This article was originally published on May 23, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
In my final year of high school in the spring of 1981, headlines in North America chronicled the long decline of Irish Republican hunger striker, Bobby Sands. It was my first introduction to “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland, but I came through that period with a better understanding of the two sides of that conflict.
While many Canadians might not realize it, there is a hunger strike going on today that is just as significant as that of Bobby Sands and the other Irish Republicans in 1981. Led by Marwan Barghouti, hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails are five weeks into a hunger strike. Yet because North American media are ignoring the strike, Canadians are hardly wiser to the plight of the Palestinian prisoners. Unfortunately, any time Israel is involved, it is nearly impossible to get North Americans to address the realities of the situation.Read more
This article was originally published on March 27, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.
On the morning of Sunday, March 19, Israeli tax authorities barged into the home of Omar Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people. They detained and interrogated Omar and his wife Safa for 16 hours that first day. Omar has subsequently undergone at least four more days of interrogation.
The charge against him is “tax evasion”. Israeli authorities claim he has accumulated over $700,000 over the last decade and “hidden it in a Ramallah” bank. It’s hard for an outsider to know whether there is any basis for this, although it would seem surprising that Ramallah banks are not under close surveillance by Israeli authorities. Some commentators have suggested that arresting Barghouti for tax evasion is a safer route for Israel than an outright arrest for political activity.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
On Sunday May 2, a giant billboard calling to “End [the] Israeli Apartheid and Occupation of Palestine” welcomed commuters on Pat Bay highway traveling between Victoria and Sydney, BC. The billboard was erected on reserve land, home to the Tsawout First Nation. By Monday morning, the billboard contracting company began to receive calls, e-mails and even a letter from a BC MLA to take down the sign. The spokesman for the billboard contracting company announced to sponsoring groups that the Tsawout First Nation, after facing similar pressure, ordered the sign be taken down.
When the sponsoring groups decided to contact the Tsawout First Nation office directly and confirm if they had indeed given such order, they found out that the Tsawout office had never issued such a request. Certainly, there must have been a “miscommunication” of some kind, or perhaps, that is what some would like us to believe. Be that as it may, there is much to celebrate. The Tsawout office has confirmed it would honour the two-month contract and keep the billboard up, regardless of mounting pressure.Read more
With any well-known personality, I suppose it would be easy to confuse the celebrated public persona with the actual person. But having recently wrapped up a 10-day cross-Canada trip with Gideon Levy, it is heartening to see that the impressive persona and the real person actually align.
Over the past six years, CJPME has hosted quite a number of respected thinkers with important things to say about justice in the Middle East: Robert Fisk, John Mearsheimer, Tarek Ramadan, Amira Hass, Mustapha Barghouti, and others. At a personal level, the relationship we develop with each is unique. Various words come to mind when thinking over our various experiences. “Professional” describes our relationship with some; “warm and friendly” describes our relationship with others. “Passionate” describes our impression of quite a number; while “aloof” captures our impression of a few others.Read more