Canadian M.O.U. with Israel Threatens Open Debate

Montreal, February 4, 2015  — During his visit to the Middle East last month, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird signed a number of agreements with the State of Israel, among them a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding diplomatic cooperation. While the memorandum covers a variety of topics, including advocating the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the document also touches on limiting criticism of Israel, which it identifies as “the new face of anti-Semitism.” While the MOU is vague, it has the potential of being interpreted very broadly.  As such, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) criticizes the MOU as having the potential to dangerously curtail public debate.  Continue reading

Deal to train Egyptian police betrays Canadian values

Montreal, February 3, 2015 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) questions the appropriateness of a recently announced police training agreement between Canada and Egypt.  Under the agreement, Canadian police would travel to Egypt to train Egyptian officers, and a number of Egyptian police officers would come to train at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa. CJPME opposes this agreement given that the current Egyptian government is widely condemned for civil liberties and human rights abuses against its people.  Most of the abuses cited have been carried out by Egypt’s Interior Ministry, the very ministry whose staff would receive training from Canadian police experts.   Continue reading

CJPME warns against growing Islamophobia in Canada

Montreal, February 3, 2015  — While all Canadians are concerned about the threat of violent extremism in the world, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) warns against the danger of growing Islamophobia in Canada.  CJPME believes that the threat of violent extremism in the world – including violent Islamic extremism – must be condemned and addressed, but that Muslims in Canada must be protected from a number of emerging forms of discrimination. “For the protection of Muslims and other minorities, and for the preservation of cherished values, we should not let global events undermine the legal right to equality in Canada,” stated Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. Continue reading

Canada Should Rethink Relationship with Saudi Arabia

Montreal, January 28, 2015  — The Canadian government has come under fire this week after critics raised questions about its recently finalized arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The $15-billion export deal is without question the largest ever brokered by a Canadian Crown corporation, although many have begun to wonder whether the agreement complies with federal export controls. Under Canadian trade policy, export partners with a “persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens” must be able to guarantee that the military equipment it is purchasing will not be used against its own people. As of this week, the Canadian government is refusing to confirm that it has obtained these assurances from the Saudi state. Continue reading

Harper Knesset speech avoids real reasons for Mideast conflict

Montreal, January 21, 2014  — CJPME laments that in his address to the Knesset yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper misrepresented the reasons for international criticism of Israel’s conduct. “Harper attributed criticism of Israel’s conduct to anti-Semitism.  In reality, the criticisms – including those from various European governments whose commitment to Israel’s survival is unstinting—are of Israel’s ongoing illegal land grab in the West Bank, its harsh military occupation, the longest in modern history, and its brutal blockade of Gaza,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley.  CJPME notes that although Harper alleges that critics of Israel’s conduct are “singling Israel out” for criticism, in fact most of the organizations and governments criticising Israel’s conduct also frequently criticise other countries’ actions. “In effect, through such accusations, Harper has thrown Palestinians under the bus of Israeli territorial ambitions,” adds Woodley.  Continue reading

Canada’s Reputation in the Middle East Needlessly Squandered

Montreal, January 21, 2015 – Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird’s visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week demonstrated just how badly Canada’s image has been tarnished in the Middle East. Upon arriving in the West Bank, Baird’s convoy was pelted with eggs and shoes by Palestinians dissatisfied with the Canadian government’s stance on the situation in the region. While Canada managed to remain somewhat neutral with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict under previous governments, recent remarks by Baird illustrate just how far Canada has come in its fawning support for Israel and its disregard for legitimate Palestinian concerns. Continue reading

CJPME Condemns Flogging of Saudi Blogger

Montreal, January 21, 2015 – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) condemns the public flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi was convicted in a Saudi court of insulting Islam via his website Free Saudi Liberals. His sentencing includes 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes, followed by a 10-year travel ban, a ban on the use of media, and a fine of 1,000,000 riyals. Badawi’s conviction and sentencing have resulted in widespread international condemnation because 1) Badawi’s supposed crimes are so subjective, and 2) the use of flogging violates international law’s prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.  Continue reading

CJPME highlights irony in presence of certain World Leaders in Paris

Montreal, 14 January 2015 – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) notes the irony in the presence of certain world leaders marching to uphold human rights in Paris. The million-person march on the 11 of January 2014 took place to protest the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris where 17 people were killed. Over 50 world leaders linked arm-in-arm led the symbolic march to denounce the shooting which represented an attack on freedom of speech. Ironically, the countries of many world leaders linking arms in Paris also suppress freedom of speech.   Continue reading

CJPME welcomes Palestinian membership at ICC

Montreal, January 14, 2015 – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes Palestine’s newfound membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC). On January 7, 2015, following its official accession to the Rome Statute, the State of Palestine became the ICC’s 123rd member, effective April 1 of this year. CJPME believes that, as a member of the ICC, Palestine will be able to ensure better protection of the human rights of its people. Continue reading

Appalling: Canada’s discriminatory refugee resettlement plan

Montreal, December 15, 2014  — News sources revealed late last week that Canada was considering a resettlement program for Syrian refugees which would discriminate based on religion.  When questioned in the House of Commons on Friday, Parliamentary Secretary Costas Menegakis stated, “We will prioritize persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, those at demonstrated risk, and we will not apologize for that.”  Ultimately, since the majority of Syrians are Muslim, the consequence of this policy would be to disfavour Syrian Muslims.       Continue reading