Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Palestine House Responds to False Media Reports

Palestine House Educational and Cultural Center congratulates the filmmakers, artists and cultural workers who drafted and endorsed the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation protesting the Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. Their efforts are very much appreciated by the Palestinian community in the Greater Toronto Area.

We would like to briefly respond to some accounts about the media phone number being used for the Toronto Declaration. Today, Jonathan Kay of the National Post reported that the media phone is a Palestine House number and that the organization behind the protests is Palestine House. That is not true.

The artists, filmmakers and cultural workers who drafted the statement did so on their own initiative. Palestine House can only commend them for their efforts to break the silence around the crimes of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

Unlike other organizations and politicians who have direct connections to the Israeli state, Palestine House is an independent community organization with no ties, financial or political, to the Palestinian Authority. In Canada, the general delegation of Palestine, located in Ottawa, represents the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. The Canadian government deals with it as such.

It is very disappointing to see that journalists such as Mr. Kay, would publicly threaten Palestine House with taking information to minister Jason Kenney. Our positions in support of Palestinian human rights are very clearly stated on our website and we stand by them. We are not afraid to speak for international law and human rights, last time we checked Canada was a free country and Canadian-Arab Palestinians have a right to freedom of expression.

It is unfortunate that instead of focusing on the real issues raised by the Toronto Declaration and truly opening up the debate on the question of the “Brand Israel” initiative, some are trying to create a story to delegitimize the protest. We urge Mr. Kay and others in the media to seriously address the questions brought up by this important protest, rather than resorting to thinly-veiled threats against the Palestinian community and its supporters in Canada.

Finally, for the record, the cell phone number that Mr. Kay is referring to is registered to an individual (not to our organization). Mr. Kay would do well to fact-check his article and not rely on anonymous bloggers as his source. Palestine House did not receive a call from Mr. Kay to verify the information before he published it.