Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ode to a Canadian Friend of Palestine, Jim Graff (1937-2005)

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ode to a Canadian Friend of Palestine, Jim Graff (1937-2005)

Article excerpt

James Graft a professor of moral and political philosophy at the University of Toronto's Victoria College for 40 years, died of cancer Oct. 23, 2005. Shortly before his death, he helped organize the Sabeel conference on morally responsible investment held in Toronto Oct. 26 to 29 (see report on p. 60 of this issue). Bom in East Orange, NJ, he earned his BA. at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, and his master's and Ph.D. from Brown University. A longtime activist on behalf of the Palestinian cause, in 1984 he established the Near East Cultural and Education Foundation of Canada (NECEF), which, beginning in 1986, he represented for IO years on the North American Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine. Graff served as vice chair of that organization as well, which met at U.N. headquarters in New York, except for two meetings in Montreal and Toronto, Canada that he initiated. The author of Palestinian Children and Israeli State Violence, he was a prime mover of and inspiration to Canada's peace and justice community. He is survived by his wife, Aida, daughter, Noha, son, Hani, and his brother.

October 24, 2005

Dear Friend,

It is with sorrow and sadness that I learn that you left us to claim your eternal resting place in the heavens, Jim. It is difficult to conceive of a solidarity movement and activism in Toronto without you. Indeed it is difficult to imagine Canada without Jim. Soon after I came to Canada and found my way through its web of activism and solidarity fury that came about in support of the Palestinian intifada of December 1987, I heard your name. I arrived in Canada a few days after the intifada began. In Toronto, an intifada of solidarity was brewing and you were at the core of it.

I saw you speak many times, read your articles and enjoyed a cigarette and a drink with you once or twice. It was not until 1991 at York University where you spoke about Palestine and I had the privilege of introducing you that I realized that you are no ordinary man. Ever since, I have been a great admirer of yours. It is difficult to exaggerate the tremendous impact that you had on me personally, but more importantly on the question of Palestine. Your seminal work, Palestinian Children and Israeli State Violence, was a ground-breaking chronicle of the impact on children of Israeli occupation and Israeli soldiers' behaviors.

Whether in Toronto, doing your many things, or in New York attending the United Nations North American NGO conference on Palestine, or in Gaza or Ramallah visiting with friends and many projects you created and supported, you have been one of this country's most faithful supporters of Palestine, justice and human rights. …

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