Open Letter by CPA to the Assembly of First Nations

Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

Dear Chief Fontaine:

Since we submitted our open letter to you on Feb. 23, 2006, we have received more endorsers to the letter. Due to the large number of organizations in particular that we received in the last week, we feel we are obliged to update you with the complete and final endorsers list.

We were heartened by the response of our indigenous brothers and sisters and their organizations, who identified with the plight of the Palestinian indigenous people.

We were also gratified by the support of our Jewish brothers and sisters and some of their organizations, who opposed the war crimes and atrocities Israel is committing in their name against the people of Palestine.

Awaiting your response,

Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association [email protected]

Open letter to the Assembly of First Nations

We are saddened, hurt and shocked by the visit of a delegation of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to Israel, as well as the following statement attributed to AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine:

“Indigenous people in Canada have much in common with the people of Israel, including a respect of the land and their languages. This mission is an excellent opportunity for us to share our values and our traditional ways of life, in the hope of building greater understanding, awareness and respect for our similarities and differences, both at home and abroad”.

The victims of genocide at the hands of European settler colonialism cannot and should not give cover for another form of settler colonialism that has committed and continues to commit wholesale ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people and nation. In 1948, over four hundred villages and towns were wiped off the Palestinian and world map and their cemeteries desecrated; two thirds of the Palestinian people were uprooted from their historic homeland and forced to live in reservations called refugee camps for the past fifty-eight years, most outside of their historic land. (See “All That Remains” By Prof. Walid Khalidi.

Perhaps the chiefs, elders and leaders of the Assembly of First Nations don’t know the history of the Zionist movement. In fact, it was coined on the model of the European settler colonialist movement that preceded it four hundred years earlier and committed the genocide against the indigenous peoples. The Zionist movement was also built on the South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Algeria and other European settler colonialist models of the same era – late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Here is what the first Zionist Congress held in Basle, Switzerland (in Europe) in 1897 listed as some of the aims of the movement:
“Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine secured by public law. The congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:

The promotion on suitable lines of the colonization of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers. (our emphasis)”
And Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, wrote in his book The Jewish State in 1896:

“We should there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” (our emphasis)
So doesn’t this logic sound familiar? We are sure that it is painfully familiar to your ancestors and to your people who face racism on a daily basis.

We are sorry that we do not have the means to take you on similar tours to show you what is really happening in Palestine. Perhaps you should ask the hundreds of international volunteers, including Canadians, who paid their own way to go there and bear witness to the continuous Israeli brutality against the indigenous people of Palestine (See ). We are sure your Israeli and Zionist hosts will never take you to see the remains of the four hundred villages that were systematically destroyed, nor will they show you the Apartheid wall, the refugee camps, the tens of thousands of uprooted trees nor will they tell you that over 95 per cent of the land that Israel sits on is stolen land from the indigenous Palestinian population. If Chief Fontaine thinks that Israel has respect for the land, he is either unaware or complicit in covering up the massive Israeli injustice against the indigenous people of Palestine.
We will be frank with you. In the name of the vanquished indigenous people, you are being used to justify and cover up not only the Israeli atrocities and war crimes committed against the Palestinian people but also Israeli support for racism and oppression against the peoples of Africa, Asia, central and south America.

This should not pass. The sooner you clarify your position, the sooner you will salvage your name and credibility. Already messages on the Internet are describing your collaboration with the Zionist organizations under the title: “Friends of neocolonialism meet”. We hope that you will not be remembered as friends of European settler colonialists who committed genocide against the Palestinian people and were motivated by conquest, greed and superiority, the same evil motivations that enslaved the Native people of the Americas.
It is an offence and a crime against our native brothers and sisters who are still living and to those who perished in the process of colonization, to associate with the crimes of the Israeli settler colonialist state that is committing genocide against the native people of Palestine.

Since the year 2000, over eight hundred Palestinian “Dudley Georges” were murdered every year at the hands of the neo-fascist regime in Israel.

Are these the people who you “have much in common with” and that you want to build cultural comparisons with? Are these the people you want to share your “values and … traditional ways of life” with?

If so, you are complicit in their war crimes and you should not do it in the name of the First Nations Peoples.

Indigenous peoples must never be a party to genocide against the Palestinian people nor any other oppressed people facing occupation, genocide and theft of their land and natural resources.

Endorsed by the following groups:

  • Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada
  • Al-Huda Muslim Society
  • American Muslims of Puget Sound, Lynnwood, WA, USA
  • Arab Heritage Centre, Toronto, Ontario
  • BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem, Palestine
  • Coalition for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine,
  • Committee to Defend Palestinian Human Rights (Worcester, MA, USA)
  • Dana and Qdisiyah Local Community Cooperative, Dana, Tafila, Jordan
  • Free Palestine Alliance
  • International Solidarity Movement – Northern California (member of the Justice in Palestine Coalition)
  • International Solidarity Movement (ISM)-Montreal
  • International Solidarity Movement (ISM)-Vancouver
  • International Women’s Peace Service, IWPS,
  • Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Islamic Foundation of Toronto, Scarborough,
  • I-Witness Palestine, Southern California,
  • Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation Justice for Palestinians Committee, Danbury, Connecticut, USA
  • Justice in Palestine Coalition, San Francisco, CA
  • Land Research Center, Palestine
  • Middle East Children’s Alliance, Berkeley, Ca
  • Muslim Canadian Congress
  • New England Committee to Defend Palestine
  • Niagara Coalition for Peace
  • Niagara Palestinian Association
  • No One is Illegal-Vancouver
  • November 16 Coalition (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Palestine Community Centre
  • Palestine House, Toronto
  • Palestine Right to Return Committee, York university, Toronto
  • Palestine Solidarity Group Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)
  • Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, Beit Sahour, Palestine ( )
  • Salaam Vancouver
  • Simon Fraser University Palestinian Human Rights Committee (PHRC)
  • Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – McMaster University (Hamilton, ON)
  • Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Concordia (SPHR)
  • Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, UBC
  • Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Montreal
  • The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR)
  • The Muslim Services, Toronto, a member group of The Muslim Unity Network in Canada
  • The University of Waterloo Students for Palestinian Rights
  • Toronto’s Robin Hood Collective
  • Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament (VIND), Coombs, BC
  • Vancouver Native Youth Movement, email: [email protected]
  • Women in Black – Los Angeles YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine Joint Advocacy Intuitive, Jerusalem

Endorsed by the following alternative media outlets:

  • Albilad newspaper, London, Ontario
  • Aljalia Newspaper, Toronto, Ontario
  • Al-Shorouq Arabic Newspaper, BC
  • Bulland Awaaz – Vancouver CO-OP Radio
  • DISCUSSION, Vancouver Co-Op Radio
  • Goin’ Coastal, your Indigenous Revolutionary Radio Program 101.7 fm (CHLY)
  • Information: Montreal – Palestine
  • Mostly Water/Resist News Collective,
  • My Two Beads Worth, Native News online
  • No More Silence Network, a coalition of Native and Non-Native groups and Individuals calling attention to the murder and disappearances of 100s of Native women, [email protected] , see
  • Voice of Palestine, Vancouver
  • Wake Up with Co-op!, Vancouver Coop Radio

Endorsed by the following individuals (groups listed for identification only):

  • Ali Mallah, Equity Vice president, CUPE Toronto District Council
  • Ali Yassir and B. Bechnak, Montreal
  • Allan Brison, New Haven, CT
  • Amber Ohara, No More Silence Network
  • Amir M. Maasoumi, Président of “Centre de ressources sur la non-violence” (Resources centre for non- violence)
  • Angie Tibbs, St. John’s, NL
  • Anis BALAFREJ,Association de solidarité Maroc Palestine, Rabat, Morocco
  • Audrey Huntley, No More Silence Network
  • Bobby Arbess, Jews for a Just Peace-Victoria
  • Bruce Katz, Co-President Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) Montreal
  • Calvin Woida, Vancouver, BC
  • Carol Stone, Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver
  • Charles Boylan, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (Vancouver South)
  • Chiinuuks (Ruth) Ogilvie, Member “Goin’ Coastal, your Indigenous Revolutionary Radio Program, 101.7 fm CHLY”
  • Clare Brandabur, Istanbul
  • Dave Bleakney
  • Dave Brophy, Friends of Grassy Narrows, Winnipeg
  • Denis Laplante, Vancouver
  • Diana Ralph, Toronto, (Jewish member of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada)
  • Donna Petersen, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (Vancouver Kingsway)
  • Dorinda Guadalupe Moreno, hitec aztec communications, friends of dqu : elders of 4 colors 4 directions
  • Dr. Abe Mouaket, P. Eng., Toronto.
  • Dr. Farid Ayad, Former President of the Canadian Arab Federation, Immediate former President of the Canadian Arab Business Professionals Organization
  • Dr. Rafeh Hulays, Vice President – Canadian Arab Federation (West)
  • Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Founding and former director, Indigenous World Association, 1985-2005
  • Eden Haythornthwaite, Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE), Duncan BC., Canada
  • Edward C. Corrigan, Barrister & Solicitor, London, Ontario
  • Ehab Lotayef, Eng., Activist, writer and poet, Montreal
  • Elizabeth Block, Toronto, a member of Campaign to Stop Secret Trials and Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation
  • Elsie W Dean, Human Rights for Women Elders, Burnaby, BC
  • Family of Reem Abu-Sbaih, Ayman and Yousef Helo, NYC
  • Freda Guttman, International Solidarity Movement-Montreal
  • FreeXero
  • Gale Courey Toensing, Falls Village, CT
  • George N. Rishmawi – Palestinian Centre for Rappochement between People ( )
  • Greg Felton,
  • Greta Berlin, Los Angeles, Volunteer, International Solidarity Movement
  • Hanny Hassan, London, ON
  • Harry Berbrayer, Duncan, B.C.
  • Helen Michell, spokesperson for the Bear Clan families of Maxan Lake
  • Ibrahim Hayani, (Professor of Economics, Toronto)
  • Ingmar Lee, Freelance Writer and Forest Protection Activist , Pondicherry, India
  • Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab, Saudi Arabia
  • Ismail Zayid, Canada Palestine Association, Halifax
  • James M. Craven/Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi, Professor and Department Head, Economics; Chairman, Business Division, Clark College, Vancouver, WA., Member, Blackfoot Nation
  • Jayce Salloum, Filmmaker, Vancouver
  • Jeanne Svhiyeyi Aga Chadwick, Publisher/Editor, My Two Beads Worth, Native News online
  • Jeff Siddiqui, Associate Broker, Seattle, WA
  • Jerome Charaoui, student organizer, Montreal QC
  • Jessica Peart, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory
  • John and Betty Beeching, Vancouver
  • John Pranger, Vancouver, BC
  • Johnny Roberts, St. Catharines, Ontario
  • Joseph Backus, Kingston, ON.
  • Joseph Schechla, coordinator, Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition, Giza, Egypt ,
  • Judith Weisman
  • June L. Lorenzo, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, USA
  • Justine McCabe, International Committee, Green Party of the US
  • Karin Brothers, Toronto, Ont.
  • Kathryn Furlong, Vancouver, BC
  • Khaled Mouammar, former CAF president, Toronto
  • Khalid Khawaldeh, Dana, Tafila, Jordan
  • Krista Johnston, No More Silence Network
  • Lamis Jamal Deek, Native of Palestine, Daughter of exilees, Attorney with Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Larry Wartel, Jews for a Just Peace, Victoria BC
  • Lawrence Boxall, Jews for a Just Peace – Vancouver
  • Lawrence ytzhak braithwaite, author, victoria, british columbia
  • Macdonald Stainsby, Vancouver
  • Marc Azar, Montréal,Québec
  • Martin O’Brien, Martley, Worcester, Worcs. UK
  • Marty and Martha Roth, Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver
  • Mary Hughes-Thompson, Los Angeles, Volunteer International Solidarity Movement
  • Meria, Producer/Host, “THE MERIA HELLER SHOW”
  • Mira Khazzam, Montreal, Quebec
  • Mitzi Brown Mohamed Kamel, Freelance writer, Montreal
  • Mohammed Abu Assi, Montreal
  • Mohammed Shokr, Muslim Unity Group
  • Nathan Stuckey
  • Nazih Mroue, London, Ont.
  • Nick Treanor, St.Catharines, Ontario
  • Nicolas A. Sayegh, Montreal
  • Nizar Sakhnini, Mississauga, Ontario
  • Noah Lepawsky. ISM Volunteer, Vancouver
  • Orion Carrier, Engineering Student, Victoria, BC
  • Peter Eglin, Professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Rebeka Tabobondung, Wasauksing First Nation Rezeq Faraj, co-president of PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity)
  • Riaz Ahmed Behra, Vancouver, B.C.
  • Robert Bibeau, PAJU
  • Robert Massoud, Ont.
  • Robyn Bourgeois, No More Silence Network
  • Ron Benner, London, Ontario
  • Samia A. Halaby, born in Jerusalem and living in exile in New York
  • Sandra Joy Jones, Wilmington, De.
  • Shawn Smith, Ottawa
  • Sid Shniad, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Smadar Carmon, Israeli Jew, Toronto, Coalition for Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
  • Splitting the Sky, Indigenous activist
  • Sue Goldstein, Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation of Palestine
  • Suliman Zabian, London, ont.
  • Tammie Tupechka
  • Teresa Gagne, Vancouver, BC
  • Tony Ali, Vancouver
  • Waldemar Belczowski, Independent Media Production
  • Zainab Amadahy, Indigenous Activist

Related article:“From Jerusalem to the Grand River, Our Struggles are One“ by Mike Krebs and Dana Olwan.