A Canadian first: University of Waterloo launches a “Foundation for Palestinian Studies”

Flags of Canada, Palestine and the University of Waterloo grace the stage on the May 24 launch of the university’s new “Foundation for Palestinian Studies” at a gala event attended by over a hundred academics, university administrators, former diplomats and others. The foundation is the brainchild of Shawky Fahel, a Palestinian Canadian businessman with the support of private donors and the University itself. In a short video interview, Fahel explains the origin of his idea. Read more…

With an initial investment of $100,000 and an objective of raising another $5 million, Palestinian Canadian businessman Shawky Fahel has partnered with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo to launch Canada’s first educational institute focussed on the study of Palestine.

“Our vision is education, education, education. Understanding begins with education and awareness. Changing minds can change the course of history.”

—Shawky Fahel

The Foundation will have four main types of activity.

  • An annual public lecture series which will bring distinguished international experts to Waterloo from within and beyond the academic community, throwing light on genuine Palestinian realities.
  • Subsidized international study experiences that will change the lives and open the minds of our students through travel to the Palestine-Israel region.
  • Research awards for faculty and graduate students aimed at deepening understanding
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards to attract and support rising stars of Palestinian studies or those whose research intersects with Palestinian Studies

CTIP spoke with Shawky Fahel about his motivations and objectives in founding the program.

The first official activity of the Foundation was the launch event itself, held on May 24th. Guest speaker was Dr. Reem Bahdi, the first woman dean of any Canadian law school, and the first Palestinian Canadian Dean at any Canadian university.

Dr. Badhi’s moving and uplifting speech entitled “The Kindness of Strangers: Being Palestinian, Living the Law” can be seen here.

The UofW endorsement of the Foundation for Palestine Studies, and indeed the accession of Dr. Bahdi herself to the position of Dean of Law at the University of Windsor, are indications that Palestinian Canadians, so long reluctant to self-identify for fear of discrimination, are beginning to take their rightful place in Canadian society and that the Palestinian narrative is gradually seeping into Canadian public discourse.

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org


  1. Great idea. The university is to be congratulated for this initiative. I hope they are prepared for the backlash from the Isro-fascists.


    Richard Deaton

    1. Hey Rick, thanks for this and I fully agree.
      We should remember that the U of Waterloo also has many agreements with Israeli universities, including some kind of twinning deal with the Technion University of Haifa. Its not as if UofW had jumped into the Palestinian cause, but it is nonetheless good and significant that the Palestinian narrative is crowding onto the UofW agenda.

    2. You have a phd and a law degree yet you call the Israelis facists. Shame on you. Learn some history.

      1. Hello Sheldon, thanks for raising the idea that I call the Israelis “fascists”.

        In fact, I don’t say this, even when I am very angry with things the Israelis do.

        I am careful in the words I use. I did a word check on my blog going back 7 or 8 yeas. The only time the word “fascist” or “fascism” came up was as a quote from someone else. (For example, it was in a quote from Winnipeg Jew David Kattenburg in reaction to mob violence he saw on Jerusalem Day in 2019).

        On Youtube you can also see my debates or presentations on Israel/Palestine. If you care to look them up, you will not find me calling the Israelis fascist. I do have many criticisms of Israel, but being a “fascist state” is not one of them.

        If you have any other specific issues about what I have said about Israel (or think I have said), please don’t hesitate to bring them up.

        I am glad we were able to clear up this misunderstanding.

  2. Hi Peter. Thanks for this. Hats off to Mr. Fahel and Waterloo University for this important and long overdue initiative.

  3. Good stuff. Very inspiring. Nice to see some real hope and real progress in changing the narrative.

  4. Here goes Mr. Larson again. Looking over his comments in the last ten years, he has never posted a positive comment about Israel. The creation of Israel and its subsequent success is the only miracle I have witnessed in my lifetime. Mr. Larson has only praised the Palestinians and told lies about the Jews. For example, as many Jews left Arab countries after the creation of Israel as Palestinians. Some left voluntarily but most were forced to leave. Never once mentioned by Mr. Larson. Here is a man who is pathetically anti Israel but sadly also anti semitic. Yes you are Mr. Larson. How you can deny it is beyond me. You have no balance in your comments. Always pro Palestinian and anti Israel. How anyone can take you seriously is beyond me. And how is it possible that you and your claims are focused on the truth.

    1. Hello Shelly, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am happy to hear, and try to respond to, specific allegations of antisemitism against me.

      You accuse me of not having anything positive to say about Israel.

      For the record, I think that Israel has many significant accomplishments to its credit. I think tiny Israel has more Nobel Prize winners than Canada. I think the ressurection of Hebrew as a living language allowing Jews from different cultures and languages around the world to forge a new nation is impressive. I think Israel has an amazing high tech industry (and of course military industry, which is amazing even if I don’t like what it is being used for.) And, on a local scale, the efficient Jerusalem light rail system makes Ottawa’s look like a sad joke…

      Those accomplishments do not in any way change the fact that Israel was created on land taken from the indigenous Palestinian people. Or that Israel has used (and continues to use) brutal methods to keep the Palestinian refugees out, and the Palestinians in Israel, down.

      Canada also has many accomplishments, but we are now recognizing how our society is based on the dispossession of indigenous peoples, and the appropriation of their land. In Canada, we are starting a process of “Truth and Reconciliation’. I see no signs of a similar process in Israel.

      If you have any examples of “lies” I have told about the Jews (or about Israel) please bring them forward. I would like to hear them.


      1. Unbelievable. Why have you not praised Israel once in your 10 years of postings Peter. I wouldn’t lower myself to respond to the multitude of lies you have told about Israel, Jews and Palestinians. But I will expose your anti Israel and anti Semitic sentiments as often as I can.

      2. Reply to Sheldon Ehrenworth’s comment.

        First – his comment to me
        “Unbelievable. Why have you not praised Israel once in your 10 years of postings Peter. I wouldn’t lower myself to respond to the multitude of lies you have told about Israel, Jews and Palestinians. But I will expose your anti Israel and anti Semitic sentiments as often as I can.”

        My response to him
        “Dear Sheldon, I think antisemitism is very serious, of course and the accusation should not be made lightly.

        I don’t like being repeatedly accused of being antisemitic. Nobody would. But I am not intimidated by baseless accusations. Repeating the same claim over and over again, without offering any examples, is not serious.

        Of course I am very critical of Israel. (As are the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights watch, the International Criminal Court, and a host of other organizations.)

        All subscribers to this blog have have access to hundreds of my posts going back several years. But can you find ANY examples of my anti-semitism or “lies told about Israel”? I don’t need to lie, or exaggerate about Israel. Its behaviour is self explanatory. But if you do have any examples, please bring them forward so we can discuss them.

        Shelly, if I were to repeatedly accuse you of being say, a pedophile, but never produced the slightest evidence, I assume you would be angry. What would you do?

        Fighting antisemitism is legitimate. But I’m sorry, I think your behaviour is irresponsible. And it isn’t a good way to fight real antisemitism.

      3. Just to put some of the record straight: About the achievements of Israel, Israelis did not achieve them, the world did, by enabling them. Many billions poured there since the beginning of year 1900 and continues every day. Monies from governments, Zionists, corporations, evangelists and a lot more. Just in Canada, (I heard long ago) there are 310 organizations that collect monies all year round for Israel. Not to forget the billions which Germany paid and still paying to any survivors.
        In regard to achievements like HI Tech, health, weapon, agriculture and more. Again unlimited monies are enormous help plus incredible number of corporations, universities, Hi Tech companies and any innovations of any kind, are either shared with Israel willingly or transferred there by Zionists and supporters, that either owning some of the above, or at times illegally or by intimidations from Zionist lobbies. Yes, Israel has its own achievements in last few decades, since the above gave them the base. Example: If using all the above help to develop weapos and use them on defenceless innocent population or sell them around the world to any byuer, no questions asked, is noble. Not in my book.

        In regard to the “miracle” of creation of Israel, there was no miracle whatsoever. You had a European Zionist force, well trained, well supported and more advanced, which came to Palestine with the absolute planned meticulously how to expel as many locals and exterminate many. without any regard to their lives. Same time looting all Palestinian possessions.

        Let’s look at some achievements since 1967. Dispossessions, home demolitions, non stop killings, including minors, land theft and thousands of other war crimes. Israel benefits enormously from the occupation, which I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.
        No other country could do all these crimes with total impunity.

      4. You are comparing Reconciliation in Canada to a possible reconciliation in Israel. Seriously!!!
        Have any of the Canadian indigenous people committed suicide bombings or stabbed innocent civilians? Are indigenous people here open to honest discussions i believe they are but in the middle east it will be more challenging and there are those who oppose it and many who are working very hard at reconciliation. When I got sick in Israel and had to go to emergency my attending ER doctor was Palestinian as was my nurse. When my Jewish daughter was getting her Masters at Haifa University her roommate was Palestinian. For the Palestinians who are seeking peaceful reconciliation there is is hope! You and the media exaggerate how bad it is and people like you who choose to take one side don’t make it any better. Its hard to believe you are a historian because if you look back in history and at the present Israeli/Palestinian conflict its really not as bad as the conflicts between races in our own back yard in Canada and the USA. I feel you are being a hypocrite, why don’t you focus and help repair the injustice of whats happening here.

      5. Hello IO,
        thanks for sharing your experiences in Israel.
        Yes, it is true that many healthcare workers in Israel, including doctors and nurses, are Palestinian. It is an area that is open to them, whereas many other areas are not. I have been treated by Palestinian doctors in Jerusalem and was very impressed with their capacity.
        Many Palestinian citizens of Israel go into healcare because very few of them are allowed to work in any public sector area – railways, hydro, electrical, airlines, water, etc. etc. as Israel sees these as strategic areas and Palestinian citizens of Israel are seen as “enemies within”.

        You ask why I focus on Israel, when Canada has so many issues of its own? Well, I do support Truth and Reconciliation here in Canada as I assume you do. I support the concept in Israel as well.

        But more importantly my issue is not directly with Israel, but with the Government of Canada, and its support of Israel despite its human rights abuses. Canada supports the International Criminal Court for example, but we wont allow it to investigate potential warcrimes.

    2. Sheldon,

      In regard to your comment or more suitable “fake news”, about same number of Jews were expelled from Arab countries as Palestinians were expelled from Palestine.

      First for many decades, Israel and its supporters denied that Palestinians were expelled. Only after it became impossible to lie about it, in lieu of historical facts, mainly by Jewish scholars, did they come up with this laughable lie.
      Jews lived in harmony in the Arab countries for many generations and always were among the elite. Some ill feelings and minor harassments started only after 1948, learning about the Zionist crimes. Never was a mass explosions. Almost all Jews emigrated to Israel due to intense propaganda from Zionist agents (and evangelists), to come to the land of milk and honey and the promised land.
      In Iraq they went a lot further. They hired young Iraqi Jews to ride motorcycles and throw bombs in places where Jews got together, killed quit a few Jews and spread the rumor that its all done by the government, in order to expedite emigration.
      You can read about it in the book by Naeim Giladi,( one of those young Jews who participated in the killings): “Ben Gurion Scandals – How the Haganah and the Mossad eliminated Jews”.

      The irony was and still exist today, that utter discrimination is in Israel against Oriental Jews who are treated as second class citizens by European Jews. Not to mention the horrible treatment of Ethiopian Jews, because they are dark skinned and poor.

      I can tell you first hand. I’m an Iranian Jew. My parents left Iran for Israel in 1950, exactly due to what I mentioned above. That is where discrimination against my parents started. In Iran Jews lived there with no trouble whatsoever, and still do up to today. Iran has the largest number of Jews in the Middle East, totally treated like all others. Some of them left Israel to Europe and North America after a short time, realising what was Israel.

      1. Israel never denied that Palestinians were expelled. That is your first lie. Jews lived in harmony in Arab countries. Lie number 2. Almost all Jews emigrated to Israel because of intense propaganda from Zionist agents.Lie no.3. Also what planet do you live on. Hired Iraqi Jews to through bombs and kill Jews. Lie no. 4. Do you believe in everything you read. Discrimination in Israel against Sephardic Jews. Lie number 5. That was the case at one time but not today. Iran Jews lived in Iran with no trouble. Lie no.6. I know and have known dozens of Iranian Jews who left Iran for Israel and Canada,because of discrimination and to seek a better life. And they all achieved that objective. I assure you that Iran does not have the largest number of Jews in the Middle East.

  5. Peter, this is wonderful!! Thank you so much for letting us know about this!

  6. Who knows,but maybe our prime minister will now realize there are institutions in Canada who recognize the Palestinians as an actual nation rather a mob of ingrates attempting to steal land from Isreal.

    1. Mr Larson

      Have you ever mentioned once that there were at least as many Jews as Arabs dispossessed and kicked out of Arab countries as Arabs out of Israel. Most of the arabs left voluntarily after being told they would be allowed back in after the Israelis were defeated by the 7 Arab armies that attacked it in 1948. There are no Israeli refugees anymore as Israel absorbed them all. Arab refugees have not been absorbed into Arab countries for purely political reasons.

      Why did you object to the Canadian government wanting to outlaw holocaust denial when countries like Germany and Austria have criminalized it by making it punishable by 5 years imprisonment. And if you are not anti semitic why would you even raise it. You have never referred to the holocaust once even though it was probably the main reason Israel was created without backlash from many countries. It was the reason why there are 6,000,000 less Jews today than there were in 1939.

      1. Mr. Ehrenworth,
        I am happy to respond to two points in your most recent comment. I have deleted the ad hominem attack against me personally, as I don’t think that is relevant. Whether I you think I am a nice person is probably not of much interest to the others reading this exchange.

        Point 1 – Palestinian refugees vs Jewish refugees.

        You are quite right that within a decade after the Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, a roughly comparable number of Jewish Arabs flooded into Israel from various countries. The largest number came from Morocco. There is dispute over whether they were expelled, driven out or left of their own volition.

        In my view, and in international law, ANY refugee – Palestinian or Jewish Arab has the right to return. If they want to. As you say, most of those Arab Jews who immigrated to Israel do not want to return. But any of them who can demostrate reasonably that they were expelled, would have my (and international) complete support if they wanted to return. In fact, many Arab countries (including Morocco) have already said that Jews are welcome to return if they want.

        Point 2 – the holocaust
        You make a frankly ignorant statement when you say that I have “never referred to the holocaust”. All you, or anyone, has to do is use the search function to see that I have made dozens of references to the Holocaust, which, as I have said over and over, was an abomination, and an indelible stain on European christianity.

        For your interest, here is a post dedicated to the then GG’s visit to Aushwicz. https://canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca/2020/01/28/governor-general-payette-in-auschwitz-to-commemorate-liberation-of-largest-nazi-death-camp-never-again/
        I would be surprised if you could find anything to criticize in it.

        The claim that i have never mentioned the holocaust is completely wrong. I don’t know if it was simple lack of thorough research on your part, or conscious prevarication. Either way, I think an apology is in order.

  7. Mr. Javenshir
    What does money the Germans paid to Jewish survivors have to do with support for Israel. Germany killed 6,000,000 Jews in Europe and confiscated (stole) their money and property. Why shouldn’t Germany pay billions in reparations to surviving Jews or the heirs of those killed. What about the thousands of Jews who were killed by Palestinians over the recent past just because they were Jewish. I don’t see how Israel has benefitted at all by the occupation. The occupation came about because of a war that Jordan started and lost in 1967. I think you should learn a little history sir rather than listen to Mr. Larsons obsessions of the supposed Palestinian cause.

  8. Thank you so much for raising awareness of the excellent, important initiative of the University of Waterloo to launch the Foundation for Palestinian Studies. I very much appreciated the opportunity to view the launch and to hear the inspiring message given by Dr. Badhi. Linda Scherzinger

    1. I was privileged to attend this event. It was an amazing evening.
      Miet Mabruuk to Shawky Fahel for having the vision to establish this Foundation and Kudos to the University of Waterloo for having it as part of the university! It truly is an incredible achievement!!! Thank you, Peter, for making it known through CtIP.

  9. Wow! Wow! and Wow! And Thank you and Thank you and Thank you – to Mr Shawky Fahel, to the University of Waterloo, to Peter Larson and to all the courageous, enlightened stalwarts for TRUTH and JUSTICE in Palestine-Israel for making this happen! It is time for every other tertiary institution and others to follow the example of the University of Waterloo. It is time for the Government of Canada to show some integrity – Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)

  10. Peter, you have more patience, and more forbearance, in dealing with that troll than I would ever have.

    1. Hey Elizabeth, I think “troll” is used for people who deliberately post offensive comments, or perhaps are even paid to do so. Posting for the Hasbara, for example.

      I know Sheldon and don’t think that is fair or accurate in his case. I think he is expressing his opinion.

      I don’t want to antagonize, nor attack Sheldon him personally. But I would like to show him and others who might be reading the exchange, that many of his fears/accusations (like alleging that I called Israelis “fascists’) are exaggerations that have little or no basis in fact.

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