Highlights from 2023
Just Peace Advocates
During 2023, Just Peace Advocates
- assisted with 25+ requests for help related to legal concerns with 80% of those since early October 2023, finding lawyers who could provide advice
- undertook 28 letter writing campaigns, with over 120K actions reaching over 6 million inboxes
- sent 25+ media releases on topics that do not make the mainstream media. Our list of 2500 media contacts is Canada-based but includes media from around the world
- had a mailing list of over 40,000 subscribers
- sent out 75+ e-blasts to our followers, as well as were present on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
- provided our Legal Resources and Tactical Guide for Palestine Human Rights Advocacy & Activism, a comprehensive Canadian legal resources and tactical guide for Palestine human rights advocacy & activism, and other related resources to a dozen Canadian student groups and many others especially as people are being silenced these last several months
- maintained a legal network of 100+ lawyers who received about a dozen e-news during the year
- worked to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement across the country by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction in Canada, providing advocacy support to students, grassroots activists and affected communities who stand for justice in Palestine
- monitored incidents of suppression to expose trends in tactics to silence Palestine activism
- more than a dozen op-eds and many other mention in publications such as Rabble, TRT World, The Toronto Star, CBC, Spring, Palestine Chronicle, Radio Canada, TVA, Nouvelles, Arab News, Al Mayadeen, Middle East Monitor, Electronic Intifada, The Jurist, the Israel National News and others; including interviews and other media coverage of our work
- reached about 5K through our approximately dozen webinars all coordinated in collaboration with other organizations, with several hundreds of thousands viewing the recording.
- Several petitions including one signed by 5+K to the ICC, and one parliamentary petition which called for sanctions to be lifted on Syria following the earth-quake
- prepared more than 120 statements and posts that were shared during the year from our website
Campaign highlights include:
In early October, Canadian officials expressed concern about Israeli suffering but refused to criticize Israel’s killing of 1100 Palestinians, including more than 300 children. Just Peace Advocates began a letter writing campaign that saw over 10K letters sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joly calling on Canada to condemn Israeli violence against Palestinians. The letters made it clear that Canada needed to insist that humanitarian access be allowed into Gaza. The letters warned the Canadian government that this was critical given the intensified attacks and the strict closure and cutting off of supplies of electricity, fuel, water, food and medicine, threatening the survival of the more than 2 million people living in Gaza.
With no heed by the Canadian government, stronger letters related to the Israeli attacks on hospitals and the collapse of health care in Gaza , and to stop the genocide, Just Peace Advocates took the lead from the calls from the Palestinian NGO community with further letter campaigns. In total about 15K actions were taken. Information in regard to the weekly actions that were building around the country continued to be shared over these last three months of 2023.
- Over $10B of Canadian charity donations have been made to other countries over the last 5 years
- Over 10% of reported Canadian donations go to Israel, a country with GDP per capita equivalent to Canada. On average, $250M per year is reported on average going to Israel. Meanwhile only about $10M goes to Palestine annually.
- A dozen charities providing funds to Israel have had their charitable status revoked in the last several years.
- During 2023, a number of complaints were made to the Canada Revenue Agency in regard to Canadian charities supporting the Israeli military & illegal settler colonization in the apartheid state.
Taxpayer subsidized donations by Canadian charities may well be Canada’s most important contribution to Palestinian dispossession. Just Peace Advocates has been using information available publicly for individual charities through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) portal, as well as through obtaining access to information requests has looked at this in more detail. Over the years, charities in Canada have sent about a quarter billion dollars a year to projects in Israel, some which provide support towards the Israeli military, and/or illegal Israeli settlements, which are things that are in contravention of CRA regulations. Check out information related to Canadian charities’ support of war crimes, apartheid and racism.
Also, Just Peace Advocates joined in Solidarity with the Peace 11: Why the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers should have its charitable status revoked, December 9, 2023, as well as contributed to Defund Racism’s comprehensive report on Regavim, and Canadian charities complicity in funding indigenous erasure. We also considered the specific impact of Canadian charities in regard to Canada’s complicity with annexation of East Jerusalem.
On November 16, the International Centre for Justice and Peace Legal Working Group for Canadian Accountability (ICJP LWGCA) issued a notice to the Government of Canada of its intention to prosecute Canadian officials for their role in aiding and abetting Israel’s perpetration of war crimes. The notice was issued to leading members of the Liberal government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, Minister of National Revenue Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Minister of Justice (Attorney General) Arif Virani. The notice included a stark warning that Canadian government officials could be individually liable and face charges before the International Criminal Court if there is evidence they have aided and abetted Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity (a violation of Article 25(3)(c) and (d) of the Rome Statute). Just Peace Advocates joined to support civil society engagement in this notification including a press conference, and a petition that garnered over 5K signatures.
During 2023, the campaign to stop illegal Israeli military recruiting continued including filing of further requests for investigation by the CRA of Canadian charities providing funds to support the Israeli military. Also, a campaign to stop Israel military speaking at Canadian universities, led to a pro-Israel group actually cancelling their own event. Just Peace Advocates was pleased to work with students and faculty at Mount Allison to attempt to stop the conferring of an honour degree on Deborah Lyons, but when that failed they turned their backs and some walked out as Debroah Lyons, the former Canadian ambassador received an honourary degree. Lyons threw a pizza party for Canadians who joined the zionist military while she was the Canadian ambassador. An access request obtained by Just Peace Advocates provides the details of Lyons arranging the pizza party.
A legal brief filed to bar former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett from Canada, May 31, 2023 and a mandamus filed with federal court to request to ban Naftali Bennett from Canada, June 8, 2023. CBC and other media coverage, along with a webinar and campaign led to Bennett remaining quiet about his plans, and the public calling for the Canadian government to take steps to bar Bennett for his alleged complicity in war crimes through settlement expansion.
In December, as Palestine solidarity advocacy on university campuses and in other settings is under attack, lawyers and legal scholars have raised concern about the attempts to silence those who speak out about well documented breaches of international law. Just Peace Advocates supported the students from McGill in outreach to develop this important legal statement, which was signed by lawyers and legal academics.
As the genocide in Gaza approached 70+ days, the Palestinian Christian churches called for cancelling “unnecessary festive activities.” Just Peace Advocates joined in supporting the Canadian BDS Coalition in its call on Canadian churches, Canadians of conscience and all those who celebrate Christmas to show their solidarity with Palestinian Christians and all the Palestinian people, and to refrain from “unnecessary festive activities” including exchanging consumerist gifts. Several thousand letter were sent to the Canadian Council of Churches and its members asking them to join this solidarity call.
Just Peace Advocates learned in late July that the province of Ontario planned to “slip” IHRA into its updated anti-racism strategy. This was learned during an appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission after the Ontario government withheld information in an information request. Ontario is one more example of the IHRA being slipped into policy. The good news is that IHRA, despite all the pro-Israel self-congratulation, has not been legislated. However, an anti-racism strategy that endorses anti-Palestinian racism is an oxymoron at best. TRT World covered this item in an op-ed.
When the United Church of Canada chose to once again ignore the call of Palestine’s Christians, this was exposed by Just Peace Advocates including through an op-ed authored by Khaled Mouammar in February 2023 in rabble.ca.
Just Peace Advocates was pleased to be able to support the Law for Palestine event held on parliament hill with Just Peace Advocates board member, Karen Rodman moderating the event titled “Embracing Responsibility: Canada’s obligation towards Palestine under international law” on May 31, 2023. Bringing together notable speakers, the hybrid event gathered a diverse audience of over 150 officials, civil society activists, and researchers, who joined either in person or online. The event was held at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa and also made accessible through a virtual platform (zoom), all with the aim of addressing the prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory and Canada’s role in addressing this critical issue.
Along with Al Haq and others, we were also able to join in several meetings with Global Affairs and also NDP staffers, raising the importance of investigating charities, taking action to stop illegal military recruiting, and stop import of products from occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan, as well as discuss the review at Foreign Affairs Committee that was planned (but did not happen) for Fall of 2023.
In February 2023, Jonathan Kuttab participated in a meeting with Canadian diplomatic rep in Ramallah da Silvia, and in the early summer Karen Rodman was invited by Palestinian Canadians to join in a meeting they had set up with da Silvia.
Just Peace Advocates working with other organizations launched the FIFA: Suspend Apartheid Israel campaign in May 2022, and the Kick Out Apartheid website in November 2022. These highlighted Israel’s violations of the principles of FIFA in a variety of ways that would normally warrant disciplinary actions and even a suspension of its membership. Work continued on this during 2023 including a letter to FIFA from lawyers that Just Peace Advocates coordinated.
The campaign regarding the Canada public pension plan continued for the fourth year with analysis showing that CPPIB continues to hold over $10B in companies complicit with Israeli war crimes and that the Quebec pension plan, the CDPQ continued to have over $12.5 B Quebec pension funds invested in Israeli war crimes, even after Allied Universal drops investment in Israeli police training. The on-going yearly analysis and campaign continue, working intersectionality with others concerned about public pension investment. Further analysis has taken place in late 2023 of a number of other public pension plans which will be shared early in 2024.
WSP, a Montreal headquartered transnational company, continued to dominate the Canadian equity holdings in both CPPIB and CDPQ. In September 2022, Just Peace Advocates joined with Al-Haq to make a formal submission to the UN Database that called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the Montreal headquartered transnational WSP for its complicity in violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in regard to its involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project. Work towards keeping this effort active continued through 2023, particularly related to CPPIB and CDQP large investments in WSP.
A number of campaigns in support of #FreeThemAll including Walid Daqqah and Ahmad Manasra were supported by Just Peace Advocates. Jonathan Kuttab visited Mohammad Halabi in Israeli prison early in 2023.
We also were pleased to support the film “Tomorrow’s Freedom” at the Toronto Palestinian Film Festival.
On December 19, 2023, Just Peace Advocates joined with the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign for its 34th consecutive monthly Free Alex Saab! US/Canada Hands Off Venezuela! online picket, not knowing that in less than 24 hours, Alex Saab would be in Venezuela! It has been an honour to join Fire This Time Movement and those that are part of the Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign over these last almost three years of monthly on-line pickets. As we are relieved that Alex Saab is back home in Venezuela with his family, we remember and recognize the continuous support of the late Professor Luis Acuña Cedeño, Charge d’affaires of the Venezuela Embassy in Canada, Bolivarian revolutionary leader and educator who died in August 2023.
Just Peace Advocates held sessions in four cities and a webinar in regard to Ending Sanctions during April 2023. Canada has sanctions on twenty two countries currently, although one of those is Ukraine as relates to Russia. Twelve of these are sanctioned by the UN, and Canada sanctions through its UN Act, although in several cases (Haiti, Iran, North Korea, and South Sudan these sanctions also include SEMA). Ten additional countries beyond those that the UN sanctioned, are sanctioned by Canada including: Belarus, Myanmar, Nicaragua, China (specific to Xinjiang), Syria, Russia (and related Ukraine as deemed violated by Russia), Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
Just Peace Advocates worked with World Beyond War and others, including the Canada wide Peace and Justice Network, on a number of anti-war campaigns.
In October 2023, as the genocide in Gaza was in its earlier weeks, we made public a list of weapons companies across Canada who arm the Israeli military and have mapped out their locations across the country. Canada Stop Arming Israel provided information, actions and an interactive map. Over the coming weeks a number of actions occurred by various anti-war activists across the country.
Just Peace Advocates, having worked to expose the planned purchase of armed drones by the Canadian government under a campaign several years ago, worked with others on the No Armed Drones for Canada. This included education through webinars, actions, a series of events over the summer 2023 “Cones Not Drones” and media. After Parliament adjourned for the holiday season, in December 2023, the Canadian government just quietly released plans to purchase their first fleet of military armed drones for both domestic surveillance and attacks overseas. They’re hoping we won’t notice their sneaky announcement! But we did and the work will continue in 2024.
Work related to campaigns to boycott included Puma which despite it recently saying it was not signing the contract with the IFA is still complicit with apartheid, Aldo, lululemon, RBC investment in Palantir, Shut Down Elbit – Shame on Scotiabank, and don’t buy apartheid Medjoul, buy Palestinian. We also called on the City of Toronto to not cave into the hate campaign against Roger Waters launched in regard to the Pink Floyd Exhibition. Other research undertaken by Just Peace Advocates supporting others allowed other campaigns such as the Fox and Tempo BDS campaigns to roll out.
In October as the Ontario government censured MP Sarah Jama and her own party, the Ontario NDP removed her, we worked with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute on a press conference and related campaign, to Defend Sarah Jama, Stop the Attack on Gaza. More than 430 signatories including physician and author Gabor Maté, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters as well as numerous former MPPs, academics, artists and activists, signed this letter to Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative Party, and to the Ontario NDP Party. An earlier campaign in May 2023, defended Jama, calling for the Ontario NDP to apologise after they condemned her for her stance on Palestine.
Just Peace Advocates continues to remind Canadians that our history of voting at the UN regarding Palestine is shameful since 1947, and the “orphan” UN vote for self-determination was related to Canada’s bid at the UNSC, and the more recent vote for a ceasefire was calculated based on hope this would satisfy disgruntled supporters who had indicated they were withdrawing support from the Liberal party.
Just Peace Advocates made submission to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) consultation saying among other things that it is not feasible that CFIA consider labelling separate to existing international and domestic law, and Canadian foreign policy. While this consultation would not be expected to change foreign policy, it should follow and respect existing foreign policy, as well as international and domestic law. Import of goods from occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan is complicit with supporting war crimes.
Work continued through the year in support of Kashmir, 75 years after the UNSC Resolution 47 promised self-determination through a plebiscite, the resolution that Canada took leadership in obtaining. The campaign in regard to Canada’s dismal support of the G20 being held in occupied Kashmir did result in a small victory with the Green Party condemning the Liberal government in this regard. We also joined in the campaign to stop arrests and harassment of human rights defenders in Kashmir including Khurram Parvez. We encourage people to read the Kashmir Law and Justice Project’s report “Complete Injustice: The Indian Supreme Court and the Misrule of Law in Kashmir.”
Just Peace Advocates joined with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute to make a submission to Canada’s Fourth Universal Periodic Review. During the November member state session many of the points raised by our submission were brought to Canada’s attention. Further analysis will be provided in early 2024.
On December 31, 2003, we joined with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute to call the NDP to stop genocide, and indicate support for South Africa’s submission to the International Court of Justice.
Intersectional leadership, as we continue to be part of many Canadian and international coalitions and networks, and work in partnership with dozens of organizations across Canada and around the world was key throughout all the work we undertook during the year. Thanks to our partners, friends and supporters.