Joint delegation of Canadian human rights organizations reports on its recent trip to Israel/Palestine: “the situation is getting worse”

During a 17 day trip in October/November, a delegation from three different Canadian human rights organizations travelled the length and breadth of Israel/Palestine. Here Philip Sherwood, (UNJPPI), Peter Larson (OFIP) and Michael Bueckert (CJPME) meet over dinner in Nazareth with Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a former member of the Knesset. Read more and watch the video trip report.

From October 28th to November 14th, a Canadian delegation to Israel/Palestine visited 28 different orgs and individuals across the length and breadth of Israel/Palestine, including many Palestinian towns and villages inside the State of Israel. The visit coincided with an Israeli election characterised by racist rhetoric and the victory of the most right wing government in Israel’s history.

We covered over 700 km by train, bus and auto. Places in green are in the West Bank, places in red are inside the State of Israel. We were not able to visit Gaza

Most of our meetings were with Palestinian activists, but a few with progressive anti-Zionist Jews. We have no way of ensuring that the views we heard are representative of broader Palestinian society.

Our trip had 4 objectives:

  • To reestablish links with friends and contacts in Israel/Palestine after 3 years of covid imposed absence
  • To understand what had changed in Israel/Palestine in the intervening years
  • To explore the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel since the adoption of the “Nation State law” declaring that Jews have priority over others in Israel.
  • To strengthen contact and communication among 3 of Canada’s leading organizations dedicated to supporting human rights for Palestinians.

On December 5th, the three participants shared the main lessons from their trip in a public webinar. Here is a video recording of that session.

It was not possible to resume a 2 1/2 week trip in an hour, but some of the main conclusions were:

In Jenin, we visited the spot just outside the refugee camp where Palestinain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed last May. CNN concluded that she was murdered by Israeli troops.
  • The situation is getting worse both inside and outside the green line. More aggression and more killing.
  • The allegation that Israel practices a kind of “apartheid” inside the State of Israel itself appears to be well founded. Palestinian citizens of Israel face isolation, discrimination and systemic racism in the “Jewish State”.
  • There appears to be a significant increase in settler/police violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and inside the State of Israel itself.
  • Young Palestinians appeared to be more willing to use armed resistance as they felt that neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO was offering any protection. There seems to be widespread public support for this resistance.
  • We found little or no confidence in a 2 state solution. But there was little unanimity on what else could be done, especially since the international community still insists that the 2 SS is the only solution they will support.
  • The Canadian government continues to ignore significant reports from credible organizations alleging “apartheid”. It appears unwilling to acknowledge the important changes on the ground and remains locked in an out of date, even duplicitous, 2 state paradigm. It appears to ignore the issues of the human rights of Palestinians inside Israel, in Jerusalem or in the West Bank.

Want to know more? Check out CJPME’s excellent 20 page report complete with pictures and further explanation.


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

12 comments

  1. I watched your presentation. You claim that towns in Israel are either Jewish or Arab.
    This is not true. arabs own property and rent in almost every ‘Jewish’ town in Israel
    One example would be Nof -Hagalil, a town built for Jewish immigrants in the 60’s adjacent to Nazareth, and now has 30% Arab population

    In my Kibbutz (a socialist commune ) where every member have to be admitted by the other members, a Bedouin family joined the commune

    Furthermore mixed couples are becoming more prevalent than ever before and they don’t all reside in the mixed cities (Haifa, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acco)

    I’m not saying that there aren’t any problems, a professor friend of mine told me about his Arab Hijabi PhD student who was unable to find a place to rent in Tel Aviv.
    But claiming that Arabs can not live anywhere outside Arab town is a slender

    1. Thank you Ahik, I agree that it is not true that “NO” Arab can live in any Jewish town. There are some exceptions. The Jewish towns have the legal right to discriminate or not. (That would be illegal in Canada.) If your kibbutz accepted a bedouin family, you must know that that was an exception. But the essence of what I said is I believe mostly true, notwithstanding a few contrary examples – Arabs and Jews live apart – separate but not equal.

      You put quotes around the term “Jewish” town as if it were not an official designation. It is, and I am sure you know that. The list of Arab towns is publicly available.

      Here is a quote from an article in the Times of Israel entitled “Four ways Jews and Arab live apart in Israel”.

      “Aside from a handful of mixed Israeli towns, most of the country’s cities are more than 90 percent Jewish or Arab. Though Arabs make up nearly 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry, the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel’s largest, is nearly 95 percent Jewish.

      The Jewish-Arab division is also marked by economic gaps. Arab cities have higher poverty rates and, in general, worse municipal services than their Jewish counterparts. Eight of Israel’s 10 poorest towns are Arab. The richest 30 are Jewish.
      Ref: (https://www.timesofisrael.com/four-ways-jews-and-arabs-live-apart-in-israeli-society/)

    2. One can always find in any situation some exceptions and try to make them big and significant.
      What Peter says is extremely close to the reality. Let’s look at the biggest city Tel Aviv. There are very miniscule amount of Palestinians. In Jaffa there are some, who were left from 1948, but segregated. A few have shops, like bakeries who bake good Pitas, favorable by Jews. Especially during Yom Kippur, where all other shops are closed. In Bat-Yam, almost no Palestinians. Same for all surrounding towns. Especially none in the new or expanded towns.
      The largest Palestinian numbers are in Nazareth, and it is divided into the Jewish part and P. part. No mixing. All the villages in Israel are segregated. I can go on and on.
      The P. in Israel are terrified to be in areas where are “Jewish”, for fear of an attack. It takes only one to shout “An Arab, a terrorist”, and a mob scene occurs. A couple of years ago, that’s what happened in the large city of Beer Sheva in the south. The mob hit and killed him, only later to be discovered that he was an Ethiopian Jew.
      Not long ago an Israeli woman opened a nursery school with about 8 children, I think it was near Tel Aviv. One child was P. The parents were highly professional. The other 7 parents told the owner, get rid of that one or we all go. She reluctantly agreed, not to loose her business.
      There is so much more to be said about the intolerance of Jewish Israelis.

  2. During the Q&A part at the end Philip Sherwood is being asked if peace is a possibility, in his answer he quotes the Palestinians he met and says, peace with Jews is possible but Zionism have to go.

    In fact Peace would only come when both sides accept that the other side should have national rights and self determination as a people in Israel /Palestine
    And Zionism is the ideology that asks for self determination to the Jewish people

    I would never ask the Palestinians to give up their national identity , they shouldn’t ask me to give up Zionism

  3. Thank you so much for this very thorough report on your fact finding trip. I enjoyed the webinar immensely!! And thanks to all three organizations for your excellent work!!
    Frances Combs

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