The following has just come in from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East – CJPME:
Renowned Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje is among the 16 international artists who have announced their support for BDS after witnessing conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Montreal, June 18, 2014 — Three of Canada’s top writers are among the 16 internationally renowned artists who, after a recent visit to the West Bank, have issued a strongly worded statement. The declaration expresses the “utmost sadness and dismay” over Israel’s recent announcement of yet another 1500 illegal settlement units in the West Bank. The artists note that this move is particularly unfortunate at a moment when the Palestinians have formed a unity government. The artists go on to “applaud the non-violent efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and express our solidarity with its demand that Israeli should comply with international law.” They specifically call on Israel to end the occupation, dismantle the “separation wall”, recognize the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respect the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.
Michael Ondaatje, four-time winner of Canada’s top literary prize, the Governor General’s award (GG), novelist Linda Spalding, herself a GG winner and respected editor, and Prism fiction prize winner Eliza Robertson are the Canadians who participated in the fact-finding visit and statement. Other signatories include American writers Teju Cole (Open City, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award) and Sapphire (Precious), British author Brigid Keenan, Egyptian-British author Adhaf Soueif (Map of Love) , and Danish writer Janne Teller.
“We welcome the artists’ statement, and hope that other Canadian artists will be inspired by their courage and ethical clarity,” says Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), a grassroots citizens’ group. CJPME notes that Canadian MPs have buried their heads in the sand while Israel continuously expands its “settlements” on occupied Palestinian land, and repeatedly violates international law vis-à-vis the Palestinians. CJPME shares the writers’ conviction that “additional settlements can be seen only as an act of aggression, showing utter disregard not just for the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people, but for international law.”
CJPME notes that in the summer of 2013, over 100 Canadian writers co-signed the Canadian Writers’ Open Letter to Israeli and Canadian leaders. That letter urged Israel to halt evictions of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills (West Bank) and of Bedouins in Israel’s Negev desert. The signatories included Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Nino Ricci, Joseph Boyden, Yann Martell, Vincent Lam, Lisa Moore, John Ralston Saul, Lorna Crozier, Jane Urquhart and Michel Tremblay. The evictions were discontinued, at least temporarily, and the proposed legislation to forcibly relocate the Bedouin was withdrawn.
Did you know?
This is not the first time that Canadian writers and other international artists have spoken up about Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. Find out more:
Montreal, July 16, 2013 — Margaret Atwood and John Ralston Saul have added their names to a list of 91 writers who have signed an open letter to Israeli and Canadian leaders. The letter asks Israeli leaders to halt the imminent “firing zone” evictions of 1000 Palestinians from the Southern Hebron Hills, and the Prawer Plan for the forced displacement of 20000-70000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from the Negev. Yann Martel (The Life of Pi), Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes), Guy Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman’s Boy), Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry and Jane Urquhart are also among the additions to an impressive list of well-known Canadian writers.
Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Vincent Lam, Lisa Moore, Lorna Crozier, Alberto Manguel, George Bowering, Edeet Ravel, Patrick Lane, Sheila Heti, Kyo Maclear, Dr. Gabor Maté, Michel Tremblay and Canada’s current Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah are among the best known of the original signatories. Dozens of nominees or winners of the Governor General’s literary awards, the Giller Prize, the Impac Dublin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Man Booker Prize, and other honours, including the Order of Canada, figure in the list. (See text of letter and full list of signatories by clicking this link.)
“It’s nothing but ethnic cleansing,” said one of the signatories, Gabor Mate, in an interview with Postmedia News last week. Mate is a Jewish Canadian and Holocaust survivor, and said that personal conviction compelled him to co-sign the letter. “One thing I’ve learned is you don’t be quiet when things happen that shouldn’t happen,” Maté added in his interview with Postmedia. [emphases by OC4P]