Gaza 2023

Artists & Academics in Canada: Statement of Support for Palestine

We, the undersigned artists, academics, and cultural workers, pledge our support for the Palestinian people in the face of over 75 years of Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing.

We understand that the events of this week did not occur in a vacuum. For two decades, Israel has held Palestinians in Gaza under siege, in an open-air prison, subjecting them to brutal massacres and weapons testing; depriving them of basic goods, food, clean water, medicine, and medical supplies. Since 2000, more than 135,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces, including 21,000 Palestinian children and hundreds of academics, artists, journalists, human rights defenders, and parliamentarians. Peaceful protests continue to be met with Israeli sniper bullets. Palestinian journalists are targeted for bringing us news on the ground, as in the case of longtime Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot in the head by Israeli forces while covering Israeli attacks on Jenin refugee camp last year.

Palestine solidarity supporters and Palestinians around the world, particularly in the US, Canada, and Europe, are being criminalized, intimidated, imprisoned, facing unprecedented levels of anti-Palestinian racism and incitement of violence. This year, Israel’s far-right government implemented a criminal policy that legalized raids of Palestinian cities and villages across the West Bank and Jerusalem, reaching a record high of Palestinian deaths and arrests without charge or trial. The whole world understood in the case of Ukraine that resistance to military occupation is justified. It is in fact a right guaranteed by international law. The militant reaction from Palestinians in Gaza on October 7, 2023, is a result of decades of cruel and oppressive treatment.

As the Israeli regime flattens entire neighbourhoods in the besieged Gaza strip, where nearly half of the 2.3 million person population are children, over 1400 Palestinians have been killed, including 447 children, over 6,000 injured, and over 340,000 internally displaced (Palestinian Ministry of Health as of Thursday, October 12). As the illegal bombardment continues, we call on all people of conscience to show their meaningful solidarity with Palestinians.

We are disappointed and ashamed by the response of the Canadian government, elected representatives, and institutions, who have once again voiced their overwhelming support for apartheid Israel and legitimized the ongoing shelling of Gaza and the escalation of military violence in the West Bank. Understanding the settler-colonial nature of Canada and its foundations on the theft of Indigenous land and life, it is not entirely surprising that Canada would defend siege, slaughter, and the theft of land. Yet, this has created an atmosphere of increased racism, policing, intimidation, and fear for Palestinians and their supporters in the settler colony of Canada.

How must Palestinians in Ottawa have felt to see the Israeli flag projected on Parliament Hill while Israel dropped internationally-banned white phosphorus in residential neighborhoods of Gaza, promising to “open the gates of hell”? What message does that send to Palestinians? Voices of conscience are publicly scolded and defamed, suggesting to Palestinians among us that they cannot voice their grief in public. In attacking political and labour leaders who have voiced their

support for Palestinians, the Canadian government has built an environment of fear and fueled acts of discrimination against Palestinians and their supporters.

As Israel commits war crimes with overwhelming evidence and documentation, mainstream media has catered to the heavy propaganda campaign launched by Israel and facilitated by western governments and media. Failing to document the war crimes of the Israeli regime or the suffering of Palestinians, and proliferating racist claims from Israel without substantiation, Canadian media is contributing to the dehumanization of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and beyond and manufacturing consent for the ongoing massacres.

As artists, cultural workers, and academics, we stand strong in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and against all forms of racism and settler-colonial violence. In response to the open call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Without international ground-up pressure through the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Israeli regime will continue to practice apartheid and commit crimes against the Palestinian people unhindered.

It is easy to look back at history and recognize right from wrong, but it takes bravery to speak for justice in the present moment. Join us in taking a principled stand. Apartheid is a security threat to all, and none of us are free until all of us are free.

4152 signatures 20 October 2023