Saturday, February 7, 2009

Canada Park & Canadian Jewish anti-Zionism & Canadian Jewish Zionism

click on image to enlarge
Houria. Hadjira Pruere, Canadian Algerian artist. The Lands Within Me. Canadian Museum of Civilization.

A few years back, I wrote and presented a paper at a conference that discusses some of the meanings that can be read from Houria. I found Preure's Houria fascinating for the layers of meanings that can be decoded (remember, I teach Visual Culture), as did the audience, for there was much passionate discussion about the points of entry I introduced. But Houria also 'hailed me' [Althusser] because of what Preure said about the art/work that she produces: "For me, the most beautiful thing is hope, and light."

Striving for the universal call of hope and light in their own particular ways, The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) is a diaspora of Jews across the globe, who take up various strategies and activism to speak out against the Zionist policies that obliterate the human rights of Palestinians. Along with study, letter-writing, and other creative activist and solidarity strategies, they go out into the streets and put their bodies on the line to make visible their anti-Zionism (scroll down the page to see some of IJAN's recent actions)

LA Jews Shut Down Israeli Consulate to Protest Siege on Gaza: jan 14 2009. A short video produced by members of IJAN.

Please watch this excellent video. Then, ask yourself: would I put my body on the line for Palestine? And if not, then ask yourself why. Standing up for Palestine is the litmus test of how far your peace, your justice, your compassion, your Jesus, your Zen, your democracy actually go. The members of IJAN show that their dream of justice is all-embracing, not exclusive. If they can speak out, why not you? Even if it is just a squeak?

During the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, IJAN issed a statement saying "We stand with the majority. We will not be silent on Gaza." In that statement (well worth a read) they link the indifference of the world community during the 40s and the genocide of Jews with the silence of the world community today in the genocide of Palestinians:

"As Joseph Massad recently wrote, Gaza is in uprising against genocide, and is receiving today the same indifference from the capitals of the West that the rebels in the Warsaw Ghetto received in 1943."

A Canadian contingent of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network has recently banded in Sept. 2008; they explain who they are and their mission:

About Us

We believe IJAN will be useful in addressing the isolation of anti-Zionist Jews in Canada by connecting our work internationally. As the politics of Canada have been moving right, adopting and implementing the neo-liberal political and economic policies of the US and the Bush Administration, it is critical to counter Jewish conservatism with clear Jewish anti-Zionist politics.

IJAN will support the Canadian Palestinian solidarity movement and specifically, the campaigns in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. With its clear articulation of the strategic role for Jews in the Palestine solidarity movement, the Network hopes to challenge Jewish privilege and exclusivity and promote anti-racist practice in the work.

The Canadian IJAN statement was written before O, yet it is important to stress that neo-liberal economic and political policies are integral to the Obama administration, too, just as they were to the Bush administration. There will be no change on that. As US political philosopher Sheldon S. Wolin explains in Chris Hedges' It's Not Going To Be OK :

“The basic systems are going to stay in place; they are too powerful to be challenged,” Wolin told [Hedges] when [he] asked him about the new Obama administration. “This is shown by the financial bailout. It does not bother with the structure at all. I don’t think Obama can take on the kind of military establishment we have developed. This is not to say that I do not admire him. He is probably the most intelligent president we have had in decades. I think he is well meaning, but he inherits a system of constraints that make it very difficult to take on these major power configurations. I do not think he has the appetite for it in any ideological sense. The corporate structure is not going to be challenged. There has not been a word from him that would suggest an attempt to rethink the American imperium.”

Last November, the Canadian arm of IJAN, sent a letter to Victor Rabinovitch, president and CEO of The Canadian Museum of Civilization. This is not the first time Rabinovitch has been criticized for his pro-Zionist bias; the canceling of The Lands Within Me, an exhibit of Canadian Arab artists, right after 9/11 caused a flurry of activist outrage resulting in his recanting of that proposed cancellation. I have lots to say about that as I have written and presented papers about the politics of The Lands Within Me exhibit, and the racialization practices and the demonizing of Canadian Arabs and Muslims that surfaced...later.

In the IJAN letter to Rabinovitch, the Canadian Jewish anti-Zionists express their concerns about the links between the Canadian Museum of Civilization, The Canadian branch of the Jewish National Fund, and Canadian funding of illegal Israeli projects such as Canada Park.


Dear Mr. Rabinovitch,

The International Jewish anti-Zionist Network is writing to express how disturbed we are by the granting of permission to the Jewish National Fund to hold its annual Negev fundraising dinner at Canada’s Museum of Civilization.

It is our understanding that a founding principle of the Museum is to insure that activities which promote intolerance will not be supported. We are therefore confused that you would choose to support an event being organized by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF is a quasi-governmental organization whose historic and continued role has been to acquire land for Jewish-only settlements. It is one of the key mechanisms through which Israel’s agenda of ethnic segregation, transfer and expulsion of Palestinians is carried out. Two-thirds of JNF land was forcibly taken from Palestinian refugees.

One such example is “Canada Park,” maintained through JNF-Canada contributions, and built on the site of three Palestinian villages captured in 1967, whose 10,000 residents were expelled, and all their homes razed to the ground. The existence of Canada Park and the financial support it continues to receive from the Jewish National Fund of Canada breaches Canada’s charitable status laws, which prohibit charities from violating Canadian public policy. At the same time, Canada Park is only one part of the JNF’s practice of expropriation of Palestinian land in Israel and throughout the West Bank for exclusive use by Jews.

The JNF is a political organization, and as such should not hold charitable status in Canada. By allowing the JNF to hold this fund-raiser, you are supporting and therefore a party to Israel’s institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing.

We believe that it is not in the interest of Canadians to allow for the use of the Museum of Civilization as a stomping ground for the JNF. Now that we have brought this to your attention we expect the Museum to live up to it's stated principles and cancel. Not to do so means that the Museum is in violation of its own founding principles, and is complicit in the continuing violations of the rights of Palestinians to their land and resources.

Respectfully yours,

Sue Goldstein and Naomi Binder Wall,
Canadian members of the International Coordinating Committee,
International Jewish anti-Zionist Network


Did the fund-raising dinner happen? Yes, it did. 600 people attended this posh event in the Grand Hall. The dinner's Key Note speaker? Ambassador Dennis Ross, Special Adviser to President-elect Barack Obama.

Some of the guests or Canadian Zionist Jews and Zionist-Jews-by-choice who work to continue the theft of Palestine and its resources. This particular photo honors those working on ongoing water theft, especially Barbara Crooks, who is holding her award for the continuing dispossession of Palestinians.

The dinner was a fund-raiser held to honour of Canadians Dan Greenberg and his wife Barbara Crook, who for many years "have been quietly and generously supporting many worthy causes in the Jewish and general communities". Barbara is a self-defined "Jew by choice", and director and North American representative of the Zionist organization, Palestine Media Watch, an organization that furthers stereotypes, misrepresentations, lies, untruths, and other materials to promote the continued non-understanding of Palestinians and Palestine.

The last paragraph of the Jerusalem Post article is telling in hitting the nail on the head of one of Israel's key reasons to build the Apartheid Wall and refuse to settle peace with Palestinians or negotiate a Palestinian state: the demand for water.

"Israel has just about exploited all its renewable water sources and the future of its water supply depends on the country's ability to develop new sources of water, such as wastewater recycling."


Merche Pallarés said...

Excellent post. The painting is very forceful and awesome. The video, great. I knew we would hear Jewish voices speaking up against Israel!! This is a VERY important step. Now, the next step would be for Jewish celebrities, like Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and others to speak up also. They would have more press coverage.
After all, practically all the famous movements that have taken place in the past 19th/20th centuries like communism, marxism, civil rights, hippy movement, Paris 1968 etc. have been, at the beginning, promoted by Jewish intellectuals. Let's hope the IJAZ movement is successful and much-needed peace reaches both Palestinians and Israelies.
Now, regarding Barbara Crook--she certainly has a name that fits her job!!--her attitude is simply obnoxious and cruel and the fact that the dinner took place in that Museum, not listening to the Canadian IJAZ who were against it, is sad and shameful. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

Hello Merche, yes, the painting is amazing. If you visit the online exhibit of The Lands Within ME you will find many beautiful pieces with artist statements and more. The exhibit was supposed to travel across Canada, but that never happened, unfortunately. Wouldn't that be a way for people to cross ground? To see Arab Canadians in another light besides the tired old stereotypes? While the onsite exhibit did happen because of a flurry of letter-writing and some media attention to its cancellation, the traveling part was excised.

Hopefully, as you point out, 'big name' Jewish people will speak out, such as stars.

I will post some names of Hollywood folks who support Israel; hence, boycott their films.