March 24 IAW 2016 Event

March 24, 2016

freespeech

BDS, Dissidence, and the Fight for Free Speech
Featuring Nisha Nath and Dax D’Orazio
Thursday, March 24 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

On February 22 the Parliament of Canada passed by a margin of 229-51 (with 57 absences or abstentions) a Conservative motion to “reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” and “call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

The motion was the just the latest in a string of international moves aimed at slowing the rapid growth of support for the global Palestinian-led BDS movement. More than two dozen nation, state, or local laws against BDS have been put forward in the United States since 2015, the UK recently banned publicly funded institutions from participating in BDS, and Israel itself has had an anti-BDS law in place since 2011.

But these official moves are just the most recent attack on free speech related to BDS. For years, BDS campaigns by Palestinian solidarity activists on university campuses have been stifled or silenced by anti-boycott campaigns.

This panel will explore the aims of the BDS movement, official reactions to it, the relevance of the anti-BDS backlash in the context of increasingly neoliberal and militarized spheres of power, and what the implications are for broader movements of marginalized/oppressed/dissident people’s movements and free speech.

* While PSN cannot provide childcare for this event, this event is child inclusive so children of all ages are welcome in the room during the panel.

Nisha Nath is a long-time supporter of Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Nisha is also a contributing editor with Voices-voix and the Dissent, Democracy and the Law Research Network. Her research looks at race, security, dissent and citizenship in Canada.

Dax D’Orazio is former member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University in Ottawa, which campaigned for the university to divest its pension fund from four companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine. He is now a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.


Getting There

The Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) is located on the southwest corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map). ECHA is adjacent to the Jubliee Auditorium.

The building’s north entrance is closest to Room 1-190.

Parking

Parking is available at the Jubilee car park (map) and just across the street on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street the Education car park (map).

Transit

Take the LRT to the Health Sciences Centre Station, which is located just south of ECHA.

Take Edmonton transit to the 114 Street and 89 Avenue stop of the University of Alberta bus loop (map) and walk just south to ECHA.

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the north entrance of ECHA.


Edmonton Israeli Apartheid Week 2016

March 3, 2016

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MARCH 21 – 24, 2016 ** ALL EVENTS FREE **

Palestine Solidarity Network presents a week of presentations, film screenings, and panel discussions in solidarity with Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid policies, and to raise awareness about the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

All IAW 2016 events are open to everyone, and are free of charge. Directions on how to get to the venues is below.

Edmonton IAW 2016 is organized by Palestine Solidarity Network with support from Independent Jewish Voices-Alberta, the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR), and the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG).

For information about Israeli Apartheid Week events around the world, visit apartheidweek.org.

MONDAY, MARCH 21

Apartheid in Palestine
Featuring Dr. Ghada Ageel
Monday, March 21 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

Despite its use by former US Presidents, South African activists, and even Israeli government officials to describe the situation faced by Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, Occupied East Jerusalem and Israel proper (’48 Palestinians), the term “Israeli apartheid” is still routinely attacked as an unfair framing of the conflict.

Based on her newly released book, Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences, Dr. Ghada Ageel will look at the use of the term apartheid to describe the Palestinian experience under occupation, looking at both the analogy to South African apartheid and the formal definition of apartheid as enshrined in international law.

Dr. Ghada Ageel is a 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. A third-generation Palestinian refugee, Ghada was born and raised in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. 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.

She is the contributing editor to the new book Apartheid In Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences, published in January by the University of Alberta Press. Dr. Ageel’s work has also been widely published in numerous newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Hill, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The Journal for Palestine Studies, Palestine Chronicle, and many Arabic newspapers throughout the Middle East.


TUESDAY, MARCH 22

Witnessing Apartheid: Activist Experiences in Palestine
Featuring Eoin Murray, Dawn Waring, and Carmen Jarrah
Tuesday, March 22 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

The reality of the Palestinian experience of Israeli apartheid is seen by most Canadians through the lens of mainstream media coverage and, increasingly, hasbara-driven misrepresentations of the situation in Palestine/Israel. Experiencing the plight of Palestinians first-hand offers an entirely different – and much more realistic – understanding of the conflict.

This panel will feature the voices, experiences, and reflections of three Edmonton activists – Eoin Murray, Dawn Waring, and Carmen Jarrah – who have recently returned from their own individual visits to Gaza, the West Bank, and Occupied East Jerusalem.

Carmen Taha Jarrah is a local writer who retired recently from a 35-year career writing and editing professional communications for government. She is a peace activist, local and international volunteer and has travelled widely in the Middle East, including making multiple visits to Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories.

She is the author of the book, Smuggled Stories from the Holy Land, which was published last March, and based on her experiences as a member of the Arab Jewish Women’s Peace Coalition from Edmonton and as a volunteer picking olives for Palestinians.

Dawn Waring has been to Palestine and Israel numerous times, including co-leading exposure trips to the region in 2009 and 2012. With the support of the United Church of Canada, in mid-December she returned from her third three-month term with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (2012, 2013, and 2015). She is a committed activist for peace with justice.

Eoin Murray is an Irish author who lived in Gaza during the Second Intifada. He recently returned from his latest trip to both Gaza, the West Bank, and Occupied East Jerusalem.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23

The Wanted 18
Film Screening
Wednesday, March 23 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Education Centre South, Room 129
87 Avenue & 113 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

It’s 1987, and the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) against the Israeli occupation is spreading across the West Bank.

Residents of the village of Beit Sahour want local alternatives to Israeli goods, including milk, which they’ve been buying from an Israeli company. Activists in the town decide to create a co-operative dairy farm, and purchase 18 cows from an Israeli kibbutz and transport them to the West Bank.

And so begins the strange story of the 18 cows.

After some trial and error, the newly minted “lactivists” succeed, the population comes to depend on the “Intifada milk,” and the cows become a symbol of freedom and resistance. But soon the illegal cows, cherished by the Palestinians, were being sought by the Israeli army and declared “a threat to the State of Israel.”

Will the Wanted 18 live to milk another day?

With humour and passion, this film captures the spirit of the First Intifada through the personal experiences of those who lived it. Acclaimed Palestinian artist Amer Shomali illustrated The Wanted 18 and co-directed it with veteran Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan, combining stop-motion animation, interviews, drawings and archival material to bring to life one of the strangest chapters in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Poignant and thought-provoking, humorous and serious, it shows the power of grassroots activism, peaceful resistance and courage.

National Film Board of Canada, 2014, 75 minutes


THURSDAY, MARCH 24

BDS, Dissidence, and the Fight for Free Speech
Featuring Nisha Nath and Dax D’Orazio
Thursday, March 24 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

On February 22 the Parliament of Canada passed by a margin of 229-51 (with 57 absences or abstentions) a Conservative motion to “reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” and “call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

The motion was the just the latest in a string of international moves aimed at slowing the rapid growth of support for the global Palestinian-led BDS movement. More than two dozen nation, state, or local laws against BDS have been put forward in the United States since 2015, the UK recently banned publicly funded institutions from participating in BDS, and Israel itself has had an anti-BDS law in place since 2011.

But these official moves are just the most recent attack on free speech related to BDS. For years, BDS campaigns by Palestinian solidarity activists on university campuses have been stifled or silenced by anti-boycott campaigns.

This panel will explore the aims of the BDS movement, official reactions to it, the relevance of the anti-BDS backlash in the context of increasingly neoliberal and militarized spheres of power, and what the implications are for broader movements of marginalized/oppressed/dissident people’s movements and free speech.

* While PSN cannot provide childcare for this event, this event is child inclusive so children of all ages are welcome in the room during the panel.

Nisha Nath is a long-time supporter of Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Nisha is also a contributing editor with Voices-voix and the Dissent, Democracy and the Law Research Network. Her research looks at race, security, dissent and citizenship in Canada.

Dax D’Orazio is former member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University in Ottawa, which campaigned for the university to divest its pension fund from four companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine. He is now a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.


GETTING THERE

For events on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: The Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) is located on the southwest corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map). ECHA is adjacent to the Jubliee Auditorium.

The building’s north entrance is closest to Room 1-190.

Parking

Parking is available at the Jubilee car park (map) and just across the street on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street the Education car park (map).

Transit

Take the LRT to the Health Sciences Centre Station, which is located just south of ECHA.

Take Edmonton transit to the 114 Street and 89 Avenue stop of the University of Alberta bus loop (map) and walk just south to ECHA.

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the north entrance of ECHA.

For Wednesday‘s event: Education Centre South is located on 87 Avenue at 113 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map).

Parking

Parking is available the Education car park (map), located just west of Education South on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street.

Transit

Take the LRT or Edmonton transit to the University Station and walk one block south to Education Centre south (map).

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the east entrance of Education Centre South.


Two Events with Professor Steven Salaita

January 3, 2015

Professor Steven Salaita will present two lectures in Edmonton on January 13:

Silencing Dissent: Palestine, Digital Activism, Academic Freedom, and the Decline of the Public University
Tuesday, January 13 (3:30 – 5:15 pm)
Humanities Centre Lecture Hall 1 (HC-L1)
111 Street & Saskatchewan Drive, University of Alberta Campus
(Click here for map)

Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and the Public Intellectual
Tuesday, January 13 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 150
Corner of 111 Street & 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Campus
(Click here for map)

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

Professor Steven Salaita is at the centre of an international protest against academic censorship and the silencing of dissent. During the summer of 2014, Salaita tweeted about the horrors of the Israeli assault and bombardment of Gaza. As he prepared to move to a new job as tenured professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, he was “de-hired” when wealthy donors objected to his Twitter feed.

Salaita is the author of many articles and six books including Israel’s Dead Soul, Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics, and Anti-Arab Racism in the USA. The Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Canaan analyses the rhetoric and myths in the settlement of North America and Israel and the “counter-discourse patterns that connect Indigenous writing in both locations.”

Read more about Steven Salaita’s case at the Center for Constitutional Studies.

Co-sponsored by:
Association of Academic Staff, University of Alberta (AAS:UA)
Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research (CGCER)
Faculty of Arts
Department of English and Film Studies
Faculty for Palestine (F4P)
Faculty of Native Studies
Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS)
Department of Philosophy
Department of Political Science
Palestine Solidarity Network
Department of Women’s and Gender Studies


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 »


EQuAIA Events During Edmonton Pride Week

June 8, 2012

Edmonton Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (EQuAIA) will once again be participating in Edmonton Pride Week events in Edmonton, marching in the annual Pride Parade and hosting a screening of the film City of Borders the following week. Details of both events are below.

EQuAIA in the Pride Parade!
Saturday, June 9 (11:30 am)
From 108 Street & 102 Avenue to Churchill Square
Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

EQuAIA is marching again in the 2012 Pride Parade! Wear RED and bring along your fine selves and a friend – EQuAIA will bring along all of the signage, posters, and banners. If anyone is interested in having a hand in organizing this year, please contact Marcus Peterson directly at mpeterso[at]ualberta[dot]ca.

EQuAIA is entry number 51, right behind Flash (#50) and in front of Planet Organic (#52).

Itinerary:
11:30: Meet in parking lot adjacent to 108 St and 102 Ave
11:30-12:00: All walkers must sign a waiver form (They will be supplied by EQuAIA organizers)
12:00: March begins (entry #51)
~1:00: Finish march at Churchill Square

Some notes from the parade organizers:
– Do not stop in intersections when the light is red;
– Alcohol is not allowed;
– Throwing items into the crowds is not allowed; and,
– “Public protesting or questionable political behavior will be strictly prohibited! Groups or individuals whom do not respect this will be immediately escorted off the parade route, and may be denied entry into future the parades.” (In other words, I guess leave your “questionable political behaviour” at home, whatever that means.)

Rain is forecast, so dress appropriately for the weather.

Film Screening of City of Borders
Friday, June 15 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Stanley Milner Library – Room 7, 6th Floor
( 7 Sir Winston Churchill Square)
Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

EQuAIA will be hosting a free Pride Week film screening of the documentary City of Borders. There will be an opportunity to have an open, public discussion on the documentary afterwards.

City of Borders provides an original view of the vibrant underground community at the only gay bar in Jerusalem where people of opposing nationalities, religions and sexual orientations create a sanctuary among people typically viewed as each other’s “enemy.” This powerful and provocative documentary intimately portrays the daily lives of five Israeli and Palestinian patrons as they risk their lives challenging taboos and navigating the minefield of politics, religion and discrimination to live and love openly.

Set against the construction of the separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories and the struggle for a gay pride parade in the Holy City, these five inter-woven stories reveal the contradictions and complexities in the struggle for acceptance. In observing the lives of the bar regulars, City of Borders explores the bond forged when people from warring worlds embrace what everyone shares in common—the right to be accepted and belong—rather than be defined, or divided by their differences.

 


Joint Statement on Minister Jason Kenney’s Condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012

March 10, 2012

Fifty-four organizations from across Canada, including Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton, have signed onto a joint statement in response to Jason Kenney’s recent condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012. The full text of the statement and its signatories is below, or you can download the pdf here.

Joint Statement on Minister Jason Kenney’s condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week
March 9, 2012

As organizations and groups committed to protecting freedom of expression and public debate on Palestine/Israel, we demand that Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney immediately retract his March 7th statement “condemning Israel Apartheid Week”.

This statement is the Conservative government’s latest attempt to silence activist groups and organizations in Canada that act or speak in support of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. While Kenney’s statement claims to value “free exchanges of ideas” and “academic dialogue,” his targeted condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week events on Canadian universities this week (and in previous years) is a blatant attempt to shut down free expression for Palestine solidarity on campus.

The Harper government’s track record clearly reveals that it does not actually value the university as “an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely”. Indeed, it has been actively involved in undermining this ideal that it claims to uphold. In 2009 the Conservative Minister of State (Science and Technology), Gary Goodyear was widely criticized by Faculty for Palestine and academics across the country for his unprecedented and dangerous acts of state political interference in the public funding of an academic conference. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) called for the Minister’s resignation around this incident, finding it “simply unacceptable” for the Minister to engage in any act that “compromises the integrity and public purpose of universities”. The sole target of the Minister’s actions was an academic conference at York University titled Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace. His actions were so egregious that they have since been the subject of two major inquiries, one of which is written up in the newly published book titled No Debate: The Israel lobby and free speech at Canadian universities.

Free expression on Canadian campuses, including both academic discourse and political analysis, must be protected from these kinds of political interference and all attempts of censorship. Unlike the Conservative government, we encourage and invite open debate and discussion on the full spectrum of views on the Israel/Palestine conflict. As public events on university campuses, IAW talks are open to anyone who wishes to attend and is willing to participate within the standard regulations governing debate and events on university campuses.

For eight years, Israeli Apartheid Week has provided a model for free and open discussion by providing a week-long series of public lectures by academics and activists on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Currently IAW events are held on campuses in over 100 cities around the world. Many of these lectures address, in a factual manner, the nature of Israeli rule of a Palestinian population of some five million people within the borders which it controls and the effects of the exclusion of a similar number of Palestinian refugees. This system of blockade, occupation, settlement, discrimination and exclusion has been described as a form of
apartheid by a wide range of scholars, journalists, activists, politicians, UN officials and legal experts including former Minister of Government in South Africa Ronnie Kasrils and former Special Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights John Dugard. IAW events examine these conditions while also building awareness for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel as called for by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005.

The recent welcome for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ottawa is just the latest indicator of where the current government stands on this issue. It is a serious threat to democratic interchange that the Harper Conservatives use their position as government to try to shut down discussion and debate on their uncritical support for every action of the Israeli state, including ongoing violations of international law and the human rights of Palestinians.
Israeli Apartheid Week has played an important role in opening up this discussion. This has been recognized by Palestinians, Jewish anti-Zionists, and South Africans including Bishop Desmond Tutu, and journalist Naomi Klein. Israeli Apartheid Week has always condemned anti-Semitism and all forms or racism including Islamophobia, and will continue to do so.

Endorsing signatories:

Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
Canadian Arab Federation (CAF)
Canadian Boat to Gaza
Canadian Peace Alliance
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
Centre for Social Justice
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Toronto
Coalition of Arab Canadian Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA)
College and University Workers United (CUWU, Montreal)
Edmonton Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (EQuAIA)
Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA)
Educators for Peace and Justice (EPJ)
Faculty for Palestine – F4P (Toronto)
Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Alberta)
Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Carleton)
Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (GTWA)
Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)
Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
Labour for Palestine
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle – Toronto
National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women of Canada – LATIN@S
New Socialist Group
Nightslantern Suppressed News
No One Is Illegal Toronto
Not In Our Name: Jews Opposed to Zionism (NION)
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty – OCAP
OPIRG – Toronto
Palestine House Educational and Cultural Centre
Palestine Solidarity Working Group, Laurentian University, Sudbury
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Peace Alliance Winnipeg
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)
Regina Solidarity Group
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Seriously Free Speech Committee
Socialist Project
SPHR UWO – Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Western University
SPHR Ryerson
SPHR – UBC
Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University – Carleton
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA)- Regina
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – University of Toronto
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at York University
Tadamon! – Montreal
Teachers for Palestine (T4P) – Toronto
Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War (TCSW)
Winnipeg CAIA
Women in Solidarity with Palestine (WSP)


Support Needed: IAW Events in Ottawa Face Possible Cancellation

March 7, 2012

UPDATE FROM SAIA – MARCH 7

Thank you for your support! Together, we have once again shown that through collective action, we will overcome attempts at repression and intimidation! After having received an incredible number of emails and phone calls urging the administration not to cancel our room booking for Thursday’s Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) event, the University of Ottawa has re-confirmed the room reservation for our panel discussion on that day. As such, our event entitled “Legalized Apartheid and Women’s Resistance in Palestine: Principled Solidarity and the Global Struggle for Liberation,” will proceed as originally planned at 7:00pm in Hagen Hall room 302.

However, the University has imposed the presence of agents from the Protection Services as a condition for the event to take place, after evaluating a complaint by unknown persons regarding our event on March 5th (“Arab Spring, Apartheid Falls? The Egyptian Uprising and Possibilities for Palestinian Resistance”). While we will not be contesting this decision at this point, it is our belief that such a security presence is unnecessary and does not contribute to a safe and open environment for our guests and speakers. Furthermore, despite repeated demands, we have received almost no information on the details and exact nature of the aforementioned complaint, leaving us entirely in the dark as to the reasons why a previously confirmed lecture event was precipitously placed in jeopardy only two days before it was due to take place.

As such, we encourage you to continue writing to the University of Ottawa Administration to demand transparency through the release of information about the complaint, as well as information as to how it was evaluated by the administration and how the latter motivated the decisions it took in consequence. It is both unacceptable and highly suspect that the University of Ottawa has taken such arbitrary action without any due explanation.

Allan Rock – President, University of Ottawa:
president@uottawa.ca; 613-562-5809

Martin Bergeron, Coordination Agent – Conventions and Reservations Services:
mbergeron@uottawa.ca

Please include in CC:
saia.carleton@gmail.com, sphr.uofo@gmail.com

Original Call for Support:

URGENT CALL FOR SOLIDARITY: UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA TRIES TO SILENCE SOLIDARITY FOR PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS (SPHR)

Defend the Right to critical discussion around Israeli apartheid on our campuses! Call on the University of Ottawa Administration to uphold free expression and follow clear and transparent procedures.

On March 5th, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) 2012 opened at the University of Ottawa to a packed room, as students, faculty, and community members were treated to an informative lecture entitled “Arab Spring, Apartheid Falls? The Egyptian Uprising and Possibilities for Palestinian Resistance.” It featured an Egyptian activist who played an important role in the revolution that overthrew the Egyptian dictatorship, as well as a community activist from Montreal (click here for a full schedule).

Moreover, two students from the organizing committee were harassed by unidentified individuals, who on several occasions attempted to intimidate SPHR and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) just outside the lecture hall during the event.

On March 6th, a member of SPHR received an email from Conventions and Reservations Services at the University of Ottawa telling her that their room booking for Thursday’s Keynote IAW event is now “on hold”, that SPHR “may not continue with this event for now”, and that SPHR’s contract was being forwarded to “Protection Service for evaluation.” These heavy-handed measures are because of an unnamed “incident” that supposedly occurred at Monday’s event. When members of SPHR met with the University administration, they were not told what this “incident” was (see below for full email from U of O). The very fact that the organizers were put in a situation, where their event was threatened with cancellation, is a form of intimidation from the University of Ottawa administration.

In 2009, the Administrations at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University banned the international-used IAW poster, gaining national and international headlines. SPHR and SAIA see today’s email as another attempt to silence the voices of students who advocate for Palestinian human rights. When the IAW poster was banned in 2009, we stood up and fought back with all of your support.

***
Let us take a stand again. We need your help in two ways:

1) Please write a letter to the University of Ottawa Administration demanding that they do not cancel our room booking, and that they explain why the threat of room cancellation was initially issued (see sample letter below). The University hasn’t yet “confirmed” whether or not our talk will be cancelled – with your support, lets encourage them to take the principled position. While a staff member at Conventions and Reservations Services sent the email to SPHR, we know from our previous experiences that it is people higher up in the University hierarchy who must be held accountable for these attempts to silence our movements. As a result, please direct your email to:

president@uottawa.ca – Allan Rock – President, University of Ottawa, and;
mbgeron@uottawa.ca – Martin Bergeron, Coordination Agent – Conventions and Reservations Services

Or call:

Allan Rock – President, University of Ottawa – Telephone: 613-562-5809

Martin Bergeron, Coordination Agent – Conventions and Reservations Services
Bureau / Office : (613) 562-5800 ext: 2825 Cellulaire / Cell : (613) 796-8099

Please include in CC:
saia.carleton@gmail.com, sphr.uofo@gmail.com

Draft Email to President Rock and Martin Bergeron

Dear President Rock and Mr. Bergeron,

I recently learned that the University of Ottawa is threatening to prevent the keynote event for Israeli Apartheid Week in Ottawa from taking place, by cancelling the students’ pre-approved room booking. Hiding these silencing tactics behind the cover of bureaucracy is worrying. Israeli Apartheid Week is a week of educational and cultural events that critically engages with the policies undertaken by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people. Over the past four years in Ottawa alone, this week has brought distinguished speakers ranging from members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), former leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), Jewish Holocaust Survivors, prominent indigenous leaders, and some of the most high-profile Palestinian scholars and activists from around the world. I also know that Israeli Apartheid Week has brought with it a great deal of backlash from University Administrations, including your own. When the University of Ottawa banned the Apartheid Week Poster in 2009, it shocked many people who were following the controversy, as it appeared that the University of Ottawa was taking a clear position in support of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, and against freedom of speech and student organizing.

I implore you not to make the same mistake again. Regardless of whether or not you agree that Israel is an Apartheid State, do not get in the way of student organizing and open discussion of this issue. Censoring the discussions that take place at your University through bureaucratic means reflects very poorly on the University of Ottawa and its leadership.

Consequently, I ask that you ensure that Thursday night’s IAW Keynote Speech is able to take place and that the room booking is not revoked. Also, I would like to know why SPHR was threatened with a cancelled room booking in the first place.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

2) If you live in Ottawa: Join us on Thursday, March 8 for IAW 2012’s Keynote Panel Discussion, “Legalized Apartheid and Women’s Resistance in Palestine: Principled Solidarity and the Global Struggle for Liberation.” We will be meeting at the University of Ottawa campus, in Hagen Hall Room 302 (near Laurier Bus Station). This is the room that we have booked, and which the Administration has threatened to cancel. Nevertheless, we will not be silenced. Whether it takes place in Room 302 Hagen Hall, in the Lobby of Hagen Hall, or somewhere else on campus, this talk will go on.

It is only though your active support, participation, and solidarity that we will be able to fight back against this new attempt to silence IAW and stifle freedom of speech on our campuses. Please write a letter and join us on Thursday.

In solidarity,
SPHR Ottawa and SAIA Carleton

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Email sent to SPHR from University of Ottawa:

Hello [SPHR member],

Following the incident that occurred during your event in Fauteux 147A on March 5th 2012, your event scheduled for March 8th in Hagen 302 from 18:00 to 23:00 is on hold therefore in “Pending“ mode. You may not continue with this event for now. Also, I urgently need you to provide the name of the speaker(s) who spoke on the 5th of March as well as the ones that are scheduled to speak on the 8th of March 2012 in Hagen 302. This information needs to be provided to me no later than today. Also, I am forwarding your contract to Protection Services for evaluation. Again, you may not proceed with your event in Hagen 302 on the 8th of March until I confirm.

Please respond to this email promptly

Martin Bergeron
Agent de coordination, Coordination agent
Service de congrès et réservations / Conventions and Reservations Service