Defending Palestinian Human Rights is not “Terrorism”

On October 22, Israeli war criminal and “Minister of Defense” Benny Gantz designated six Palestinian organizations as “terrorist.”  All are known for their defense of Palestinian human rights: Al-Haq, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Defence for Children International Palestine, Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

This is the latest of repeated designations that began earlier in the year by Gantz and the Israeli regime to name Palestinian and international organizations working to defend Palestinian rights and organize for Palestinian liberation as “terrorists.”

On February 21, 2021, Gantz  declared that he was adding the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network to Israel’s “terror list.” The designation was based on accusations that are both spurious and false.

At the time, 35 organizations and over a 100 individuals including artists, academics, lawyers and clergy signed a statement initiated by the Canada Palestine Association naming this criminalization of Palestinian advocacy as being unacceptable and unfounded.  (See the full list HERE.)

Palestinian-Canadians and their supporters indicated they had no intention of allowing biased officials to suppress their democratic rights and voices, and that they would continue to work for justice and equity for Palestinians, be in through prisoner support or boycott campaigns, and would not allow their guaranteed right to free expression and association to be threatened or curtailed. Over 800 letters were sent to the Canadian government indicating “advocacy for Palestine is not ‘terrorism’.  

In late August 2021, without issuing a press release, Gantz further declared EuroPal Forum, the International Legal Coalition for Palestine and the Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad as “terrorist”. Now with ten organizations, the Israeli regime has fully adopted as standard practice and policy the “terrorist” designation of organizations that effectively challenge its control and expose its crimes on the local, regional and international levels.

As Samidoun notes “these designations are used as ammunition by Zionist “lawfare” groups in various countries in an attempt to create a climate of fear to undermine collective solidarity, cut off funding or access to banking, and silence advocates for justice, rights and liberation in Palestine at international venues.

In Canada, on February 3, 2021, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Advocacy CIJA called for Samidoun to be placed on Canada’s terror list. This was included in their statement responding to the announcement by Bill Blair, then Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, that Canada was adding 13 groups to Canada’s list of Terrorist Entities. Then, on February 28, 2021, the same day Israel stated they were designating Samidoun as “terrorist”, CIJA tweeted to Bill Blair saying that Canada should now follow Israel’s lead and do the same.

The Canadian BDS Coalition and others asked at the time “Is the timing of Israel’s announcement part of its attempts to deflect attention from the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation?”

With the most recent addition of six organizations this deflection from the ICC investigation has become even more clear.

General Director of Addameer, Sahar Francis at a joint press conference on October 23, 2021, “reiterated concerns that the designations were linked to the progress of the investigation before the ICC.”  She explained that the attacks by Israel were a direct reprisal against the success of the Palestinian human rights organisations stating: “Such decisions and practices indicate that Israel is deeply concerned of the widespread work of our organizations. We have developed the discourse used in addressing this occupation; started to use words like “apartheid” and “the ICC.” Moreover, the success of the boycott campaigns and the resilience of the Palestinian people in their lands in Area C are just some examples of the success of our work.”

The Canada Palestine Association also noted in February 2021 that Benny Gantz is himself one of the persons who might be implicated by the ICC for possible war crimes. Gantz was the Army Chief of Staff during Israel’s 2014 aggression on Gaza. Canadian Public Safety Minister at the time, Bill Blair, was listed as a member of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary group for 2016, 2017 and 2019. Canada’s new Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino stands as vice-chair of that same interparliamentary group.

We continue to ask: Are these the officials to make any impartial and balanced decision on what constitutes “terrorism”? Should Canada’s policies on these important issues be decided by what the Israeli government dictates?

Such “terrorist” designations can be used as a justification for arresting members, closing down organizations and centers or labeling the organizations “illegal” inside the occupied West Bank.

Through these designations, Israel has made clear that its definition of “terrorism” is any action that resists its colonialism throughout occupied Palestine.

In the case of organizations like Al-Haq, it is clear that Israel wants to use the “terror” designation to provide itself with impunity from international prosecution, while the designations of organizations like Bisan, UPWC and UAWC aim to undermine and target Palestinian self-organization, research, and food sovereignty. The recent designation of Addameer and DCI Palestine, as well as the existing designation of Samidoun, make it clear that this is an attempt to cut off Palestinian political prisoners — including imprisoned children — from growing legal, political and moral support and to attack the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.

This shows exactly why all such designations should be considered propaganda and not accepted by courts, governments, financial institutions and any other party called upon to repress Palestinian organizing on the basis of these spurious labels.  Such designations have no international effect and do not require anyone to stop supporting these organizations. Instead, these designations must mobilize us to build greater popular support for Palestinian rights organizations designated by the Israeli occupation.

On October 25, 2021, United Nations experts condemned Israel’s designation of Palestinian human rights defenders as terrorist organizations saying “the misuse of counter-terrorism measures in this way by the government of Israel undermines the security of all,” They continued “the freedoms of association and expression must be fully respected in order to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work, and cannot be undermined by the manifestly egregious misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation.”

We invite you to join us in saying:

This criminalization of Palestinian advocacy is unacceptable and unfounded; Palestinian-Canadians and their supporters have no intention of allowing biased officials to suppress their democratic rights and their voices. We will continue to work for justice and equality for Palestinians, be it through prisoner support or boycott campaigns; we will not allow our guaranteed rights to free expression and association to be threatened or curtailed.

Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all high signatories, of which Canada is one, are required to take actions to ensure that violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention (war crimes) do not occur under any circumstance. We call on Canada to use all economic and diplomatic means available to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law (war crimes).

Write letters to the Canadian government HERE

Organizations and individuals are invited to sign HERE

Supporting organizations:

Al Harah Theater
Academics for Palestine-Concordia
?Al Harah Theater
Al-Awda PRRC
Boycott from Within
Canada Palestine Association
Canadian Arab network.
Canadian BDS Coalition
Canadian Boat to Gaza
Canadian for Peace and Justice in Kashmir
Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
Canadian Peace Congress
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Carleton University Students for Justice in Palestine
Catholics for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land
Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
FOSNA ( Friends of Sabeel North America)
Greater Toronto for BDS (GT4BDS)
HR4A (Human Rights for All) Saskatoon
Independent Jewish Voices Canada
International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement
Jewish Network for Palestine
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Just Peace Advocates
Just Peace Committee-BC
Justice For All Canada
Kingston Peace Council
Kingston Peace Council
Knowledge Track Inc.
Labor for Palestine (U.S.)
Netherlands Palestine Committee (Nederlands Palestina Komitee)
Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
Palestine Solidarity Collective at York University
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Palestinian and Jewish Unity
PCCC-Palestine House
People for Peace, London
Regina Peace Council
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Solidarite populaire Estrie

The list will be updated periodically, and iindividuals will be added later.

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