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Next Steps for the Palestinian Solidarity Movement PDF Print E-mail
Oct 04, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Excerpted from an updated version of a talk given by Adam Hanieh in Toronto on October 4, 2007

From The Bullet, A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 73 .... November 14, 2007

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In Canada, we have an important role to play in this global campaign to isolate the Israeli state. The Canadian government is one of the strongest international supporters of Israeli apartheid in the world. Canada was the first country in the world to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority following the elections of January 2006. Canada did this even before the Israeli government.

The Canadian government at all levels has provided full diplomatic support for Israel's war crimes. Many of us remember that during Israel's bombardment of Lebanon in 2006, Harper described Israel's actions as "measured and justified" and opposed calls for a ceasefire. But Harper's comments are not those of an individual. Across the political spectrum, Canada's mainstream political parties have given unequivocal support to Israeli policies. In 2005, it was then Liberal Party leader Paul Martin who declared that "Israel's values are Canada's values."

At the economic level, Canada has signed numerous agreements with Israel that serve to strengthen and sustain the Israeli economy. In 1997, the Canadian government signed the Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA). This is the only FTA Canada has signed outside of the western hemisphere. It has been an enormous boon to Israel. From 2000 to 2005, the value of Israeli exports to Canada exceeded Canadian exports to Israel, reversing the trend from the 1990s. Over the same period, average annual Israeli foreign direct investment in Canada exceeded that of Canada in Israel. This is an agreement that has benefited Israel, and helped support the Israeli economy.

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Our next step should be to raise our voices demanding that Canadian governments at both the federal and provincial levels cut their ties with Israeli apartheid. We can call for agreements such as CIFTA, or, here in Ontario, the provincial level agreements with Israel, to be abrogated. We must call for an end to the diplomatic cover provided to Israeli war crimes. The Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez has shown the way in this regard when they became the first country in the world to withdraw their ambassador from Israel in the summer of 2006.

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Rachel Corrie's family – father Craig, mother Cindy and sister Sarah Corrie Simpson – at the Haifa district court where a judge ruled that Israel did not intentionally kill the pro-Palestinian activist in 2003. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

Reporters covering Israel are routinely confronted with the question: why not call Hamas a terrorist organisation? It's a fair point. How else to describe blowing up families on buses but terrorism?

But the difficulty lies in what then to call the Israeli army when it, too, at particular times and places, has used indiscriminate killing and terror as a means of breaking Palestinian civilians. One of those places was Rafah, in the southern tip of the Gaza strip, where Rachel Corrie was crushed by a military bulldozer nine years ago as she tried to stop the Israeli army going about its routine destruction of Palestinian homes.

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