Canada’s Support for Apartheid South Africa

December 10, 2013

mandelahoc

With the Canadian media rewriting the history of Canada’s relations with apartheid South Africa as the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, author and activist Yves Engler offers an insightful article into the true nature of the relationship between Canada and the apartheid regime.

Our shame: Canada supported apartheid South Africa
Yves Engler

It’s enough to make one who knows even a little history gag.

The death of Nelson Mandela has led to an outpouring of vapid commentary about Canada’s supposed role in defeating South African Apartheid. “Canada helped lead international fight against Apartheid”, noted a Toronto Star headline while a National Post piece declared, “Canada’s stance against apartheid helped bring freedom to South Africa.”

Notwithstanding this self-congratulatory revisionism, Canada mostly supported apartheid in South Africa. First, by providing it with a model. South Africa patterned its policy towards Blacks after Canadian policy towards First Nations. Ambiguous Champion explains, “South African officials regularly came to Canada to examine reserves set aside for First Nations, following colleagues who had studied residential schools in earlier parts of the century.” Read the rest of this entry »


Haaretz Article on Connections between Idle No More and Palestine

January 30, 2013

idlenomore

The Israeli daily Haaretz published this January 29 article on the links between Idle No More and the Palestinian struggle. Include great insights from Mike Krebs, who spoke at the 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week in Edmonton.

Palestinians and Canadian natives join hands to protest colonization

Palestinians, both at home and abroad, have found an unlikely partner in the struggle against colonization: First Nations, the indigenous peoples of Canada.

By Hadani Ditmars

Native peoples from all over the world joined together on Monday as part of an international day of solidarity with Idle No More, an indigenous uprising that has supporters across the globe.

Idle No More began in Canada, but it has sparked support from peoples including North African Tuaregs and New Zealand Maoris.

And with the many messages of support that came on Monday from indigenous peoples across the globe were messages of solidarity from Palestinians – both in their historic homeland and flung throughout the diaspora.

On the homepage of the Canada Palestine Association (CPA) is a link proclaiming “Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights.”

It opens with an excerpt from the Mahmoud Darwish poem, “The Last Speech of the ‘Red Indian’ to the White Man”:

“You who come from beyond the sea, bent on war,
don’t cut down the tree of our names,
don’t gallop your flaming horses across
the open plains …
Don’t bury your God
in books that back up your claim of
your land over our land …” Read the rest of this entry »


Woman Forced to Leave Family Behind: My Heart is Still in Gaza

November 21, 2012

Dr. Ghada Ageel, an Edmonton-based member of Faculty 4 Palestine Alberta and frequent presenter at PSN events, has had a article on Gaza published by CNN.

Woman forced to leave family behind: My heart is still in Gaza
By Ghada Ageel, Special to CNN
November 21, 2012

(CNN) — One week after leaving, my mom’s words still echo in my ears: “Leave Gaza now, please. Don’t think about us. I have many things to worry about.”

I entered Gaza on November 5 to help an American delegation there until the morning of November 11. My intention was to help the delegation and then have two full days with my family after the delegates left. But with tensions ratcheting up, my family in Gaza was fearful the Rafah crossing with Egypt would be closed and I would be stuck. To leave my extended family in such dangerous circumstances and return to my husband and three children in Canada was heartrending. But now it is worse. To see American-made Israeli fighter jets pounding Gaza just days after my departure is agony. Read the rest of this entry »


Survey: Most Israeli Jews Would Support Apartheid Regime in Israel

October 23, 2012

The Israeli daily Haaretz today reported on a disturbing study of Israeli Jewish attitudes toward Palestinian human rights and apartheid policies in Israel/Palestine, revealing that “most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank” and that “a majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens.”

Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel
Survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews.

By Gidon Levy

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.

A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees.

The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.”

Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.

The survey distinguishes among the various communities in Israeli society – secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent ) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer.

The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group – 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.

The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of the Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered “don’t know” in the “Russian” community was higher than in any other.

The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent ) and the secular Israelis the lowest – only 63 percent. On average, 69 percent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel.

Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist – 68 percent of them would not mind having Arab neighbors in their apartment building, 73 percent would not mind Arab students in their children’s class and 50 percent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces.

The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.

The survey conductors say perhaps the term “apartheid” was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as “apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an “apartheid state” and said “there’s no apartheid at all.”

In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know.

The “Russians,” as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them – 35 percent – believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid “in a few fields” or “in many fields,” while 11 percent don’t know.

Finally, the interviewees were asked whether “a famous American author [who] is boycotting Israel, claiming it practices apartheid” should be boycotted or invited to Israel. About half (48 percent ) said she should be invited to Israel, 28 percent suggest no response and only 15 percent call to boycott her.


United Church of Canada Approves Boycott of Settlement Products

August 21, 2012

On Wednesday, August 15 the General Council of the three-million member strong United Church of Canada (UCC) voted to approve comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. The vote was re-confirmed by members on Friday, August 17.

The policy also said the United Church policy would include “continue to identify the end of the occupation as necessary for peace in the region” and affirmed that “non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified and should be supported by all who seek and end to the occupation.”

It also calls for education and economic action directed against settlement products and directs “the Executive of the General Council to explore the wisdom of divesting in companies that are profiting from or supporting the occupation” and “requesting that the Canadian government ensure that all products produced in the settlements be labelled clearly and differently from products of Israel.”

You can read the full details of the resolution.

The policy was passed after seven hours of debate with what United Church officals said was a vote “substantially in favour” of the boycott motion. The resolution comes after the United Church released on May 1, 2012 its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.

This action by the UCC, Canada’s largest Protestant mainline denomination, follows moves by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA), two large mainline Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, which both adopted boycott motions targeting settlement products at their membership general assemblies in May and July 2012.

Below is a round-up of some of the reaction and press coverage in response to this historic win for the BDS movement in Canada, and was only possible due to years of work and education carried out by people of conscience within the UCC working in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Reaction

Independent Jewish Voices commends United Church for finalizing stand against Israeli occupation

BIAC congratulates United Church of Canada on settlement boycott

CJPME: In historic vote – United Church will boycott “Settlements” and United Church approves boycott as official church policy

Canadian Friends of Peace Now: CIJA’s Outrage is Outrageous, Says CFPN (in response to the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs’ reaction to the vote)

Media Coverage

Electronic Intifada: United Church of Canada adopts resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

Toronto Star: United Church members vote for boycott of products from Israeli settlements

Globe & Mail: United Church of Canada approves Israeli settlement boycott

Globe & Mail Op-ed by Thomas Woodley of CJPME: The United Church boycott is in keeping with its principles

rabble.ca: Israeli settlements and the United Church boycott: Responding to three common distortions

Postmedia: United Church approves controversial boycott of some Israeli products

Huffington Post: Israel Boycott: United Church Of Canada Will Not Buy Products From Settlements

Haaretz: Canada’s largest Protestant church approves boycott of Israeli settlement products


Action: Support Three Little Birds, Under Attack For Their Song ‘Apartheid’

August 1, 2012

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – Carleton has issued the following call to support the Ottawa-based trio Three Little Birds.

Dear friends and allies,

A local Ottawa musical group, Three Little Birds, is under attack for their support of the fight against Israeli Apartheid and they need your help.

HonestReportingCanada, a staunchly pro-Israel media organization is attacking Three Little Birds for their courage to sing about Israeli Apartheid, and CTV, for allowing musicians on their program who choose to sing about such a topic.

On June 18, CTV Ottawa invited the Three Little Birds to talk about their new album and perform a song in advance of their Ottawa Jazzfest performance. The song they chose to sing is entitled “Apartheid,” which is a powerful song detailing Carleton University’s president’s support for the apartheid policies of Israel. As a result, HonestReportingCanada, which claims to have 25,000 subscribers to its email list, sent out an email blast to all of its subscribers entitled “CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an ‘Apartheid’ State.” The e-mail attacks Three Little Birds and urges people to email the CTV Regional Vice President to pressure him not to allow musicians on the program who may criticize the actions of the state of Israel through the use of the term “apartheid.”

See the CTV segment here.

See the HonestReportingCanada article here.

In response, the Three Little Birds published a powerful statement of their own, responding to the attempted censorship of their music and of CTV, and explaining why they chose to write the song “Apartheid” (the band’s full statement is reprinted below). Read the rest of this entry »


CPCCA: Follow the Money

July 29, 2011

An excellent article in Macleans magazine on the secretive funding behind the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.

Follow the money
An MP inquiry into anti-Semitism vowed to be open and independent. Its shadowy funding says otherwise.

When a group of Conservative, Liberal and NDP MPs formed the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism in 2009, they decided to work outside of the normal structures of Parliament and raise their own money to hold a conference and conduct an inquiry. But transparency would be crucial, they said, pledging on their website to “voluntarily disclose all sources of funding” and remain independent of the Conservative government, advocacy groups and “Jewish community organizations.” By the time they released their report this month, however—warning that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada—that vow of full disclosure seemed to be forgotten, and the coalition appeared closely tied to the government.

Conservative MP Scott Reid, chairman of the coalition’s inquiry steering committee, said the CPCCA promised anonymity to private donors, who contributed a total of $127,078. As for their relationship with the government, the coalition accepted $451,280 from the department of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who sat on the CPCCA’s inquiry steering committee as an ex officio member. The coalition’s key conclusion that a “new anti-Semitism” tends to focus on criticism of Israel echoes Kenney’s long-standing position.

Perhaps surprisingly, the MPs’ ethics code appears not to oblige them to reveal the names of their backers. The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner didn’t comment specifically on the CPCCA, but told Maclean’s the “Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons” requires only that individual MPs disclose money they receive—not MPs acting as a group. “There is no mechanism within the code for a group of MPs to disclose a collective gift,” the commissioner’s office said. The coalition knows the rules. “The ethics commissioner doesn’t cover [the CPCCA] because the donations went to an entity, not to an MP,” said Mike Firth, Reid’s executive assistant.

If the CPCCA’s private backers remain unnamed, the government’s support is a matter of record. Still, the arrangement between Kenney’s department and the coalition isn’t straightforward. The grant was paid to a third party, a non-governmental organization called the Parliamentary Centre, a not-for-profit group that helps legislatures around the world, mainly in developing countries, to build their capacity. The centre took on a narrowly limited role for the CPCCA, acting as the recipient of both the Citizenship and Immigration grant and private contributions. As a registered charity, it was able to issue tax receipts to those anonymous donors.

Citizenship and Immigration refused to release its full agreement with the centre. A summary description says the grant was provided to the centre to “host the Ottawa Conference for Combating Anti-Semitism.” That three-day conference was put on last fall by the CPCCA; the centre played, at most, a supporting role. “There was government funding that was earmarked for this particular conference, and we were approached because we had NGO status, and charitable status, and had the systems in place to manage donor funding,” said centre spokeswoman Petra Andersson-Charest. “We were not involved in designing or managing the subject matter that was discussed,” added Ivo Balinov, senior expert in parliamentary development at the centre.

Firth said most of the grant money went to pay expenses of conference participants, including visiting parliamentarians and experts. The coalition also held 10 days of hearings in 2009 and 2010 on Parliament Hill, gathering testimony from dozens of witnesses concerned about anti-Semitism. The CPCCA did not invite outspoken critics of Israel’s stance toward the Palestinians to testify. Its final conclusions were faulted by some for blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy.

If the coalition’s findings were controversial, its funding mostly escaped attention. But it’s far from typical. MPs normally work within their own office budgets, or through official House committees, which are of course paid for by Parliament. The CPCCA’s broad membership largely insulated it from partisan scrutiny. Along with well-known Conservatives like Reid and Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner, the MPs who joined included prominent Liberals such as interim party leader Bob Rae, and veteran New Democrats like Peter Stoffer and Pat Martin. That opposition support, and close compatibility with Kenney, made it unlikely the coalition’s financing, however unusual, would be criticized from within political circles. It seems any questions about this shadowy new model for MPs to tackle a policy issue will have to come from outside.