Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange (CEPAL): Anti-Israel Campaigns Cloaked in Human Rights
- Homepage: www.cepal.ca
- CEPAL’s head office is located at 323 Chapel Street, Ottawa, with branches in Montreal and Toronto.
- Mission Statement: CEPAL is a Canadian volunteer humanitarian organization and registered charity, founded in 1996 “by individuals who share a deep commitment to the respect of human dignity and the rights of all people. Our objective is to assist the Palestinian refugees in the pursuit of their basic human rights by increasing their access to education, and by raising public awareness in Canada about their struggle.”
- CEPAL actively promotes the “right of return” supporting “the Palestinian refugees’ right to choose to return to their homeland or to resettle in another country, and to compensation for their losses and suffering.” By advocating for the Palestinians’ “right of return”, CEPAL implicitly supports campaigns seeking to destroy Israel as a Jewish State.
- CEPAL claims to be the only Canadian NGO that “works directly with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon”.
- CEPAL promotes the activities of radical NGOs that employ apartheid rhetoric, exploit human rights terminology and support boycotts against pro-Israeli companies. CEPAL advertises events organized by SPHR (Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights), Not in our Name (NION), Canada Palestine Support Network, Ittijah, the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid and the Coalition of Arab Canadian Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA). Among these events are the “4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week,” held under the banner “60 Years of Nakba: End Israeli Apartheid,” as well as a lecture titled “Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Building a Global Movement.”
- CEPAL does not provide funding details, but accepts donations through CanadaHelps.org and the United Way Payroll Deduction Program (for government employees). Its summer internship program in Lebanon is sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
- Advisory Board members include: Dr. Nahla Adbo, Professor of Sociology at Carleton University, Michael Lynk, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Western Ontario, and Dr. Mark Zeitoune, co-founder of CEPAL. MP Libby Davies, New Democratic Party (NDP, Vancouver East) is also closely involved.
CEPAL’s “Right of Return Conference”
(June 28, 2008 at the University of Ottawa)
- According to the website, CEPAL’s Right of Return conference “commemorates the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakba (catastrophe), and will encourage discussion among Canadians about the Palestinian Right of Return. The Right of Return will be discussed in reference to several themes, including: 1) Historical insights, 2) International law, 3) Human rights, 4) Culture and identity, and 5) Political considerations.”
- Listed conference speakers include Norman Finkelstein1, Hanan Ashrawi, (Palestinian spokesperson and co-founder of Miftah), and professors from Carleton, McGill and the University of Western Ontario.2
- The conference is co-sponsored by Al-Awda (The Palestine Right of Return Coalition—Toronto chapter), National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR), Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians (APAC), Rabble.ca (funded by Alternatives), and Libby Davies, New Democratic Party (NDP) MP (Member of Parliament) for the Vancouver East riding. Davies also serves as Secretary-Treasurer for the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Association.
CEPAL claims that proceeds from conference fees will be used to support its Summer 2008 program in Lebanon.
- On June 26, 2008, two days prior to the conference, Norman Finkelstein cancelled his appearance at CEPAL’s Right of Return Conference. Instead of Finkelstein, Jim Joyce, Amnesty International Canada English-Speaking Coordinator for Israel/Palestinian Authority/Lebanon/Jordan, spoke on “Human Rights Violations and Canadian Policy regarding the Right of Return”.
- Terry Rempel, founding member and Coordinator of Research and Information (1998-2005) of BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights, a Palestinian NGO with a record of anti-Israel campaigning, was also initially listed among the conference speakers.