Vancouver: JNF Fundraiser Disrupted by Local Palestine Solidarity Activists

June 30th, 2008 | Posted in Boycott, Canada, Palestine, Politics, Solidarity

    Report from Vancouver…


    Photo: Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Palestine.

On Sunday June 14th, the Jewish National Fund held their annual fundraising banquet in Vancouver at the Four Seasons Hotel. The JNF is one of the primary organizations responsible for the historic and ongoing colonization of Palestinian lands for the development of Jewish-only settlement. This has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and contributed to the apartheid system in Israel. Despite its racist history and policies, the JNF is granted status as a charity in Canada, enabling it to raise millions of dollars through tax-deductible donations, including annual fundraising dinners held across Canada.

At this year’s ‘Negev Dinner’, two local activists succeeded in entering the Park Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel where the event was held, disrupting the sold-out dinner by passing out information on the role of the JNF in Israeli apartheid and images from Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip. Soon after hotel security was alerted, three security personnel acting on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Vancouver grabbed a woman who had proceeded into the centre of the event, placing leaflets on the dinner plates of guests throughout the ballroom. Security personnel forcibly restrained her and tore the leaflets from her hands, as a fourth person who was later identified as Jewish Federation security approached and proceeded to yank on a fist-full of her hair. While attempting to defend herself, she was removed from the hall and soon arrested by hotel security. After being handcuffed and escorted to the hotel lobby, she was notified that the Vancouver Police were on their way as she was going to be charged with assault.

The other activist, who had not yet been identified by security, remained close-by to monitor and document the situation while attempting to avoid a more brutal targeting as a Palestinian man.

While awaiting the arrival of police, the woman who had been arrested at this point managed to wrestle out of one of the handcuffs and escape from the hotel. She was chased down across the street by security from both Four Seasons and the Jewish Federation of Vancouver, who rearrested her and brutally dragged her back to the hotel.

Upon arrival, the Vancouver Police notified her that she was being charged with assault, and began collecting testimony from the woman who had allegedly been assaulted, as well as from all other security personnel involved. Numerous threats were made by one of the VPD officers, who stated that she was being charged with “hate crimes” for distributing materials “targeting the Jewish community”, and that he would ensure that she “would never set foot on an airplane again”.

After police completed their initial investigation, she was ultimately released without charge based on the assurance that she would not return to the JNF event. Despite the swift response of security, the action succeeded in disrupting the $100/plate dinner that had brought together many of Vancouver’s most influential Zionist supporters, reminding them of the growing movement in support of the continued resistance of the Palestinian people to Israeli occupation and apartheid. The JNF will continue to be challenged for their role as a central institution of Israeli apartheid, and their ability to fundraise internationally for the expropriation of Palestinians land under the guise of “charity”.

Leave a comment

Upcoming events