2016 has been one of CJPME’s most outstanding years. It’s been an exceptional year not only because we’ve had some key wins, but also because we feel we’re on track for even more success in the months and years ahead. Please take a look at the summary of our activities below.
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CJPME closely supports successful Green Party BDS Resolution
For six months, CJPME did everything it could to ensure that the Green Party passed a BDS resolution. Grace Batchoun and other CJPME members were at both the August and December meetings, handing out BDS flyers, and engaging party members in conversation about the resolution. Says Grace, “It really felt like we were making history, and Green Party members on the floor really welcomed our message.” CJPME mobilized members several times throughout the campaign: encouraging the Green Party leaders, and encouraging people to get involved. Successful BDS resolutions at both meetings were hugely gratifying.
CJPME was present at the Green Party convention both in August (left) and in December (right.) In both cases, important BDS resolutions passed - a huge success for the BDS movement in Canada. Next up, the NDP!
CJPME efforts result in $25 million for Palestinian refugees
Since the beginning of the year, CJPME was pushing the Trudeau government to resume funding to the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA.) We mobilized thousands of Canadians to email their MP and the Minister of International Development. We also spearheaded a letter signed by dozens of organizations, including several key unions, asking for the government to restore this funding. We also met with Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and discussed the issue at length.
Happily, our efforts were rewarded in November when the government announced $20 million for UNRWA’s core programs, and $5 million for emergency aid. Most gratifying, however, was UNRWA’s letter of thanks directly to CJPME, stating “We are very cognizant and appreciative of the May 12 multi-organizational letter to Minister Bibeau that CJPME sponsored as well as the many other individual petitions and communications with Members of Parliament and Global Affairs Canada that CJPME helped organize… Canada’s renewed support… is making a significant and positive difference to the Palestine refugees we serve.”
CJPME's UNRWA funding campaign resulted in $25 million in new Canadian funding for Palestinian refugees. CJPME leaders were personally thanked by UNRWA for its work on this file.
Aggressively Promoting BDS in Canada
Throughout the year, CJPME took many important steps to market the need to boycott Israel for its human rights violations:
- CJPME BDS Videos reach hundreds of thousands. Through the fall, CJPME released three slick videos about BDS which reached literally 150,000 Canadians through social media. The accolades were numerous: “This series is excellent, and comes at just the right time to inform the debate here in Canada. Bravo, CJPME!” “These videos are absolutely outstanding! I feel they strike exactly the right tone of "reasonableness." Well done!”
- BDS Sticky Notes Campaign. In response to Parliament’s offensive and ridiculous “condemnation” of BDS activists in February, CJPME launched its “BDS Sticky Notes.”. To date, CJPME has given away over 1500 sticky note pads to Canadians across the country, and Canadians have been active. From St. John’s New Foundland, to Vancouver Island, Canadians put our BDS Sticky Notes on Israeli-sourced products across the country. CJPME’s campaign got international coverage, and pro-Israel groups seeking to counter the success of the campaign. Sign up here to get your free pad of BDS Sticky Notes if you haven’t already received one. In addition to its original English BDS sticky note design, CJPME also made a bi-lingual BDS sticky note available in September.
CJPME's BDS videos in the fall reached 150,000, with comments like: "Thank you so very much. It is a great video shows the reality of the BDS movement." "Totally awesome video guys! Keep up the great work!"
CJPME met repeatedly with MPs on Parliament Hill
CJPME delegates went to Parliament Hill again and again through the spring and summer and met with close to 100 MPs in one-on-one meetings. We developed position papers, and advocated for better government positions on several different topics, including:
- The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Canada,
- Justice for Palestinians in Israel-Palestine
- Syrian refugees and the Syrian Civil War,
- The Arms Trade Treaty, and Canada’s Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia,
- Canada’s relationship with authoritarian regimes, and
- Canada’s response to extremist groups
CJPME meets with Foreign Affairs minister Stéphane Dion (left) in Ottawa in September. CJPME hosted delegations to Parliament Hill on many different occasions through 2016 and met with almost 100 different MPs in one-on-one meetings.
CJPME sponsors eight Syrian refugees to Canada
Unable to stand by idly as the Syrian civil war ground on, CJPME raised funds and began co-sponsoring Syrian refugees to come to Canada. All eight families have been approved, and CJPME eagerly anticipates the arrival of these families. Dozens of Canadians joined in with CJPME’s efforts, and contributed to CJPME’s Syrian Refugee Fund. Click here for more info.
CJPME also met with politicians to positively influence Canadian policy on Syrian refugees. We appealed to dozens of MPs for greater numbers of Syrian refugees, and greater government funding for sponsorships.
Media Advocacy Centre and many more op-eds. After several months of development, CJPME launched its new “Media Centre” platform in the summer. The platform allows for the collection of “problem” media articles. It also allows for the issuing of “media alerts” to push mainstream media to provide better coverage in the Middle East, especially Israel-Palestine.On several occasions through the summer and fall, the response through our Media Centre forced the media to correct and/or improve poor and erroneous coverage. If you want to be involved, sign up to be a “Media Responder” here.
CJPME also made the strategic decision to reach more Canadians through op-eds it would publish. Through the fall, two CJPME staff averaged an op-ed per week, and reached thousands of Canadians on our issues. One article – on parliament’s anti-Islamophobia motion – reached a massive number of people, and garnered 50,000 Facebook likes!
CJPME has co-sponsored eight Syrian refugee families since the beginning of the year, and has pushed hard for more Canadian humanitarian aid for Syrians and Iraqis.
Advocacy Campaigns supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement
CJPME was busy all year countering BDS legislation in Canada.
- Opposing anti-BDS legislation across the country. In September, CJPME recruited two dozen other organizations to join it in a campaign targeting every provincial and territorial legislature. CJPME mailed individual letters and BDS brochures to every single legislator in every single province.
- Opposing the Ontario motion in November condemning BDS supporters. With other groups, CJPME worked hard to prevent the passage of an anti-BDS Ontario motion in November. While we were unsuccessful, the 100 Ontario legislators received over 2500 emails from Canadians opposing this motion. This is a battle we will continue to fight aggressively in every province.
- Discrediting the Parliamentary motion condemning BDS activists. With its “Go ahead, make my day, condemn me!” campaign, CJPME demonstrated the absurdity of the Parliament’s February motion. CJPME also launched an email action alert targeting MPs, and sent several letters to all MPs explaining the logic of the movement.
- Opposing the Ontario bill in May targeting BDS supporters. CJPME sent a letter to all Ontario MPPs pressuring them to respect the rights of Ontarians to support BDS. CJPME got a response from Premier Wynne and several other MPPs, and is working hard to prevent the passage of any Ontario bills against BDS.
CJPME speaking tour with Dr. Norman Finkelstein stimulates debate on Israel-Palestine
CJPME was pleased to host Dr. Norman Finkelstein in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in March. Finkelstein’s talk was entitled, “Gaza: Israel’s Method and Madness,” where he addressed Israel’s post-Oslo strategies against the Palestinians. Dr. Finkelstein is perhaps the most significant scholar of the Palestine-Israel conflict, with several insightful and sensational books on the Palestine-Israel conflict.
CJPME highlights contradictions of Saudi Arms Deal
CJPME was one of several Canadian groups which got excellent media attention for questioning the Trudeau government’s decision to go ahead with the $15 billion Saudi arms contract for Light Armoured Vehicles. CJPME signed a joint letter with Amnesty International and other organizations calling the government to rethink its actions. CJPME also met with dozens of MPs challenging this decision, and admonishing the government for delaying signing the Arms Trade Treaty.
CJPME speaks out authoritatively on important, timely issues: CJPME has issued PRs and Position Papers on key issues since the beginning of the year. Some of the highlights are below:
- CJPME calls the Trudeau government to break from Harper’s Middle East policies. Trudeau won the 2015 election with the promise of “Real Change,” but little change has come to Canada’s Middle East policy, and CJPME constantly tries to call this out.
- CJPME highlights Green Party BDS milestones. Throughout the fall, CJPME was keen to call attention to the important decisions of the Green Party, despite the waffling of leader Elizabeth May.
- CJPME defends the rights of Canadians to support BDS. CJPME issued multiple press statements critiquing the Federal and Ontario government on their actions vis-à-vis BDS. CJPME also issued a position paper recommending an approach to BDS for our elected representatives – a paper which was presented and explained in person to dozens of MPs.
- CJPME highlights abuses taking place in Israel. While Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ rights is ongoing, certain abuses warrant special attention. When Israel tried to censure Palestinian-Israeli MKs, CJPME called this out to our own MPs and media. CJPME highlights the ongoing abuses via its social media channels on a daily basis.
- CJPME supports freedom of expression on Canadian campuses. CJPME has spoken out several times in support of student movements supporting Palestinian human rights. CJPME has also reached out to help university administrators who work to maintain freedom of expression on Canadian campuses.
Since the beginning of the year, CJPME has published timely factsheets for Canadian audiences.
The BDS Movement. We answer the questions: What motivates the BDS movement? Why is Israel targeted? Is BDS anti-Israel? Has BDS had successes in Canada? And others.
Parliament’s anti-BDS Motion. We answer the questions: Is BDS anti-Semitic? Does BDS seek to “destroy” Israel? And others.
Canada’s $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. We answer the questions: What is Saudi Arabia’s human rights record? Does Canada fear upsetting relations with Saudi Arabia? Can sanctions improve human rights in Saudi Arabia? Should Canada answer its arms contract with Saudi Arabia?
Ayman Odeh: Rising Palestinian Leader. In advance of Odeh’s visit to Canada, CJPME answered the questions: Who is Ayman Odeh, and what are his strengths? Why is Odeh a symbol of hope to Palestinians? What are the criticisms of Odeh?
Canada and the International Arms Trade Treaty. We answer the questions: What is the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)? How is the ATT different from Canada’s existing export controls? Why should Canada sign the ATT?
BDS: Disinformation and Ontario’s Bill 202. Following Ontario’s dreadful anti-BDS bill, CJPME answered the following questions: Was Ontario Bill 202 constitutional? What are the objectives of the BDS movement? Does BDS target Jews? What other disinformation was spread by Bill 202?
Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism. Much of the extremism in the Middle East can be traced back to the rise of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. This factsheet also challenges the perspective that Saudi Arabia is a “stabilizing” regional force.
Like the Duracell Bunny, our exhibitions just keep going!
CJPME continued to partner with local groups to host the exhibition, Dispossessed but Defiant: Indigenous Struggles from around the World, throughout the year. Produced by the CJPME Foundation, the exhibition highlights the similarity in the struggles of the Palestinians, Canada’s Indigenous peoples, and the blacks under Apartheid South Africa. In 2016, the exhibition was successfully displayed in London, ON, Kingston, Gatineau, Saskatoon, and at the World Social Forum in Montreal.
The CJPME team has worked hard for values and principles that we all hold dear, both for Canada and in the Middle East. While we do as much as we can, we depend on your ongoing support for the continuance of our work.
Please consider making a donation, or renewing your donation to enable CJPME to continue its vital work.