Palestine, Israeli Apartheid and the Canadian State

Canada has a long and inglorious history of supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This has included the indirect support of Canadians furthering the illegal colonial settlements in the Occupied Territories. Under the governments of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, Canada has been further aligning its Middle East policies, particularly with respect to Israel, with U.S. imperialist ambitions in the region. This has included switching Canadian votes in the United Nations on resolutions condemning the Israeli Occupation to line up with the U.S., Israel and a few other rogue states. Canada became the first state to withdraw funding from the Palestinian Authority as a consequence of the Palestinian peoples electing a Hamas government. Canada bears direct responsibility for the politically created humanitarian disaster that has been unfolding in Palestine.

The immoral and opportunist shifting of policies on Palestine is part of a wider re-think of Canadian Middle East policies to more actively support American positions in the region. This includes, of course, the major deployment of Canadian troops to southern Afghanistan to take on an active combat role this winter. And all of this is part of the wider re-appraisal of Canadian foreign policy under the Harper government to integrate it more closely with American imperialist ambitions and the Bush Doctrine. Canada is to play a more active imperialist role on its own account and as part of building Fortress North America.

It is not at all surprising, then, that Canada is now taking a more openly aggressive pro-Israel stance. Support for Israel has been at the centre of the imperialist policies of the Western powers through the 20th century, and continues to be today. We print here an important statement by Palestinian solidarity organizations in Canada, on the anniversary of the Zionist aggression driving Palestinians from their homes and villages, calling for the Canadian government to end the aid embargo on the Hamas government and its support for Israeli apartheid policies.

STATEMENT FROM PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY ORGANIZATIONS IN CANADA
ON THE OCCASION OF AL NAKBA

Commemorating 58 Years of Dispossession
Forced Starvation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
End Canadian Complicity in Israeli War Crimes!

A massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are facing forced starvation due to the Israeli siege on the Palestinian economy. Supplies of fuel and cooking gas have been cut-off from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are dying in hospitals because the Israeli government has prevented the entry of medical supplies. Reports from international, Israeli and Palestinian press indicate the scope of this current crisis:

• On 4 May, the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza reported that four people in need of dialysis have died because of medical shortages. Only a few days supply of surgical drugs such as atropine, adrenaline, heparin and lidocaine remain. (‘Funds Cut, Gaza Faces a Plague of Health Woes’, New York Times, 8 May 2006; ‘Patients die as doctors run out of drugs to treat them’, Guardian Weekly, 10 May 2006.)

• On 9 May, the Israeli company Dor – which provides all petrol and cooking gas to the West Bank and Gaza Strip – announced that it was suspending these fuel supplies. Israel prohibits Palestinians from importing fuel from any alternative source. Moreover, Israel, the U.S., Canada and other governments have cut all aid and barred the Palestinian Authority from receiving other funds to pay for fuel. (‘Fuel supplies running dry; enough for 24 hours only says petroleum committee director’, Maan News Agency, 10 May 2006.)

• The 160,000 Palestinians who work for the Palestinian Authority as teachers, doctors, police and civil servants have not received wages for two months. These wages support thousands of families, estimated at approximately 1/3 of the Palestinian population. This loss of income comes after nearly six years of Israeli attacks and siege. As a consequence, most of these individuals already face massive indebtedness and depleted personal savings. Even the World Bank warned this week that its earlier predictions of a 50% rise in poverty in the occupied territories this year (already at 50% in some areas) – driven by a sharp fall in personal income and a 23% increase in unemployment – may have been “too rosy”. (‘Patients die as doctors run out of drugs to treat them’, Guardian Weekly, 10 May 2006.)

• Palestinian officials report that police forces have received no food for two days. Over the last month, police have received as little as a loaf of bread three times a week and a few vegetables on other days. No salaries have been paid for two months. Palestinian prison guards are asking relatives of inmates to prepare food and bring it to the prisons so that prisoners will not starve. (‘PA crisis: Prisons running out of food’, YNET News, 8 May 2006.)

These are the direct consequences of Israeli apartheid policies. Since 1967, Israel has pursued a policy of creating isolated Palestinian bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are confined to a patchwork of disconnected population islands divided by Israeli settlements, checkpoints and military bases. All aspects of Palestinian life are completely dependent upon Israeli ‘permission’. Palestinian movement in-and-out of towns and villages is controlled by Israeli-issued permits and regulated by soldiers and checkpoints.

Israel completely controls all imports and exports, and the flow of funds into the WB/GS. Massive confiscation of land in the West Bank has destroyed the Palestinian agricultural sector. In the Gaza Strip, Israel even controls where and how Palestinians can fish. The deliberate ‘de-development’ of Palestinian industry under Israeli occupation means that most Palestinians are dependent upon either the PA or are forced to work in Israel for their survival.

On May 15th we commemorate 58 years since Palestinians were driven out of their homes and land by Zionist aggression. The current situation indicates that this program of ethnic cleansing continues at full speed. While millions of Palestinian refugees wait to return to their homes and land, Israel has literally imprisoned millions more in the open-air prisons that constitute Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Deliberate starvation of the population is a war crime that is now openly embraced by the Canadian government. Canada was the first government in the world to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority. In November last year, the previous Canadian government openly endorsed a proposed visit by Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon. On 22 March 2006, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli military, Moshe Yaalon – a man who once compared Palestinians to a ‘cancer’ – was permitted entry into Canada. On 15 May 2006, Nefesh B Nefesh, an organization that recruits settlers to continue the program of ethnic cleansing in Palestine is holding a recruitment meeting in Toronto. On 17 May 2006, another war criminal, the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Zeevi Farkash, will be speaking in Toronto. And on 18 May 2006, Gen. Doron Almog, a man who was unable to leave his plane in the UK because of a warrant to arrest him for war crimes, will also be speaking in Toronto.

The Canadian government must immediately end its open support for Israeli war crimes and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. We call for an immediate halt to all political and financial ties with the Israeli government until Israeli apartheid ends. Moreover, we call for the immediate and unconditional resumption of aid to the Palestinian Authority. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. The world cannot insist that the Palestinian right to life is conditional on acquiescence to Israeli apartheid.

Supporting Groups:

Adala - Canadian Arab Justice Committee
Al Awda Right of Return Coalition (Toronto)
Al Awda (Vancouver)
Arab Students Collective (University of Toronto)
Arab Students Collective (York University)
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
Canadians for Jerusalem
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Canada Palestine Association, Halifax
Jewish Women's Committee
Niagara Coalition for Peace
Niagara Palestinian Association
Palestine House
Palestine Soldarity Society, Halifax
Palestine Community Centre, Vancouver
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (McMaster University)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (Toronto)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (Ryerson University)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (York University)
Sumoud Political Prisoners Solidarity Group
Voice of Palestine, Vancouver

*Signatories listed alphabetically. Other signatories can be found at
www.al-awda.ca

 

To endorse this statement, please email nimer@riseup.net