This article was originally published on Oct. 26, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
The appearance of B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad at the UN last week caused a healthy furor. While European and other politicians supported his testimony, Israel’s right-wing leaders went so far as to accuse El-Ad of treason. Yet this tiny Israeli human rights organization did what international diplomacy has failed to do for years: it held Israel to account – just briefly – for important violations of international law.
El-Ad argued something that most Canadian politicians have thus far been unwilling to accept: that you can like Israel, yet still criticize it. More importantly, El-Ad clearly implicated the international community in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The occupation isn’t an internal Israeli issue, but a major international issue. There’s no such thing as a democratic occupation. This can’t be an [Israeli] internal matter.”Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
As the Harper era ended and Trudeau’s term began in late 2015, a collective sigh of relief could be heard from ethnic communities all across Canada, especially from Muslim Canadians. From opposing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies to setting up a hotline for individuals to report the “barbaric cultural practices” of their fellow Canadians - which would have undoubtedly targeted Muslims and those believed to be Muslim - Steven Harper’s Conservative government proved to be highly intolerant of certain minority communities and certainly aided in the heightening of tensions against ethnic and religious groups in the country.
It is no surprise, then, that Trudeau’s comparatively progressive stances and charismatic personality have been so enthusiastically embraced by Muslim Canadians. As a Muslim Canadian myself, I have witnessed the raw enthusiasm within the community over our new Prime Minister. I can’t tell you the number of times my Muslim friends have posted selfies with our “dreamy” Prime Minister on social media. Many others have either proudly shared posts of the PM doing some pretty quirky things, like practicing yoga moves on a desk or showing off his Bhangra dancing skills.Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 21, 2016 on Rabble.
My organization has joined in the sponsorship of 9 different Syrian refugee families. Some of the files were submitted as early as 2015; all have been approved; yet not a single refugee has arrived. There are thousands of sponsoring groups in Canada in a position identical to ours.
In case the Trudeau government didn’t notice, the Syrian civil war is far from over; ditto for the Syrian refugee crisis. Many of these sponsored families struggle in hardship and uncertainty – some still in refugee camps – as they await word on their resettlement. Canadians are justified in asking: What is Canada’s long-term plan for Syrian refugees?Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
Over thirteen years ago, the excitement was palpable. In early June, 2003, Air Canada was about to launch its inaugural non-stop flight from Montreal to Beirut. Thousands of Lebanese-Canadians had bought their tickets for the summer, delighted to avoid tiresome layovers in Europe on the way to visit friends and family.
But then, inexplicably, the Canadian government pulled the rug out from under Air Canada. Citing “national security” issues, the government rescinded the airline’s license to fly non-stop to Beirut – a license that it had granted only months before. In addition to the disappointment and frustration of airline executives, Lebanese-Canadian ticketholders were enraged.Read more
This article was originally published on Sep. 28, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
The media rollout on August 4th was flawless, and the news story was indeed sensational. Israel claimed that millions of dollars of World Vision aid money in Gaza had been diverted to Hamas. The supposed culprit was Mohammad El Halabi, Manager of World Vision’s Gaza operations. All the major newswires carried the story, and Canadian media – including the National Post, Global News, and CTV News – joined the media wolf pack.
As Israel’s Ynet News reported the next day, the Israeli Foreign Ministry had left nothing to chance. Israeli embassies around the world were told to push the story hard to international media, opinion makers and senior officials. “Religious groups” which were likely to support World Vision were to be specifically targeted in this campaign. To facilitate the task, government ministries had prepared slick infographics, and a video about the story with ominous music.Read more
This article was originally published September 16, 2016 on Ricochet Media.
The resolution passed by the Green Party refers to the tactic of boycott, divestment and sanctions but makes no reference at all to the BDS movement, whose goals and tactics are far broader than those which the Green Party of Canada has now embraced. As stated on the website of the BDS movement, the movement has three goals for Israel:Read more
This article was originally published on Sep. 16, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
Normally, political party conventions end with leaders trumpeting their satisfaction with their party’s progress and accomplishments. Not so last month with Canada’s federal Greens.
Barely able to wait for the doors to close on August’s 3-day convention, Green leader Elizabeth May publicly and harshly criticized a key outcome of the convention. At issue was the passage of a resolution calling for the party to adopt the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a tactic to pressure Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians.
“As leader, I am disappointed that the membership has adopted a policy in favour of a movement that I believe to be polarizing, ineffective and unhelpful,” May announced on the evening the convention closed.Read more
This article was originally published on Sep. 6, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
Last week, the world was informed of yet another expansion of Israeli “settlements” by the Netanyahu government. Israel announced plans for 285 new units in the West Bank, and the retroactive approval of 178 units that were built in the 1980s. Part of an ongoing series of announcements, Israel has now advanced plans for 1700 new units since July 1.
The UN Mideast Envoy, Nicolay Mladenov, was incensed. “Israeli settlements in occupied territory have no legal validity and are an obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”Read more
This article was originally published on Aug. 31, 2016 on Rabble.
Elizabeth May should apologize to Green Party members. May’s behaviour since the Green Party convention a few weeks ago has not only left the public deeply confused, but also humiliated party members.
No matter how you turn it, at issue is the passage of a Green resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. At its core, this movement seeks to pressure Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinians. The three demands BDS are 100% aligned with international law and with existing Canadian foreign policy. Despite its non-violent and democratic approach for a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, some like May will have none of it.Read more
Dear Mr. Trudeau
Given that the House of Commons yesterday passed a motion calling the government “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad,” I anxiously await your condemnation.
Although I regret that I have not had the opportunity to promote the BDS movement abroad, I have done my utmost to promote it in Canada. I note that you are required to condemn “any and all” attempts to promote BDS, so I will list as many of my attempts as I can think of below.
Before I jump into my list of transgressions, however, I thought you might want to know a bit about the BDS movement. Surprisingly, I don’t believe its official, stated objectives were ever actually mentioned during the parliamentary debate on the motion. I simple oversight, I suspect.