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In the name of our prisoners: Non-Violence, Creativity, International Joint Struggle
April 21-23, 2010
Bil'in, West Bank
During this fifth annual conference, we felt the absence of our friends who are prevented by the occupation's cells and bars from joining us, imprisoned for struggling non-violently for our freedom, activists and leaders of the popular committees Abdullah Abu Rahmah, Ibrahim A'amirah, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, Hassan Moussa, Zaydoun Surour, Ibrahim Burnat, Wael Faqi and all political prisoners.
The conference opened with a message from them written by the imprisoned coordinator of the popular committee of Bili'n, Abdullah Abu Rahme. The message spoke of the need to continue the popular nonviolent struggle and the need for international support.
We felt the absence our beloved Bassem Abu Rahmah, along with the martyrs of Ni'lin and those that have fallen to defend our land and human dignity. We heard from the family of the martyr Bassem Abu Rahma on behalf of the families of the martyrs who stated that the popular struggle must continue until freedom is achieved.
We felt the absence of our brothers and sisters from Gaza who can join us only via video conference due to the occupation's criminal siege of 1.5 million of our people.
All those that were not with us physically were with us every minute in spirit. It is your steadfastness and your sacrifice that fuel and inspire the struggle that will ultimately lead us to our freedom.
Jon Elmer: "Israeli pilots carried out a series of air and artillery strikes throughout the Gaza Strip, targeting civilian infrastructure, assassinating militants and striking fear into the population with deafening noise as low-flying F-16 fighter jets shatter the sound barrier overhead day and night." (OCT 2005)
Jon Elmer: "Living in conditions of crushing poverty, less than 15 percent of Al-Mawasi residents were connected to the electricity grid; the rest relied on two generators that operated only in the evenings. With tight army checkpoints, residents had sporadic and unpredictable access to fuel, dictated by the apparent whims of Israeli authorities." (OCT 2005)
Ramzy Baroud: "On Tuesday, January 22, they descended on the Gaza-Egypt border and what followed was a moment of pride and shame: pride for those ever-dignified people refusing to surrender, and shame that the so-called international community allowed the humiliation of an entire people to the extent that forced hungry mothers to brave batons, tear gas and military police in order to perform such basic acts as buying food, medicine and milk." (FEB 2008)
Eva Bartlett: "The youth was struck from behind by an Israeli sniper bullet that dug into his spine, destroying three of his vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed and bleeding on the roof, where he lay for 15 minutes before his younger brother found him. The 13-year-old dragged Abed to the stairs and down into the family's home, dodging further sniper fire as he went." (JUL 2008)
With this letter I would like to officially withdraw as a member of the jury for the 2008 Prize of the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation for the Promotion of Tolerance through Cinema (2008 Prix annuel de la Fondation Alex et Ruth Dworkin pour la promotion de la tolérance à travers le cinéma) at the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois.
For those who may not be aware, this prize, which includes a grant of $5000, “goes to a producer representing the production team which has best demonstrated, in the winning work, a message of comprehension and tolerance”.
I accepted the invitation from the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois to join this year’s jury in good faith. But after examining in more detail the political and financial basis of the prize I must refuse to have my name associated with it. Behind this noble sounding “award for tolerance” hides a story of intolerance, division and discrimination.
Firstly, I quit the jury because the Prix annuel de la Fondation Alex and Ruth Dworkin is an initiative of the Congrès juif canadien, Région du Québec, an organization which I consider to be a vehicle for the Israeli propaganda machine and fundamentally intolerant of dissent and difference, particularly when it comes to Israeli government policies.
One case in point is the refusal of the national leadership of the Congrès juif canadian (CJC) to accept a recent membership application from the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC).
ACJC members “joined together to create a cross-Canada alliance of Jewish anti-occupation forces… whose views are not represented by the government of Israel or by the uncritical positions taken by the leadership of the major Jewish organizations in Canada.”
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.