Alternatives was founded in Montreal in 1994, and calls itself an “international solidarity organization.” Its stated aim is to “help the networking, building, and promoting of innovative initiatives in popular and social movements that are fighting for economic, social, political, cultural and environmental rights.”
Alternatives has received grants from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for many years, including $C2 million in 2008-10. (In 2007, Alternatives received $C3.9 million from the Federal Government, out of a $C4.9 million budget; $C2.4 million was from CIDA.)
According to a report in the National Post, in December 2009, the government was “set to slash millions of dollars in funding to Alternatives.” Alternatives claimed that it had “not received official confirmation” that its proposal was denied.
Advocacy — Promoting the Palestinian Narrative
Alternatives is heavily involved in political and ideology advocacy on a number of contentious issues. In the Middle East, they disseminate the Palestinian narrative (nakba), and employ Durban-type rhetoric, through labels such as “apartheid”. Alternatives also supported “Israel Apartheid Week” in Montreal, and is active in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, including membership in the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP).
Le Journal des Alternatives – Newspaper supplement
Le Journal des Alternatives is “a monthly compendium of international, national, and cultural news,” published by Alternatives and distributed in Québec’s widely-read Le Devoir. Among other ideological causes, this publication consistentlypresents a highly distorted depiction of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including a ‘hot topics’ (“dossiers”) section with articles praising groups that adopted BDS “against the occupation, colonization and apartheid Israel.” Other articles call on the USA to “act against Israeli apartheid” and accuse Israel of “heinous war crimes.” The journal also featured an advertisement for a “Delegation to Palestine,” where participants could “observe the situation in Gaza and the colonization in the West Banks.”
“Analysis and Articles”
Alternatives features numerous opinion pieces with anti-Israel themes and arguments. No articles representing a pro-Israel or Zionist perspective are presented. Recent selections:
- Use of apartheid rhetoric: “Israel exercised state violence and terror to get its way, without hindrance from its Western allies…What is so shameless about this anachronistic colonial barbarism is that Zionist Israel has been permitted by the West to aspire to such a goal even into the 21st Century.” (Israeli Apartheid, Ronnie Kasrils, March 14, 2009)
- Calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel: “We…call upon international civil society organizations…to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era…” (Pro-Israel Lobby Alarmed by Growth of Boycott, Divestment Movement, Art Young, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto, June 30, 2009)
- Israeli “war crimes”: “These [US] attorneys general try to absolve Israel of any responsibility of the hundreds of civilian deaths by accusing Hamas of ‘using these civilians as human shields.’ They provide no evidence for this charge, however, save for a quote from the notoriously right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.” (Defending Israeli War Crimes, Stephen Zunes, June 1, 2009)
- Questioning of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state: “Policies intended to deflect international pressure on Israel to end the occupation include the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ (in other words, announce their support of ethnic discrimination against them)…and the fake withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005…” (Gaza Misery Used to Intimidate West Bankers, Shir Hever, AIC, August 13, 2009)
Partnership with Alternative Information Center
Alternatives is part of the Alternatives International network, which includes the Alternative Information Center (based in Israel). Alternatives claims that “Alternative Information Center (AIC)…focus[es its] efforts on the fight against corruption to better combat poverty and the lack of access to essential services such as health care and education.”
In contrast, the evidence shows that AIC advances a “radical political agenda in the framework of the NGO system,” which denies “accountability to the donors.” AIC co-founder Michael Warschawski has said, “[o]ne has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.” (The Haifa Conference for the Right of Return, June 2008), and refers to Israel as a “colonial settler state.”