NDP leadership contest could shape future Palestine debate

February 9, 2017


Author Yves Engler has written a new article on how the issue of Palestine could be an important issue in the NDP contest to replace Thomas Mulcair.

Will Conservative party puffery or NDP principle determine Canada’s Palestine policy?

The Conservative party leadership campaign has unleashed pro-Israel puffery, but it is the NDP race that could have greater impact on Canada’s Palestine policy.

Aping Donald Trump, former Conservative minister Kellie Leitch recently asked her Twitter followers to “join me in calling on the Government of Canada to immediately move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” This would likely contravene international law.

For her part, former cabinet minister and fellow leadership candidate Lisa Raitt dubbed the recently passed UN Security Council Resolution (2334) on Palestine “disgusting.” Offering Israel a diplomatic blank cheque, Raitt said her government would make sure Canada’s voice was heard “loud and clear all over the world as Israel’s best friend and ally — no matter what.”

Another former member of cabinet running to be party leader labelled most of the world anti-Semitic. Chris Alexander called Resolution 2334, which passed 14-0 with a U.S. abstention, “yet another round of UN anti-Semitism.”

A Facebook ad for former foreign minister and leadership frontrunner Maxime Bernier was titled “my foreign policy is simple: put Canada first.” It linked to a petition saying, “foreign policy must focus on the security and prosperity of Canadians — not pleasing the dysfunctional United Nations…which for years has disproportionately focused its activities on condemning Israel.” Evidently, putting “Canada first” means advancing Israel’s diplomatic interests.

While “I heart Israel” and “I really heart Israel” bile flows out of Republican Party North, it is the NDP contest that’s more likely to shape the Palestine debate going forward. Since party members rejected leader Thomas Mulcair, who once said “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances,” the Canadian Jewish News has run an editorial, front-page story and column expressing concern about how the NDP’s leftward shift will impact Israel policy. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Apartheid in Palestine’ Book Launch

January 13, 2016


Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences
Book Launch featuring Dr. Ghada Ageel
Thursday, January 28 (3:30 – 6:00 pm)
Room B-87, Henry Marshall Tory Building, University of Alberta
(click here for map)

Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

PSN is thrilled to be a co-sponsor of the book launch for long-time PSN supporter Ghada Ageel’s new book, Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences, published by the University of Alberta Press. PSN’s Reem Skeik is also one of the book’s contributors.

Everyone is welcome to this free event. Dr. Ageel’s talk will be followed by a Q&A and reception. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

About Apartheid in Palestine

There are more than two sides to the conflict between Palestine and Israel. There are millions. Millions of lives, voices, and stories behind the enduring struggle in Israel and Palestine. Yet, the easy binary of Palestine vs. Israel on which the media so often relies for context effectively silences the lived experiences of people affected by the strife. Ghada Ageel sought leading experts—Palestinian and Israeli, academic and activist—to gather stories that humanize the historic processes of occupation, displacement, colonization, and, most controversially, apartheid. Historians, scholars and students of colonialism and Israel-Palestine studies, and anyone interested in more nuanced debate, will want to read this book.

With contributions from: Ghada Ageel, Richard Falk, Samar El-Bekai, Reem Skeik, Tali Shapiro, Rela Mazali, Huwaida Arraf, James Cairns, Susan Ferguson, Abigail B. Bakan, Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Keith Hammond, Sherene Razack, Edward C. Corrigan, Ramzy Baroud, and Rafeef Ziadah

About Ghada Ageel

Ghada Ageel is Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta and a columnist for the Middle East Eye, an online news portal based in London, England. She holds a PhD and MA in Middle East Politics from the University of Exeter and a BA in Education from the Islamic University of Gaza.

Praise for Apartheid In Palestine

“Of all the crimes to which Palestinians have been subjected through a century of bitter tragedy, perhaps none are more cruel than the silencing of their voices. The suffering has been most extreme, criminal, and grotesque in Gaza, where Ghada Ageel was one of the victims from childhood. This collection of essays is a poignant cry for justice, far too long delayed.”
—Noam Chomsky

“This book, edited by Ghada Ageel, is an intimate study of a people and place both central to, and isolated by, current international policy. The writing is personal and articulate, reflecting Ageel’s own history as a child of Gaza, a respected academic, and a gifted author. It should be read by all of us who love or want to better understand Gaza and the people who live there.”
—Craig and Cindy Corrie, Parents of Rachel Corrie who was killed in Gaza in 2003

“Ghada Ageel was for some time the Guardian’s ever-brilliant, brave and astute fixer in Gaza. On a visit there I found her local knowledge and sense of history to be invaluable in understanding the Palestinian side of the intractable and endless conflict which has been a tragedy for so many. She brings those qualities to her writing, which is often informed by her own personal experiences, and those of her family and friends.”
—Alan Rusbridger, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, a constituent college of Oxford University


This event is co-sponsored by University of Alberta Press, Palestine Solidarity Network, the University of Alberta Department of Political Science, Middle East and Islamic Studies Research Group, Faculty4Palestine-Alberta, Canada Palestine Cultural Association, and the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR)

The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

May 15, 2015


The following article by Ghada Ageel was published on May 13, 2015 in the Middle East Eye:

The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

Sixty-seven years ago, Palestinians woke up to a tragedy that ravaged their hearts and distorted Palestinian life forever. Over 800,000 people, approximately half of the population of then-mandatory Palestine, were evicted from their homes and their ancestors’ lands. The horror was engraved on all of the faces; a language and reality they shared for decades – many to this day.

Scattered all over the Middle East and prevented by Israel from returning home, dignified landowners who overnight had turned into refugees didn’t need to ask about the fate of their home. The broken bodies and spirits of hundreds of thousands forced into exile answered their question. Palestine was no more.

Today, almost seven decades after the ethnic cleansing, some of the Palestinians born in Palestine are still alive and still remember the horror of the 1948 dispossession and those miserable days. The generations who were born after the loss of their homeland – be it under the Israeli military occupation or in exile – and who didn’t witness the tragic experiences lived by parents and grandparents, do still retain the story. In their hearts and minds, the memory of the Nakba (catastrophe) is as strong, present and fresh as for those who witnessed it and so are the hopes and dreams that refuse to fade despite the savage winds of war and time.

Unable to return to their home that became present-day Israel, Palestinian refugees were obliged to live in great uncertainty about their future in the 59 refugee camps established by the United Nations. There, they awaited action by the international community to pressure Israel to implement the right of return. Sitting in their tents winter after winter, the only hope for them back then was the one offered by Article 11 of UN Resolution 194 of 1948, which resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”. Sixty-seven years after that belated date, millions of Palestinian refugees are still barred from returning home and still live a life of perpetual waiting, enduring multiple hardships in their long exile.

A quick glimpse at the situation of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, the refugees locked in the Gaza prison, those living behind the apartheid wall in the West Bank, those Palestinians who are currently on the run for their lives in Yemen and those risking their lives in the Mediterranean taking death journeys to escape insecurity and search for safety for their families, tells the same old and new story of continued Nakba, one of constant suffering with no end in sight.

Horrific pictures and catastrophic stories of Palestinian refugees continue to come in different forms and shapes adding more unkind chapters to the devastating mother story of the 1948 disaster. Mohammed Maddi, 36 years old from Gaza, is the latest victim in the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. The young father passed away on 4 May in Abu Yussef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah refugee camp. He had waited in vain for over six months for Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt to open. When his hopes for the opening of Rafah gate faded away, he applied for a permit to travel through Israel to receive treatment available either in the West Bank or Jordanian hospitals. A piece of paper that granted life or death, hope or despair, called a permit, was never issued despite the seriousness of Mohammed’s condition and the worsening of his health. Doctors in Gaza did all that they could given the hospital’s thin resources, severe shortages of medicines and medical products resulting from the inhumane blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation, the longest in human history. At the end of a nine-month battle with cancer, Mohammed succumbed to a fate he might have avoided had he not lived in Gaza.

Living under the constant fear and despair of possibly losing his son in Gaza – where everything is uncertain and basic life necessities such as electricity, fuel and nowadays water are unavailable for most of the day – Mohammed’s father sent a plea to the world. In an interview with Al-Watan Voice, hours before his son’s death, the father broke into tears asking the interviewer: “My son is dying a hundred times a day, every day. I want him to live for his children. Tell me where to go, please. Borders are closed, doors of life are shut and everything is closed. Can anyone tell me where to go? World, Arabs, this is unfair. Where is humanity?”

Mohammed’s tragic story and the words of his father provide just a single example of what denial and oppression mean to Palestinian refugees. The story summed it all up and exposed the 67 years of open wounds. This is an ongoing Nakba for Palestinians living under the Israeli colonial enterprise, as well as for those Palestinians scattered far away from home, trapped in war zones with a suspended present and no future, no place to go, no papers, no documents, no alternatives and no hope.

On the other hand, the story of Mohammed and the words of his father create the story of a grand nation with a rich culture and history that was abandoned by humanity, yet created a determined people with aspirations and an unshakable belief in their rights and their cause. These refugees are resilient and steadfast despite the horrors to which they have been subjected. They are still able to question, rationalise and look for alternatives. They are still able to shake the silence and make their demands, love for life and anguish heard. Their story is one of Palestinian heroes in and outside Gaza hospitals working day and night on half or no salaries.

The narrative about refugees is always associated with empathy, poverty, backwardness, powerlessness and violence. The story of Palestinian refugees, however, extends far beyond the de-contextualised renderings of that mainstream narrative. Poverty and violence are imposed on Palestinian refugees who, despite the unbearable situation, are still counted among the best educated and hardest working in the Middle East. They still hold on tight to their dreams and demands for rights.

On the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, the new generations are better aware of their rights, and ready to fight to gain them back. Moreover, refugees have started to address publicly the reality that many of them have shared privately: Palestinians are being erased not just by Israel, but also by the powers and systems that endorsed the 1948 tragedy, allowing it to continue unchallenged. They are further harmed by complicit governments’ silence.

When I saw my grandmother following last summer’s barbaric Israeli assault on Gaza, she repeated to me and to my children Tarek, 14, and Aziz, 6, the same words she had said in 2012. She talked about our village, Beit Daras, from which she was expelled in 1948. She talked about its beauty, freshness, water well, land, farms and the sycamore trees that she loved dearly. She also repeated once again that she is no longer worried about the future that she’s wanted for so long. She looked to us and said “For many years, I felt as if I were walking alone. And as you know, walking alone is not a pleasant way to make a journey. Now, because of my age, I cannot walk, but I’m not alone anymore. I can now rest in peace even if I am not yet in Beit Daras. I now know that Beit Daras is in your heart, and I also know that you are not alone in your journey.”

Ghada Ageel is a visiting professor at the University of Alberta Political Science Department (Edmonton, Canada), an independent scholar, and active in the Faculty4Palestine-Alberta. Her new book “Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and harder experiences” is forthcoming with the University of Alberta Press – Canada. 

Gideon Levy in Edmonton

March 18, 2015


Israeli Elections: What Next For Israel-Palestine
Featuring Gideon Levy
Thursday, March 26 (7:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 150
(Corner of 111 Street & 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Campus)
(Click here for map)

Renowned Israeli author and human rights journalist Gideon Levy will be coming to Canada just days after the Israeli elections, and will speak about the Palestine-Israel conflict in light of the election results.

Ticket prices are $15 in advance / $20 at the door (students: $10 in advance / $12 at the door)

The Edmonton event of the tour is co-sponsored by the University of Alberta Department of Political Science, Independent Jewish Voices – Edmonton, and CJPME.

About Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy is both a long-time journalist with Haaretz, as well as a member of its editorial board. Levy has won journalism awards, including the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award in 1996 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Anna Lindh foundation journalism award in 2008 for an article he wrote about Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces, and the Peace Through Media Award in 2012. He has been described as “a powerful liberal voice” by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and praised by Johann Hari of The Independent as “the heroic Israeli journalist.” Literary critic Nicholas Lezard described him as “an Israeli dedicated to saving his country’s honour,” and he has also been profiled in Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Mr. Levy made international news in December when he was detained for a day or two by Israeli security forces as he was crossing between the West Bank and Israel.

Inside Israel’s Race Wars with Journalist David Sheen

February 12, 2015

Inside Israel’s Race Wars
Featuring David Sheen
Monday, March 2 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-498
South Corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street, U of A Campus
(Click here for map)

Help us spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event!

Journalist David Sheen will give a lecture and slideshow about Israeli incitement to racist violence, the focus of his on-the-ground reporting for the past five years. The core of Sheen’s presentation concerns the dehumanizing discourse towards African asylum seekers, Palestinians, and other non-Jews by top Israeli political and religious leaders, and the vigilante attacks they inspire, which spiked during last summer’s assault on the Gaza Strip. The presentation will include material Sheen presented at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels, as well as some brand new information that has not previously been made public.

About David Sheen

David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker originally from Toronto, Canada who now lives in Dimona, Israel. Sheen began blogging when he first moved to Israel in 1999 and later went on to work as a reporter and editor at the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. He now writes for a variety of local, regional and international outlets, and his work is quoted in publications like The New York Times and The Guardian. Sheen is currently writing a book about African immigrants to Israel and the struggles they face. His website is davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.

Sharing Tea Amidst Conflict

February 8, 2015


Two recently returned human rights observers will be sharing stories of their experience in Palestine-Israel:

Sharing Tea Amidst Conflict: Stories from Palestine & Israel
Thursday, March 5 (7:00 – 8:30 pm)
Trinity United Church
8810 Meadowlark Road
(click here for map)

Debbie Hubbard and Dean Reidt will share their stories and experiences from their recent time in Palestine and Israel as human rights observers.

Light refreshments will be served and there will be a cash beverage bar. Fair trade Palestinian products and olive wood products will be available for purchase. Everyone is welcome and this is a free event, but donations will be accepted for projects in Palestine.

Parking is available at the back of the church, on the streets around the church, or across the street in the Meadowlark Mall parking lot. The Edmonton Transit Centre is located at Meadowlark mall.

For more information about the event, contact Debbie Hubbard at 780-458-9286 or by email at sowingseedsofpossibilities@gmail.com

Canada’s Tax-deductible Support for Israel’s Crimes

September 3, 2014


Yves Engler’s latest article for the Electronic Intifada.

Canada’s Tax-deductible Support for Israel’s Crimes

Yves Engler | 22 August 2014

When is a Canadian who leaves this country to join a foreign military force and participate in the killing of innocent civilians, including children, called a “terror tourist” and sent to jail? The answer is: only when that person joins a military force the Conservative government disagrees with.

Numerous ministers in the current federal government have loudly denounced the radicalization of Canadian youth in foreign wars. Last year, the Conservatives passed a law that sets a maximum fifteen year prison sentence for “leaving or attempting to leave Canada” to commit terrorism. Jason Kenney, the minister for multiculturalism, recently said the government is trying “to monitor networks that recruit and radicalize youth.”

Last month, Somali-Canadian Mohamed Hersi was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempting to join the al-Shabab militia in Somalia. Arrested at Toronto’s Pearson airport before leaving, Hersi was not found guilty of committing or plotting a specific act of violence, but according to the presiding judge, was “poised to become a terror tourist.”

Yet our government does nothing to hundreds of other Canadians who join a different foreign military force which daily terrorizes millions of people and often uses explosives to kill thousands — most of whom are civilians. Read the rest of this entry »