Montreal activists disrupt Israeli anniversary event

A protester displays confetti prepared to be tossed over the ambassador’s lunch-in at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth hotel, 9 April 2008. (Ion Etxebarria)

Protesters successfully disrupted a lunch-in sponsored by the Quebec-Israel Committee, marking “60 years of relationship” between Canada and Israel. After effectively evading hotel security and the Montreal police, social justice activists burst into the appointed conference room, abruptly bringing to a halt the pro-apartheid discourse of Israel’s ambassador to Canada.

Visibly stunned by the protests, Israel’s ambassador stood silent as protesters chanted: “Fight the power, turn the tide! End Israeli apartheid!” Throughout the disruption, over 12,000 pieces of brightly colored protest-confetti were showered across the conference room and throughout the hallways of the Queen Elizabeth hotel, carrying a simple message: “Sixty years of Israeli apartheid, 60 years of Palestinian dispossession; boycott Israel!”

Wednesday’s action marked the 60th anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin. In 1948, the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin came under military siege; as many as 200 Palestinian men, women and children were butchered by Zionist forces. This crime took place just one month prior to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence at the expense of the Palestinian people.

In cynical disregard for Palestinian history, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, planned to celebrate Israel on the very anniversary of a horrific massacre.

This is the same Alan Baker who, at the height of Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006, described “civilian establishments and civilian areas” in Lebanon as “legitimate targets.” The military campaign eventually took the lives of over 1,000 Lebanese civilians, and massively destroyed the country’s infrastructure.

Social justice activists in Montreal from Block the Empire and Tadamon! successfully disrupted Baker’s speech in support of a growing international campaign to impose boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel.

Israel is maintaining a military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. Within Israel’s unilaterally declared borders of 1948, the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live as second-class citizens, under an apartheid-like system that accords them lesser economic, social and political rights.

Israel is in the process of constructing a massive separation wall, an eight-meter-high concrete barrier stretching over 700 kilometers of Palestinian territory, annexing significant parts of the West Bank and encircling Palestinian villages, towns and cities. Apartheid is an Israeli-enforced reality for the Palestinian people, a reality that has inspired a global movement for Palestinian liberation, with Nelson Mandela declaring: “our freedom [in South Africa] is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

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