Monthly Archives: April 2013

May 2: SETTLER COLONIALISMS, QUEER ACTIVISM AND THE PINKWASHING OF ISRAELI APARTHEID

SETTLER COLONIALISMS, QUEER ACTIVISM AND THE PINKWASHING OF ISRAELI APARTHEID
Thursday, May 2
7:00 pm
Room 7000, 7th floor, accessible by elevator
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings, Vancouver

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/112139772318988/?fref=ts

http://quaiavancouver.wordpress.com/

quaia-vancouver*We recognize that we do this work on unceded Coast Salish Territories, the lands of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Stó:lo, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples* 
 
*Please scroll to the bottom for detailed accessibilities information including how to make this event more accessible for others in our community, venue information and more* 

Lately, you’ve probably been hearing words like pinkwashing, settler colonialism, and homonationalism. Maybe you heard that there were a bunch of queer and trans folks wearing hedgehog masks and holding pink signs about Israeli apartheid at the Queer Film Festival. Or you’ve wondered what queer solidarity for Palestine looks like? And how radical queer and trans folks can support Indigenous struggles on Turtle Island or what the connections are between Canadian and Israeli settler colonialisms? Ever wanted to figure out how we can resist pinkwashing and build genuine movements of solidarity that resist all forms of colonialism and occupation? Or perhaps you just want one of those really cool QuAIA bandanas?

With the help of some fabulous speakers, QuAIA Vancouver is putting on a panel to discuss some of these very questions, share great info, engage in some discussion and help build radical queer and trans communities.

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Speakers include (more information coming soon):

– Mike Krebs is an Indigenous activist of Blackfoot, Cree and european descent. Based in Vancouver, he has previously been active in Palestine solidarity organizing.

– Nada Elia is a Diaspora Palestinian. Both of her parents were expelled from Jerusalem in 1948, she was born in Iraq, and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. A professor of Global and Gender Studies, Elia is a scholar-activist who serves on the Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and writes and speaks about BDS as a strategy to end Israel’s apartheid practices and policies. Her current research is about the gendered aspect of resistance, including the denunciation of Pinkwashing, Israel’s attempt to tout its (Jewish) gay-friendly record so as to distract from its violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

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This panel will explore the intersections between Israeli and Canadian settler colonialisms and Israel’s campaign of attempting to pinkwash its brutal occupation of Palestine.

By appealing to global LGBTQ communities to support the Israeli settler colonial state at the expense of Palestinians, Israel is actively engaging in the pinkwashing of apartheid and occupation.

As queers, trans folks, and allies, we are outraged by the appropriation of queer and trans struggles for liberation in order to obscure, excuse, or justify state violence and colonialism. As radical queers committed to anti-colonial struggles and all forms of oppression, we also stand in solidarity with Indigenous struggles against ongoing colonialism here on Turtle Island. When we come out against settler colonialism in all its forms and against Israeli apartheid, we interfere with the myth making that is vital to upholding Israeli and Canadian colonial regimes.

Please join us to learn how you can resist this state-sponsored hijacking of our community’s voice, and raise your own voice with ours to say “No Pinkwashing in Our Name!” Oh and there may also be some of those amazing bandanas, possibly even with glitter!

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is part of a growing international movement – led by Palestinians – against Israeli apartheid, occupation and colonialism.

Endorsed by:
Canada Palestine Association (CPA)
Voice of Palestine
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Committee (BIAC)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights UBC (SPHR UBC)

***Accessibilities Information***

Please email us if more information needs to be added and/or if you have questions/feedback: quaia.vancouver@gmail.com

– Room 7000 is on the 7th floor, with elevator access, and is wheelchair and scooter accessible as are the washrooms.
– Gender neutral and gendered washrooms are on the same floor as the room.
– Floor plan for the venue and room: http://www.sfu.ca/mecs/harbour+centre/floor+plans.html
– ASL-English interpretation is confirmed.
– There will be designated seating space in the room for folks with limited mobility and for Deaf people, folks who are hard of hearing, and others with barriers to accessing audio.
– Amplification via mics and speakers will also be provided.
– A specific donation jar will be available for QuAIA to build an ongoing Accessibilities Fund.
– Donations are completely voluntary and any donations will be greatly appreciated!
– In order to reduce the impact of electromagnetic transmissions (EMT) on folks with EMT sensitivity, we will be asking that attendees turn off their cell phones if possible, or place them in a designated area.
– We are creating a scent-reduced environment for this event. For more information on how you can help with this, check out these resources:

Myths & Facts about Chemical Sensitivity: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/myths.html

How to be Fragrance Free: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html

Fragrance Free Femme of Colour Realness Draft 1.5: http://www.brownstargirl.org/1/post/2012/03/fragrance-free-femme-of-colour-realness-draft-15.html

Contact at: quaia.vancouver@gmail.com

Kevin Neish photography of Gaza, Palestine on display at conference

Over lunch on Saturday, May 4, Victoria human rights activist Kevin Neish will present photography of his recent 5 week tour of Gaza. Kevin Neish says, “Amidst the Israeli forces’ rockets, hijackings, kidnappings, shootings and blackouts, the Palestinian people of Gaza carry on with their lives. In Arabic they are called ‘Sumud’, in English it’s steadfast and unyielding.” He documented his trip with photographs and essays at www.kevinneish.ca

Since 1989, Mr. Neish has volunteered as a  human rights observer in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Palestine, first in the West Bank and now Gaza. He survived the Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

kevin3

Palestinian children in Beit Hanoun, Gaza

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Palestinian farmers working their land in the “buffer zone” face occupation gun towers

Mural in Gaza City

Mural in Gaza City

Gaza's woman fisher, Madleen Kolab, protesting at sea

Gaza’s woman fisher, Madleen Kolab, protesting at sea

 

Register and Donate for the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat!

 

Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America

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Register today!

Return and Liberation, the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, will take place in Vancouver, Canada from May 3-5, 2013, at the University of British Columbia. Panels, workshops and cultural events include “Looking Back, Forging Forward: Palestinian Organizing in the Shatat,” “Palestinian Representation and the Right of Return,” “Palestinian Perspectives on Solidarity and BDS,” “Repression and Resistance: Palestinian Civil and Political Rights,” “Organizing on the Cultural Front,” “The Role of Palestinian Students and Youth” – and much more. Speakers and workshop facilitators include Rabab Abdulhadi, Karma Nabulsi, Issam Yamani, Loubna Qutami,

Abdelrazzaq Takriti, Mezna Qato, Ramzy Baroud, Nada Elia, Dina Omar, Mostafa Henaway, Lamis Deek, Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj and many more.

More than that, this conference is a unique opportunity for Palestinians in shatat and their allies to join in this historical gathering to re-examine our history and build together towards a free future for our people and land by putting an end to Zionist colonization and normalization everywhere throughout the Palestinian and Arab homeland. Join us to plan, discuss and learn from each other about our homeland and how we can become active participants in reviving our movement.

 

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Travel Details

Travel Details

Learn more about travel directions to Vancouver and the UBC Campus, accommodations and public transit at our Logistics and Accommodations page.

The main airport in Vancouver is YVR (Vancouver International). Please note, if you are travelling from the US, you may find it more affordable to fly into Seattle (SEA) or Bellingham (BLI) – buses are available to Vancouver. 

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This conference relies on the grassroots to support and fund our efforts. Your donations make this conference possible and sponsor Palestinian youth and students to attend and participate in the conference! Donate today and receive a premium from Palestine Online Store – Ghassan Kanafani cards, DVDs on Palestine and more. Donate online here!

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Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America

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Please Rescind Your Resolution to Ban SAIA

Dear UMSU,

This is a personal statement, and it does not represent any group or organization.

I am sending this to you hoping that you would uphold principles of debate as paramount to any personal or reductionist approaches to policy. Students in Canada, and the West in general posses a privilege that people in the Arab world are dying for right now – a privilege that allows them unconditional and to a certain extent uncensored access to a vast amount of knowledge and information regarding events happening all around the world. As students in the West, we have access to professors that we will respond to our inquires within a very short period of time. Each university has at least four of five libraries with books that span all types of knowledge, and that present all points of views. We have access to the fastest internet in the world giving us a very valuable tool to ask questions, investigate events, conduct research and be able to reach an informed opinion. New buildings are being built on every university campuses primarily to facilitate our learning process, to enrich our experiences as university students and to produce academics with perspective.

We also have student unions with access to huge sums of money allocated to provide us with facilities to eat, meet, drink, socialize, hang out, debate and exchange opinions. These unions are meant to fight on behalf of the student in order to attain the highest level of education while lessening the burdens that students in conflict-ridden areas have on their shoulders. The student union is a space for constructive engagement, and is it a quintessentially political space designed specifically to send a political message that sometimes may appear “controversial.”

The Palestinian cause is a just cause. It is a cause grounded in a firm conviction that the Palestinian people faced an historical injustice that affects – till today – the daily lives of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza), in the refugee camps, and in the diaspora. Over 750,000 Palestinians were – within a very short period of time – forcibly uprooted from their lands, and expelled to neighbouring countries (see Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine). A combined effort by the Zionist movement and the leaders of the dictatorial Arab regimes ensures that they remain stripped from their internationally accepted and protected right to return. When the Zionist movement realized that the so-called “Palestinian problem” is not going to magically disappear they opted for a system of control similar to the one adopted by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. A system that demands separating Palestinians not from Jews only, but from their own lands, and in certain cases, from their own families. For example, a Palestinian from the West Bank is separated by a racist law from his Israeli Palestinian wife.

To be able to farm his land, a Palestinian must gain a permit from his occupier in order to access a land that lies on the other side of an 26 feet high wall. The wall is not built on the internationally recognized 1967 borders, it is built inside Palestinian territories often dissecting villages, school and university campuses. Imagine a very high wall going through the campus of the University of Manitoba – I suspect that any Canadian student would stand idle when faced with such a travesty.

Fighting against racism, subjugation, occupation and Apartheid should not be labelled as controversial. It should be encouraged. I understand that student representatives are busy citing laws and bylaws that are meant to maintain constructive dialogue. I also understand the importance of making everybody feel safe, but by ignoring the fundamental principle of allowing students to advocate for rights that Canadian students would not under any circumstances sacrifice, UMSU committed a grave crime.

UMSU has set a very dangerous precedent that takes into consideration only one side of the story. By accepting a racist ideology as a “nationality” for Jews, UMSU is ignoring a very long tradition of fighting anti-Semitism. Jews in Europe faced the most atrocious of crimes primarily because they are Jews. When Zionism as a political ideology was first introduced to European Jewry, it was rejected almost unanimously by all European Jews. They feared that this new political ideology will strip Judaism from its essence. They feared that by politicizing their struggle, political Zionists will cause them more damage than good and will cause further alienation, stigmatization and death. Aha’ad Ha’am (a prominent Jewish thinker) was adamantly against these efforts. Letters from other Jewish intellectuals were sent to the leaders of this new strand of Zionism warning them about the ramifications of their efforts.

A large segment of the Jewish populations continue till this current day the efforts to expose Zionism for what it is – a racist ideology bent on the ethnic cleansing of an entire population to attain political objectives.

SAIA is not a controversial group. Fighting against Israel Apartheid is not controversial. And this is a fact that must be understood by student unions very clearly. Zionist strategies of citing violations of certain laws should be rejected and put within the appropriate historical and political context.

Muzzling the efforts of SAIA is not a matter of violating the law or upholding thereof. It is a matter of abusing certain systems of governance to attain insidious political outcomes. Using the law is merely part of a grand strategy to obfuscate a political reality and human tragedy in Palestine.

I, therefore, urge UMSU to consider these points, and reverse its decision to ban SAIA, and make it part of their mission to fight war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of human rights in Canada, Palestine and in every corner of earth.

Regards,
Omar Shaban

An Open Letter to the University of Manitoba Students’ Union from the Canadian Students’ Coalition for Palestine

Organizations are invited to sign on to this statement. To sign on, email canadianSCP@gmail.com or use the form below.

Download PDF

April 14, 2013

To:
The University of Manitoba Students’ Union Council
Local 103 of the Canadian Federation of Students
101 University Centre, Winnipeg, MB

We are writing to express our grave concern about the UMSU’s decision to revoke the student club status of the University of Manitoba’s branch of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), and further to ban SAIA from operating in “UMSU spaces.” By denying students at UManitoba the right to initiate and operate SAIA, you are denying them the right to engage in criticism of the State of Israel, and this decision is a flagrant violation of students’ Fundamental Freedoms of Expression and of Association as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under sections 2(b) and 2(d).

We understand and indeed share your commitments and aspirations to protect the Human Rights of all students and to eradicate discrimination and harassment based on the Protected Grounds as defined in both Provincial and Federal Human Rights Legislation. However, we believe that your interpretation of such legislation sets a dangerous standard by conflating nationalist ideologies with individual national origins, and by equating criticism of state policies with harassment of persons on the basis of national origin. We urge you to reconsider these false equivalencies between concepts and principles, and to pay closer attention to the complexities and political motivations of the arguments being drawn.

Firstly, we would like to respectfully point out that Zionism is not and should not be confused with an individual’s national origin. Zionism is a nationalist ideology that pursues the establishment and endurance of a Jewish state or homeland on the traditional lands of the Palestinians. Like all ideologies, Zionism is often highly valued and held close to its adherents as an inextricable part of their individual identity. This does not mean, however, that it is equal to a person’s or individual’s national origin or Israeliness. Indeed, there are many Israeli citizens who are not Zionist, for example many of the 1,617,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel who are subject to multiple forms of discrimination despite citizenship because of the fact they are not Jewish. Palestinian citizens of Israel are excluded from the Zionist project. Also, there are many leftist anti-Zionist Jewish citizens of Israel who believe in a democratic Israeli state with equal rights for all of its citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion. Furthermore, there are many Jewish-identified Canadians in Manitoba and across Canada who stand proudly in solidarity with Palestinians and who define their religious and/or ethnic identity as separate from and/or in opposition to the ideology of Zionism.

Secondly, criticism directed at any state, especially criticism that is firmly based in the principles and standards of International Law and Human Rights conventions, should never be conflated with harassment directed at individuals or groups of a particular national origin. We are especially concerned that this type of conflation will lead to a dangerous precedent where Academic Freedom is stifled and where student clubs engaging in Human Rights activism will be targeted by increased administrative sanctions. The international solidarity movement with Palestinians, of which Students Against Israeli Apartheid is a part, is a peaceful movement modeled on the successful human rights campaign against South Africa during the days of South African Apartheid. According to the logic of UMSU’s Motion, criticism of South African Apartheid would have been a form of discrimination against White Afrikaner Nationalists in South Africa. This is not such a far off or unlikely scenario; during the days of Apartheid in South Africa, White Afrikaners and their allies around the world made this exact argument. By this same logic Tamil student groups could be banned for criticizing the Human Rights violations of the Sri Lankan state, Tibetan student groups could be banned for criticizing the Human Rights violations of the Chinese state, and where even indigenous and Métis student groups could be banned for criticizing the Human Rights violations and reservation system of the Canadian state. We also emphasize the importance of a broad view of human rights, including the importance of acknowledging our roles as settlers on the stolen indigenous land of Turtle Island, and a statement of solidarity with Indigenous peoples, as well as an acknowledgement of Canadian settler colonialism that is often read aloud at the beginning of our events.

Thirdly, we would also like to draw attention to the section of the Motion that criticizes Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and the activities of SAIA in the promotion of this week on university campuses. We are extremely concerned that your Motion, without any evidence, claims that incidents of “violence and harassment” have occurred in universities across Canada. As organizers of various IAW events across the country we have not heard anything of these supposed incidents of “violence and harassment.” Both SAIA and IAW maintain and enforce a very strict anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy. All forms of hate-speech, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are banned from our official events and organizations. To ensure this, our moderators, speakers and marshals are all trained and updated throughout the week on how to maintain and enforce these policies. As a standard practice, a statement of anti-discrimination is read aloud prior to every IAW event. Thus, IAW does not, in any way, endorse “violence and harassment” of any group of students. The expression “Israeli Apartheid” may be viewed as controversial by UMSU; however, regardless of that view, it still stands that ‘controversy’ is neither a form of, nor equivalent to harassment by any standard of comparison. Revealing the racist dynamics of Zionism is no more an act of hatred than criticizing the justifications of settler-colonialism implicit in Canadian nationalist ideologies.
We note that this resolution was passed by members of the incoming council, making an end run around this year’s UMSU executive, and will expire on May 1. We want to be clear that we will not sit silently by if any attempts are made next year to decertify, refuse to recognize, or otherwise infringe Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s right to organize, express themselves, and work for human rights on the campus of the University of Manitoba in the coming academic year.

We urge you to reconsider the Motion you have put forward and passed, as well as the logic and principles upon which it is purportedly based. We hope that you will be careful not to make conflations that can lead to the unjust silencing of students’ voices. We urge you to rescind the decision and take a step forward in committing yourselves to the principles of Academic Freedom, as well as the Fundamental Freedoms of Expression and of Assembly guaranteed to all under the Canadian Charter.

Respectfully,

The Canadian Students’ Coalition for Palestine,

York University’s SAIA
Western University’s SPHR
University of Windsor’s PSG
University of Calgary’s SPHR
University of Toronto Scarborough’s TSJP
University of Toronto Mississauga’s SAIA
McMaster University’s SPHR
Wilfrid Laurier’s L4P
University of Waterloo’s SPHR
George Brown’s SPHR
University of Guelph’s SPHR
University of British Columbia’s SPHR

Organizations that have signed onto this statement include:
CUPE Local 3909 (University of Manitoba) – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Boycott from Within- Tel Aviv, Israel
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign- Vancouver, BC, Canada
Canadian Boat to Gaza – Canada
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)- Toronto, ON, Canada
Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine – New York, NY, US
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism (CODZ)
CommonGround Collaborative – Calgary, AB, Canada
Faculty for Palestine (F4P) Carleton – Ottawa, ON, Canada
The First Peoples Council
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) of Canada
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) Canada
Industrial Workers of the World (Winnipeg GMB) – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
ISM Vancouver – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return – USA
Labor for Palestine – USA
McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice – Hamilton, ON, Canada
MSA at Mount Royal University – Calgary, AB, Canada
National Lawyers Guild (US) Free Palestine Subcommittee – USA
New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT) – New York, USA
No One Is Illegal – Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories, Canada
Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) Carleton – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) Ottawa – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton, AB, Canada
People for Peace – London, ON, Canada
The Palestinian Solidarity Working Group at Laurentian University – Sudbury, ON, Canada
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA) – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Seriously Free Speech Committee – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Socialist Project (York) – Toronto, ON, Canada
Streams of Justice – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) National – USA
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Ryerson – Toronto, ON, Canada
Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College- New York, USA
Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College- New York, USA
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) Carleton – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) University of Toronto- Toronto, ON, Canada
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel – USA
Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA) – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Women In Israel


[gravityform id=”5″ name=”Endorse the Statement”]

Flying from out of town? Travel tips for conference-goers

If you are flying into Vancouver, the closest airport to fly into is YVR (Vancouver International Airport). Driving and transit directions from YVR to UBC are available at Google Maps  and TransLink Trip Planner.

Please note, if you are travelling from the US, you may save money by flying into Seattle (SEA) or Bellingham (BLI) airports. It is a few hours’ trip from Seattle, but often worth the time if you are looking to save! 

 These airports are accessible by Quick Shuttle bus directly to Vancouver, by car, or by other bus services from Seattle itself, such as BoltBusGreyhoundQuick Shuttle and other bus services.

 

 

Coalition will fight ban of Students Against Israeli Apartheid: U of M Students’ Union urged to support human rights and freedom of speech

We are republishing the following news release from the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, in reference to the banning of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Manitoba:
NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coalition will fight ban of Students Against Israeli Apartheid
U of M Students’ Union urged to support human rights and freedom of speech

WINNIPEG—The Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid is appalled by the University of Manitoba Students’ Union’s April 11 decision to end Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s student group status and ban it from operating in students’ union space.

The motion passed by UMSU Council equates criticism of the Israeli government to discrimination and harassment, and takes extraordinary measures against a student group, although it appears no evidence was presented to substantiate the accusations.

“We are shocked that UMSU would ban Students Against Israeli Apartheid without any evidence or basis for the accusations brought forward in the motion,” said Liz Carlyle, spokesperson for the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. “It is clear that the architects of the motion aimed to silence opposition to the Israeli government’s Apartheid policies.”

Added Thiané Diop, a member of SAIA-UM: “By attempting to silence and obstruct SAIA, UMSU has voted to prop up the Israeli Apartheid government, its crushing military occupation and daily abuse of Palestinians’ human rights.”

Israeli Apartheid Week, a global event dedicated to education and debate on Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, has been running on Winnipeg campuses and in the community for 5 years, and SAIA groups have repeatedly shown they are seeking dialogue, while opposing racism and other human rights abuses.

There were no incidents of harassment or discrimination by event organizers, speakers or participants at IAW 2013. WCAIA maintains that SAIA’s work embodies respectful and fair political comment, and believes that the UMSU motion constitutes slander, and repression of free speech and freedom of association. WCAIA is pursuing a legal opinion on the matter.

“Support has been flooding in from students and human rights and civil liberties advocates across the country,” added Diop. “We urge UMSU to reinstate Students Against Israeli Apartheid, and to speak up against Apartheid policies everywhere.”

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For information or interviews, please contact: Liz Carlyle ecarlyle@wcaia.ca cell 204.979.7741 or saia.manitoba@gmail.com

Freedom of Speech Muzzled at the University of Manitoba – Omar Shaban

by Omar Shaban

In yet another effort to muzzle speech that exposes Israeli war crimes and atrocities in occupied Palestine, Zionists at the University of Manitoba in the university’s Student Union (UMSU) passed a resolution to ban the Student Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) and its activities from campus on April 11, in a 19-16 divided vote, against the legal advice of the student union’s lawyer.

This ill-worded resolution claims that most “Jewish and Israeli members of the UMSU are Zionists which … are supporters of Zionism, international movement for the support of Israel.” It further claimed that “Zionists are a ‘group of persons’ which national characteristics, Israel being a nation-state.”

Based on these two premises, the UMSU concluded that Zionists are being ‘discriminated’ against and are a subject of ‘harassment’ because of “abusive and unwelcome conduct or comment undertaken or made on the basis of such national characteristics.” It should be noted that this happened shortly after a student union elections campaign focused on silencing supporters of Palestine.

Aside from the obvious fact that there are many factual, and, indeed, grammatical errors in this resolution – indicative of the lack of research and thoughtfulness on behalf of the drafter, and the lack of debate on this topic – the resolution couldn’t be further from the truth.

Many Jews and Israelis – students at the University of Manitoba or otherwise – are not Zionist, and this statement attempts to conflate religious identity and national origin with a specific, and racist, political ideology.

To make such a claim to falsely lump an entire community of believers under the banner of racist political ideology whose fundamental objective is to dispossess Palestinians, ethnically cleanse them and occupy their lands.

Because Zionism is a racist ideology, various Jewish authors and intellectuals have been voicing their objections to its aims. One prominent Israeli Jewish author who has challenged Zionism is Ilan Pappe. In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe declaimed that: “Until the occupation of Palestine by Britain in 1918, Zionism was a blend of nationalist ideology and a colonialist practice.”

The Zionist movement in Palestine was inconvenienced by the existence of the Palestinians on what they regarded as their ancestral homeland which prompted them to design a sadistic plan bent on eliminating this existence. According to Pappe in the same book, to dissuade Palestinians from fighting for the land, Plan C was adopted outlining a serious of punishments:

“Killing the Palestinian political leadership.
Killing Palestinian inciters and their financial supporters.
Killing Palestinians who acted against Jews.
Killingsenior Palestinian officersand officials [in the Mandatory system].
Damaging Palestinian transportation.
Damaging the sources of Palestinian livelihoods: water wells, mills, etc.
Attacking nearby Palestinian villages likely to assist in future attacks.
Attacking Palestinian clubs, coffee houses, meeting places, etc.”

Zionism is the political ideology that led to the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland, and continues to deny Palestinian refugees their right to return to the present day, and has justified occupation and ethnic cleansing for over 65 years on a racist and discriminatory basis.

This is the Zionism that the UMSU decided to protect; and instead of conducting proper research, opted for a decontextualized and narrow definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary – something that does not fit an academic institution such as the University of Manitoba.

Free Speech in Canada?

This is not the first time supporters of Palestine were muzzled on Canadian campuses. Previous failed campaigns to engender similar results were thwarted at McMaster University in Hamilton, York University in Toronto, Carleton University in Ottawa and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

These attempts ranged from outright banning of clubs, to banning their activities to simply characterizing their events as “controversial” to impose higher standards and dissuade students from participating in them.

Similarly, Canadian politician like Jason Kenney, Michael Ignatieff, Joyce Murray, and many others are on record for labelling of pro-Palestine activists as chauvinistic anti-Semites on a mission to eliminate Israel from existence.

According to Seriously Free Speech, “there is a concerted effort both in Canada and internationally to suppress open discussion on the subject of the Palestine/Israel conflict. This effort manifests itself in the media, in educational institutions, and in government, and includes attempts to criminalize or otherwise stigmatize criticism of Israel.”

Facts:
Jewish students across Canada are neither intimidated, nor are they targeted for their beliefs by SAIA or SPHR. In fact, many of these groups’ members are Jewish and are proud to voice their opposition to Zionism and the illegal practices of Israel in occupied Palestine.

Considering all Jews as Zionist, and labelling as such in mainstream media and various academic institutions is an explicit act of anti-Semitism. Not only does it strip Jews from the agency of selecting their own worldviews and ideologies, but it also makes them liable for the racist attitudes perpetuated by the Zionists.

If students, academics and politicians are truly interested in the promotion of human rights, then they should voice their unequivocal support of all the efforts conducted by SAIA and SPHR.

If students, academics and politicians are interested in debate on this particular issue, then they should conduct their own research first instead of relying in flimsy arguments and propaganda campaigns and narrow one-line definitions from a dictionary.

My reminders for the Zionists:

Zionists and their supporters must understand one simple piece of information. It is impossible to muzzle criticism of Israel, and it is impossible to put a stop the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli Apartheid. Students and academics who are at the forefront of the struggle against Israeli Apartheid are people who have conducted immense research, thought very carefully about the consequences of their actions and are well-aware that Israeli actions are immoral and illegal.

Any effort to muzzle free speech will be counterproductive. Students who support Palestinians and their inalienable rights are more adamant than ever to make it abundantly clear that the fight against Zionism will not interrupted via a single ill-worded resolution that will ultimately have no effect on the ground.

Canadians are becoming more aware of the issues. They have access to the internet and alternative media. They are aware of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians, and they are aware of the plight of the Palestinian people in the refugee camps and the diaspora.

Around the world, ever-growing numbers of people are learning about Palestine and taking action to halt official and corporate complicity in Israeli war crimes. When Israeli officials cause the death of a single Palestinian, there are lawyers around the world committed to seeking justice and accountability in international courts.

Despite all the efforts of those who would silence Palestinians and their allies, the reality is that the truth will not be silenced, and justice for the Palestinians will be attained.

Omar Shaban is a third generation Palestinian refugee from the Nahr El-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. He is the former president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) at UBC and a member of the organizing committee of Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America.

Help support the Conference – buy a Journal Ad!

Return and Liberation: The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, taking place May 3-5, 2013 in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, will bring Palestinians together to discuss the future of the Palestinian cause and the direction of the struggle, through plenaries, workshops, cultural expression and more!

Full details about this unique conference bringing together the Palestinian community – as well as registration – are available on our website, www.palestinianconference.org.
The conference program will feature journal ads promoting and supporting the programs, work and activities of businesses, community groups and others. Buying an ad is both act of support for the conference’s work to organize and unify Palestinian efforts in North America, as well as a means to raise awareness of the work of your own organization.
There will be hundreds of people in attendance, and through our outreach and promotion, thousands of people will view our program. We hope that you can attend and help spread the word about the conference! To buy a journal ad online, please visit our site: http://palestinianconference.org/journal-ads/
Reach all conference attendees – and thousands more through online distribution and our attendees’ outreach with your message, information or products, and help to support the convening of the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America with a Journal Ad.
Costs and Dimensions:
Full page ($500):     W 5.25″ x H 8.25″
Half page ($250):     W 5.25″ x H 4″
Quarter page ($150): Landscape – W 5.25″ x H 1.875″
Quarter page ($150): Portrait – W 2.5″ x H 4″
Please email palestinianconference@gmail.com with any questions about ad specifications!
Payment: Payments can be made online at http://www.palestinianconference.org/journal-ads/, or send a cheque to:
Palestine Cultural Society
405-2050 2nd Avenue West
Vancouver, BC V6J 1J4
Canada.
Please note “Journal Ad” in the memo line.
Order Form: Please submit your journal ads to support@palestinianconference.org in PDF or EPS format