Undermining the Democratic Process: Canadian Government Suppression of Palestinian Development Aid

Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 23:00 to Friday, May 20, 2016 - 01:00

Presented by Jeremy Wildeman, recently completed PhD (Exeter) research on Canadian aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territories. He co-founded the Palestinian youth-education charity Project Hope during the Second Intifada

One of the most contentious topics in contemporary Canada is Israel and its occupation of the Palestinians. This talk explores original research looking at a Canadian government crackdown against individuals and organizations who ran development aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territories in the 2000s, because they were deemed sympathetic to Palestinian rights, and raises questions about what that means for Canadian civil society and democracy.

One of the most contentious topics in contemporary Canada is Israel and its occupation of the Palestinians. As much as Israel’s occupation is an international conflict,it is also a Canadian one, where activists have been attempting to breakthrough barriers to extend respect for core Canadian values like equal rights to millions of marginalized Palestinians. That attempt has been met with strong,often severe, resistance by leading forces within the Canadian elite and political parties.

To understand that struggle this talk explores original research that looks into the Canadian government crackdown that took pace in the 2000s against Canadian organizations running development aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territories, because they were deemed to be sympathetic to Palestinian rights and therefore a threat to Israeli rule. In numerous instances the government or its proxies sabotaged projects, individuals and entire organizations. Tactics included infiltrating an organization’s management with extremist pro-Israel right-wing activists, defunding specific projects or entire organizations, launching dubious audits and even forcing organizations to close. This suppression was particularly fierce under the Harper Conservative government, but had a basis with earlier Liberal governments.

Fundamentally these tactics of suppression represent an undermining of transparency in governance and the democratic process.  They may have been first honed against the margin of Palestinian charitable and rights work, but were also wielded later against other progressive groups such as the Harper government’s targeted auditing of left-leaning charities uncovered in 2014.  In this way the social forces contending Israel and Palestine can destabilize Canada as few others, and history suggests a change in governments in October 2015 may not mark much of an improvement.

Jeremy Wildeman completed PhD (Exeter) research on Canadian aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territories; is the current Director of the UK-based charity Firefly International, which supports youth education and peace building in conflict/post-conflict regions of the Balkans and Middle East; co-founded the Palestinian youth-education charity Project Hope during the Second Intifada; and publishes regularly about foreign aid.

Need to know:
– Doors open at 6:50
– $5 donation (suggested minimum)
– Accessible on demand via portable ramp; washrooms not accessible
– Please avoid using strong-scented products due to sensitivities

Tasty refreshments (non-alcoholic) with Zatoun oliveoil+za’atar dipping.

Beit Zatoun
612 Markham St. (Bathurst subway)
Toronto , ON
43° 39' 11.6136" N, 79° 22' 59.4624" W
Ontario CA

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