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Students Against Israeli Apartheid (University of Toronto, St George campus) Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian-Syrians
and Denunciation of a Zionist Apologist
While Palestinians and Syrians need and continue to liberate themselves from the Israeli colonization of Palestine and the Syrian Golan, the Assad regime continues to launch military attacks and sieges including but not limited to the siege on the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. While the Assad regime continually practices criminal violence against the bodies of Palestinian-Syrians and all the People of Syria, against our mothers, brothers, sisters, infants, fathers, families and communities, and as the People remain steadfast against such tyranny, certain organizers decide to invite Agnes-Mariam. While the Assadist collective punishment is not even limited to mass starvation, torture, sieges, knives, bombs and missiles, displacing millions and millions of Syrian refugees, perpetuating the Nakba for Palestinian-Syrians in particular, certain organizers decide to invite a Zionist apologist to deny the crimes of the regime, hence contributing to the crimes of the regime.
Agnes-Mariam is a veteran propaganda tool of the Assad regime. She has been denounced by “Syrian Christians for Peace” for claiming there had never been a single peaceful demonstration in Syria. “Syrian Christians for Peace” has also accused her of failing to disburse any of the money she raised in the name of their beleaguered community. They have asked “that she be excommunicated and prevented from speaking in the name of the Order of Carmelites.”
Mother Agnes is documented to have met with Mihrac Ural. Mihrac Ural is an Assadist paramilitary leader of the “National Defence Force” and a war criminal who has carried the massacres at Baniyas and Bayda. The massacres were documented by Human Rights Watch in a report titled “No One’s Left”, published September 13, 2013. The report says most of the killings took place after clashes between government troops and rebels had ended. At this point both regular government troops and National Defence Force militia “entered homes, separated men from women, rounded up the men of each neighbourhood in one spot, and executed them by shooting them at close range”, and, “in some cases, government and pro-government forces executed, or attempted to execute, entire families”.
What this shows us is that while Mariam Agnes claims to be a humanitarian, she exposes her affiliation with tyrants, war criminals and the massacres they commit by sitting and meeting with Mihrac Ural. Mariam Agnes’ performance of sympathy with the oppressed has all the credibility of statements of regret made by officials in the Israeli army after the massacres of Deir Yassin and Sabra and Shatila, which is none.
Mariam Agnes spoke on March 21st 2013 at an event organized by the France-Israel committee, where she repeated sectarian islamophobic racism and Zionist apologetics appealing to the Zionist-organized event. Mariam Agnes is an islamophobic racist who portrays the situation in Syria as one of faithful Christians being attacked by “Barborous” muslims who are “without faith or law”. Her islamophobia is also explicitly zionist because she claims that Israel “must be the recourse for the protection of faith and of believers” and that “Israel must remain a light for people of faith of the world, an example that for her she accepts to follow without reservation”.
Moreover, Mariam Agnes spoke in defence of the “democratic character” of Israel, and praised Israel’s “inclusion” of Arab minorities in “Parliament and in the Supreme Court and in all spheres of society”. Mariam Agnes’ Zionist apologetics normalize Israeli colonialism in the Golan and Palestine. They are an insult to the Syrian refugees displaced from the Golan who still await their right of return and have been targeted and massacred by the regime. Just as they are also an insult to the victims of Zionism. The Occupied Golan is under the hegemony of Israeli apartheid, and as such the apartheid analysis and the BDS movement are accountable to the Golan and its people, just as they are to Palestine and its people. Despite this, some people who call themselves anti-war and “anti imperialist”, and who claim to be allies of the Palestinian people and supporters of the BDS movement and the apartheid analysis are shamefully bringing and promoting her, presenting a defender of oppression to speak on behalf the oppressed.
The actions of the organizers who will stoop to endorsing someone who repeats Zionist discourse and affiliates with war criminals are beyond divisive and threaten harm to the Palestine solidarity movement. Palestine is more than land, Palestine is also the People including the exiled, ethnically cleansed Palestinians living and exiled once more from Syria. For the organizers who say they want “Freedom for Palestine” and at the same time bring a Zionist apologist for the Assad regime, the word “Freedom” is misused to mean replacing one oppressor with another. Because crimes committed against Palestinians in Syria are crimes committed against Palestine, because we all should take a stand against oppression and not retreat into inaction, we in the student movement opposing Israeli Apartheid, along with the brave and steadfast people of Syria and Palestine, oppose all oppressors. We are both anti-colonial and against state tyranny, and we recognize that Assad’s forces are the dominant, but not the only, perpetuators of killing inside Syria. Among our other solidarity duties, we must and will organize to break the sieges and stop Assad from using mass starvation, checkpoints, torture, detention, killing and all forms of collective punishment as methods of pacifying the Syrian and Palestinian people’s undying desire for dignity and social justice.
We denounce the organizing of the Mariam Agnes events. We demand that the organizers repudiate their support for a Zionist apologist and for someone who affiliates with the war criminal Mihrac Ural, and that they affirm the analysis of Israeli Apartheid in the Golan and Palestine. We demand they affirm the right of return for refugees of the Golan, and that they oppose Israeli colonialism in the Golan including but not limited to the construction of Israeli settlements and theft of Syrian natural resources including oil, gas and water. We demand the organizers acknowledge and oppose the war crimes committed by the Assad regime against Palestinian-Syrians.
*all quotations are translated from Josiane Sberro’s summery of Mariam Agnes’ talk “Situation des Chrétiens en Syrie, quel message pour Israël et pour la France ?” which took place on march 21st 2013. Sberro’s article is entitled “France-Israël reçoit Mère Agnès-Mariam de la Croix” and was published March 25th 2013 on http://www.france-israel.org
Students Against Israeli Apartheid – University of Toronto, St George Campus
Endorsers thus far:
Students for Justice in Palestine – Ryerson University
Students Against Israeli Apartheid – York University
Yarmouk Local Coordinating Committee – the Syrian Revolution- Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp, Syria
Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) – York University
Syria Solidarity Collective – Toronto
Blog Post in English explaining Mariam-Agnes’ Zionist apologetics:http://northernsong.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/mother-agnes-a-zionist-apologist-for-the-assad-regime/
Article in French by Josiane Sberro describing Mariam Agnes’ talk for the France-Israel organization: https://www.france-israel.org/articles.ahd?idart=5012
Haaretz article in English by Gideon Levy in which Levy says that Mariam Anges told him “she loved Israel and that the Jews should serve as a light unto the nations.” http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.544616
Syrian Christians for Peace statement on Mother Agnes: http://www.inewsarabia.com/485/Syrian-Christians-for-Peace-‘Mother’-Agnus-is-an-Assad-agent-in-the-clothes-of-a-nun.htm
History and objectives of the France-Israel organization (in French): https://www.france-israel.org/page.ahd?idrub=5
Human Rights Watch Report “No One’s Left” http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/09/13/no-one-s-left-0