More than 1,000 Canadian artists and workers in the culture sector have signed an open letter in solidarity with Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation. In another indication of the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and increasing support for Palestine in Canada, the letter denounced Israel for its “apartheid and settler colonialism” and called for cultural institutions in the country to end cooperation with Israeli-sponsored art and cultural activities.
The call follows Israel’s latest offensive against Gaza which killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, 39 women, and 17 elderly people. “We are deeply shocked by the recent developments on the ground in Palestine/Israel — the fourth bombardment since 2009 in Gaza,” said the signatories. “Enough is enough. The two million Palestinians in Gaza, over 70 per cent of whom are refugees, forcibly expelled from their homes during the establishment of the state of Israel, have also suffered a brutal land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.”
The letter described Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “apartheid and settler colonialism with the aim of ethnic cleansing.” We need to call it what it is, they insisted.
The signatories pledged their support for BDS along with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. “We declared our support for the historic South African fight against apartheid – the same should apply to Palestine’s struggle against the Israeli apartheid state.”
It is time to end the “decades of suppression of the Palestinian narrative” by the Canadian media and political interest groups, the letter pointed out. “We are moved to speak out against the ongoing violence and destruction of the Palestinian people’s homes, their natural environment, farmlands and resources. We are furthermore determined to work towards the end of the dehumanisation of the Palestinian people as a result of decades of support that has been given to the settler-colonial state of Israel.”
The “suppression of the Palestinian narrative” is a reference to the bitter row in Canada over the media coverage of Israel. During the colonial state’s recent eleven-day bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, over 2,000 people signed an “open letter to Canadian newsrooms on covering Israel-Palestine,” and called for a more “fair and balanced coverage” of the occupation.