Coalition will fight ban of Students Against Israeli Apartheid: U of M Students’ Union urged to support human rights and freedom of speech

We are republishing the following news release from the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, in reference to the banning of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Manitoba:
For immediate release
Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coalition will fight ban of Students Against Israeli Apartheid
U of M Students’ Union urged to support human rights and freedom of speech

WINNIPEG—The Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid is appalled by the University of Manitoba Students’ Union’s April 11 decision to end Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s student group status and ban it from operating in students’ union space.

The motion passed by UMSU Council equates criticism of the Israeli government to discrimination and harassment, and takes extraordinary measures against a student group, although it appears no evidence was presented to substantiate the accusations.

“We are shocked that UMSU would ban Students Against Israeli Apartheid without any evidence or basis for the accusations brought forward in the motion,” said Liz Carlyle, spokesperson for the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. “It is clear that the architects of the motion aimed to silence opposition to the Israeli government’s Apartheid policies.”

Added Thiané Diop, a member of SAIA-UM: “By attempting to silence and obstruct SAIA, UMSU has voted to prop up the Israeli Apartheid government, its crushing military occupation and daily abuse of Palestinians’ human rights.”

Israeli Apartheid Week, a global event dedicated to education and debate on Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, has been running on Winnipeg campuses and in the community for 5 years, and SAIA groups have repeatedly shown they are seeking dialogue, while opposing racism and other human rights abuses.

There were no incidents of harassment or discrimination by event organizers, speakers or participants at IAW 2013. WCAIA maintains that SAIA’s work embodies respectful and fair political comment, and believes that the UMSU motion constitutes slander, and repression of free speech and freedom of association. WCAIA is pursuing a legal opinion on the matter.

“Support has been flooding in from students and human rights and civil liberties advocates across the country,” added Diop. “We urge UMSU to reinstate Students Against Israeli Apartheid, and to speak up against Apartheid policies everywhere.”


For information or interviews, please contact: Liz Carlyle cell 204.979.7741 or

Freedom of Speech Muzzled at the University of Manitoba – Omar Shaban

by Omar Shaban

In yet another effort to muzzle speech that exposes Israeli war crimes and atrocities in occupied Palestine, Zionists at the University of Manitoba in the university’s Student Union (UMSU) passed a resolution to ban the Student Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) and its activities from campus on April 11, in a 19-16 divided vote, against the legal advice of the student union’s lawyer.

This ill-worded resolution claims that most “Jewish and Israeli members of the UMSU are Zionists which … are supporters of Zionism, international movement for the support of Israel.” It further claimed that “Zionists are a ‘group of persons’ which national characteristics, Israel being a nation-state.”

Based on these two premises, the UMSU concluded that Zionists are being ‘discriminated’ against and are a subject of ‘harassment’ because of “abusive and unwelcome conduct or comment undertaken or made on the basis of such national characteristics.” It should be noted that this happened shortly after a student union elections campaign focused on silencing supporters of Palestine.

Aside from the obvious fact that there are many factual, and, indeed, grammatical errors in this resolution – indicative of the lack of research and thoughtfulness on behalf of the drafter, and the lack of debate on this topic – the resolution couldn’t be further from the truth.

Many Jews and Israelis – students at the University of Manitoba or otherwise – are not Zionist, and this statement attempts to conflate religious identity and national origin with a specific, and racist, political ideology.

To make such a claim to falsely lump an entire community of believers under the banner of racist political ideology whose fundamental objective is to dispossess Palestinians, ethnically cleanse them and occupy their lands.

Because Zionism is a racist ideology, various Jewish authors and intellectuals have been voicing their objections to its aims. One prominent Israeli Jewish author who has challenged Zionism is Ilan Pappe. In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe declaimed that: “Until the occupation of Palestine by Britain in 1918, Zionism was a blend of nationalist ideology and a colonialist practice.”

The Zionist movement in Palestine was inconvenienced by the existence of the Palestinians on what they regarded as their ancestral homeland which prompted them to design a sadistic plan bent on eliminating this existence. According to Pappe in the same book, to dissuade Palestinians from fighting for the land, Plan C was adopted outlining a serious of punishments:

“Killing the Palestinian political leadership.
Killing Palestinian inciters and their financial supporters.
Killing Palestinians who acted against Jews.
Killingsenior Palestinian officersand officials [in the Mandatory system].
Damaging Palestinian transportation.
Damaging the sources of Palestinian livelihoods: water wells, mills, etc.
Attacking nearby Palestinian villages likely to assist in future attacks.
Attacking Palestinian clubs, coffee houses, meeting places, etc.”

Zionism is the political ideology that led to the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland, and continues to deny Palestinian refugees their right to return to the present day, and has justified occupation and ethnic cleansing for over 65 years on a racist and discriminatory basis.

This is the Zionism that the UMSU decided to protect; and instead of conducting proper research, opted for a decontextualized and narrow definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary – something that does not fit an academic institution such as the University of Manitoba.

Free Speech in Canada?

This is not the first time supporters of Palestine were muzzled on Canadian campuses. Previous failed campaigns to engender similar results were thwarted at McMaster University in Hamilton, York University in Toronto, Carleton University in Ottawa and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

These attempts ranged from outright banning of clubs, to banning their activities to simply characterizing their events as “controversial” to impose higher standards and dissuade students from participating in them.

Similarly, Canadian politician like Jason Kenney, Michael Ignatieff, Joyce Murray, and many others are on record for labelling of pro-Palestine activists as chauvinistic anti-Semites on a mission to eliminate Israel from existence.

According to Seriously Free Speech, “there is a concerted effort both in Canada and internationally to suppress open discussion on the subject of the Palestine/Israel conflict. This effort manifests itself in the media, in educational institutions, and in government, and includes attempts to criminalize or otherwise stigmatize criticism of Israel.”

Jewish students across Canada are neither intimidated, nor are they targeted for their beliefs by SAIA or SPHR. In fact, many of these groups’ members are Jewish and are proud to voice their opposition to Zionism and the illegal practices of Israel in occupied Palestine.

Considering all Jews as Zionist, and labelling as such in mainstream media and various academic institutions is an explicit act of anti-Semitism. Not only does it strip Jews from the agency of selecting their own worldviews and ideologies, but it also makes them liable for the racist attitudes perpetuated by the Zionists.

If students, academics and politicians are truly interested in the promotion of human rights, then they should voice their unequivocal support of all the efforts conducted by SAIA and SPHR.

If students, academics and politicians are interested in debate on this particular issue, then they should conduct their own research first instead of relying in flimsy arguments and propaganda campaigns and narrow one-line definitions from a dictionary.

My reminders for the Zionists:

Zionists and their supporters must understand one simple piece of information. It is impossible to muzzle criticism of Israel, and it is impossible to put a stop the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli Apartheid. Students and academics who are at the forefront of the struggle against Israeli Apartheid are people who have conducted immense research, thought very carefully about the consequences of their actions and are well-aware that Israeli actions are immoral and illegal.

Any effort to muzzle free speech will be counterproductive. Students who support Palestinians and their inalienable rights are more adamant than ever to make it abundantly clear that the fight against Zionism will not interrupted via a single ill-worded resolution that will ultimately have no effect on the ground.

Canadians are becoming more aware of the issues. They have access to the internet and alternative media. They are aware of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians, and they are aware of the plight of the Palestinian people in the refugee camps and the diaspora.

Around the world, ever-growing numbers of people are learning about Palestine and taking action to halt official and corporate complicity in Israeli war crimes. When Israeli officials cause the death of a single Palestinian, there are lawyers around the world committed to seeking justice and accountability in international courts.

Despite all the efforts of those who would silence Palestinians and their allies, the reality is that the truth will not be silenced, and justice for the Palestinians will be attained.

Omar Shaban is a third generation Palestinian refugee from the Nahr El-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. He is the former president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) at UBC and a member of the organizing committee of Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America.

Help support the Conference – buy a Journal Ad!

Return and Liberation: The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, taking place May 3-5, 2013 in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, will bring Palestinians together to discuss the future of the Palestinian cause and the direction of the struggle, through plenaries, workshops, cultural expression and more!

Full details about this unique conference bringing together the Palestinian community – as well as registration – are available on our website,
The conference program will feature journal ads promoting and supporting the programs, work and activities of businesses, community groups and others. Buying an ad is both act of support for the conference’s work to organize and unify Palestinian efforts in North America, as well as a means to raise awareness of the work of your own organization.
There will be hundreds of people in attendance, and through our outreach and promotion, thousands of people will view our program. We hope that you can attend and help spread the word about the conference! To buy a journal ad online, please visit our site:
Reach all conference attendees – and thousands more through online distribution and our attendees’ outreach with your message, information or products, and help to support the convening of the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America with a Journal Ad.
Costs and Dimensions:
Full page ($500):     W 5.25″ x H 8.25″
Half page ($250):     W 5.25″ x H 4″
Quarter page ($150): Landscape – W 5.25″ x H 1.875″
Quarter page ($150): Portrait – W 2.5″ x H 4″
Please email with any questions about ad specifications!
Payment: Payments can be made online at, or send a cheque to:
Palestine Cultural Society
405-2050 2nd Avenue West
Vancouver, BC V6J 1J4
Please note “Journal Ad” in the memo line.
Order Form: Please submit your journal ads to in PDF or EPS format

Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj to be featured at Shatat Conference

nisreen hajajOrganizing Committee of the Shatat Conference is delighted to announce that Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj will be featured at Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, May 3-5, 2013.

Nisreen Hajaj, is a Palestinian singer/performer who began her musical career at age 16. Nisreen is the winner of several awards including LBCI Studio El-Fan in 2006 for the Arab World Category. In 2008, she also won the Golden Medal in the FIDOF Competition on the National Lebanese Broadcasting Station. Nisreen studied five years of music at the National Lebanese Conservatory including Oriental and Modern Chanting, Byzantine and Syriac and also the ‘Oud. In 2008, Nisreen joined Ferqat Haneen Lel Ughniyah Al-Felasteeniyyah and sang for Palestine, the homeland she was deprived of. She is a member of The General Union of Palestinian Artists in Lebanon. Today, Nisreen returns to perform on stage for Palestine, and pledges that she will keep on the fight for justice through her voice and music.

To register for the conference, please visit

nisreen2  nisreen4

April 19: Reem Kelani: Music of Resistance for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: Vancouver

Music of Resistance: Reem Kelani 
Friday, April 19, 7:00pm, Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway, Vancouver
(unceded Coast Salish territories)


Marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, commemorate Palestinian cultural resistance with art and music, featuring the song of Palestinian singer and musician Reem Kelani.

Presented by the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, organizing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and self-determination, and to support the Palestinian call for international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel. Endorsed by the Canada Palestine Association, Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, Independent Jewish Voices – Vancouver

$10 suggested donation, but no one turned away for lack of funds


April 20: Fundraising dinner – Remember Palestine: Bellevue, WA

With all the calamities facing the Middle East these days, the Palestinian one has the biggest impact. Remember Palestine!

Don’t forget our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Palestinians still live under Israeli occupation are their situation is still dire.

Please join us for a fundraising dinner to benefit our brothers and sisters living under occupation.

When: Saturday, April 20th, 5pm
Where: Red Lion Hotel Bellevue

Attend the event on Facebook:

Please contact Samir(sarhans@gmail.comdirectly for tickets and more information.


March 30 – Land Day: Palestinian Day of Struggle Against Colonization

March 30 marks Land Day, a day in which Palestinians inside and outside Palestine commemorate and celebrate the Palestinian connection to the land and continuous struggle against colonialism. 2013 is the 37th Land Day, coming on the anniversary of the mass upsurge in occupied Palestine 1948 in 1976, in response to yet another Israeli attempt to confiscate over 20,000 dunums of Palestinian land in the Galilee. Thousands of Palestinians of ’48 rose up in a general strike and mass protests, the largest upsurge of Palestinians in the ’48 areas since the Nakba.

Six Palestinians – Kheir Mohammad Salim Yasin, Khadija Qasem Shawahneh, Raja Hussein Abu Rayya, Khader Eid Mahmoud Khalaila, Muhsin Hasan Said Taha, and Ra’fat Ali Az-Zheiri – were shot dead by the occupation army as they protested.

In 1976, organizers of Land Day said, “This day is a new landmark of the Palestinian struggle for liberation. With this declaration our masses proclaimed and ascertained their Palestinian identity….March 30, ‘The Day of the Land’,
has become a Palestinian Feast that we will celebrate every year.”

Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48, in the West Bank and Gaza and everywhere in exile continue to mark Land Day annually with protests, gatherings, and renewed commitment to liberation of the land and people of Palestine.

On this Land Day, we look forward to coming together in Vancouver on May 3-5 for critical conversations and organizing about Palestinian representation and the future of our Palestinian national movement. Click here to register today for the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, and click here to donate to help support the conference’s efforts.

Part of our Historical Documents collection focus on Land Day and the struggle of Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48. For example, see the following resources:

The following posters are some of the countless images produced by Palestinian organizations to mark Land Day. For a complete collection, see the Palestine Poster Project.

March 30: Land is Life – Commemorating Palestinian Land Day: San Francisco

LandDayFlyer2An Event Commemorating Palestinian Land Day


Communities Resisting Dispossession and Colonization

Speakers, Drummers, Dabkeh & Poetry

Samera Esmeir
Katie Joaquin
Tony Gonzales
& more…

March 30th, 2013
The Women’s Building
3543 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

This event has been organized by the Palestine Action Network (PAN) which includes the following organizations:
AAPRP: All-African People’s Revolutionary Party
ANSWER: Act Now to Stop War and End Racism
AROC: Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Gabriela USA

IJAN: International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
ILPS: International League of Peoples’ Struggle
ISO: International Socialist Organization
MECA: Middle East Children’s Alliance
MXGM: Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
PYM: Palestinian Youth Movement
SFCHRP: SF Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

$5-10 donation
No one turned away for lack of funds.

For more information contact us at:

Samera Esmeir: A former lawyer, Samera Esmeir is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley, where she teaches in the fields of legal and political thought, as well as colonial histories. She is the author of Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History (Stanford University Press, 2012). Currently, she is working on two new research projects. The first is on the history of the concept of the international and the practice of internationalism since the late eighteenth century, and the second is on the legal history of upheavals in Ottoman Palestine. Her research interests and scholarship also include questions of war and rebellion in the contemporary Middle East, as well as the intersectionality of law and colonial powers in contemporary Palestine. 

Katie Joaquin migrated from the Philippines to Philadelphia in 1986 and grew up in a family of domestic workers. She later set root in California where she earned her B.A. in Global Studies and Socioeconomics at UC Santa Barbara and became politicized as a student activist organizing against war and for access to education and ethnic studies. Katie moved to the Bay Area to intern with the School of Unity and Liberation and began working with Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ) as a volunteer interested in learning about the situation of immigrant workers. She became FAJ’s lead organizer and transformed their worker support project into a full-fledged Worker Organizing Program. Katie is a founding member of Anakbayan East Bay, a comprehensive mass organization that aims to build unity among Filipino youth — immigrant, US-born/raised, student, working, LGBTQI, women, artists, etc — striving for nationalism and democracy and for the promotion of cultural awareness and the advancement of rights, welfare, and social justice. In December 2012,Katie was part of a delegation that visited anti-mining sites and indigenous areas devasted by Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao, Philippines.

Tony Gonzales is U.N. Liaison Officer and coordinates Treaty Council participation at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He works with the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations to complete the Universal Declaration on the Rights & Principles of Indigenous Peoples – a document that will establish a standard for countries to co-exist with Indigenous Peoples. In 12 years at the Treaty Council he has Coordinated Community Outreach and Research & Documentation and been Director of Operations. He has met Gorbachev, Arafat, Nelson Mandela} and other world leaders to discuss Indigenous Sovereignty, environmental degradation, religious freedom, torture and political persecution. A current focus is a U.N. study on nation/state violations of Treaties. At the 1993 U.N. World Conference on Human Rights, he helped successfully lobby countries to call for an International Decade of Indigenous Peoples. He helps build unity between Indigenous people of all colors by emphasizing their shared history and common vision for the future. As a Vietnam combat veteran, Tony lived the horror of war and was inspired to work for human rights.

Keynote presenters announced for Shatat Conference

Seven keynote panelists for Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America have been announced by the organizers. These speakers include the following presenters:

rabab-abdulhadiRabab Abdulhadi Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University

hanna-kawasHanna KawasChair, Canada Palestine Association and Co-Host, Voice of Palestine

karma-nabulsiKarma NabulsiFormer PLO representative; professor, St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. 

camilia-odehCamille Odeh

Founding Director, Southwest Youth Collaborative and longtime Palestinian organizer

loubna-qutamiLoubna Qutami

General Coordinator, Palestinian Youth Movement

Abdel-TakritiAbdel Razzaq Takriti
Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield, England and author
issam-yamaniIssam Al-Yamani
Executive Director, Palestine House and longtime Palestinian activist

No Condescending Saviours: Obama Unwelcome in Palestine by Omar Shaban

No Condescending Saviours: Obama Unwelcome in Palestine
by Omar Shaban

Obama’s speech in Ramallah reaffirmed my conviction that the conference that will be held in Vancouver in May is more important than ever – and this is why.

With an extremely patronizing and condescending attitude, and with a saviour mentality, Obama barged into the Palestinian territories unwelcomed to preach to Palestinians on how to go about resisting the occupation. He stood by the side of the PA’s unelected President Mahmoud Abbas surrounded by American flags with an annoying smirk on his face bragging about American support for the creation of “an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.” Note how he chose the preposition “of” instead of “in” indicative of the general American attitude towards Palestinian national self-determination, which demands that Palestinians forget about their sentimental, national and historical attachment to all of Palestine, settle for whatever is left and establish what may look like a state.

He then continued with commending Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad – Palestinian Authority officials who are widely recognized as willing puppets and symbols of corruption, exploitation and subservience to a settler colonial agenda. Brushing aside all the efforts of the Palestinian civil society and grassroots organizations at maintaining the existence of the Palestinian national identity, actively resisting the ongoing occupation of Palestine and serving the Palestinian community day after day, Obama insisted on highlighting what he referred to as “the progress they [Abbas and Fayyad] made,” which could not have been accomplished without the measly donations provided by USAID.

“Ramallah is a very different city” that suits what Obama wants Palestine to look like – the bastion of corruption, embezzlement and exploitation of Palestinian sweat and blood. “Palestinian security forces are stronger and more professional” and, I should add, are better at executing their mission – repressing Palestinian activists and dissidents, shutting down blogs and news websites that speak out against the occupation, arresting and jailing Palestinian youth and torturing armless young men, women and elders.

He then decided, as a bad guest, to feed the division between Ramallah and Gaza – by employing the standard and infamous divide and conquer techniques that give legitimacy to the colonial intermediary (the PA in Ramallah) and demonize what the Palestinians last elected as an authority (the government in Gaza). Ramallah’s puppet rulers who appealed to the morals of the occupiers are the the way forwards, whereas those who resist occupation “have blocked progress for so long.”

How odious is Obama’s audacity of political manipulation and disregard of the day to day suffering of the Palestinian people? how odious is his contempt to the Palestinians’ right to elect and choose who governs them? And how odious is his rejection of the Palestinians right to resist a vicious occupation that has been going on for 65 years?

It needs to be made very clear that the Palestinians do not need Obama or anybody to lecture them on how to resist the Israeli occupation; and this is why this conference is very important. Travelling from all across the world, Palestinian activists will congregate in Vancouver to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, bring to light the plight of the Palestinians in the shatat especially in the refugee camps, discuss and create more efficient methods at fighting the general Zionist discourse which promotes colonialism and imperialism, dismantle the myths that the current leadership of the PLO and PA try to perpetuate, and build a united vision for the future.

This conference is going to reject Obama’s condescending attitudes. It will send him and his allies in Canada and Europe a clear message that the Palestinian people is not in need of his measly USAID which when compared to aid he gives to Israel is less than a drop in the sea.

Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine do not need a war criminal to tell them that they have “the talent, the drive, and the courage to succeed in their own state” – they already know that.

As we say in Arabic: بدناش جميلتك ..