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

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

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

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

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

CJPME condemns Canada on Syrian refugees after Geneva

Montreal, December 10, 2014  — CJPME joins with other Canadian and international groups in lamenting Canada’s miserly approach to Syrian refugees.  These admonishments come as the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) made a plea yesterday in Geneva for wealthy countries to increase their refugee resettlement commitments.  While Canada has confirmed its willingness to resettle Syrian refugees, it made no new announcements to increase the number of Syrian refugees it would resettle.  With its promise to accept a mere 1300 Syrians – out of which only 457 have made their way to Canada – CJPME, Amnesty International Canada and others have condemned Canada for its ungenerous and insensitive approach to Syrian refugees.     Continue reading

Renowned Israeli author Gideon Levy to speak in Canada

Montreal, October 20, 2014  — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is delighted to announce the imminent lecture tour of renowned Israeli author and journalist Gideon Levy. The title of the lectures is “The Israel-Palestine Conflict: How will it end?” Levy—who has written for the Israeli daily Haaretz since 1982, and is a member of its editorial board—will focus on Israelis’ and Palestinians’ respective attitudes to the conflict, and how such attitudes are shaping the conflict’s evolution, duration and outcome. Continue reading

CJPME to MPs: Remember alternatives to sending troops to Iraq

Montreal, October 3, 2014  — CJPME urges Canadian MPs to remember that there are principled and more effective alternatives to putting “boots on the ground” in Iraq. CJPME believes that recent history has demonstrated that Western military action – without a significant and sustained humanitarian commitment – provides little or no long-term benefit.   Continue reading