On Saturday evening, 8 July, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Vancouver organized a political and cultural evening for Palestine commemoratiing the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Palestinian revolutionary leader and writer Ghassan Kanafani.
The event also highlighted the complicity of the Canadian government and corporations in Zionist war crimes in occupied Palestine, the rising and heroic Palestinian resistance in Jenin, Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine, and the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners for freedom, particularly Walid Daqqah, the Palestinian intellectual and freedom fighter suffering from cancer and Israeli medical neglect.
The event brought together members of Palestine solidarity organizations as well as various liberation and solidarity organizations, anti-imperialist associations, labour union activists and student and youth organizers. It highlighted the need to develop and expand the international movement to boycott and isolate the Zionist project in support of Palestinian return and liberation, from the river to the sea.
The event was opened by Matthew of Samidoun Vancouver, who highlighted the importance of solidarity with Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and liberation, from Turtle Island to Palestine, while presenting the overview of the evening’s discussions. This was followed by a presentation by Nadia, a Palestinian activist with Samidoun, who delivered an informative presentation about the Ottawa conference of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, in April-May 2023.
In her presentation, she highlighted the political goals and direction of the movement and its resolutions and decisions taken at the conference, concluding by inviting people to get involved with Samidoun and the Masar Badil.
Following Nadia’s presentation, Dave Diewert of Samidoun Vancouver delivered a comprehensive speech about the life, struggle and analysis of imprisoned Palestinian revolutionary writer and freedom fighter, Walid Daqqah. He spoke about Daqqah’s life, writings, and political engagement with the Palestinian liberation struggle, as well as his vision of steadfastness and liberation in confronting the Zionist jailer. He presented about Daqqah’s writings translated into English, including the letters he wrote and published for his wife, Sanaa Salameh, and his daughter Milad, born through “liberated sperm.”
Kathy Copps of BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish, a retired teacher and labour activist, spoke about the growing campaign against Scotiabank (the Bank of Nova Scotia), one of Canada’s largest banks and currently the largest foreign investor in Elbit Systems. Elbit Systems is one of the most notorious Israeli arms manufacturers, producing 85% of the drones used by the occupation forces to target Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine for assassination. Elbit drones were just used earlier this month to assassinate three Palestinians in Jenin camp. Scotiabank is investing approximately $500 million in Elbit. She urged all to join in a campaign to confront Scotiabank and the Canadian government for their complicity in crimes against the Palestinian people, and to join the stand for Palestine and against Scotiabank on Saturday, 22 July.
Building on these remarks, Callum of Samidoun Vancouver spoke about the campaign to free the Palestine Action prisoners. There are currently 6 Palestine Action activists jailed in Britain for their direct actions confronting Elbit and other arms dealers, such as Teledyne, after Palestine Action led to the closure of two Elbit facilities in Britain. He highlighted the importance of working-class solidarity in supporting the Actionists, noting the example of fire brigades that refused to remove the actionists, and the support of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement for the Palestine Action campaigners.
Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and a member of the Executive Committee of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, delivered the closing speech of the event, on the literature and revolutionary political legacy of Ghassan Kanafani as well as the development of the Palestinian resistance today. In his speech, Barakat discussed the importance of Kanafani in advancing Palestinian culture and revolutionary awareness, including his involvement at the international level.
He emphasized Kanafani’s distinguished role in serving the revolution and the popular classes of Palestine, as well as his principled stand on revolutionary armed struggle to achieve the return of Palestinian refugees and victory over the Zionist-imperialist project. Barakat also discussed the powerful symbolism and messaging in Kanafani’s literary works and his “revolutionary realism” in both literature and politics of resistance.
He noted that the anniversary of Kanafani’s assassination this year coincided with the battle of the Fury of Jenin, which vividly illustrated the Palestinian people’s willingness and ability to sacrifice and struggle for liberation and cemented a new stage of struggle in Palestine, within the framework of the unity of all fronts of resistance. Barakat emphasized that the will of the Palestinian people and the fighters in Jenin refugee camp triumphed over the Zionist aggression despite the bitter costs extracted by the occupation, noting that this battle once again highlighted the futility and destructiveness of the path of Madrid and Oslo, represented by the Palestinian Authority. He noted that this politics of coordination with the occupier must be rejected and overthrown in order to defeat the attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
The event concluded with a musical performance by Callum of a song he wrote alongside an English-language poem in honour of the life and struggle of Ghassan Kanafani. Throughout the room, an exhibition of the posters of Marc Rudin/Jihad Mansour was on display. The Swiss revolutionary artist was dedicated for many years to the Palestinian cause and passed away in April of this year. Samidoun Geneva and Secours Rouge Geneva also hosted a week-long exhibition of his work that closed on 8 July, one month after the City of Geneva, bowing to demands by the Israeli embassy, forced the cancellation of an earlier exhibition of his work.
Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, concluded the event, encouraging people attending to get involved in organizing for Palestine and anti-imperialist struggle, and to join in the upcoming events, actions and demonstrations taking place in Vancouver. She invited attendees who wished to participate to take a group solidarity photo with Marc Rudin’s artwork and signs calling for freedom for Walid Daqqah and demanding Scotiabank divest from Elbit Systems.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, now active in many cities and countries around the world, was originally founded in Vancouver in 2011, alongside the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange and the open hunger strike of Sheikh Khader Adnan in 2011-2012 that drew worldwide support and solidarity.