Flora MacDonald: Canadian stateswoman and friend of the peoples of the Middle East

A welcome reminder of how Canadians have chosen to participate in the world in the past…and encouragement to move beyond fear to re-engage in peaceful ways with the world, now…

Canada Talks Israel/Palestine


Flora MacDonald, who passed away this week, has been appropriately remembered as a female political pioneer in Canada. Less well known, however, is that she also had a ‘real love and fascination for the Middle East and all of its people’, in the words of Michel de Salaberry, a former Canadian Ambassador and someone who worked closely with her over many years. I asked Mr. de Salaberry to write a few words about Ms. MacDonald’s involvement in the Middle East, including Palestine. See his text below.

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In Susiya: ” ‘There is Another Way’ in Hebrew, Arabic and English.”

So read the placard at a demonstration yesterday in Susiya.

On Wed., 22 July 2015, the possibility was great that many of the structures of the Palestinian community of Susiya would be demolished. On the next day, I exchanged emails with Dianne, one of the Canadian Ecumenical Accompaniers (www.eappi.org) who is currently there; she wrote that a temporary reprieve seemed to arise… until Tues., 28 July 2015. Living with this uncertainty characterizes life across occupied Palestine.

In the meantime, many Israelis joined Palestinians and some internationals yesterday to stand with the Palestinians of Susiya. I invite you to read a recent blog posting by the Israeli, Adam Keller, titled, “A traffic jam in the middle of the desert”. The reference to “another way” comes from Keller’s posting. Click here.

Standing with Susiya – Globally, we are paying attention.

Jewish Voice for Peace sends out this call today: “The latest reports are that Susiya remains in imminent danger, with demolition rumored to begin Wednesday. Our best bet at this point is to create the biggest media story we can – the Israeli government is much less likely to act if they think people are paying attention. So please, take just 5 seconds to share this image:

And if you’re up for it, please also share this 6 minute video that tells the story of Susiya, made by journalist Jen Marlowe – click here.”

Here is some background info about the California-based group: “Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.” (For more info, click here.)

Things are becoming intense. In Susiya.

“Things are becoming intense. We hear 32 structures in Susiya will be demolished.” Lenora, a Canadian Ecumenical Accompanier, responded with this searing observation late last week when I asked if I might copy and paste her letter on my blog. Please see her letter below, from 16 July 2015, in the occupied West Bank.

“Dear [Canadian] Ambassador Bercovici and Representative Katherine Verrier-Fréchette:
Sincere greetings from Susiya in the South Hebron Hills.
As Canadians we are delighted to invite you to come to Susiya. Dianne, Patricia, and I, Lenora, are three Canadians on the ground providing protective presence with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
Today, Thursday, July 16, 2015, the American Consul will arrive in Susiya.
Previous embassies or consulates that have visited include the United Kingdom, Sweden and a commission of representatives from the European Union.
Next week representatives from Holland, Switzerland and Norway are scheduled to arrive. The EAPPI team in Susiya consists of people from most of these nations.
Canada’s representation is noticeably absent. The three Canadians are the largest contingent: all other nations have one representative.
The United Church of Canada recently sent the Ramallah Consulate an update on the symbolic importance of the demolition of Susiya Village. With all the international attention Susiya has gained throughout the years, the demolition and fall of this village in particular sets a precedent for all villages under demolition orders in area C [click here and here].
Rabbis for Human Rights have decided to join the EAPPI team for overnight protection in Susiya beginning July 20th until August 3rd, the period identified by CONGAT and the DCO as time when the demolition will occur. Yesterday the order came that 32 structures will be demolished following Eid ul-Fitre.
As we monitor during this most difficult time, an official Canadian presence would be most appreciated.
I await your response.
For a related posting on my blog: click here.

Bulldozers Poised to Destroy Susiya!

Witnessing life under occupation – Please share and talk about Patricia’s news from Susiya, a Palestinian village under threat of demolition by the Israeli government.


EAPPI's photo. Bulldozer used to demolish homes in Palestine

Our worse fears are unfolding. As we were returning home this bulldozer lumbered down the road past Susiya and was delivered to the military outpost 2 minutes away!

The EAPPI overnight shift arrived. Nothing to report in the handover. It had been a  quiet day. Just as  we arrived  back in Yatta, a phone call from Nassar, the spokesperson for the village, informed us of the unwelcome but not unexpected arrival of bulldozers.

We race back to Susiya. Another bulldozer, and trailer of heavy equipment and bales of hay??? have been delivered to the military outpost. The moment we have been dreading has come. We expect that the plans to demolish the village will be deployed tomorrow.

strategy planning strategy planning

Days off and checkpoint duty are abandoned as we plan for the probable demolition in the morning. We are prepared ….everything we might need…

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A reminder that apartheid can be ended…

Recently, an Honorary Elder within The Elders, wrote a letter for the United Church of Canada, as it gathers for its triennial General Council in August 2015 in Newfoundland. In the letter, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu encourages the UCC to “join with other denominations around the globe who have decided to boycott and divest from companies that benefit from the occupation.” He refers to the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine, an occupation that is illegal according to international law. He writes from a first-person stance and knowledge that political apartheid can be ended, as it was in South Africa. Tutu encourages the UCC to continue with the Unsettling Goods campaign (click here).

To read Tutu’s letter, click here. To read the press release by the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), click here.

With each day, we grow increasingly aware that we, collectively, are interdependent on and with this planet we call home. We could carry on with ‘business as usual’ and feel powerless as we move from crisis to crisis. Or, we could act with hope; we have opportunities to act with intention to shape a great transformation (for more click here and here). We could listen to elders in our local, regional, and global lives. They are stepping up, like David Suzuki when he says to himself, ” ‘it’s time to admit you’re an elder and start getting on with doing what elders should be doing, which is speaking out without fear of being fired’ ” (as he was quoted in a recent review of Suzuki’s book, Letters to My Grandchildren; click here). Globally, the Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, are “independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights” (click here). Our elders have experienced and witnessed much in their lives, including long-time effort toward various types of justice.

This summer, let’s listen to their voices…to inform our intentions… and actions… as the United Church of Canada during the General Council and beyond, in local and global communities…

‘The Games People Play’, the children of Susiya

Three Canadian women are currently placed as Ecumenical Accompaniers as part of a special EAPPI team (www.eappi.org) in the occupied West Bank, particularly in the South Hebron Hills in the village of Susiya. Like many other Palestinian villages, it is under a demolition order. The Susiya village council plans to appear in the Israeli Supreme Court on August 3, 2015. And yet, the bulldozers have already arrived in Susiya and appear ready to demolish the village before that date. No stop order for demolition was issued to prevent destruction prior to the court date. As one of the Canadian EAs reports, the UN is concerned that Canada is not stepping forward like the British government and the European Union to denounce home demolitions. Another EA offers this blog posting (below). Please write to your Canadian MP, the Prime Minister, and the Canadian Ambassador to Israel and Palestine to ask that the Israeli government not proceed with this or other Palestinian home demolitions.


One village. One extended family, and a community of stunningly beautiful children.


They are reserved but sophistated in a way that shows they have been exposed to the world. Nasser Nawaalja, the spokesperson for the village has been networking to save his village of Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills. As we (EAPPI) provide protective presence, we watch delegations from around the world make their way to this small  farming village. Susiya has come to represent the fate of many small traditional villages in Palestine as they are under threat of demolition by the Israeli government.


The children live with this reality every day. Tomorrow, or the next day, the Israeli bulldozers could demolish their homes, as they have done in the past.  The UN believes, without International intervention, it  will happen again.

The Israeli settlers, who live in an illegal settlement, are just 10 minutes away.  They periodically kill…

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