Report on Montreal to Ottawa Solidarity Action with people in Lebanon and Gaza

July 31st, 2006 | Posted in Resistance, Solidarity, War and Terror

Report prepared by Tadamon! Montreal

As the Israeli military campaign on Lebanon entered the sixteenth day with upwards of 400 Lebanese dead, two busloads of Montrealers took their demand for an immediate cessation of Israeli aggression to Ottawa on Thursday.

After two weeks of letter-writing and actions without results, three Montreal organizations – Al Hidaya Association, Association des jeunes libanais musulmans, and Tadamon! – called on people to travel to Ottawa and bring a message directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter MacKay, who has publicly taken a radically pro-Israel position, defending and justifying the Israeli attacks on civilians.

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People who had just returned from Lebanon, who have lost family members and whose loved ones continue to live under the violent attack, as well as individuals outraged at the destruction and brutality that Israel is inflicting on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip boarded the buses in Montreal and arrived at the Department of Foreign Affairs at noon.

Alongside a strong solidarity presence from Gatineau and Ottawa and a big media presence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ‘Public Relations’ team was waiting to greet the busloads.

A “protest pen” had been prepared for people to exercise their democratic right to be heard – on the other side of the road, away from the building were policies are made and executed, safely behind barricades.

But as the RCMP attempted to herd people into the waiting pen, people formed a human chain directly in front of the building, linking arms and holding flags, signs, pictures of the destruction, photos of the dead.


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The RCMP gave up and contented themselves with very visibly photographing participants, in an obvious – but ultimately failed – attempt at intimidation.

“Stop the killing! We want peace!” chanted the crowd. A spontaneous speak-out followed, as people took the mike to explain why they had come, to speak of the atrocities that were taking place in Lebanon and Gaza, of what they had seen and endured; to denounce the destruction of Lebanon, the war crimes and Canadian support for these crimes; to support the resistance to Israeli aggression; to demand an immediate ceasefire; to call for peace.

“We want peace, but peace with justice! This is not the ‘peace’ that Israel is offering, it is not the ‘peace’ of the United States!” explained Ahmad Mustafa, a Palestinian from the refugee camps of Lebanon whose parents live in Saida. Security, dignity and equality for all; not a peace imposed by force, shaped by racism and economic objectives.


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Back in Montreal, the Mayor of the city was speaking at the “Blue and White Rally for Peace” called by pro-Israel B’nai Brith. Even as Mayor Tremblay stood amidst the Israeli flags and called for peace on Israeli terms, the Israeli Justice Minister was calling for further acts of terrorism against the civilian population of southern Lebanon.

In a security cabinet meeting, he called for villages to be “flattened” in southern Lebanon, according to the zionist-leaning Globe and Mail. In the UK paper the Telegraph he was quoted as saying, “Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hizbollah.”

This is the peace Israel is offering: the silence of a devastated wasteland.

(NOTE: A call-in day is being organized on Monday and Tuesday to demand that Mayor Tremblay publicly denounce Israeli aggression and war crimes: see

After the speak-out, participants decided to move the rally inside the Department of Foreign Affairs, to make their voices heard by
people actually making decisions in their names. Burly RCMP officers intervened, in order to “protect the security of the building”.


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Eventually, three people were permitted inside to meet with a representative of the Minister: Ahmad Hawarneh, from the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, Sawsan Kalache from Tadamon! Montreal and Wissam Moussa from the Association des jeunes libanais musulmans.

The delegation presented two demands: that Canada immediately call for a ceasefire; and that the country respond urgently to the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon and Gaza. When pointedly asked whether he was aware of what was happening in Lebanon, the Minister’s representative assured the three that Foreign Affairs personnel were very well-briefed on the situation.

“He admitted to knowing the details of what is happening in Lebanon; if they don’t act in a quick and responsible way, such as asking for a ceasefire, then it means they are supporting the war crimes because they are conscious of them,” said Kalache to the rally after the meeting.


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The delegation delivered a large sack of letters from individuals in Montreal that had been collected by the United Muslim Students Association as well as a letter that had been prepared and signed by all Montreal participants in the rally, which concluded, “We call on you and your government to radically change your position on the Palestine-Israel conflict and Middle East peace to one that is consistent with principles of justice, equality and self-determination. Until you do, we will be tireless in our public
critique of Canadian policies and positions and in our efforts to bring about change.” (For full letter, visit:

After the delegation returned and reported on the meeting, the rally continued with spirit, slowing traffic passing the building to hand out flyers exposing some of Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay’s lies about the crisis and to show photos of the devastation.


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How could you guys leave Lebanon when you left on a mandate to help the country? Then you left when Lebanon needed you most. People donated money to help with Tadamon so you could provide some work in Lebanon. This is not true solidarity or relief work. There are people who went in to help or report after the bombs dropped that are still there now. Newspapers were looking for reporters on the ground to buy their work. I don’t get it.

Comment by randa — August 1st, 2006 @ 8:28 PM

I was not part of the Tadamon! delegation, but as a member of the collective, I totally support their decision do leave the country and return to Montreal. They have not « left » Lebanon. They, with the rest of us, are here in Montreal doing what I think is critical work to help Lebanon in this time of crisis. First, by fundraising, since what is *most* needed in Lebanon are not extra volunteers, but funds to buy food and supplies. Second, by organising political support for people in Lebanon and Palestine here in Canada, and to make things uncomfortable for our « leaders » who are supporting war crimes in our name. Third, we are doing all that we can to support independent reporting. There *are* independent reporters in Lebanon, what is most needed is means to get these reports out to the public, which Tadamon! is helping. All this is true solidarity work, being where it counts the most, even if that means being away from friends and family.

Comment by Jerome — August 2nd, 2006 @ 2:28 PM

Yes, we raised a tiny amount of money and sent people – underfunded volunteers – to do a specific set of tasks. The outbreak of war was neither envisaged nor prepared for in any way. In the new context, our delegation could not accomplish what we had sent them to do, nor could our small all-volunteer collective adequately support them in this entirely changed situation.

We have been doing a tremendous amount of work in the past weeks to raise funds for relief work, support the excellent work of groups like the Sanayeh Relief Centre, disseminate the great deal of excellent independent reporting and analysis that is being produced, and organise in Montreal to break North American support for Israel. This seemed to us the most useful set of contributions we could make in the current crisis.

In any case, our mandate is not to paternalistically “help the country” (whatever that means). Our mandate is to build more links between social justice movements in Montreal and in Beirut on the basis of our principles. Which is what we are doing.

Comment by Mary — August 2nd, 2006 @ 6:32 PM

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