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January 29, 2024

Ottawa's "cancel culture" aid reduction in response to Israel's unproven UNRWA allegations sparks grassroots donations

Dimitri Lascaris

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As our federal Liberals bow to Israeli pressure to sharply cut back aid to besieged Palestinians, Canadians have spoken their opposition by stepping up their donations to UNRWA-the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, founded in 1949 to help Palestinians following the establishment of the state of Israel.

In addition to providing essential humanitarian aid in Gaza, UNRWA also works with Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

The Netanyahu government’s sudden allegation that unidentified UNRWA staff members were involved in the October 7, 2023 attack against Israel has emerged just days after the ICJ (International Court of Justice) in The Hague began deliberating on the case brought by South Africa, accusing Israel of state-sanctioned genocide.

On January 26, the ICJ’s interim ruling directed that Israel must take concrete actions to prevent genocidal acts in its war against Hamas and allow aid into Gaza; it stopped short of calling for an end to the fighting in which more than 26,500 have been killed, including more than 150 UN staff.

Without investigating Israel’s claims, or its entrenched bias as an occupying nation for the past 75 years, Canada immediately joined nine (to date) other Western nations in drastically cutting its UNRWA contributions; these include the U.K., the U.S., Australia, Germany, Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands.

There has so far been no acknowledgement from the Trudeau Liberals that the collective punishment resulting from its drastic UNRWA funding cuts violates the Geneva Convention.

Article 33 of the Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

The suffering of Palestinian women, children, the elderly and the ill, who are already desperately short of food, drinking water, medicine, sanitation and shelter, will be further compounded by the sudden defunding of UNRWA. Critics have denounced Canada’s rush to cut its support as a brutal form of “cancel culture.”

A recent request by Canadian Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians (numbering more than 4 millions) for an urgent meeting with Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development, whose department is responsible for Canada's funding cutback decision went unanswered.

But Canadians aren’t waiting for their government to rethink a hasty and devastating act: a growing grassroots campaign is already underway to help UNRWA recover and continue its lifeline help to Palestinians.

Please join them. Your donation will tell Ottawa that its decision is immoral and “I’m not buying it.”


Dimitri Lascaris

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