Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Remembering Gaza at an Annual Winnipeg Vigil

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Remembering Gaza at an Annual Winnipeg Vigil

Article excerpt

Since 2014, when Israel invaded Gaza in its "Operation Protective Edge," Canadians have met yearly for a silent vigil at the "Israel Pavilion" at Folklorama, a two-week Winnipeg summer cultural festival. Festival-goers visit a variety of pavilions that claim to reflect the diversity of each country, and sample food and entertainment at each venue.

The Israel pavilion has never reflected the diverse cultural makeup of Israel itself.

When we held our first peaceful vigil, the 51-day war was on and we wanted to draw attention to Israel as an apartheid state, its ongoing occupation and Israel's continuous violations of international law in the West Bank and Gaza. What began as an action against Israel's invasion of Gaza has continued each year as a way to remember the victims, and has also expanded to reflect on how the Pavilion does not represent the cultural diversity of Israel. The contributions of Muslims and Christians are not reflected, and while the Israel pavilion does serve Palestinian/Arab food, it refers to it as Israeli.

Every year our action has grown, and this past summer we were able to hold our event on two nights. We stand on the grass across from the building and do not interfere with people entering or exiting the event. Our sole purpose is to be peaceful and raise awareness about Israel's violations of international law. Members of Independent Jewish Voices, Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Canadian Palestinian Support Network and Mennonite Central Committee were in attendance last August. …

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