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Vancouver panel says: "Enough!" PDF Print E-mail
Jun 06, 2007 at 05:04 PM
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

It is the conviction of Canpalnet that there are many and varied pathways that can and do bring Canadians to a simple conclusion; namely, that Israel's occupation must be ended, for elementary justice, and to salvage the humanity of all.

To illustrate this, a diverse and distinguished panel of speakers assembled in Vancouver at a press conference on June 6th to express their opposition to Israel’s 40 year occupation of Palestinian lands, and to call for the government of Canada to take action against that occupation and in support of human rights and international law. The conference took place in the Bank of Nova Scotia Room at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver.

Dr. Naseer Aruri, noted Palestinian intellectual and prolific author, was a special guest. Born in Jerusalem, now Emeritus Chancellor Professor at the University of Massachussetts, he has been a member of the international board of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (USA), and Palestinian human rights groups. His most recent work is Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine.

A statement of support was sent by the all-party parliamentary group in Ottawa, the Canada Palestine Parliamentary Association.

That message and the statements of the panelists (listed below) are posted on this site.  

  • Svend Robinson, long time member of Parliament.
  • Sister Elizabeth Kelliher, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement.
  • Murray Dobbin, journalist, broadcaster, and author of books on Canadian politics.
  • David Diamond, founder and artistic director of Headlines Theatre and recipient of the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Harmony Award.
  • Lee Lakeman, organizer of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and a representative for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers.
  • Carl Rosenberg, editor of Canadian Jewish Outlook Magazine.
  • Terry Greenberg, recently retired member of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • Reverend Brenda Faust, Minister of Port Coquitlam Trinity United Church.
  • Henry Krause, pastor of Langley Mennonite Fellowship.
  • Cynthia Flood, prize-winning Canadian short-story writer.
  • Dr. Ivar Ekeland, Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Economics at UBC and former President of the University of Paris-9.
  • Ken Davidson, head of the International Solidarity Committee of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).
  • Thekla Lit, founder and president of BC ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War 2 in Asia).

To see podcast of press conference:

40 Years of Occupation(Part 1) Press Conf. WM video - 9 mins - June 6, 2007

40 Years of Occupation(Part 2) Press Conf. video - 9 mins - June 6, 2007



Dear Friends,

The newly founded Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Association wishes to extend its greetings of support and solidarity to the Canada Palestine Support Network.

We join many citizens and activists in calling for an end to the illegal 40-year occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel. We call for an end to the siege on the people of the West Back and Gaza, and we call on the Canadian government to support the democratically elected Palestinian government, and for an end to the international blockade. We believe that Canada must uphold international law and human rights.

We welcome Dr. Naseer Aruri, and his presence in Vancouver, British Columbia, and we hope that his dialogue will strengthen support and understanding for the crisis affecting Palestinians.

Yours Sincerely,

Réal Ménard
Co-Chair, House of Commons

Libby Davies


Ken is chair of the CUPE International Solidarity Committee both nationally and in British Columbia. He’s a long time union activist, having been president of CUPE Local 1004 (Vancouver Municipal Workers) and General Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees British Columbia for many years.

CUPE BC has taken a strong position opposing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.  Trade unions advocate for their members but they’re also human rights organizations and we simply cannot remain silent when a people is oppressed and occupied for forty years as have been the Palestinians.

CUPE BC is hopeful that a just peace can be achieved between Palestinians and Israelis based on international law and equality  and of course the end of the occupation.


Svend Robinson is currently working with the Advocacy Department of the BC Government and Service Employees Union.  For over twenty five years, from 1979 to 2004, he was a New Democrat MP for Burnaby and Vancouver. Svend sat for over a decade on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and was Chair of the NDP International Affairs Committee for many years.  He was a founding member of the Canada Arab Parliamentary Friendship Group. Svend will in the near future be moving to France to take up a new international position with Public Services International.


The tragedy of the Palestinian people, whose land has been brutally and illegally occupied for forty years, calls all who respect human rights to speak out. Speak out for justice, for respect for international law, for an end to the war crimes of the occupying Israeli government. The barbarity and violence of the occupation, aided and abetted by the silence and complicity of the Canadian government, the Bush administration, and too many other governments around the world, their failure to call an end to the occupation, to a just recognition of the right of return, and for dismantling of the wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, is an outrage. The human toll on the lives and daily existence of the Palestinian people is devastating.

As we mark this sad anniversary, let us find hope and strength in the courage and determination of the Palestinian people, both in the occupied territories and in the diaspora, a proud and strong people, to work tirelessly for an end to this brutal and illegal occupation. The world must heed their call for an end to the occupation, dismantling of the wall and the illegal settlements, and for major financial support to end the grinding poverty, illness, hunger, and destruction of homes and infrastructure that have taken such a terrible toll. Let us dare to hope that one day soon the proud Palestinian people will have their own free, democratic state, living in peaceful and respectful coexistence with a democratic Israel, respectful of the rights of all of its people.

Every inch of land, every grain of sand, every drop of water, every olive grove stolen by the Israelis in 1967 from the Palestinian people must be returned. 


Murray Dobbin has been a freelance journalist, broadcaster and author for thirty-five years. He is also a leading activist and analyst in the anti-globalization movement. He is a research associate and board member with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and a past executive board member of the Council of Canadians. His book, the Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen, has been described as a citizen’s guide to globalization. His last book, “Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?” exposed the prime minister’s corporate agenda for Canada.


As the situation in the Middle east deteriorates on an almost daily basis - in the Palestinian territories, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and Lebanon - and the threat of a US attack on Iran waxes and wanes, the key to resolving the dangerous conflict is literally ignored by the Canadian government and federal political parties. That key is the struggle of Palestinians for a homeland and a Palestinian state.

The appalling injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestine is at the root of Arab and Muslim hostility at the West. It is not a clash of civilization - it is Israel’s version of Apartheid and its continued illegal occupation. While other Middle East countries are repeatedly condemned for any infraction of UN resolutions, Israel continues to ignore with impunity the United Nations Security Council unanimous resolution calling on it to end the occupation. The Canadian media virtually never refer to these UN violations.

Canada’s new aggressive posture in the Middle East is not simply a reflection of its increasing support of US foreign policy in that region - it is a reflection of the flip side of Canada’s ill-considered and reckless foreign policy in the region: its blind and uncritical support of whatever Israel does.

Canadians must, if they wish to see genuine progress in the Middle East, demand that the Canadian government return to its traditional role as even-handed middle power on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is necessary not simply for social justice for the Palestinians but for peace in the Middle East - before the whole region is engulfed in war.


Henry Krause is the pastor of Langley Mennonite Fellowship and has been since 1989.  He continues to be actively involved in peace building and working for justice through his congregation and the larger Mennonite church. He is the chair of Ploughshares Fraser Valley which  addresses issues of militarism and has been an active participant in the Fraser Valley Arts and Peace Festival.  He has been president of Conscience Canada and worked with the Mennonite Central Committee Peace committees both provincially and nationally.   


Langley Mennonite Fellowship (LMF) is a member of the Mennonite Church, one of the historic Peace Churches (along with Quakers and Doukhobours) and actively engages the world from an understanding of Christian love and non-violence.  LMF is concerned about the violence and ongoing lack of a just resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and continues to support and encourage nonviolent means to transform the present situation into a future of peace, stability and hope for both Israel and Palestine. LMF’s primary way of responding to this situation is through support and solidarity with both Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

Langley Mennonite Fellowship is a supporting congregation of MCC and aligns itself with its vision and work.   MCC has been in the Middle East for over 50 years and supports a wide variety of Palestinian and Israeli peace-building initiatives including conflict resolution among Palestinians, education among Israelis on injustices to Palestinians and dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. MCC stands with Israelis and Palestinians who reject violence as a means for achieving security or liberation, and has mourned the loss of all life in this conflict.  In Canada, MCC has urged the Prime Minister to support the “Arab Initiative” for peace in the region and supports KAIROS a Canadian Ecumenical group which works at educational and advocacy campaigns on Palestine. LMF continues to encourage the work of MCC in these initiatives.

LMF has active participants who have worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron. CPT arose from a call in 1984 for Christians to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war.  Since 1995  it  has sought creative ways to address the violence on the streets and the economic siege of the Occupied Territories.  LMF has supported those from our congregation who have been involved in activities such as school accompaniment, documentation and human rights reporting, nonviolent trainings, regular visits to families involved in the Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) and joining the Palestinian and Israeli peace groups to develop action campaigns that expose the face of the Occupation.  LMF stands with CPT both financially and prayerfully in its ongoing work.

Langley Mennonite Fellowship continues to seek ways to speak for justice, to work for peace through nonviolent means and to envision a just society for Palestine and Israel.  Our prayer is hope for the full realization of this vision.  Therefore we pray:

Help us Lord to end Occupation – not by revenge, not by hatred – but through seeing you in each other as Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and to accept each others humanity while mutually recognizing each others religious, civil, political and national rights, for Jesus sake.  Amen


Lee Lakeman has organized with other feminists against violence against women for thirty years at Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter.  She speaks also as representative for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers.  Both organizations in work to end rape, promote global peace.  They call for an end to war and to the imperialism that war and racism support.  Both organizations recognize and denounce the rape and assault of women by men that accompanies every invasion and every militarized population.  Both organizations recognize that it is the responsibility of those with economic and physical power: the rapist, the militarized, the invader, the occupier, the colonizer, the imperialist to retreat in order to bring peace and peace with liberty.


Forty years ago, during the invasion, I was newly adult, suffering in late pregnancy the hottest summer in Toronto. Women who came of age with me in ’67, who bore children then, those women of Palestine and those of Israel spent their adult lives in war.  I can imagine their distress.  Everyday of our shared years of mothering, they and their families bore the burdens of war.

Palestinian women, whose perfect babies were born that summer, were forced to raise them all these forty years in cruel confinement, their lives driven by degradation and poverty.  Palestinian homes reduced to rubble while the population defends itself with stones and suicidal bombs. Occupation of their territory has worsened, so that now their Palestinian daughters live in even tinnier walled units.  Their travel even to hospitals or to women who could help to deliver babies is delayed and obstructed by more than 500 Israeli checkpoints.  I know the names of more than half a dozen young Palestinian women whose babies died since 2000 because of those roadblocks to help.  Some of my age mates are the women I see on TV, old before their time angry, shaking their fists and wailing. 

Israeli sons and daughters were and are conscripted from their innocence to a murderous military or to the private security that guards every property with guns.  They are corrupted sometimes destroyed by their complicities in the inescapable war: young husbands and brothers returned to the community after training and participating in confining terrorizing, brutality.  Governments betray those women with walls and on each side of those walls. Marketplaces and community places, in fact all of civil society drenched in blood.  Priority goes to security of the state and not to the security of people. 

Sexist violence against women within the state: on its streets, in its hotels and public squares is ignored.  The male violence enforcing inequality within the house of both Palestinian and Israeli is neglected if not promoted by the patriarchal training to contempt and viciousness, to hierarchical obedience, by the ever-present guns.  The resulting male violence against women claims even more Middle Eastern women victims than does the war. 

Increasingly the Canadian government makes us complicit.  It tries to recruit the first nations children, the poorest of our children and our children’s children to manage the continuing exploitation of the Middle East.  Feminists stand with the women who reach across the borders resisting this occupation on our way to a just peace.


Over the years, I have been involved in various political and cultural projects, mainly through writing, editing and translation. I majored in Spanish Language and Literature at UBC, and am a certified translator from Spanish to English. I worked on the radio show Ecos de Mi Pueblo (echoes of my people) on Vancouver Co-op Radio. I have written, edited and translated for the newspaper Latin American Connections. I have been involved in Amnesty International and Jews for a Just Peace. My main political/cultural involvement for the past nine years has been as editor of Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine.


I am grateful for the chance to join this call for an end to Israel’s 40-year occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, which has been disastrous for everyone concerned. Its victims first and foremost have been the Palestinians under Israeli rule, but Israeli Jews have also suffered from the cycle of violence and hatred on both sides. As Marx said, "A people that oppresses another cannot itself be free." Indirectly the occupation has also affected “mainstream” Jewish communities outside Israel. Through their leadership’s blind support for Israeli state policies, they have become complicit in forms of oppression similar to those which Jews themselves have historically suffered from and struggled against.

Anyone hoping for a just peace in the Middle East, and in particular a decent national existence for both Israelis and Palestinians, cannot do other than demand an end to the occupation.


I was ordained 13 years ago with the United Church of Canada.  For the past three years I have been serving Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam.  I have a Masters of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology, and an Honours English Degree from the University of Ottawa.  Prior to entering ministry I worked for many years with the Canada Employment and Immigration Center. I grew up as a Navy “brat” in Nova Scotia.  I am a single parent and have three grown children.  I love sailing and hiking. 


Over the course of my life I have come to believe firmly that peace can only be achieved through peaceful negotiations embedded in strong ethical justice.  It is my experience that peace cannot be obtained through war, violence, or oppression.  These only serve to generate a perpetual cycle of violence. 

I don’t profess to understand all the complexities of the relationship between Israel and Palestine – the history is long. Yet what I see now is a profound reversal of discrimination and oppression.   When Israel was granted land in the Middle East at the end of WW11 it was with the conviction that Israel deserved to have a base in its homeland with the right to live there in peace with its neighbours.  History has shown the relationship with Palestine has been anything but peaceful.  While I pray for peace for both Israel and Palestine, I have long since feared for the people of Palestine.  Since 1967 resulting occupation and oppression of the Palestinians by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has resulted in the violation of their basic human rights and consequently in their retaliation through acts of terrorism.  The conviction that Israel has the right to live in peace and justice has not been extended to Palestine, in fact is blatantly ignored.

Around the world the week of June 3 – 10 is being named by the World Council of Churches as the Week of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel.  Peace is possible, but only if there is justice for all. 


Dr. Ivar Ekeland has been a professor at the University of Paris-9 until
2003, when he emigrated to Canada. He was president of the university from
1989 until 1994.  He is now a professor of mathematics and economics and Canada Research Chair at UBC.


Dr Ekeland went to Palestine for the first time in 1992, together with a delegation of French University Presidents. At the time, the whole Palestinian education system, schools and universities, had been closed down for four years by military order, as a repression measure against the first intifada. They visited the eight Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza, and came back decided to encourage scientific cooperation between French and Palestinian universities. This was made possible by the Oslo agreement, which came soon after, and Dr. Ekeland set up a bachelor's program in Mathematical Economics at the University of Bir-Zeit, which was quite successful until 2002, with the military clampdown on the occupied territories made it impossible to travel and very difficult to study.

Dr. Ekeland has traveled several times to Palestine, and has lived in Ramallah. He has taught at Bir-Zeit University, and maintains close connections with friends and colleagues in Palestine


Cynthia Flood has published two collections of short fiction and a novel. Her stories have been widely anthologized; several have won major Canadian literary awards. A resident of East Vancouver, she is working on two new books. For many years she's participated in the anti-war movement.


Forty years ago I was living in Toronto with my husband, an American conscientious objector. A vivid memory is of hearing, in someone's living room, a group of delighted American anti-Vietnam war activists cheer the Israeli planes screaming across the TV screen. I knew nothing about politics. How, I puzzled, could people take the huge step of going into exile to protest one war, yet rejoice in another war? And "the Arabs" -- why were they spoken of with such contempt?

Public language still denigrates Palestinians, like the settler discourse in Canada about First Nations. In fact, oppressors around the world use the same words about the oppressed. "Not like us." No, they are alien -- dirty, ignorant, lying, uncivilized, violent, thieving, ungrateful, murderous, greedy, racist. Thus their claims are dismissed; Palestinians must take full blame for their disastrous situation. It's a tired irony that for centuries Jews throughout Europe were branded with such negative words. Yet Jewish tradition honours social justice, and in Israeli media the argument about Palestine is far more outspoken, complex, and diverse than in Canada or the US. This is hopeful. After forty years, it's time for the strong to take the initiative, to negotiate a genuine peace and accept the sacrifices it will entail.


Born in Brooklyn. Attended Public School. Professed as a Franciscan Sister of the Atonement. Received B.S. at Fordham University and Masters from Hunter College in Early Childhood Education and Social Services. Also studied Criminology and Policital Sciences at St. Louis University at the New School of Social Research in New York.

Spent 16 years Directing Religious Education and Youth Programming followed by 20 years opening and operating Day Care Centers in the South Bronx & the Lower East Side of Manhattan New York.

Elected to New York City Board of Education for District I and remained on it for 12 years.

Founding member of Loisaida Inc. a High School Drop out prevention & college preparation employment training program for 14 to 19 year olds.

Member of the Labor & Religion Coalition dealing with justice in employement, anti sweatshops and the destructiveness of Globalization.

Presently the Administrator of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement Food & Clothing operation and Chairperson of the DERA board.


Based on my firm belief that every human being is created in the Image of God and therefore infinitely precious, justice toward all is the foundation on which our individual and collective lives are based. After the 1967 war the United Nations decision was that Israel must return to the boundaries set for its establishment between 1947 and 1949. Israel's continuous occupation of more and more territory, which lawfully belongs to Palestine, is a most serious violation of justice. This must be stopped.

Canada must support the international laws of justice. By the Canadian Government's de facto support of this occupation it is supporting lawlessness and violating the sacred responsibilities to make decisions based on justice for all nations as well as individuals.


Born in 1945 in Winnipeg

Graduated from the University of British Columbia (Asian Studies)

Retired from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2005 Specialized in East Asia, with a total of 23 years of residence in the region (Japan, Thailand, China and Sri Lanka)


I believe that the 40 years of occupation and settlement-expansion in the West Bank and Gaza must end, primarily because of the terrible suffering it is causing Palestinians, but also because of the harm it is doing to Jewish people and to Canadians.

I support the Palestinian cause because I am Jewish. The actions of the State of Israel contradict everything that I was taught in my Jewish upbringing. I was taught that nothing was more horribly unjust than discrimination on the basis of religion or race. I was taught that “might does not make right”, and that the weak must be cherished and protected, not abused. I was taught that no group of people have the right to dominate and exploit any other group. I was taught that the abuser suffers as much harm to his soul as the abused. What is the example of Israel’s occupation teaching the Jewish people and their children today? I cannot bear to see everything I cherish from my Jewish upbringing being crushed under the boots of this endless occupation and injustice in the West Bank and Gaza.

I support the Palestinians because I am Canadian. The actions of the State of Israel contradict everything that I was taught in my Canadian upbringing. I was taught that rule of law was the cornerstone of a just world, and that violence should be the absolute last resort for resolving problems. I was taught that imperialism, the domination of one nation over another, was wrong and cheered the liberation of the colonies of Europe after World War II. I was taught that people of all kinds can live together in harmony and fairness, as evidenced in my own Canadian neighbourhoods, and that artificial barriers, like religion and race, should not be allowed to separate them. What is the Canadian Government today teaching the Canadian people and their children with its open support for Israel’s breach of all these principles? I cannot bear to see the cherished values of Canadians, which has given us so much credibility internationally, being crushed by our government’s immoral support for the endless occupation and injustice in the West Bank and Gaza.

DAVID DIAMOND, BFA, D.Litt. (Hon.) – Artistic and Managing Director/Joker

Since 1981 David has directed over 380 community specific theatre projects on issues such as racism, gender roles, violence, addiction, self-esteem, First Nations' Residential Schools, language reclamation and many, many others. David has directed workshops throughout BC, Canada and the USA, as well as in Namibia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Italy and Finland. He has also been involved in the writing and/or directing of all of Headlines' main stage plays, including NO` XYA` (Our Footprints), Out of the Silence, Mamu, Squeegee, Corporate U, THIR$TY, Don’t Say a Word, Practicing Democracy, Here and Now and Meth. David has pioneered the development of live, interactive Forum television and web casting.

Diamond is a 1975 graduate of the University of Alberta with a BFA in acting. He worked as a professional actor in theatre, television and film throughout Western Canada until 1981 when he co-founded Headlines Theatre. He is the originator of Headlines' THEATRE FOR LIVING workshops, based on Brazilian Director Augusto Boal's ground-breaking Theatre of the Oppressed. In 1996 David was the first individual recipient of the City of Vancouver's Cultural Harmony Award. In 2001 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University College of the Fraser Valley.

He is the author of Theatre for Living: the art and science of community-based dialogue, published through Trafford and available August 1, 2007.


Occupation needs to end. Somehow, the cycles of violence have to stop.

People under occupation will always fight back. History shows us this over and over again. It is clear that the Israeli Military is one of the most powerful and best equipped in the world. The power to end the cycles of violence rests with the State of Israel. End the Occupation. This will be a legitimate and courageous step towards peace in the region.


Thekla Lit is founder and co-chair of Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War 11 in Asia).  She is president of BC ALPHA.

In March 2003 she co-chaired a large international conference in Vancouver titled “Canadian Conference on Crimes Against Humanity” which focused on Asia but included discussions of other areas including a panel on Israel-Palestine. Among other current projects she is a consultant for a feature documentary film on the life and work of Iris Chang, author of the best-selling history book “Rape of Nanking”.


June 6 is D-Day. This marks an important moment in the effort to end Nazi- Germany’s occupation of countries in Europe during WW 2. In that same war Imperial Japan invaded and occupied many countries in Asia, committing brutal war crimes and profound tragedies, as happened in Europe. As an immigrant to Canada I bring to my new homeland not only the culture of my birthplace, but a consciousness of its history, and a desire to share both with fellow Canadians. So, among other efforts, I have worked to see that a truthful history of the war experiences in Asia is part of BC school curricula. In this task I work in cooperation with Canadians who pursue peace and justice all over the world.

That is why I find it perfectly normal to speak out against contemporary occupations that bring new horrors and suffering to the people whose lands are occupied. Ending foreign occupations is a first essential step toward lasting reconciliation and peaceful relations among peoples of the world. With the ending of occupation, people then can proceed to other important foundations for reconciliation: the accepting of a truthful account of the past, the rendering of a frank and full apology, and the providing of restitution to the victims. This day, 40 years after Israel first occupied Palestinian lands in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it certainly is long past time for the first indispensable step toward peace to be taken, for the occupation to end.

We must work to see that our Canadian government forthrightly demands that Israel abide by international law and the long-standing unanimous resolution of the United Nations Security Council, and withdraw completely from the territories it conquered in June 1967.

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