Remaking the Politics of Palestine Solidarity in Canada

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2083 ... May 8, 2020

Remaking the Politics of Palestine Solidarity in Canada

Hammam Farah

A little over a year ago, Arab YouTube celebrity Nas Daily held a talk at McGill University in Montreal, hosted by the McGill Arab Student Network. The event page on Facebook quickly drew controversy, as Palestinian students from various Canadian campuses descended into a protracted back-and-forth with the event organizers. Commentators highlighted Nas’s role in whitewashing Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. For a Palestinian social media celebrity who enjoys exposure to 10 million followers, Nas presents a dangerously narrow view of the conflict that minimizes Israel’s responsibility. It was thus of little surprise that Palestinian human rights clubs at McGill and Concordia University (also in Montreal) scrambled to release statements of condemnation. Still, in the end, the event was held to a packed audience.

This episode was emblematic of the growing trend in the Canadian-Arab community to engage in cultural and professional event programming to the exclusion of politics and education. Just as Nas tries to avoid the unavoidable by turning the deeply unequal... political relationship between Israel and the Palestinians into a cultural misunderstanding between Jews and Arabs, Arab associations in Canada, both existing and newly emerging across the neoliberal landscape, find themselves in the awkward position of having to make being resolutely non-political a point of pride. Inevitably, this means avoiding those engaged in political organizing out of fear of the shame that follows such interactions.

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