A non-violent approach? How dare you!

Yesterday (click here), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Mahmoud Abbas (Chairman of the PLO and President of the Palestinian Authority), submitted a resolution to the United Nations’ General Assembly for the promotion of Palestine to a non-member, “enhanced observer” status at the UN. A decision is expected on Thursday, 29 Nov. 2012. You may remember that, in Fall 2011, the Palestinian Authority applied for full-member status (based on pre-June 1967 borders) with the UN. In Nov. 2011, the Security Council (under pressure from such players as the United States) did not achieve a unanimous response (click here and here) and the process stalled.

As you will see in my links to various news articles, some analysts are commending this current application as a non-violent action in response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why, then, would Canada be pressuring the Palestinian Authority to stop this application (click here), with a threat to end funding aid?? Essentially: stop this non-violent action, or else! (click here) Since when did and how has this become a Canadian position?? (Consider this resource by Marci McDonald for additional background.)

Note: Palestine does not have independent statehood in international-relations terms. Palestinians are stateless. With their current “permanent observer” status, Palestinians cannot access the International Criminal Court (ICC). With “enhanced observer” status, Palestinians would be able to apply for access to the ICC. Israel and the United States have actively worked to prevent Palestinian access to the ICC (click here , here, and here). Imagine if such access existed… why, this would be another non-violent response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…a way into examining the Israeli government’s violations of international humanitarian law (see an excellent analysis here). Imagine…

“Indeed, as the latest Gaza conflict begins its inevitable winding down, it will become increasingly apparent that Israel’s continual deployment of large-scale, indiscriminate force against people and space of Gaza – and, equally important, the West Bank as well – constitute not merely the context for war crimes but for crimes against humanity and, because of their clearly aggressive nature, a crime against peace. Hamas and Palestinian forces responsible for launching rockets at Israel will also have to reckon with the legal, political and moral consequences of their ongoing resort to violence, and the massive and disproportionate Israeli response they invariably produce.” (Mark LeVine & Lisa Hajjar, 21 Nov. 2012; see the full article here.)

Actions: From Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (here)

Please take 30 seconds to show solidarity with the Palestinians before UN General Assembly vote

Thursday, Nov. 29th, the Palestinians will take their bid for statehood to the UN General Assembly, after it was blocked last year by the US in the Security Council.  It will likely pass, and if it does, the Palestinians will have important new tools to use in pursuit of their self-determination and human rights.  A few important states* are wavering, and you can make a difference.

First, click here to send an email to your MP expressing your support for Palestine’s bid.  Then forward this email to a friend.
Then please join in and do your part in one or more of the following ways:

1. If you did not do so above, participate in our action alert to Canadian political leaders. Click here to send your email now.

2. Send a hard-copy letter to your MP. Please click here to open a letter in an editable PDF format to send to your Member of Parliament. Click here to find out who’s your MP.

3. Participate in Avaaz’s action alert to the leaders of European nations.  Strong support from Europe will be important in Palestine’s quest.  Click here to watch an excellent video prepared by Avaaz on the Palestine issue, called “Middle East Peace – The real story”. Then click here to send your email.
4. Meet your MP. Walk them through our FAQ document on Palestinian statehood as well as our talking points. To find the contact information for your MP, please click here.

5.Sign up to CJPME’s Media Centre, and participate in our media alert network. We are closely monitoring the media during this period, and additional participants can help out greatly. Click here to watch an overview video. Click here to sign up as a media responder.

Together, let’s make Canada the champion of human rights that it should be.  Thanks for your support to the rights of the Palestinian people!
The CJPME Leadership
CJPME Email – CJPME Website

* Unfortunately, Canada is poised to oppose the Palestinian bid at the UN.”

The conflict lives here, not just ‘over there’…

Why should Canadians care about the 60+ years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Why should we concern ourselves with what happened ‘over there’ during the past week and a half? Why should we be interested in the permit system that the Israeli government has imposed on people living in the occupied Palestinian territories? It’s not as though we’ve had a ‘say’ in it… that Canada’s colonial pass-and-permit system imposed on Aboriginal peoples in the late 19th-early 20th century served as a point of reference for the South-African apartheid system or that in turn, the South-African apartheid system served as a point of reference for the Israeli permit system that restricts freedom of movement and is separating two societies [in other words: apartheid, which means apart-ness (here), separation (here); also, here]. It’s not as though we’re living with the effects of apartheid right now in a society that ignores what the United Nations declares as unacceptable (e.g., food insecurity among Aboriginal peoples, here). Actually, I perceive that we are living with effects of apartheid;  the socio-structural impact is horrific regarding living standards among many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples on Turtle Island…

It’s not as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply ‘over there’… We just need to open our eyes and ears to see and hear the voices of Canadian-Israelis (e.g., Lisa Goldman, click here) and Canadian-Palestinians (e.g., Rafeef Ziadah, click here) who are seeking an end to the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine… To help clarify understanding about the nature of the conflict, see these 10 myths as identified by Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe (here and here)…

Didn’t a Canadian (Marshall McLuhan – born in Edmonton, Alberta) anticipate how we would all become a global village (here)? We are all part of this conflict… let’s start responding and taking action whenever and wherever we can…

Action: Please share this posting and the links to the thoughtful voices that are out there…share this with family, friends, on Facebook, Twitter…

On the edge of what? How might Canada help rather than hinder peace…

Is the ceasefire holding? Some say that it is (click here), despite at least two shooting incidents (here). Much discussion is underway regarding: (a) who has benefited from this recent aggression (here) and (b) the longevity of this ceasefire and the persistence of non-violent resistance to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (here and here; this interview is part of Harry Fear’s coverage from Gaza).

What saddens me is what appears to be happening now that the world media is turning the public’s attention to other news items. The Israeli government continues with indirect structural violence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and a new wave of arrests and administrative detentions of Palestinians – without charge or trial (click here).

Today, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) shared this report (here) from Steve Hibbard (Nov. 2012) regarding the shift in Canada’s Middle East Policy during Prime Minister Harper’s leadership. Hibbard sees the potential for Canada to contribute in this ambiguous moment: “Perhaps the most helpful step Canada could take would be to use its close ties with Israel to work with Israelis and Palestinians to build mutual trust. Mutual trust is one of the requirements for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement which in turn is the key to a broader Middle-East peace.” (p. 13)

CJPME released this statement (here) that asks Canadian Members of Parliament (MP) to end a silence that many of them have held…for too long. Please write to your MP.

Click here for a list of gatherings near you in the coming days.  If you are in Edmonton, note this opportunity: A film screening and panel discussion on Wed., 28 Nov. 2012 regarding “What Comes Next for Gaza?” (click here)

Ceasefire – cease fire – now, breathe…

Breath…that’s what we share…

A ceasefire between the Israeli government and Hamas has been announced. See the full text here and a Reuters article here.

Too many people have died. Too many people are wounded. Too many people are full of fear…

Now, let’s breathe…together…focus on that – only on the breath

to carry this ceasefire into the next breath, and into the next…

I invite you to pause to watch this video (here) for five minutes…breathe…and listen to Rumi’s “Only Breath” poem from 900 years ago…


A different type of resistance…through relationships

Imagine a different type of resistance – moving away from competition toward a shared effort of planning together for a shared future… Other Voice (here) is doing just that. Click here for their petition (or if you do not have a Facebook account, click here). In early 2011, I met Roni Keidar, a member of Other Voice who lives near the Gaza border.  I also met Eric Yellin, a member of Other Voice, and the originator of the petition. See their photo at this posting (here).

Amira Hass describes well the difference between two types of resistance in the following article. She is a journalist with Ha’aretz (click here). She is a Jewish Israeli who has lived in the occupied Palestinian territories. (Click here for links to additional articles by Amira Hass.)

Israel’s right to self-defence a tremendous propaganda victory

By Amira Hass  | Nov.19, 2012 

One of Israel’s tremendous propaganda victories is that it has been accepted as a victim of the Palestinians, both in the view of the Israeli public and that of Western leaders who hasten to speak of Israel’s right to defend itself. The propaganda is so effective that only the Palestinian rockets at the south of Israel, and now at Tel Aviv, are counted in the round of hostilities. The rockets, or damage to the holiest of holies – a military jeep – are always seen as a starting point, and together with the terrifying siren, as if taken from a World War II movie, build the meta-narrative of the victim entitled to defend itself.
Every day, indeed every moment, this meta-narrative allows Israel to add another link to the chain of dispossession of a nation as old as the state itself, while at the same time managing to hide the fact that one continuous thread runs from the 1948 refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the early 1950s expulsion of Bedouin from the Negev desert, the current expulsion of Bedouin from the Jordan Valley, ranches for Jews in the Negev, discrimination in budgets in Israel, and shooting at Gazan fishermen to keep them from earning a respectable living. Millions of such continuous threads link 1948 to the present. They are the fabric of life for the Palestinian nation, as divided as it may be in isolated pockets. They are the fabric of life of Palestinian citizens of Israel and of those who live in their lands of exile.
But these threads are not the entire fabric of life. The resistance to the threads that we, the Israelis, endlessly spin is also part of the fabric of life for Palestinians. The word resistance has been debased to mean the very masculine competition of whose missile will explode furthest away (a competition among Palestinian organizations, and between them and the established Israeli army ). It does not invalidate the fact that, in essence, resistance to the injustice inherent in Israeli domination is an inseparable part of life for each and every Palestinian.
The foreign and international development ministries in the West and in the United States knowingly collaborate with the mendacious representation of Israel as victim, if only because every week they receive reports from their representatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip about yet another link of dispossession and oppression that Israel has added to the chain, or because their own taxpayers’ money make up for some of the humanitarian disasters, large and small, inflicted by Israel.
On November 8, two days before the attack on the holiest of holies – soldiers in a military jeep – they could have read about IDF soldiers killing 13-year old Ahmad Abu Daqqa, who was playing soccer with his friends in the village of Abassan, east of Khan Yunis. The soldiers were 1.5 kilometers from the kids, inside the Gaza Strip area, busy with “exposing” (a whitewashed word for destroying ) agricultural land. So why shouldn’t the count of aggression start with a child? On November 10, after the attack on the jeep, the IDF killed another four civilians, aged 16 to 19.
Wallowing in ignorance
Leaders of the West could have known that, before the IDF’s exercise last week in the Jordan Valley, dozens of Bedouin families were told to evacuate their homes. How extraordinary that IDF training always occurs where Bedouin live, not Israeli settlers, and that it constitutes a reason to expel them. Another reason. Another expulsion. The leaders of the West could also have known, based on the full-color, chrome-paper reports their countries finance, that since the beginning of 2012, Israel has destroyed 569 Palestinian buildings and structures, including wells and 178 residences. In all, 1,014 people were affected by those demolitions.
We haven’t heard masses of Tel Aviv and southern residents warning the stewards of the state about the ramifications of this destruction on the civilian population. The Israelis cheerfully wallow in their ignorance. This information and other similar facts are available and accessible to anyone who’s really interested. But Israelis choose not to know. This willed ignorance is a foundation stone in the building of Israel’s sense of victimization. But ignorance is ignorance: The fact that Israelis don’t want to know what they are doing as an occupying power doesn’t negate their deeds or Palestinian resistance.
In 1993, the Palestinians gave Israel a gift, a golden opportunity to cut the threads tying 1948 to the present, to abandon the country’s characteristics of colonial dispossession, and together plan a different future for the two peoples in the region. The Palestinian generation that accepted the Oslo Accords (full of traps laid by smart Israeli lawyers ) is the generation that got to know a multifaceted, even normal, Israeli society because the 1967 occupation allowed it (for the purpose of supplying cheap labor ) almost full freedom of movement. The Palestinians agreed to a settlement based on their minimum demands. One of the pillars of these minimum demands was treating the Gaza Strip and West Bank as a single territorial entity.
But once the implementation of Oslo started, Israel systematically did everything it could to make the Gaza Strip into a separate, disconnected entity, as part of Israel’s insistence on maintaining the threads of 1948 and extending them. Since the rise of Hamas, it has done everything to back up the impression Hamas prefers – that the Gaza Strip is a separate political entity where there is no occupation. If that is so, why not look at things as follows: As a separate political entity, any incursion into Gazan territory is an infringement of its sovereignty, and Israel does this all the time. Does the government of the state of Gaza not have the right to respond, to deter, or at least the masculine right – a twin of the IDF’s masculine right – to scare the Israelis just as Israel scares the Palestinians?
But Gaza is not a state. Gaza is under Israeli occupation, despite all the verbal acrobatics of both Hamas and Israel. The Palestinians who live there are part of a people whose DNA contains resistance to oppression.
In the West Bank, Palestinian activists try to develop a type of resistance different from the masculine, armed resistance. But the IDF puts down all popular resistance with zeal and resolve. We haven’t heard of residents of Tel Aviv and the south complaining about the balance of deterrence the IDF is building against the civilian Palestinian population.
And so Israel again provides reasons for more young Palestinians, for whom Israel is an abnormal society of army and settlers, to conclude that the only rational resistance is spilled blood and counter-terrorizing. And so every Israeli link of oppression and all Israeli disregard of the oppression’s existence drags us further down the slope of masculine competition.”


Resistance…in support of humanity, beauty…

Walk with me, don’t be afraid…

She Who Is a Woman In Black.Tel Aviv – 31 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Standing up and being counted among those who object to what is happening in Gaza and Israel, and here in Canada is a way into peace…despite what political-economic players might do to foster fear… Resisting questionable activities (like the provocation of people living amid military occupation) in support of a just peace is what this is about… I realize that so much around us, though, suggests otherwise. How can I stand up, a woman in Western society, against all of this? For example:

“Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege.” See the full article, “Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All”, by Chris Hedges (here).

It’s happening globally, including here at home, in Canada. See The Huffington Post article, “Harper Calls Mulcair An Extremist Over Threats to Rip Up China Investment Treaty” (here).

See this reference (here) to Canada and to Will Potter’s tour and new book, Green is the New Red (here).

Further to what is happening in Israel, see this article, “In Gaza Airstrikes, an Appeal to Netanyahu’s Hardliners” (here).

Also, see: “My Visit to Gaza, the World’s Largest Open-Air Prison” by Noam Chomsky (here).

What about women’s voices in this mix?? We can stand up and keep showing up, just like women citizen activists in Israel and Palestine. I invite you to visit this website for an introduction to the project, “Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli and Palestinian Women” (here).

Visioning Peace.Wall Art on Bethlehem side of Israeli Separation Wall – 13 Jan. 2011 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Watching for news…advocating for a just peace

As the violence continues in Gaza and Israel, let’s not become immune to the horrific news… here are some on-line articles for sticking with this active vigil…

“Israelis Against the Bombing” by Symon Hill (here)

“My Visit to Gaza, the World’s Largest Open-Air Prison” by Noam Chomsky (here)

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) in Canada – Media Release (15 Nov. 2012)  (here)

Edmontonian Paula Kirman speaks as a member of Independent Jewish Voices (17 Nov. 2012) – See the video here.

See this list from the Canadian Friends of Sabeel – “Stay informed on developments by following media sites which provide an honest picture and thoughtful analysis, such as:

** Please note that this is only a small compilation and not an exhaustive list.”

Action: Consider choosing not to purchase products made in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. This information has been prepared by the Interfaith Peace Initiative using information from WhoProfits.org (click here and here).

Action: If writing to the media, see this helpful webpage from the Canadian Friends of Sabeel (here).

Today the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, based in Canada, issued this statement in response to the violence in Gaza and Israel (click here for the UNJPPI website):

“[The UNJPPI] stands in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are facing an overwhelming military attack by Israel. The Israeli rockets and bombing in Gaza, while claiming to be strategically directed to military targets in Gaza, are killing many civilians as well as destroying essential non-military infrastructure. The tragic loss of lives of children is particularly heart-wrenching. The support of the US and other western powers, including Canada, for Israel’s action puts the onus unfairly on Hamas and the Palestinians for ending the violence. The Palestinian people have been living under the oppressive Israeli occupation of their lands since 1967. We believe that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Land is the major contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence that has erupted in this conflict and that an end to the occupation is necessary for peace.

The devastating loss of lives on all sides is tragic. As friends of the Palestinians in Gaza as well as the West Bank, and in solidarity with our friends in the vibrant Israeli peace movement, we recognize the
frustration and desperation that they experience from living in what has been called “an open-air prison” created by the illegal Israeli occupation and blockade. We hear the pleas of Israelis who live in
fear in villages near the Gaza border for an end to the oppression that provokes the rocket attacks from Gaza. Our tears flow as we hear the cries of parents for the loss of their children. We call for an end to
the violence that is resulting in the tragic loss of civilian lives, including children and women.

We are concerned about the imbalance in the media reports. The international condemnation of the rocket attacks from Gaza and support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens is the predominant tone of many media reports. While we condemn the rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, we are aware that the humanitarian situation of the population in the Gaza Strip is unbearable. Balance in media reporting and political analysis must recognize that life is precious, and loss from bombs or starvation, is equally tragic. In the words of an Ecumenical Accompanier currently in Palestine, “Are not the lives on the receiving end of the bombs in Gaza as precious as those on the receiving end of the rockets in Israel?” Peace requires restraint. We urge that both sides cease the attacks, but as Rabbi Arik Ascherman
(Rabbis for Human Rights) an Israeli Rabbi, notes, “With our greater power comes greater responsibility.”

With the people of Gaza, we have many questions. Our fear is magnified by the threat of Israel’s warning of increased retaliation and support from Western leaders. When will it end? When will the
international community stop justifying Israel’s right to protect itself at the expense of innocent civilians in illegally occupied territories? When will Canadians say, “Enough is enough?”

What can we do? Ecumenical Accompanier Dawn Waring quotes Palestinian author Sami Al Jundi who puts it poignantly: “My children will be safe only when your children know safety, and your children will be safe only when my children know safety … but actually there’s no such thing as my children and your
children. There’s only our children.” ~ And Dawn concludes: “Will you lend your voice to the cause of justice and peace ~ for all our children?”

In support for the action of the United Church’s General Council, we ask members to urge the Canadian government to provide leadership among nations advocating for the end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza
in order to facilitate a solution for peace with justice for all people in Israel and Palestine. May our prayers for peace join with the prayers of our friends in Palestine and Israel who are committed to
working in non-violent ways for a just peace even in this critical moment. May God’s Spirit of peace be over all.
November 16, 2012”

The Canadian Friends of Sabeel also offer this list of resources:

Compilation of articles, resources and analysis

With the attack on Gaza and the responses, in light of a lack of good mainstream media coverage, we have complied selective on-line resources in the hopes of providing an honest picture and thoughtful analysis.  These items below seem to offer perspective on the current situation.
Backgrounder on Gaza
The Gaza Strip: the Political Economy of De-development (2012 Edward Said Memorial Lecture) by Dr. Sarah Roy
This is an excellent piece and a must read! 
Contextualizing the U.S. approach to the region
The Petraeus Saga: Epitaph for a Four Star by Col. Douglas Macgregor, Ret.
Israel and the U.S.
Netanyahu calls Obama’s bluff by M K Bhadrakumar
The Invasion of Gaza: Part of a Broader US-NATO-Israel Military Agenda. Towards a Scenario of Military Escalation? By Michel Chossudovsky
Possible New CIA Director Already Politically Compromised:  Jane Harman and Israeli Spying by Alison Weir
Guardian: Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza by Glenn Greenwald
Timeline of events
TIMELINE: Israel’s Latest Escalation in Gaza by IMEU
Timeline of Israeli escalation in Gaza by Adam Horowitz
Interview with Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian American journalist, and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada
Inciting war crimes: Israel minister says force Gaza population into Egypt, cut off water, electricityby Ali Abunimah
G&M: Israel’s attack underlines helplessness, hopelessness of Gaza Palestinians by Diana Buttu
Israeli peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce by Nir Hasson
Opinion – Analysis
Nous accusons: Mainstream media fails to report on atrocities against Gaza by various (including Noam Chomsky)
Another Superfluous War by Uri Avnery
Who Started It? Bloodbath in Gaza by Patrick Higgins
Israel Looks To Exodus In Gaza Invasion by James Wall
Gaza-Israel Violence: The Fuller Story by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Self-defense or provocation: Israel’s history of breaking ceasefires by IMEU
A Pillar Built on Sand by John Mearsheimer (NECEF JGMLecturer – 2009)

Close to home…

Almost two years ago, I was placed for three months as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (click here) in occupied East Jerusalem. Currently, my friend, Dawn, is nearing the end of a three-month placement in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank (click here for her blog). Today, this news headline appears on Ma’an News‘ website:  “Rocket lands in settlement bloc near Jerusalem”. (For the article, click here.) Dove in Bethlehem.Artist: Banksy – 16 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Accompanying Palestinians and Israelis who seek a just peace means experiencing life under the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories: Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. When I think about the current aggression in Gaza and southern Israel, it seems a bit removed; however, based on my and Dawn’s lived experiences, when I think about rocket fire near East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the aggression feels much, much closer. We need to call, cry out for, an end to this occupation and the direct and indirect violence (click here). My friend, Sara, also an EA who was placed in Tulkarm in Fall 2010, has written:  “All violence against civilians, including rocket attacks from armed groups in Gaza, is strictly forbidden under international law.  However, virtually all international human rights organizations consider Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be a form of collective punishment—also forbidden under international law.  Without this being addressed there is really no hope [for] lasting peace.” Click here for her posting from 16 Nov. 2010.

One way to call for constructive action is to be present with local efforts across Canada. Click here for a list of gatherings near you; this list is provided by the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

Following my last posting, I have received two encouraging messages from Canadian leaders. From the office of Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P., Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, I have learned that:  “Elizabeth May has issued a statement urging both sides to de-escalate the violence immediately, and work urgently toward a cease-fire agreement to prevent any more innocent lives from being lost. …it is equally important that we work to help ensure a meaningful and comprehensive peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.  In accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 181 and UN Security Council Resolution 242, the Green Party supports statehood for Palestine, and recognizes that only once the systemic issues underpinning the present crisis are dealt with, will there be lasting and genuine peace  and security between Israel and Palestine.”

The office of Thomas Mulcair, M.P. (Outremont), Leader of the Official Opposition, New Democratic Party of Canada, pointed me to this press release (or click here) from 14 Nov. 2012: “Reaction to the Situation in the Middle East

New Democrats are very concerned by the recent escalation of tensions in Gaza and Israel. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and respect international humanitarian law obligations to protect civilians at all times.  Escalation would be dangerous and detrimental to prospects for long-term peace and stability in the region.  We are monitoring the situation closely and continue to call on the Canadian government to pursue a balanced and constructive approach in the Middle East.”

For news from the Physicians for Human Rights, click here.

For a reflection from Rabbi Arik Ascherman (I met him in 2011 in East Jerusalem) with Rabbis for Human Rights, click here.

For information from CJME, click here. Also, CJME offers this: “CJPME invites Canadians to click here to email their political leaders to ask them to call for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The link will take you through two steps – taking no more than 30 seconds – to ensure that your email is sent to your own MP [Member of Parliament], as well as the leaders and foreign affairs critics of each major political party in Canada.”

What to do? Read… Write to Canadian leaders…

The following message has just arrived in my Inbox from the Canadian Friends of Sabeel. As a reminder:  Sabeel is the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The centre was founded by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek in 1990 and works for justice, peace, and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel. The word, sabeel, is Arabic for ‘the way’ and also ‘a channel’ or ‘spring’.

I invite you to join me in efforts for peace. I’ve just written to our Prime Minister and the leaders of the Official Opposition (New Democratic Party), the Liberal Party, and the Green Party. I have copied my message to the Foreign Affairs Minister and to the Foreign Affairs critic for the Official Opposition. For your reference, here is the information from the Canadian Friends of Sabeel.

Attack on Gaza

In this message:

  • Call to action on Canadian government approval of bombing of Gaza
  • Demonstration places and times
  • Gaza attack summary from Palestinian Centre for HR
  • Escalation timeline 
  • Statement from Palestine House
  • Articles

Call to action on Canadian government approval of bombing of Gaza

Dear Friends of peace in Palestine and Israel,

In the face of another potential slaughter of civilians in Gaza by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), it is regrettable that Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird exhibits a view that Palestinian life is not even worth a mention. His brief press release is concerned only for Israel “and its citizens.”  http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2012/11/14a.aspx?view=d

Rather than forthrightly contextualizing the current violence as precipitated by Israeli aerial bombing and slaughter last week, http://imeu.net/news/article0023227.shtml IOF violence is cast as “the struggle against terrorism, the great struggle of our generation.” Rationalization and complicity with wonton destruction and death stands in stark contrast to the view of Canadians and our tradition of peace ever since Canada was the very founder of UN peacekeeping in response to the 1956 Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Stating that only one people “has the right to defend itself,” indeed those using F-16s and tanks against densely populated civilian areas, ignores or even justifies the terror rained upon by Palestinians by the IOF. No terror is acceptable. Four years ago, the IOF decimation of an already besieged Gaza Strip left hundreds of women and children dead, and thousands injured. Ignoring this history invites a repeat.The government of Canada ought rather to uphold Canadian values and views, refrain from further incendiary remarks, proclaim the value and dignity of each Palestinian as well as Israeli life, and call for an immediate ceasefire.
To make your views known, write:

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
John Baird, Foreign Affairs Minister: john.baird@parl.gc.ca
Paul Dewar, Foreign Affairs critic for the Official Opposition:  paul.dewar@parl.gc.ca
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition:  thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca
Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party: bob.rae@parl.gc.ca
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party:  Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca

In peace and solidarity,
The Rev. Robert Assaly

Demonstration places and times

Protests are being held in many Canadian cities and worldwide to speak out against the Israeli aggression in Gaza.  Below is the most recent information on protests being held in Canada.

Montreal | Hall Building, Concordia University, 5:00 p.m. (second demonstration) [link]
Toronto | Israeli Consulate, 180 Bloor Street (E. of St. George TTC), 6:00 p.m. [link]
Vancouver | The Art Gallery, Hornby and Robson Streets, 5:00 p.m. [link]

FRIDAY, 16 Nov
Calgary | City Hall, 3:00 p.m. [link]
Ottawa | Israeli Embassy, 50 O’Connor b/w Queen and Albert, 12:00 p.m. [link]

Montreal | Hall Building, Concordia U, 1455 de Maisonneuve West, 6:00 p.m. [link]

For more information on worldwide events taking place or to add your city to the list of protests, please click on the link below:

Gaza attack summary from Palestinian Centre for HR

Below is an article featured today from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, giving detailed accounts on the current situation in Gaza, including the number od assaults and the number of people killed / injured.

New Israeli Military Escalation against the Gaza Strip;
Leader of Hamas’ Armed Wing and His Bodyguard Extra-Judicially Executed and Death Toll in Rises to 13, Including Two Children and a Woman, While 115 Civilian, Including 26 Children and 25 Women, Wounded

Since Wednesday evening, 14 November 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated military attacks on the Gaza Strip.  They first extra-judicially executed the leader of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) and his bodyguard.  This attack was followed by a series of aerial, ground and sea attacks on civilian and paramilitary targets throughout the Gaza Strip.  As a result of these attacks, 11 Palestinians, including 4 civilians (two children, a woman and an old man) have been killed and 115 others, including 26 children and 25 women, have been wounded.  IOF have escalated the situation in spite of the quiet atmosphere that followed a previous wave of escalation.  The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is following up developments of this new offensive on the Gaza Strip…

PCHR reiterates condemnation and expresses utmost concern for these crimes, and
1- Warn of deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in light of this new Israeli military escalation and the tightened closure.  

2- Calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes, and renews the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure that it is respected at all times, and their responsibilities under Article 146 to pursue perpetrators of serious violations of the Convention, which are determined in Article 147, which lists violations of the Convention amounting to war crimes.

To read PCHR’s complete report, please click on the link below:

Escalation timeline 
Following a two-week lull in violence, Israeli soldiers invade Gaza. In the resulting exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters, a 12-year-old boy is killed by an Israeli bullet while he plays soccer.
Shortly afterwards, Palestinian fighters blow up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel frontier, injuring one Israeli soldier.

An anti-tank missile fired by Palestinian fighters wounds four Israeli soldiers driving in a jeep along the Israel-Gaza boundary.
An Israeli artillery shell lands in a soccer field in Gaza killing two children, aged 16 and 17. Later, an Israeli tank fires a shell at a tent where mourners are gathered for a funeral, killing two more civilians, and wounding more than two dozen others.

One Palestinian civilian is killed and dozens more wounded in Israeli attacks. Four Israeli civilians are also injured as a result of projectiles launched from Gaza, according to the Israeli government.
During an Israeli government cabinet meeting, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz urges the government to “cut off the head of the snake… take out the leadership of Hamas in Gaza.” He also calls for a cutting off of water, food, electricity, and fuel shipments to Gaza’s 1.7 million people.

Palestinian militant factions agree to a truce if Israel ends its attacks.

Israel breaks two days of calm by assassinating Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing. According to reports, at least eight other Palestinians are killed in Israeli attacks, including at least two children. Palestinian militant groups vow to respond.

Click here for a link to an earlier IMEU factsheet:
Self-Defense or Provocation?: Israel’s History of Breaking Ceasefires

Statement from Palestine House
Gaza under Attack Again and again
Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Wednesday 14, the Israeli army resumed its military offensive against the Gaza Strip by launching a score of blistering, intensified and indiscriminate air strikes against different parts of the Strip leading to the assassination operation targeting commander Ahmed Al-Jaabari and the death of 11 Palestinians , while at least 60 were injured, some seriously including elderly, children and infants.

Israel has declared a comprehensive war against the Palestinian people in Gaza –  which the military calls “Operation Pillar of Defense” while it is a mere aggression against innocent people.  Palestine House condemns in the strongest possible terms the criminal Israeli attack against innocent Palestinians in the Gaza strip which has been under siege and blockaded since 2007 , a situation that has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment and dire poverty.

We urge the international community to denounce the use of disproportionate  force which is always persued  by Israel as a norm in violation of international law and civilians are often killed or injured . It is left ,however, to civil society and people of conscience to stop the ongoing massacre in Gaza.  The international and human rights organizations are required to warn Israel against carrying out a ground invasion to the Strip.

The Israeli leadership is now reportedly considering expanded war with Gaza, potentially including ground invasion, brigadier –general Yoav Mordechai told Israeli media “there are preparations , and if we are required to, the option of an entry by ground is available”. Israeli troops have massed on the Gaza border, poised for an invasion which would resulted in very critical consequences to the world peace and stabilization in the region.

We call Prime Minister Mr. Harper and his government to reconsider their biased and unbalanced policy towards the inhuman actions of Israel. We remind Mr. Harper that Gaza has been enduring Israeli policy of extermination, assassinations and vandalism under brutal occupation for more than four decades. Occupiers are not in the position to claim that their aggressive actions are being conducted for defensive purposes.

Palestine House and many Canadian solidarity groups are calling you your friends to a attend the rally in front of the Israeli Consulate (as well as other rallies that are being held across the country)
Date :Thursday , 15 November
Time: 6 PM
Location: 180 Bloor West (Toronto)




Mainstream media has also failed in its reporting of the current situation in Gaza. “Bias and dishonesty with respect to the oppression of Palestinians is nothing new in Western media and has been widely documented. Nevertheless, Israel continues its crimes against humanity with full acquiescence and financial, military, and moral support from our governments, the U.S., Canada and the EU.”

Following is an excellent interview by Al Jazeera’s with Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian American journalist, and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, an online publication about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The interview details the timeline of  recent events and gives a clear analysis on the siege on Gaza, and the complacency of the international community.

Peace grows from within…not through attacks and provocations…

Peace… salaam… shalom… We have marked Remembrance Day this week in Canada… I spent the morning of 11 Nov. 2012 with my spiritual community at Southminster-Steinhauer United Church (click here) and was moved by the reflection shared by Rev. Dr. Nancy Steeves (click here). The title for this posting is an attempt at re-stating her reflection. On that afternoon, I practised yoga with others and we sent our shared collective energy into the world in support of…peace…

This morning, on CKUA (independent and original radio broadcasting from Alberta and available on-line – click here), I heard this news report:  3 Israelis had been killed in southern Israel; 15 Palestinians had been ‘reported’ to have been killed in Israeli-occupied Gaza. The definite nature of the first part of the statement compared with the tentative nature of the second statement irked me. I perceive that this hesitation characterizes Canadian society’s positioning on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the one hand, I’m disappointed by this qualification (i.e., that 15 Palestinians may have been killed versus 3 Israelis definitely being killed). However, I’m also encouraged that not only were Israeli deaths reported (and I am deeply saddened by this news) but also Palestinian deaths were reported (and I’m deeply saddened by this news)… in our Canadian media. This is a hopeful shift in Canadian news discourse, because in the past and still in mainstream media, news that is supportive of the Israeli government tends to dominate. Here is an article by Simon Tisdall with The Guardian in the United Kingdom (click here).

My heart is wrenched as I think of my Israeli and Palestinian friends and acquaintances including members of Other Voice (click here) – Israelis and Palestinians supporting hope and non-violent actions. See my posting from 30 June 2011 here.

Eric Yellin & Ronni Keidar.Other Voice. Gaza in background – 26 Jan. 2011 – Photo: A. Farr

Life in Sderot means living with red-code warnings of rocket attacks from some parts of Gazan society. Click here for a youtube video recorded on… 11 Nov. 2012. Life in Gaza also means living in fear. Click here for a video from an Australian news agency.

Below I have pasted a news release from the Israeli Peace Blog – Gush Shalom (click here). I received the release in my Inbox yesterday. The author is Uri Avnery, a past member of the Israeli government’s Knesset (or parliament – the legislative part of the government) and peace activist. See his blog – click here.

“Press Release 11/14/2012

Netanyahu and Barak have decided to deliberately violate a cease-fire which had just been stabilized.At the price of great and ongoing suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim  had been accomplished: social issues will be removed from the public agenda and the [Israeli] election campaign.“Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have decided – for the second time in a row the State of Israel will conduct general elections under the shadow of war in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire which already started to stabilize has been broken deliberately and shattered to pieces. The inhabitants of the communities of southern Israel, who just started to breathe freely, are sent right back to air raid alarms and to running to shelters” said  former Knesset Member Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom.

“At the price of great suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim has been accomplished: the social issues, which threatened to assume prominence in these elections, have been pushed aside and removed from the agenda  of the elections campaign. Forgotten, too, is the brave attempt of Mahmoud Abbas to address the Israeli public opinion. In the coming weeks, the headlines will be filled with constant war and death, destruction and bloodshed. When it ends at last, it will be revealed that no goal has been achieved and that the problems remain the same, or perhaps exacerbated. “

Adam Keller, Gush Shalom +972-54-2340749

For assistance: info@gush-shalom.org

What to do?? If we sit back without questioning the hesitations in Canadian and global political discussions, we let the provocations continue. Click here for a video posted today. Or, we can start naming peace in this moment, in each action we take here at home… I invite you to forward this posting to a friend, to an acquaintance… Engage someone in conversation… and make peace… shalom… salaam…

Cello Player in a round-about. Sderot, Israel – 26 Jan. 2011 – Photo: Sherry Ann