VICTORY: Community radio broadcasters pass BDS motion across Canada

Independent and community media makers in Canada have passed a groundbreaking national motion to join the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. 

This past June, the National Campus and Community Radio Association of Canada (NCRA) — an umbrella organization representing more than 80 radio stations across Canada — adopted the motion at its annual meeting. “In doing so, the NCRA is proudly the first national media organization in Canada to join the global movement for BDS,” stated a press release from the NCRA posted to the BDS Movement website.

Radio broadcasters with the NCRA pledged “to refuse to cooperate with Israeli media institutions, which are heavily controlled by the Israeli apartheid regime, as well as to support the development of community radio stations in Israel/Palestine.”

The press release added:

Importantly, the NCRA is also the most recent of a growing list of Canadian civil-society organizations who have supported the global BDS campaign, including labor unions, feminist, and student groups.

In recent years, Canadian broadcasters have been instrumental in highlighting the BDS movement and giving Palestine a platform. In Montreal, CKUT radio has aired portions of the local BDS conference and CKUT’s programmer Gretchen King has produced day-long, international radio broadcasts dedicated to Palestinian political, cultural and resistance history — programs to which I’ve been very proud to contribute in my days as a radio producer at KPFA.

Facing expected objections from some member radio stations about the BDS resolution, the board of directors of the NCRA are planning to meet later this week to review a committee recommendation that suggest the organization “put limits” on political and international solidarity work. In response, members of the organization who have advocated for the BDS resolution are appealing to journalists and community radio advocates across the world to email the board of directors with their support. 

In its resolution, the NCRA stated:

Whereas Israeli media institutions and the vast majority of Israeli journalists have either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the above forms of oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence;

Whereas all forms of international intervention have until now failed to force Israel to comply with international law or to end its repression of the Palestinians, which has manifested itself in many forms, including siege, indiscriminate killing, wanton destruction and the racist colonial wall;

Whereas people of conscience in the international community of journalists and media producers have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in their struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott;

Whereas the growing international boycott movement against Israel has expressed the need for a Palestinian frame of reference outlining guiding principles.

In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency, and resistance to injustice and oppression –

Be It Resolved That NCRA/ANREC supports the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel;

Be It Further Resolved That NCRA/ANREC representatives comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli media institutions and products as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, by applying the following:

1. Refrain from participation in any form of cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli media institutions;

2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli media institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;

3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international media institutions;

4. Support Palestinian media institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support;

5. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by encouraging that resolutions be adopted by our respective radio stations, associations, and organizations.

Be It Further Resolved That, unless violating any of the above criteria, in the absence of official Israeli sponsorship, the individual product of an Israeli media worker per se is not boycottable.

Be it further Resolved that we do welcome the creation of community radios in Palestine/Israel.

Last November, community radio broadcasters from 110 countries voted to unanimously adopt a similar BDS resolution at the global conference of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). 

The AMARC resolution noted that Israeli media institutions and Israeli journalists have contributed to their government’s maintaining and justification of oppression of Palestinians whereas many have been “complicit in [forms of oppression] through their silence.”  Additionally, in 2007, the National Union of Journalists in the UK passed a motion to support the boycott of Israeli goods

NCRA’s resolution requiring that its members support Palestinian media institutions “without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support” bravely challenges the normalized status quo inherent in general reporting about the situation in Palestine-Israel. 

Independent journalists have a calling to hold the centers of power accountable rather than become stenographers for them. We also have a duty to be responsible towards the people about whom we report, especially within the framework of Palestine. Passing the national BDS motion in Canada is a huge step in the right direction, a great victory for the boycott movement, and a win for grassroots, independent journalists across the globe. 




This is a huge step towards justice for Palestine! Thank you to the NCRA of Canada for their wonderful decision.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).