Masar Badil, Samidoun usher bolder activism — and growing backlash, as they march in Ottawa

Both Networks are challenging Zionist manufactured smears and their power to twist governments as they like

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Caption: Demonstrators chanting in front of the American Embassy in Ottawa: “Israel is a terrorist State.” May Day March, April 30, 2023

It was overcast, rainy and windy when my brother and I arrived at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights in Ottawa on Sunday, April 30 at 2:00 pm to join the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil and Samidoun and sponsored by many pro-Palestine organizations in Canada. The route took us from the Monument via Elgin as we headed toward the Parliament of Canada on Wellington St and then past the American Embassy on Sussex Dr through downtown and back.

The bleak atmosphere brightened as protestors began to mill about and the organizers set the stage up for the speeches of support and solidarity that followed. Two young activists climbed 20 feet up on either side of the Monument and stood precariously on ledges holding the Palestinian flag, the wind keeping the flags unfurled. Samidoun international coordinator Charlotte Kates gave a short rousing speech in which she spoke about the sanctions and warmongering against Iran among other issues and then introduced the speakers: Toronto 4 Palestine, Montreal 4 Palestine, Neturei Karta, Anti Imperialist Alliance, Communist Party of Canada, Young Communist League, Communist Party of Canada, Marxist-Leninist; Khaled Barakat of Masar Badil, Anakbayan Ottawa (a Filipino youth organization) and Tito Martinez, singer from Guatemala.

And then quietly, the protestors made a formation and began the march following a front line of Neturei Karta members headed by an activist waving a huge Palestinian flag. But we weren’t quiet for long.

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Caption: Flag bearer leading the May Day March in Ottawa, April 30, 2023

In its report on trends in Palestine advocacy and backlash in 2022, Palestine Legal states: “Palestine solidarity activism in 2022 was characterized by bold campaigns, particularly by students and faculty, to draw attention to the Palestinian liberation struggle and to invite concrete acts of solidarity from a growing community of allies.”

It’s safe to say that few campaigns rival in boldness the campaigns of Masar Badil and Samidoun. The Ottawa Declaration of the Masar Badil conference in North America published on May 1st does not mince words: “… the conference [which bore the name, “Palestine: Envisioning Liberation, Confronting Colonialism.”] of our movement extends a Palestinian, Arab and international salute to the resistance forces in occupied Palestine, with all of its battalions, brigades, committees, and heroic armed forces, and to the forces of the ‘Lion’s Den’ and the fighters of the cities, villages and camps of the West Bank, and to the masses of activists throughout the land of Palestine, led by the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in the prisons and detention centers of the occupation.” The chants on the march were just as bold and explicit.

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Caption: Khaled Barakat of Masar Badil (left) and Charlotte Kates of Samidoun at the May Day March in Ottawa, April 30, 2023

Part of Masar Badil’s Khaled Barakat’s speech at the march, the part that affirms Palestinian armed resistance, quickly found its way on Twitter. CIJA- The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Canada posted the clip and tweeted: “‘Enough is enough!’ We’ve long urged @Safety_Canada to list Samidoun as a terrorist entity due to its ties to PFLP terror group This weekend in Ottawa, Samidoun called for support of ‘Palestinian resistance,’ directly referring to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad & PFLP #cdnpoli”

Samir Abed-Rabbo @OneDemState retorted: “The only terror I see here is CIJA’s working on behalf of settler colonial apartheid Israel …”

Zionism is a form of Nazism. Both Masar Badil and Samidoun are challenging Zionist manufactured smears and their power to twist governments as they like — in Canada as well as Germany. Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle. As Stanley L Cohen put it, “It’s time for Israel to accept that as an occupied people, Palestinians have a right to resist — in every way possible.”

Both Samidoun and Masar Badil published fighting words eulogizing Sheikh Khader Adnan of Islamic Jihad. He was a Palestinian prisoner, hunger striker and resistance leader who was martyred in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 2 May 2023 after 86 days of hunger strike. As one of the much-repeated chants on the march says: “نموت وتحيا فلسطين |We die and Palestine lives.” Read his wife’s appeal on the 79th day of his strike here.
Caption: “We die and Palestine lives.”

Samidoun wrote: “The only response to his martyrdom must be continued and escalated action, resistance, protest and struggle, and for people around the world and Palestinian and Arab communities in exile and diaspora, it is urgent that we take the streets to make it clear that Khader Adnan, a great symbol of freedom, will never be eliminated by the Zionist assassination policy. He must live on in each of us and our actions, in honor of his sacrifice, commitment and willingness to put his body and life on the line not only for his own freedom, but for the liberation of Palestine. The great crime of the assassination of Sheikh Khader Adnan must not be allowed to pass without real accountability imposed by the people.”

Likewise, Masar Badil published a statement by the joint leadership of the Popular Democratic Party and the Arab Socialist Action Party in Lebanon emphasizing “that the response to the martyrdom of the leader Khader Adnan and the ongoing Zionist crimes against thousands of Palestinian prisoners is to escalate the resistance in all of its forms, at the top of which is the armed struggle, to unify all fronts and perpetuate the struggle with the occupier throughout historic Palestine.

The wonderful part of the march for me, other than the euphoria and pride I experienced, was the heartening reception we received from Ottawans, as we marched and chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They honked their cars, raised fists and walked out of shops. A group of young men and women even spontaneously joined the march.
Caption: Ottawans honk cars in solidarity with Palestine

We Palestinians have had enough of “ideological debate,” “battle of narratives” and “peace talks,” thank you. It’s been seventy-five years and counting. We will return.


Caption: Poster–May Day March in Ottawa, April 30, 2023 | Free Palestine from the River to the Sea | Unite against Imperialism | Victory to the Workers of the World


Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank


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