In the Name of Opposing Hate

Criminalization and Persecution of Palestinian Struggle Targets People's Basic Human Right to Resist

Pierre Soubliere

Since the onset of the ongoing mass movement of the peoples in Canada, Quebec and worldwide for a ceasefire, to end the genocide and for a free Palestine, protestors have been branded by government officials and the monopolized media as "celebrating terrorism." Calls for a free Palestine, from the river to the sea, were labelled anti-Semitic. This was accompanied by a wave of political persecution whereby employees and students faced firings, suspensions or calls to not be hired because of their publicly stated political stance against the genocide waged by Israel against the Palestinian people. On November 23, 2023, a group of UN special rapporteurs expressed concern with regards to "misleadingly equating critique of Israel with support for terrorism or anti-Semitism."

Their statement pointed out that artists, journalists, academics, athletes and protesters have all been censored, suspended, blacklisted or otherwise threatened with workplace consequences for expressing their views. It has also been pointed out by lawyers that their harassment is more often than not the result of anonymous sources reaching out to their employers or to their institutions, raising concerns about either their behaviour or something they have said or are alleged to have said.

There have also been cases of individual attacks on organizers of the weekly demonstrations taking place across Canada and Quebec, such as the arrest of a Calgary organizer and the fining of demonstrators in Ottawa on the basis of infringing a municipal bylaw on noise. The police have gone to people's homes after demonstrations to harass them. As one example, a young woman organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, was followed into an underground parking by a group of municipal law enforcers and physically surrounded and questioned with regards to these bylaws.

The response of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and their allies has been: We will not be pushed aside! The last Ottawa demonstration was March 23, another very successful weekly protest. Every time participants have affirmed that they will not be intimidated and that people are carrying out their social and moral responsibility towards the people of Gaza. Nothing will stop them from having their voices heard -- the Palestinian resistance is sacred and unstoppable, as expressed in the slogan: Our Existence Is Resistance! Always disciplined, the deliberate practice at every demonstration is to not respond to Zionist provocations. Those responsible for demonstrators' security have become most successful in warding off potential provocateurs so that the fundamental messages of the demonstrations are not diminished or diverted.

The predicament of liberal democracy and its democratic institutions was well illustrated in the March 18 debate in the House of Commons on the NDP motion on Palestine. It showed many facets of its crisis: how it is paralyzed and cannot resolve such pressing issues as the ongoing genocide in Gaza, how all sense of immediacy, in spite of the best intentions in the world, is forsaken, and how the predominant discourse within the ruling circles is imbued with colonialist fervour.

It was striking how most interventions, whether from the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP or Bloc had several common threads running through them. The most common was the denial of the Palestinian people's right to resist Israel as an occupying force, and to resist all foreign intervention and all attacks on their right to self-determination.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was particularly outspoken and warmongering in this respect. He spluttered about "a decades-long cycle of violence" and that Israelis continue to live with the worry of being "at risk of terrorist attacks, including Iran-backed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah" and how "both these terrorist groups want the destruction of Israel." The main thread was expressed by this so-called leader in this way: "With an extreme right-wing government in Israel, a lack of real democratic Palestinian leadership and the dangerous influence of extremist states like Iran, it is hard to see the path to peace."

His remarks were complemented by Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly who stated that "terrorist and extremist voices are being heard from all sides."

Very noticeable is how, right on cue to match what the political police are saying, the question of "extremist voices" is being raised with regards to Israel. Talk about a presumably legitimate right-wing versus an extremist right-wing in Israel reflects the U.S. imperialists' attempts to maintain their control over the situation while espousing the Zionist project without fail. It is disinformation to deflect attention from their own refusal to implement the rulings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in terms of ending the genocide and letting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Claiming that the problem is "extremist groups on both sides" is the stock-in-trade of liberal Cold War ideology but it falls on deaf ears as far as the peoples of the world are concerned. In spite of the facts, the problem the ruling elite in Canada are raising is "extremists" who are anti-Semitic, and those who are "Islamophobic," with the state called upon to deal with such "extremisms." This was illustrated during the debate in Parliament with calls from one of the Conservative MPs to further criminalize the struggle of Palestinians in Canada and Quebec, calls he has been giving since the very first demonstration against Israel's slaughter in Palestine in October.

This also shows how the main concern of Canada's ruling elite at this time, as an extension of the U.S. administration, is how to control everything in their favour by eliminating any contenders. If the current resistance struggle shows them anything at all, it is that their aim of suppressing the Palestinian resistance are just dreams while attempts to once again impose a government which accepts Israeli occupation are also bound to fail. Several of the speakers in the debate in Parliament referred to Canada's bygone peacekeeping days and how it should once again play a "negotiating role" if it hopes to destroy the Palestinian resistance in the name of bringing "peace and security to the Middle East."

The Palestinian struggle is affirming in no uncertain terms the right of the peoples to speak, organize, resist and to self-determination and non-interference in their internal affairs. This is the what the peoples throughout the world are calling for on an ongoing basis, as we are witnessing, for instance, in Cuba and Haiti. This is well expressed by young Palestinians, Canadians and Quebeckers when they state that the struggle of the Palestinian people is part and parcel of the overall anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle of the world's people. It is a whole other level than what this hapless elite has in mind, and it is a living affirmation that our security lies in the fight for the rights of all.

This article was published in
Volume 54 Number 23 - March 28, 2024

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