PCAAN Statement on the Attack on Palestine

Palestinians will not be erased.

The Palestinian Canadian Academics and Artists Network (PCAAN) is appalled at the wholesale erasure of the shock and grief experienced by the Palestinian Canadian community at this time. The inalienable need for liberation, the right of self-determination, and the inviolable belonging of the Palestinian people to the land, as inscribed and reinstated in countless UN resolutions, have been negated by the Canadian establishment. In the face of over 75 years of apartheid, 56 years of occupation, and a 17-year blockade, this is mind-blowing.

PCAAN condemns the failure and refusal of the Canadian government to comply with its obligations under Geneva IV: parties to this convention are obligated to protect occupied peoples and prohibited from transferring their own populations into occupied lands. They are not encouraged to hide their failures to comply using “unprovoked attack” narratives. Such narratives, provided without context, are also used as a pretext for the government’s refusal to act in accordance with its own stated foreign policy on illegal Israeli colonial occupation.

In its current applause and support for Israel’s alleged “right to defend itself,” Canada is enabling Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools and universities, and the deprivation of 2.3 million people from food, water, fuel, and electricity. In the words of Francesca Albanese (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967), supporting the intentional starvation of civilians when part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population is extremely concerning because it amounts to the commission of war crimes and, potentially, a crime against humanity. Canada’s history of shielding Israel’s impunity includes refusing to acknowledge, following the findings of major international human rights organizations, that Israel is imposing a structure of apartheid on an indigenous population. Apartheid is a crime against humanity.

Repeating endlessly that such a state has a right to self-defense does not make that crime go away: it comes down to claiming that the state has a right to commit crime. Likewise, reiterating ad nauseam that Hamas is a terrorist organization does not make the root causes of violence go away: it comes down to claiming that Israel has the right to boundless state violence, to state terrorism, whereas Palestinians, as an occupied people are denied the right recognized in international law to armed resistance. The regurgitation of the terrorism trope obfuscates the history, depth, and incommensurability of Israeli atrocities: 75 years of massacres, torture, “bone breaking”, sniper mutilations, carpet bombing, white phosphorous bombing, the bulldozing of refugee camps, targeted assassinations, night raids, child arrests, collective punishment and home demolitions, toxic waste dumping in the occupied West Bank, calorie restriction in Gaza, poisoned wells, theft of water and land confiscation. As chapters of Israeli state formation, all of the above followed from the 1948 extinction of 500 towns and villages, and the dispersal or violent elimination of two thirds of the Palestinian people; the inaugural yet ongoing acts of Palestine’s Nakba.

The concomitant suppression and censorship of today’s protests, in line with Canada’s shameful condemnation of the non-violent Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, the labelling of the Palestinian flag as support for terrorism, the surge in harassment and defamation of Palestinian students and faculty on Canadian campuses, fueled by Canada’s disgraceful adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s weaponized definition of antisemitism, have fanned the flames of misinformation and encouraged the lies at the heart of the racial contract and colonial project of the Israeli state. Until this project of eliminating and replacing the native is stopped, and its effects recognized and rectified, we fear Israel’s genocidal intent will be realized.


The Palestinian Canadian Academics and Artists Network (PCAAN)

October 14, 2023