Press Statement - July 08, 2013

Canadian writers urge halt to evictions of Palestinians, Bedouins

– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –

Montreal, July 8, 2013 — Seventy of Canada’s top writers have signed a joint letter urging Israeli authorities to halt the evictions of 1000 Palestinians in the Southern Hebron Hills (West Bank). They are also urging Israeli leaders to reject the Prawer Plan, under which an estimated 20,000 – 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel will be forcibly relocated, with about 35 of their communities in the Negev being destroyed. Signatories include many of Canada’s most respected poets and novelists — Michael Ondaatje, Yann Martel, Alberto Manguel, Lorna Crozier, Rawi Hage, Edeet Ravel, Patrick Lane, Maggie Helwig, Kyo Maclear, Stan Persky, Shani Mootoo, Lisa Moore and Shyam Selvadurai—as well as best-selling non-fiction author and health activist Dr. Gabor Maté.

“It is inspiring to see Canadian writers demonstrating ethical leadership, especially at a moment when Canada’s political leaders seem to have lost their moral compass,” notes Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. He adds that the fact that Israeli authorities plan to evict another 1000 Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills to make way for an Israeli army firing zone bodes ill for resumption of peace negotiations.

The Canadian writers’ letter echoes a campaign last week by 25 Israeli writers—including David Grossman, Amos Oz and AB Yehoshua—against the South Hebron evictions. The Canadian writers also back the European Parliament’s call for Israel to abandon its plan to forcibly displace the Bedouin. Despite international outcry, the plan passed first reading in the Israeli Knesset last week. The evictions of the Bedouin under the Plan are scheduled to begin in August.

CJPME believes that the Israeli government’s refusal to seriously consider the Bedouin’s concerns and alternative proposals exemplifies the second-class standing of Israel’s Arab citizens—20 percent of the population. Israel’s massive land-grab in the West Bank (occupied Palestinian territory) violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and Palestinians’ fundamental human rights. CJPME points out that the South Hebron Palestinian communities facing destruction have lived there for hundreds of years, and that Israel has designated about 18 percent of the West Bank as Israeli military training territory. The Bedouin have inhabited the Negev since the 7th century.

For the complete text of the Canadian writers’ open letter to Israeli leaders, and the current list of signatories, see below.

Open Letter to Israeli and Canadian Leaders Regarding Impending Evictions of South Hebron Palestinians and Negev Bedouin

We, the undersigned, urge Israeli leaders to heed the call by David Grossman, Amos Oz, AB Yehoshua and 21 other Israeli writers to halt, immediately and permanently, the eviction of about 1000 Palestinians from their homes in various villages in South Hebron, West Bank (occupied Palestinian territory), in order to clear land for an Israeli army firing zone. These Palestinian villagers have inhabited their homes for several centuries. Evicting them would violate international law and cause extreme hardship.

We also urge you to reject the Begin-Prawer Plan currently before the Knesset which, if fully implemented, would result in the forced relocation of between 20,000 and 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes in the Negev. This Plan would also result in the destruction of up to 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages. We ask you to heed the European Parliament’s call to withdraw the Plan, which violates the constitutional rights of the Bedouin to property, dignity and equality.

The actions planned are manifestly unjust, and will gravely damage Israel’s international reputation.

We also respectfully ask our Canadian leaders to take diplomatic steps to encourage Israeli leaders to heed this call. As the Israeli writers have said, “Each and every one of us bears the moral obligation to try and relieve the suffering.”

Sincerely yours,

Maggie Helwig
Shani Mootoo
Farzana Doctor
Edeet Ravel
Lorna Crozier
Kyo Maclear
Shyam Selvadurai
Stan Persky
Gabor Maté
Rawi Hage
Sheila Heti
Larissa Lai
Mike Hoolboom
Alberto Manguel
Patrick Lane
Isabel Huggan
Lee Maracle
Gary Geddes
Michael Ondaatje
Michel Marc Bouchard
John Greyson
Kerri Sakamoto
Charles Demers
Hiromi Goto
Fred Wah
David Bentley
Steven Heighton
George Bowering
Camilla Gibb
Stuart Ross
Robert Priest
Terry Fallis
Michel Tremblay
Wayson Choy
Judy Rebick
David Bergen
Susan Musgrave
Lillian Allen
Monique Mojica
Allison Hedge Coke
Rita Wong
Guillermo Verdecchia
Christine Pountney
Stéphane Bourguignon
Vincent Lam
Zainab Amadahy
Gale Zoe Garnett
Marcus Youssef
Di Brandt
Maureen Hynes
Carmen Aguirre
Carmen Rodriguez
Cynthia Flood
Ken Klonsky
Sheila Stewart
Hugh Hazelton
Martha Roth
Joanne Arnott
Donna Morrissey
Gabriela Etcheverry
Honor Ford-Smith
Silver Donald Cameron
Maureen Scott Harris
Claire Wilkshire
Lisa Moore
Sandy Shreve
Sandra Campbell
Steven Galloway
Susan Crean
Yann Martel

About CJPME - Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact Patricia Jean, 438 380 5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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