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Home arrow Censorship arrow Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed
Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed PDF Print E-mail
Jun 23, 2003 at 12:46 AM

Statement by the Canada Palestine Support Network
at a Report back from the West Bank
June 23, 2003

This evening's discussion has been organized by the Canada Palestine Support Network, or CanPalNet for short, which is the name of our website. As a member of the coordinating committee for CanPalNet I warmly welcome all of you.

Some of you already know of the work of CanPalNet. Others of you may not have attended our events before, or had an opportunity to speak with us.

So let me briefly explain that our organization has a very important, but simple goal: to uphold the democratic, human and national rights of the Palestinian people, the same as we would uphold these rights for ourselves in Canada, and uphold them without exception for people everywhere on this globe. Specifically, we dedicate our energies to calling for the implementation of international law, human rights law, and major United Nations resolutions on Palestine. Given that the government of Canada has in practice strayed from these principles, our practical work is to see that our government does uphold them.

In neighbourhoods across the lower mainland, throughout BC and in other parts of Canada, we are proud to have made a modest contribution to the growing awareness of and concern for the democratic, human, and national rights of the Palestinian people.

To the dismay of those dedicated to defending the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian people, growing numbers of us in Canada have overcome decades of fear to speak simply and openly on this issue. You can see this, for example, by looking – on our literature table and on our website -- at the list of signatories of the statement we issued last year calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of territories invaded by the Israeli military in 1967 and since then illegally settled.

We recognize that some people find this topic controversial and threatening, and fear having a public discussion about it. Sometimes advocates of Israeli government practices seek to prevent the voices of CanPalNet and similar organizations from being heard. However, we believe that it is essential to speak about the Palestinian people as equal members of the human race in respect to their rights and dignity.

We for our part fear no democratic discussion. Indeed we welcome all, including those of you who disagree with us, to this meeting for an open discussion.

Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House has a longstanding history of respect for diversity in their rental policies. Some of you are aware that after agreeing to book this room with the Canada Palestine Support Network and signing a contract with us, the board -- without any prior discussion with us -- cancelled our booking. They told us this was because we were a "political" organization.

We were not alone in finding this an abrogation of Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House's previously healthy, democratic practice of making this publicly financed facility available, without political discrimination, to a wide range of community based organizations like ourselves. To single us out was to go from a non-political practice to a highly politicized one.

Happily, after hearing from numerous concerned groups and individuals, the board reversed its cancellation. We welcome that decision.

Upon its withdrawal of the mistaken cancellation of our booking, we were told that the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of Greater Vancouver will be drafting a revised rental policy consistent with their mandate to remain "non-political"- CanPalNet considers that by opening this facility to the diversity of groups in our communities, which its diversity policy calls for, the neighbourhood house maintains, in accord with its past practice, a non-political policy. By contrast, if they try to impose judgements on what are "unacceptable" topics for people to discuss, democratically and openly, the board and staff will become in essence "political", and be put in the middle of unnecessary, uncomfortable and unending controversy.

We think that many groups, organizations, and individuals in our diverse communities have a vital interest in seeing that the rental policy remain consistent with the Neighbourhood House's past democratic practice.

This and other neighbourhood houses are a most appreciated, valuable, and publicly funded, community service. We encourage others to participate – along with us -- in what we hope will be an open and transparent process of policy formation with regard to rental policy.

So we, you, and some representatives of the neighbourhood house are here this evening for one main purpose: to hear from two women, residents of the lower mainland, who have just returned from the occupied west bank of Palestine and wish to share their experiences. They bring us a voice that we seldom hear from, and that is often silenced: that of Palestinian people who live under this illegal occupation.

Thanks for coming to participate in this evening's event.

<Previous
ISM’s response to the Rachel Corrie trial verdict
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel’s military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been "thorough, credible and transparent" and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel’s death. Judge Gershon ruled  that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a “thinking person".

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon’s verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel’s legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories.
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