OTTAWA — An Arab research organization is taking the Harper government to court after funding for social research projects on the life of Palestinians in Israel was abruptly terminated.
The Mada Al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research has filed a lawsuit in Canada's Federal Court alleging that a federal research organization arbitrarily terminated grants for two projects worth $796,500. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Mada Al-Carmel was being funded by the International Development Research Centre to research the human rights of Palestinian women in Israel and Arab political participation there.
The organization, based in Haifa, Israel, says the funding cut followed a campaign by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
In its application, Mada Al-Carmel accuses NGO Monitor of sending written submissions to MPs that wrongly accused the centre of demonizing and "delegitimatizing" Israel.
The application filed in Federal Court does not detail NGO's letters. But on its website, NGO Monitor says Mada Al-Carmel's director Nadim Rouhana helped draft a Palestinian statement of vision for the Middle East called the "Haifa Declaration," which accuses Israel of exploiting the Holocaust and uses words such as "genocide" and "extermination camp" in regards to the Gaza War.
Mada Al-Carmel says the International Development Research Centre never expressed any dissatisfaction with its work but, in March, it terminated the grants without warning. IDRC wrote to Rouhana, the project leader, saying "termination is solely as a result of a review of programming strategy within IDRC and is by no means a reflection of the quality of work being done," according to the court application.
The organization describes itself as a prominent non-governmental academic and public policy research centre that focuses on the social problems of ethnic Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.
The application seeks restoration of funding for two research projects and a declaration that IDRC violated its right to free expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
An IDRC spokesperson denied the government was involved in the decision to cut Mada Al-Carmel's projects. IDRC is a Crown corporation that funds research on the problems in developing countries.
"The Government of Canada does not direct the allocation of IDRC's funding to projects," said communications director Angela Prokopiak in an e-mail. "There was no government guidance to IDRC on this matter."
The legal challenge of IDRC's decision comes after the Conservative government has faced other allegations of cutting funding to organizations for expressing their views on Israel. The government pulled funding for a Christian aid organization, KAIROS, after it criticized the treatment of Palestinians. It also cut support for a language program run by the Canadian Arab Federation after its president denigrated Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney for supporting Israel.
Some non-government organizations have privately expressed concern they risk losing financial backing from the federal government if they speak about Israel or its treatment of Palestinians.
Last month, respected Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler said the Conservatives have squandered Canada's reputation for fair dealing in the Middle East by always siding with Israel in an attempt to bolster its domestic political support from Jewish voters.
One of the cancelled IDRC research projects required Mada Al-Carmel to study the economic situation of Palestinian women in Israel, focused on "the policies and processes that affect their ability to obtain an education, find a job, start a business, and participate in the formal or informal economy." It began in February 2009 and was to last three years.
The other project was a three-year study of the failure of Palestinians in Israel to "wield effective political influence, particularly on issues that affect their communities."
Mada Al-Carmel is represented by Ottawa lawyers Paul Champ and Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor and outspoken critic of the Harper government on human-rights issues.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Radio Interview with Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian
24 March 2010
Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian speaks on Judaisation of Jerusalem, the building of settlements, housing demolitions, Israel's occupation, etc. to listen click here: http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/mp3/kpfk_100325_140030rintifada.MP3
intifada=shaking off - oppression/silence
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Women's History Month Programming - Part IV
Focus on Armenia, Jordan, and Palestine
Sara Anjargolian is a Los Angeles based photographer and attorney. A former Associate Professor/Assistant Dean at the American University of Armenia law department. Her work on the changing role of women in post-Soviet transitional societies can be found in The State of Law in the South Caucasus.
Narineh Mirzaeianis an award winning Los Angeles based designer and Associate at Gehry Partners. Her work has been published in Metropolis, Interior Design, Architectural Record, Architecture, and exhibited internationally.
Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkianis a senior lecturer ar the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a lecturer at USC and UCLA law schools and project leader of Gender Studies Project at MADA al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research in Haifa. Her research includes domestic abuse in cross cultural perspectives; criminalization of sexual abuse; and women, militarization and war.
Dr. Rula Qawas is Professor of American Literature in the English Department at the University of Jordan. She is the founder of the Women's Studies Center at the University of Jordan and was its first Director. In 2009, she founded Knowledge Production Unit at the Jordanian National Commission for Women.
Produced and hosted by
Lucy DerTavitian and Rana Sharif
SWANA, South and West Asia and North Africa Collective
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|Guests: Sara Anjargolian, Narineh Mirzaeian, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, and Dr. Rula Qawas
|Topics: Palestinian, Jordanian and Armenian women; violence against women
|After opening with SWANA region news coverage on current events by Hamoud Salhi, SWANA members Rana Sharif and Lucy Der Tavitian explore the socio-cultural-political dynamics that affect women's lives in Armenia, Jordan and Palestine. The issue of violences against women and the responses to such violences are at the core of this show.