palestinian human rights and not to travel to Israel. Since 2004 Palestinian civil society organizations have called for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel until such a time as Israel recognizes the Right of Return of over 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in the process of Israeli colonization and occupation of Palestine; ends its occupation and colonization of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza; and dismantles the Apartheid system of racial discrimination and segregation for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Around the world poor and oppressed people have embraced basketball as a sport of the people, and basketball players, many of whom come from poor and struggling backgrounds, have an important history of taking progressive positions and giving back to their communities. From Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Russel’s stand with Mohammed Ali against the draft and the Vietnam War to public and collective statements against police brutality against Black people in America, NBA players have stood on the side of social and racial justice.

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, its settlements and its Apartheid Wall are a war crime. The siege of Gaza, and the death and misery meted out on an effectively jailed civilian population, is a crime against humanity. And its system of racial discrimination and segregation is a form of Apartheid, as articulated by survivors of South African Apartheid including Desmond Tutu and Mandla Mandela (grandson of the great freedom fighter Nelson Mandela).

As NBA Champions, you have the opportunity to use your stature and influence to make the world a better place for the young people all over the world who admire you. Please take this opportunity to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and liberation, and do not travel to Israel.

Aiyanas Ormond,
Coordinator, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish Territories
Add your voice to the over 6400 people that signed the petition calling on the Raptors to #SayNO.

Ohad Naharin…Real Solidarity starts with BDS!

Mr. Gaga, get off the stage and let more genuine voices speak about solidarity with Palestinians.

Ohad Naharin – Charity is not Solidarity!

By Marion Kawas

Recent articles in the Israeli media have highlighted a controversy surrounding renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, former artistic director of Batsheva and recently also connected with Ballet BC in Canada.
He made comments on Israeli military radio leading up to a fundraiser for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which he was promoting. And although his comments are not new, the reaction to them by current Culture Minister Miri Regev and other right-wing Israelis was more virulent than in the past. So, this new brouhaha might be based more on the growing dichotomy within Israeli politics, and between liberal Zionists and the more extremist Zionists. (And a quick note to Miri Regev, who is threatening to withdraw Israeli state funding for presumably the Batsheva dance company and others who don’t pass the “cultural loyalty” test, please go ahead.)
Ohad Naharin, to sum up, criticizes the occupation and says he WOULD support BDS if he felt it would help Palestinians or end the occupation. But before the Haaretz headline of “Israeli top dancer accused of supporting BDS..” gives one renewed hope, read what the article also quoted him saying on May 26, 2019:
“The Batsheva Dance Company often faces BDS protests and demonstrations when it performs abroad. I’ve always said and I’ll continue saying that this doesn’t help the Palestinians and won’t result in anything,” Naharin said.
“I explicitly said I don’t support BDS, but I can relate to its agenda against the occupation. It’s pretty sad, a lot of energy is invested in a boycott that doesn’t help promote a solution to ending the occupation,” Naharin said.
“I didn’t voice support for BDS, but rather against the occupation. I’ve said that many times before and in even harsher terms,” Naharin added.
So lets unpack this trend of liberal Zionists (and other artists) who claim to support Palestinians but refuse to honour the one request Palestinian civil society has made of them. But of course, like all good liberals, they know better than the oppressed indigenous people what is needed and what is the right tactics and strategies. Mandatory to this approach is also to pledge money to an organization that gives one the cover of not just talking the talk but in this case, allegedly dancing the dance.
Two years ago, leading activist groups in North America called out Naharin on precisely these points in a statement issued by Adalah NY, regarding the tour of the Israeli Batsheva Ballet Company. They told him that his comments originally gave people hope but then his actions did not follow through. They told him that as an international figure, he could make a difference. They noted: “Brand Israel is an effort to show ‘Israel’s prettier face,’ as stated by Arye Mekel of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Unfortunately, your inaction is part of what has allowed for the most right-wing government in Israel, now supported by the most right-wing government in the United States. With the oppression of the Palestinian people growing even worse than before, it is time to take a principled position by no longer allowing your government to use your name to whitewash occupation.”
And then recently he became involved with Ballet BC and is one of several Israeli choreographers connected with that dance company. Is it just a coincidence that in January of this year, for the first time ever, Ballet BC went to Israel and performed in Tel Aviv? If one really believed in helping the Palestinians, could his influence not have been used to dissuade other performers from going on inaugural trips to Israel at this critical juncture? Could he not have spoken out about what a dangerous precedent this was? Or like all good liberals, he would tell us this “building bridges” through music and dance is somehow going to benefit the most vulnerable Palestinians?
Here are a few simple points for such famous artists who could actually do something significant and take a stand for Palestinian rights. One, charity is not solidarity. Two, you do not know better than the people living under the boot of Israeli oppression what is needed for their liberation. This is the worst kind of supremacism. You are not entitled to tell even the smallest child in Gaza or Khan al-Amar or a refugee camp what is good (or not good) for them. If you can’t support the one non-violent tactic of BDS that has been requested of you, then step aside and don’t tell us how you want to help the Palestinians. As a person of privilege and resources, the minimum needed is to honour the Palestinian picket line. Otherwise, Mr. Gaga, get off the stage and let more genuine voices speak about solidarity with Palestinians.

Nakba71 – The Palestinian Narrative

Speakers, Films, Personal Testimonies
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2pm
SFU Harbour Centre, Rm. 7000


New video of highlights from meeting:

Excerpts of the excellent talk and reading by Ramzy Baroud at Vancouver's Nakba71 meeting

Posted by Canada Palestine Association on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Speakers, Films, Personal Testimonies

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2pm
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings, Vancouver Rm. 7000
Facebook Event

Gaza-born Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a former Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is

Sobhi Al-Zobaidi is a Palestinian filmmaker, artist and scholar who was born in Jerusalem in 1961 and who grew up in the Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah. He studied economics at Birzeit University and Cinema at NYU. He is currently completing his Ph.D. at SFU.
He will be presenting his film, My Very Private Map

Local Palestinians will also present their personal stories of being Nakba survivors or descendants.
(This event is part of a Cross Canada Day of Action marking Nakba71.)
The meeting will be followed by a Boycott Israeli Wines, Mark Nakba71 picket on the W. Cordova side of SFU Harbour Centre starting at 4:15 pm.

Picket the Vancouver JNF Gala – April 14, 2019

Check out the new article with video highlights on this successful picket.

New article with video highlights on this successful picket.

#StoptheJNF: No Tax Breaks for Apartheid! (VIDEO)

Photo by Rehab Nazzal, June 2015

Mark the date — Sunday, April 14, 2019, 4:30 pm
Outside Congregation Schara Tzedeck
3476 Oak St., Vancouver (gather SW corner Oak and 19th)
Facebook Event

Once again this year, Vancouver activists are issuing a callout to protest the fund raising gala of the Jewish National Fund. The racist and discriminatory policies of the JNF have been well documented and are of particular concern here in Canada due to the creation of “Canada Park” on the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank. A recent CBC expose also revealed that JNF solicits donations and issues charitable tax receipts for funds that go directly to the Israeli military and to the illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
This year is also an occasion to mark Palestinian Land Day and the one year anniversary of the Great Return March in Gaza; since March 30, 2018, 220 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military and tens of thousands injured.
Call on the Canadian Government to revoke the tax deductible status for the JNF, and stop being complicit in these WAR CRIMES.
More info at Stop the JNF, Canada website

No Canadian Charity for the Israeli Military!
No Tax Breaks for Apartheid and Colonization!

Organized by:
Canada Palestine Association and Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver.

Endorsed by:
Alliance for People’s Health
Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
East Indian Defense Committee
ILPS Just Peace Campaign
International League of Peoples Struggle
SANSAD South Asian Network for Secularism & Democracy
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights UBC
Vancouver & District Labour Council
Vancouver Peace Council

Check out our new video documenting 20 years of Vancouver activists coming out to protest the Jewish National Fund and its pivotal role in dispossessing the Palestinian people.

#StoptheJNF – Continue the Campaign

20 years of Vancouver protests #StoptheJNF

Posted by Canada Palestine Association on Monday, January 14, 2019

Book launch: “Culture and Resistance” by Edward Said and David Barsamian

This forum looks at Said’s legacy in the context of the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Moderator: Joanne Naiman
Main Speaker: David Barsamian
Panelists: Hanna Kawas, Adel Iskandar, Sana Janjua

A painting depicting Edward Said

Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 2 PM – 4 PM
Room 7000 SFU Harbor Centre 515 West Hastings Street

The late Edward Said left an indelible mark on post-colonial studies with his book, “Orientalism” and taught generations to recognize the West’s constructions of its “other,” particularly in the Middle East and the Islamic world. As a Palestinian intellectual Said brought his anti-colonial critique to bear on what he called “The Question of Palestine,” revealing Zionism as a colonial ideology and the Western liberal support of this as a part of its colonial heritage. He was one of the first to publicly criticize the Oslo Accords and said one month after the signing of Oslo in 1993 that it was “an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles”. This forum looks at Said’s legacy in the context of the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Moderator: Joanne Naiman
Main Speaker: David Barsamian
Panelists: Hanna Kawas, Adel Iskandar, Sana Janjua

David Barsamian is an investigative journalist, broadcaster and author. He is the founder and director of Alternative Radio, which is in its 33rd year. He has interviewed and written books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said. His latest with Noam Chomsky is Global Discontents. His book with Edward Said, Culture & Resistance, which had been out of print is just reissued with a new introduction by David. He is a winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. He has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet in events in New York, London, and Vienna. He was deported from India in 2011 because of his work on human rights abuses in Kashmir. He reports on people’s struggles across North America and the rest of the world.

David Barsamian will speak on Edward Said and the Middle East.

Adel Iskandar is an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver/Burnaby, Canada. He is the author, co-author, and editor of several works including “Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution” (AUCP/OUP); “Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism” (Basic Books); “Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation” (University of California Press); “Mediating the Arab Uprisings” (Tadween Publishing); and “Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring” (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar’s work deals with media, identity and politics; and he has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. Iskandar’s engaged participatory research includes supporting knowledge production through scholarly digital publishing such as “Jadaliyya” and academic podcasting such as “Status.”

Adel Iskandar will speak on Said’s critique of Orientalism and Nativism and his positioning as a secular humanist in exile.

Hanna Kawas is a Palestinian born in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is a writer and activist and has spent all of his adult life working for Palestinian national and human rights, as well as supporting liberation movements all over the world. Hanna is the chairperson of Canada Palestine Association, which was established in 1980, and is also the co-host of Voice of Palestine. He is currently active with BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish that has launched multiple campaigns.

Hanna Kawas will speak on the current situation of the Palestinians.

Sana Janjua writes poems. She is going to read three poems: one from Neruda’s Isla Negra, one from Darwish, and one from Faiz. All three speak to the experience of exile, memory of violence, and the condition of the refugees drawing connection to the global crisis of internally displaced peoples, and forced migration(s) across borders.

Joanne Naiman is Professor Emerita of Sociology at Ryerson University in Toronto. She has been involved over the years in a variety of activist organizations, including the anti-apartheid movement as well as support for public education in Ontario. Since moving to Vancouver in 2008 she has been an active member of Independent Jewish Voices.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Canada Palestine Association, Independent Jewish Voices, and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) with support from Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation and the Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University.

Facebook event

Videos of the event.

Presentation of CPA Chairperson