In a bittersweet moment for CJPME, we say farewell this week to Miranda Gallo, as she departs to earn a Master’s in International Law. Miranda started with CJPME as an intern in 2016, and then joined CJPME staff as Campaigns Coordinator in 2017. Miranda has done amazing work during her tenure at CJPME especially with her contribution to our campaigns, political advocacy and social media.
Left: Miranda with Tom at the Library of Parliament, following MP meetings. Centre: Miranda recording a video in front of CJPME's green-screen "studio." Centre: Miranda poses for a picture with one of CJPME's campaign banners.
Miranda’s departure is part of the challenge we face in Canadian advocacy for Palestinian human rights, as funding constraints prevent us from offering a career option to promising and passionate young people. Following Miranda’s farewell message, we have included an interview I did in December about our vision, and the challenges we face as an organization.
Below is Miranda’s parting message to our friends and supporters across the country. We thank her for her service and commitment to CJPME and Palestinian human rights. – Tom, CJPME President
Left: Global News broadcast Miranda during one of CJPME's press conferences on Parliament Hill. Right: Miranda with friends at a demonstration for Palestinian rights in downtown Montreal.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank Tom and all the rest of the folks at CJPME for a super enriching experience which has helped me to channel my passions and grow professionally in so many ways.
“I will always have the best memories of my many trips to Parliament Hill with CJPME, meeting with MPs, appealing to their better nature to stand up for Palestinian human rights. I’m also extremely grateful for all the relationships that have been forged at CJPME. I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know so many people through CJPME who are actively fighting for a better world.
Left: Miranda ran for the NDP in the October, 2019 elections, and was visiously attacked by B'nai Brith for her support for BDS. Right: Miranda was a key part of CJPME's campaign to oppose Islamophobia in Canada.
“CJPME has been absolutely instrumental in my development and growth as a young progressive. It has enabled me to meet and influence Canadian policymakers and educate Canadians at large on such critical Middle East issues. I honestly believe that it is only through professional and visionary institutions like CJPME that we will be able to see a real shift in Canadian policy for the better.
“Thanks to everyone in the CJPME family for nurturing me and supporting me through the many ups and downs of the difficult but rewarding work that is defending Palestinian human rights in Canada.”
Left: Miranda was the star in many of CJPME's popular videos which challenged the government to do better. Right: Miranda (at left) with interns for the "Palestine on the Hill" day in Ottawa.
As mentioned above, below is an interview with CJPME’s President Thomas Woodley from last month. It talks about the origins, vision and challenges at CJPME. Please email us at [email protected] with any questions or comments – we always love to hear from our supporters.
What led you to launch CJPME?
In the early 2000s, many of us were horrified by Israel’s brutal response to the Second Intifada. One story in particular – about a paraplegic Palestinian man in a wheelchair being run over by an Israeli bulldozer – left us deeply outraged. A group of us wanted to do more to advocate for Palestinian human rights in Canada, but realized that virtually no other organization was reaching out to Canadian politicians in a consistent and professional way.
What are CJPME’s most important values?
First, from the beginning, we wanted CJPME to be about “empowering” average Canadians to be heard. People get excited and involved when they feel they have a voice. That’s why there’s so much emphasis in our campaigns to enable people to write or meet their politicians, to write to the media, to host an exhibition, etc. It’s important to demonstrate that there are large numbers of Canadians who feel strongly about our issues, and we are also the only organization that works in both English and French.
Second, of course, we try to be an organization that welcomes and involves “Canadians” of all backgrounds, whether Arab, English, French, or other.
What else is special about CJPME?
I believe that CJPME brings a credibility and consistency that is rarely seen in Palestine advocacy. I also believe CJPME is unique in its ability to do both grassroots-level work, as well as professional policy work. For example, we’re able to organize locally, but we also publish rigorous factsheets and position papers that we present to politicians and the media. This enables us to work with both local and student groups, as well as with academia and big players like Amnesty, Oxfam and others.
What led you to be President of CJPME?
When we re-organized CJPME in 2007, the Board offered the presidency to me. The message from the Board was, “You’re the one making things happen now, and we want you to continue to drive the organization forward.” I work extremely hard – frequently doing 80-hour weeks. I also have a very broad skillset: I can do policy, IT, admin, finance, graphics, organizing, Website, fundraising, politicking.
What has made CJPME strong over the years?
I believe that we’ve survived for 15 years because we were professional and intentional from the outset. We weren’t launched by idealistic youth, but by people – like myself – who were mid-career, and had the passion, skills and long-term commitment to create an enduring organization. This meant getting serious early on about having bylaws, a Board, a strategic plan, a budget, insisting on accountability, and fundraising. The “fun” in our work is meeting people and speaking out, but if an organization is not serious about planning and administration, it’s not going to survive.
What would be lost if CJPME disappeared?
First, the absence of our pro-Palestinian voice on Parliament Hill would be keenly felt. Many politicians tell us that CJPME is the most consistent group raising awareness on Palestine. We’ve been sending delegations to Parliament Hill since 2004, presenting credible, fact-based legal arguments supporting Palestinian human rights. We’ve nurtured relationships with politicians for 15 years, and this won’t be replaced easily.
Second, our ability to launch large and sophisticated human rights campaigns would be lost. Last year, our campaign for Gaza mobilized 20,000 Canadians to email Prime Minister Trudeau – that’s an amazing reach! Effective campaigns like that are possible because of CJPME’s strong political and technical know-how and experience.
What are some recent accomplishments that make you proud?
There’s so much to say, but I’ll limit my response to three things. First, I’m thrilled with the impact we had on the October elections: our work was repeatedly cited during the elections. Second, I’m thrilled with the media coverage that we’ve gotten this year. We got Noura Erakat and Robert Fisk onto some of Canadian media’s biggest programs; and we ourselves were quoted in the Globe and Mail, CBC and other outlets. Finally, I felt we had some very effective public campaigns: supporting beleaguered election candidates, advancing BDS, and combatting Islamophobia, among others.
What is CJPME’s greatest challenge today?
Whether with me or with others, the challenge is staff burnout. As an organization, we’re addressing some of the world’s most intractable issues; we’re constantly confronting upsetting news; and we’re working with stubborn and close-minded politicians. And we’re dealing with all these things on a shoestring budget. Given these hardships, the most talented people see no career future in this work, and go into other fields. We need our supporters to understand the necessity of this work and the hardships we face. We then need them to better enable our work through their financial support.
The CJPME team works 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.
If you’ve never given monthly, would you consider a monthly donation? Can you give $20/month, $50/month, $100/month, more? We need to raise an additional $5000/month to address our current challenges.
Thank you immensely,
P.S. We always encourage our supporters to get in touch, whether to donate, or offer ideas, suggestions or comments. Please feel free to email or call us anytime.
P.P.S. We mailed a 4-page newsletter to our supporters in December. It contains many other highlights of our work. Please click here to view the full newsletter.