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Stefan Christoff's blog

February 14, 2008 Weblog:

Open letter to the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois

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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.”

» continue reading " Open letter to the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois"

January 20, 2008 Weblog:

Abdelkader Belaouni still in sanctuary...

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By Stefan Christoff
Hour

Algerian refugee Abdelkader Belaouni has spent the past two years in sanctuary at St-Gabriel's Church in Pointe St-Charles. On Jan. 1, 2005, Belaouni took sanctuary in open defiance of a deportation ordered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

"I'm not hiding from Immigration Canada, but I want to tell them clearly, I will not be presenting myself for deportation," stated Belaouni in a public statement at the time.

Ever since, Abdelkader Belaouni, with the support of multiple community organizations and social justice groups, has been fighting a very public battle with Immigration Canada. It isn't the only battle he's faced in this lifetime. In 1996 he escaped a violent civil conflict in Algeria, which took an estimated 100,000 civilian lives. As a blind man, Belaouni made the journey to New York City, and while he never gained status there he did carve out an independent life selling telephone cards.

Following Sept. 11, 2001, Belaouni left New York out of the fear of systemic persecution against Arabs and Muslims, including mass deportations, disappearances and the fire-bombings of mosques. Immigration Canada didn't exercise sympathy or compassion in the case, instead issuing a deportation order for Belaouni three years after his arrival in Montreal.

Today, Belaouni remains in sanctuary, never having stepped foot outside St-Gabriel's Church in all the time he's been there. "After two years I remain here without status. It is tiring, it is depressing, I want freedom," he explains. "It is clear that the government is aware of my current suffering and my difficult history in Algeria; they must act now and regularize my status."

» continue reading " Abdelkader Belaouni still in sanctuary..."

December 6, 2007 Weblog:

Adbusters: the Digital Pitch, by Sean Condon

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Full Article at Adbusters Magazine.

Despite the privacy invasions and wrongful imprisonments in the Minority Report, the most disturbing scene in the futuristic thriller is the interactive hologram advertisements that read people’s emotions and call out to them by their name. While Philip K. Dick’s vision of a wayward security state still lies in the realm of science fiction, the personalized ads were frighteningly real...

October 31, 2007 Weblog:

Artists Against Apartheid.

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Part of the 5th international week of action against the apartheid wall, initiated by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, to oppose Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing and to support the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Leading up to ‘Palestinian Perspectives’, an evening of film screenings at the Cinéma du Parc in Montreal on November 29th, to commemorate 60 years of occupation and to celebrate the Palestinian voice. Featuring cutting edge cultural projects from Montreal & internationally, uniting in expression against Israeli Apartheid.

Performances by:

* Lubo Alexandrov: A Bulgarian-born guitarist, composer and singer, Alexandrov has developed a unique musical style, merging Bulgarian, Turkish and Roma musical traditions. Recipient of the 2007 Juno Music Award for the ‘Best World Album’. http://www.luboalexandrov.com

* Valerie Khayat: Poet, singer songwriter, Khayat has been active in folk, poetry and spoken word circles since 2004. She released her first book of poetry, ”The Road to Vesper”, and her first full length album, ”Resonance in Blue”, in 2007. http://www.myspace.com/valeriekhayat

* Kalmunity Vibe Collective members:

Jason Selman: Performance poet & musician
Mohamed Mehdi: Singer songwriter, poet.
Phenix: Hip-hop artist, poet of the Haitian diaspora.

* Ehab Lotayef: Writer, photographer, poet, activist and engineer.

* DJ Kandis: Middle Eastern, international beats, music from DJ Kandis.

Screening two films from the ‘Beyond Blue & Gray’ documentary project of Eyes Infinite Films, with an introduction by series producer Nirah Shirazipour:

» continue reading "Artists Against Apartheid."

October 22, 2007 Weblog:

Radio Tadamon! Facing Racism in Quebec.

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Download / Podcast the program HERE.

In Canada, a state commission on “Reasonable Accommodation” regarding the rights of minorities and new immigrants in Quebec has created a storm of controversy. This edition of Radio Tadamon! features Indu Vashist, a community organizer in Montreal and May Hayder of Al-Hidaya Association presenting alternative perspectives on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ to the government sponsored commission...

September 28, 2007 Weblog:

Who is the Terrorist? A Critical Conversation on Hezbollah.

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    WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17th, 6:30pm

Leacock Building, Room 232
McGill University, 688 Sherbrooke St.
Montreal, Canada

A public event hosted by Tadamon! Montreal & the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill University within the context of the campaign to challenging Hezbollah’s listing as a ‘Terrorist’ Group in Canada…

Presentations from:

Bilal Elamine: Currently living in Beirut, originally from Southern Lebanon, the former editor of Left Turn Magazine, Elamine will outline the current and historical role of Hezbollah in Lebanon from a progressive perspective. Critical recent events in Middle East history will be addressed within the presentation, as Elamine will speak about the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, the 2007 general strike and opposition protests within the context of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese society.

Brian Aboud: Presenting on Tadamon!’s campaign to challenge the listing of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization in Canada. Today, Canada is one of only three countries world-wide to designate Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization. The other two are Israel and the United States.

Film Screening:

A Summer Not to Forget: A film by Lebanese film maker, Carol Mansour. Using powerful and disturbing images, the film tells a story of yet another war on Lebanon: 1,200 killed, 4,000 injured, one million displaced, 78 bridges destroyed, 15,000 homes damaged, 15,000 tonnes of oil spilled on 80km of the Mediterranean coastline, 57 collective massacres and much more. Director Mansour takes you into the harsh realities of a nation devastated by war and a people caught under siege.

» continue reading " Who is the Terrorist? A Critical Conversation on Hezbollah."

September 26, 2007 Weblog:

Radio Tadamon! Racism & ‘Reasonable Accommodation’.

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Download / Podcast the program from the Rabble Podcast Network.

Listen to an interview with Nazila Bettache of No One is Illegal Montreal on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ in Quebec. A governmental commission began last week in Canada, on the growing racism faced in Quebec by immigrants.

Immigrants in Quebec have faced a growing political storm throughout the past year, as a Provincial debate on what is referred to as ‘reasonable accommodation’ has attracted international headlines.

* Radio Tadamon! is produced by the Tadamon! collective in Montreal, a social justice group focusing on building solidarity with movements for social / economic justice in the Middle East and Montreal, while also working within Diaspora communities in Canada.

September 21, 2007 Weblog:

OCAP Video: Anti-Poverty Day of Action

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OCAP Promo Video.

OCAP Action on September 26:
Raise the Rates! Mass Panhandle!
11:30 A.M. METRO PARK
(Queen and Church)

City-Wide Demonstration converging @ Queen's Park
2 P.M.

On Wednesday, September 26, a broad coalition of community
organizations, trade unions, health providers and low income people will be challenging Queen's Park to increase social assistance by 40%, raise the minimum wage, build affordable and accessible housing, and implement a Don't Ask-Don't Tell policy .

There will be a rally at the Ontario Legislature under the name of ˜Toronto Anti Poverty". Many of the organizations participating in the event, will hold their own actions on that day before marching on the Legislature for the united event.

For more information about the Day of Action HERE.

September 20, 2007 Weblog:

Massacre memorial for Sabra and Shatila

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from the Montreal Mirror.

by Christopher Hazou

Twenty-five years ago this week, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and sent in their Christian Phalangist allies. Over the next two days, between 800 and 2,000 Palestinian civilians were butchered in a scene of carnage that shocked much of the world.

This Saturday, Sept. 22, at 1 p.m., the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine commemorates this sombre anniversary by protesting outside of the Indigo bookstore downtown (corner Ste-Catherine and McGill College), where they will call on Chapters/Indigo majority shareholder Heather Reisman and her husband Gerry Schwartz to end their support of so-called “lone sol-diers”—young Jews who emigrate to Israel alone to join the military.

“This is about direct support to the Israeli army,” says Ehab Lotayef, a member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, another participating group. “The history of the Israeli army and what it represents is not consistent with the educational message that their bookstores should be advocating.”

It will be the 25th such protest against Chapters/Indigo in Montreal since they began in December, with similar demonstrations taking place in Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg. For more info, visit www.cjpp.org

September 19, 2007 Weblog:

Heather Reisman, Gerry Schwartz & Indigo/Chapters Supporting Israeli Military...

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An excellent article from THIS magazine concerning the growing national campaign to boycott Chapters/Indigo bookstore due to the support for the Israeli military from the company majority shareholders Heather Reisman & Gerry Schwartz...

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Full Article at: This Magazine.

Imagination. Creativity. Inspiration. Three words to stir the soul crown the towering windows of Toronto’s flagship Indigo bookstore. At ground level, shoppers pass in and out of wood-framed glass doors, navigating planters and benches intended to create a friendly, front-porch sort of welcome. They take little notice as, on the sidewalk beyond, two women unfurl an off-white canvas banner. Printed on one side are another three words, less poetic perhaps than the store’s motto, but the intended effect is just as moving: Boycott Chapters/ Indigo.

No, the protest is not a last-ditch attempt by independent booksellers to draw the literate back into their fold. Rather, the activists—11 have turned up on this Friday in April, the first truly warm day of spring—are taking a page from a much larger book. They are members of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), a network of Palestinian rights, Jewish peace and socialist groups doing their part to promote an international boycott campaign against Israel. They compare themselves to the early voices against South African apartheid, and history, they believe, can repeat itself: If international pressure could help rescue South Africa from apartheid, the same can be true for Israel.

» continue reading "Heather Reisman, Gerry Schwartz & Indigo/Chapters Supporting Israeli Military..."

September 19, 2007 Weblog:

25th Commemoration of Sabra / Chatila Massacre.

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Picket and Remembrance in Downtown Montreal...

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22nd, 1pm
Indigo Bookstore
Corner of St. Catherine & McGill College
(metro McGill)
Montreal, Canada

Between September 16th and 18th, 1982, Israeli military forces in Lebanon, under the direct command Ariel Sharon, former ‘Defense Minister’ of Israel, provided military logistics for the massacre of thousands of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila by the right-wing Phalangists militia of Lebanon...

Full Information at Tadamon!

September 18, 2007 Weblog:

Montreal activists call on Brian Mulroney to Denounce Israeli Aparthied

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Montreal, September 18th 2007: The Montreal network of the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid welcomed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during a launch of his autobiography at Indigo bookstore by unfurling a banner denouncing the apartheid situation under which Palestinians are living...

Full release from Tadamon! Montreal.

September 11, 2007 Weblog:

The Road to Nahr al-Barid: Lebanese Political Discourse and Palestinian Civil Rights

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An excellent analysis article on the siege of Nahr el-Bared by the Lebanese Army throughout the summer of 2007...

Excerpt below, however read the full version on-line at: Tadamon!

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» continue reading " The Road to Nahr al-Barid: Lebanese Political Discourse and Palestinian Civil Rights"

September 10, 2007 Weblog:

Radio Tadamon! Protests: Israeli Apartheid / Security Prosperity Partnership

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Listen / Download HERE.

This edition of Radio Tadamon! brings you to the streets, from the ongoing demonstrations throughout Canada calling for a boycott of Indigo/Chapters bookstores due to their support for Israel, to the major demonstrations in Montabello, Quebec surrounding the North American trilateral summit in August 2007.

» continue reading "Radio Tadamon! Protests: Israeli Apartheid / Security Prosperity Partnership"

September 4, 2007 Weblog:

Current TV: Unrest in the Philippines

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A film report produced by journalist Stefan Christoff
& Kodao Productions Inc. in Manila.

Watch film report on CURRENT TV.

» continue reading "Current TV: Unrest in the Philippines"

September 3, 2007 Weblog:

Tadamon! Solidarity Night.

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A cultural benefit event for Tadamon! Montreal...

Friday, September 7th, 8pm
La Sala Rossa
4848 St. Laurent
Montreal.
Entrance: $5-15

Tadamon!

* Montreal Launch of the film ‘Roads Through Palestine’:

Screening / Launch of a film by Brett Story, with a piano score composed by Stefan Christoff. A cinematic journey through the roads of occupation and resistance in the West Bank of Palestine.

Including performances from.

» continue reading "Tadamon! Solidarity Night."

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