Vancouver marchers call to #SaveSilwan and defend Palestine against Israeli colonialism

Demonstrators for justice in Palestine marched in Vancouver on Saturday, 3 July, demanding an end to the forced expulsion, home demolitions and displacement in Silwan and throughout occupied Palestine. Protesters gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the center of downtown Vancouver in response to a call from Silwan families resisting Israeli colonialism. Over 130 families, including 1,500 Palestinians, are threatened with the demolition of their homes and expulsion from their land in order to facilitate the construction of a “biblical theme park,” the so-called “City of David,” atop their destroyed homes and stores.

Organizations in both Canada and the United States, such as the “Canadian Friends of Ir David,” fund the forced displacement of Palestinians and the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

These include the Jewish National Fund Canada, which enjoys charitable status. Recently, the JNF Canada was forced by public pressure to rebrand and distance itself from the Israeli organization, because of its overt support for settlement projects in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

The protest in Vancouver was organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement and supported by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Vancouver. Demonstrators also denounced the assassination of Nizar Banat, Palestinian activist and struggler for freedom, by Palestinian Authority security forces on 24 June, noting that these attacks are part and parcel of PA ‘security coordination’ with Israel. Canada is among multiple Western countries providing support and training of PA security forces in order to repress Palestinian resistance and provide “security” as a subcontractor of the colonial occupation.

Dalya Masri of the PYM opened the event, emphasizing the importance of joint, collective struggle and support for Indigenous and Black movements for justice. She highlighted the necessity of organizing for change, calling on participants to join organizations and build the movement for collective liberation.

Chandu Claver, chair of BAYAN Canada, highlighted internationalist solidarity for Palestine, emphasizing the connection between the ongoing liberation struggle in the Philippines and the Palestinian people’s struggle. Claver, an Indigenous organizer from the Cordillera region, was targeted and his wife assassinated by still-unidentified paramilitary forces in the Philippines for his resistance to mining projects, including those carried out by Canadian corporations.

Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of the Samidoun Network, denounced the role of the Canadian and U.S. governments in enabling and supporting the colonization of Palestine, calling for this settler colonial, imperialist alliance to be confronted with popular solidarity. She highlighted the case of Ghadanfar Abu Atwan, on hunger strike for 60 days against administrative detention without charge or trial, calling for freedom for all Palestinian prisoners.

The protesters marched to the U.S. consulate, chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Zionism has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has got to go!” They demanded an end to the $3.8 billion the U.S. provides Israel every year as well as ongoing Canadian official support for Israeli colonialism, pointing out that this Canadian policy is linked to its ongoing genocide against Indigenous people on Turtle Island.

Organizers emphasized that the movement for justice in Palestine must grow and continue. The next action for Palestine will take place on Sunday, 18 July at 2 p.m. – a Boycott Tour, where protesters will gather outside the offices of ZIM Shipping, the Israeli apartheid shipping company targeted by #BlockTheBoat demonstrations in Oakland, New York, Prince Rupert, Philadelphia, Houston, South Africa and Italy in the last two months, as well as Vancouver. From the ZIM offices, protesters will march to the BC Liquor Stores to demand they stop selling “Israeli” wines made on stolen and occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and highlight other complicit corporations profiteering from colonialism, including Puma, SodaStream and Teva. Join the Facebook event for updates and reminders about the upcoming action.

Photos by Andrew P., Canada Palestine Association