Find out more about IJV-Canada, through our Newsletters and Reports:
May 16 2011
Consult IJV-Toronto’s excellent report detailing the issue of the Toronto school Board’s “twinning” with injustice !
“Independent Jewish Voices is alarmed that two Toronto District School Board (TDSB) schools will be participating in the upcoming Jewish National Fund (JNF)-Downsview Park School Twinning Program on May 19,” says IJV Toronto spokesperson Corey Balsam. “The twinning program is portrayed as a benign environmental initiative, but the involvement of the Jewish National Fund, with its history and ongoing participation in human rights violations tell a different story.”
The program is a joint initiative of JNF Toronto and Parc Downsview Park Inc., linking the federally-funded Canada Forest at Downsview with the Toronto Community Forest in Israel’s Negev desert region. Participants in the program are scheduled to take part in a day of environmental activities and tree planting. The trees planted in the Canada Forest are to be “twinned” with a number of trees that are being planted in the Toronto Community Forest.
“By participating in this program, the schools involved—and therefore the TDSB—are allying themselves with an organization that is directly implicated in systemic discrimination against Palestinians and in possible war crimes,” Balsam continued. “We ask that the TDSB distance itself from this program and ensure that none of its schools participate in it in the future,” he concluded.
Click to read the IJV report : Twinning the TDSB with Injustice
IJV Newsletters: January and November 2009
Report from the 1st AGM held in Ottawa in June, 2009
Report on 1st AGM of Independent Jewish Voices, Ottawa, June 12-14, 2009
By Carl Rosenberg
On June 12-14, IJV held its first Annual General Meeting, which was both a milestone, indicating how far we have come in the past year, and also devoted to setting goals for the next year and beyond. Over seventy people attended from across Canada, representing all IJV chapters. The AGM itself became an organizing tool, leading to 40 new IJV memberships in the month leading up to the AGM.
On Friday night, there were two powerful keynote addresses, one given by Craig and Cindy Corrie, the parents of Rachel Corrie, the young American activist who was murdered while defending Palestinian rights. Veteran writer, feminist and activist Judy Rebick gave an overview of the challenges facing IJV, especially in the face of attempts at suppression on the part of the Israel Lobby. Judy mourned the marginalization of the Jewish tradition of critical thinking, but also expressed hope at the growth of the movement for Palestinian rights. Her speech displayed a rare humour, even while keeping sight of the seriousness of the situation. Both keynote addresses emphasized the importance of the work of IJV.
The Saturday events included workshops on diverse topics including the Palestinian Right of Return, led by Trevor Purvis, Professor of Law at Carleton University (in the absence of Michael Lynk, unable to attend because of family illness). Abla Abdelhadi and Aiden MacDonald led the workshop on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Sandra Ruch, who led an earlier delegation to Palestine, Medical Aid to Gaza, led the workshop on Gaza Solidarity. Richard Sanders, editor of the disarmament magazine Press for Conversion , led the workshop on “Israel and the Arms Trade: Canadian Complicity”; Corey Balsam, who recently spent several months working with the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem, led the workshop analyzing Zionism. In the afternoon there were workshops on First Nations Solidarity (Bob Lovelace), Anti-Semitism (Larry Haiven), the Israel Lobby (Daniel Freeman-Malloy), Challenging Islamophobia (Abbie Bakan), and Allies Against Racism (Margaret Parsons). The workshops generated a variety of recommendations for further actions, and the enthusiasm to carry them through.
Also important was the “allies” panel, with several eloquent and informative presentations: from Mohamed Boudjenane, Executive Director of the Canadian Arab Federation; Bob Lovelace of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation; Marion Pollack of CUPW; Christine Jones, Canadian Peace Alliance; and Margaret Parsons of the African Canadian Legal Clinic. Parsons, who was active in the anti-racism conferences in Durban and Geneva, spoke eloquently–and bitterly–of the attacks against them by the Israel Lobby.
Saturday night was devoted to a cultural evening, “Art for Justice: Social and Dance,” featuring a reading of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children, and a reading from Arthur Milner’s play The Facts, as well as poetry by Adam Balsam and Evelyn Voigt (“Gaza Trilogy”), and music by Angela Schleifauf and her klezmer band. These performances illuminated the issues discussed at the AGM as vividly as the presentations and workshops themselves.
Sunday morning was devoted to resolutions, and to the discussions leading up to them. It began with a presentation by Fabienne Preséntey, a Montreal member of the IJV Steering Committee. Fabienne discussed her impressions arising from her recent participation in a Quebec solidarity delegation to Israel/Palestine. She emphasized the severe oppression against Palestinian citizens of Israel (within the Green Line) as well as Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and that we must create stronger links with Jewish-Israeli solidarity and anti-occupation organizations, such as Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, New Profile, Women’s Coalition for Peace and ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions), and educating ourselves about the reality of the “social fabric of Israel,” and the “specificity of the Israeli form of apartheid.” She reported that many Jewish-Israeli peace activists are now strongly supporting the call for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli institutions.
Several resolutions were passed, including one on building solidarity with allies in Israel/Palestine, which would include preparing the ground for IJV delegations to Israel/Palestine. There was also an emergency resolution in defense of the conference at York University on one-state/two-state solutions. This was a gesture of solidarity in defense of freedom of discussion in the face of attacks by the Israel Lobby and the Conservative government. IJV members also unanimously approved a slightly revised form of the resolution approving the IJV’s structure.
But the most important resolution was the near-unanimous one in support of the
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, making IJV the first national Jewish organization to pass a BDS resolution. It has since met with praise from both Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish anti-occupation activists.
The conference was followed on Sunday afternoon by a lunch meeting of the Steering Committee-face-to-face, a pleasant change from conference calls-to fine-tune some of the tasks set before IJV members by the AGM.
The AGM was marked by a feeling of cooperation and enthusiasm, a real sense of community among the diverse participants, and the workshop presenters and allies who generously shared their time and experience. Thanks and congratulations are due to all the participants, and especially all who made the AGM possible-the IJV chairs and organizers (especially Diana, Jean, Sid, and Dylan), Ottawa-IJV volunteers, especially Adam Balsam and his team of caterers who prepared the delicious food, and those who so hospitably provided places to stay for out-of-town delegates. It is actions like these that grow lasting movements for change.