About

The Palestine Solidarity Network is a non-profit, grassroots collective aimed at advocating for and upholding the human rights of Palestinians in the face of ongoing oppression, occupation, racism, and discrimination, both in occupied Palestine and in the diaspora.

We maintain groups at both the community level, the Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton, and on the University of Alberta campus, the Palestine Solidarity Network – U of A.

We are a working group of the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) and a member organization of the Canadian BDS Coalition.

 

PSN’s history

PSN’s first event, held in October 2008, was a workshop discussing the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Following that event, a small group of individuals committed to upholding justice for Palestinians came together and began to organize in the Edmonton community, hosting a wide range of events focusing on current issues relating to the Palestinian struggle.

PSN then had a presence at Edmonton solidarity rallies in response to Israel’s unjust assault on the people of Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, and continued this solidarity with a Gaza teach-in held at the University of Alberta, which was attended by more than 200 people.

In collaboration with other organizations, PSN then hosted a January 2009 presentation by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, who spoke out strongly against Israel’s massacre against the people of Gaza to an audience of more than 500 people.

PSN is also very proud to have organized and hosted the inaugural Edmonton Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) in 2009. PSN and its partner groups have organized a total of seven week-long IAW events, bringing to Edmonton a diverse range of speakers, including Craig and Cindy Corrie, Ali Abunimah, Laila el Haddad, Ramzy Baroud, Dalit Baum, Remi Kanazi, Huwaida Arraf, and dozens more.

Another focus of PSN’s work over the years has been to defend the right to freedom of speech, especially as it relates to discussion of Palestine-Israel. When Conservative MP Jason Kenney prevented British MP George Galloway from entering Canada to participate in a speaking tour in support of Palestine, PSN stood up for the free speech of all Canadians by hosting a live video feed at the University of Alberta of his address from New York. We were also a co-sponsor of events in Edmonton with Professor Steven Salaita, and have hosted a number of events related to attempts to silence pro-Palestinian voices. Over the years, PSN has been active in a number of campaigns to ensure a fair and open discussion about the situation in Palestine, speaking out about attempts at censorship on campuses across Canada and pushing back against silencing initiatives such as the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA).

PSN looks forward to continuing its education and solidarity work in Edmonton and on the University of Alberta campus. PSN is grateful to the many Edmonton community groups and institutions for supporting this important work.

About our logo

Our logo is the cartoon character Handala, created by the great Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali.

From 1975 through 1987 Naji Al-Ali created cartoons that depicted the complexities of the plight of Palestinian refugees, and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon, remains a potent symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.

Naji Al-Ali wrote of his character:

The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way.

Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns.

I presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.

Naji Al-Ali was born in 1936 in the Palestinian village of Ash Shajara. In 1948, Ash Shajara was one of the 480 villages destroyed in what is known as the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, which occurred in 1947-48 and in which Palestinians lost more than half of their land, massacres took place, and 750,000 refugees were created. Naji Al-Ali was 10 years old when he and his family were expelled from Palestine to Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.

Naji Al-Ali grew up to become perhaps the most popular cartoonist in the Arab world. With brutal honesty, Naji Al-Ali analyzed the relationships between the governments of the United States, Israel, and the Arab regimes and the ramifications for the Palestinians.

Naji Al-Ali was well loved for his work but was also hated, as illustrated by the many death threats he and his family received. On July 22, 1987, in London, Naji Al-Ali was assassinated as he walked towards the offices of Al-Qabas newspaper. He died in the hospital on August 29. His murderer has never been apprehended.

Statement

PSN recognizes that we live and organize on Treaty 6 Territory. We would like to acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose footsteps have marked this territory for centuries, including Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway / Saulteaux / Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our community.

As we assert our opposition to Israeli apartheid and our solidarity with the Palestinian people, we feel we cannot speak meaningfully about these issues without acknowledging the realities of a similar system here in Canada.

Canada´s reservation system and treatment of Indigenous peoples was closely studied by the planners of apartheid in South Africa, though this is a hidden chapter of our history. We recognize that from its very beginning, the founding of Canada was built on the theft of Indigenous lands, and the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples.

If you are with us in opposition to Israeli apartheid, we encourage your consistent opposition to the elements of a similar system here in Canada.

In the interest of having an open dialogue, PSN urges all participants at our events and people who interact with PSN online to engage on these issues in a respectful manner. We categorically reject and will not in any way tolerate instances of Islamophobic, anti-Semitic or other racist behaviour.