UBC students to fund boat to Gaza

$13,000 spent on legal fees surrounding controversy over $700 donation


Following several months of controversy, UBC’s students’ union has finally approved a $700 donation towards the Canada Boat to Gaza, scheduled to sail at the end of March. The donation will be officially made by student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) which receives its funding from a semi-autonomous students’ union resource centre.

After students complained about the donation in November, the students’ union had put a hold on the funds when the vice-president finance reasoned the donation should be brought to student council. Council later approved the donation, but a stipulation was included mandating the union investigate possible ties to terrorism.

An email to the VP finance, from Fintrac, an organization that investigates terrorist funding, has now quieted any lingering suspicions about terrorist links. “Fintrac does not maintain a list of organizations, charities or non-profit groups that are in good standing. It will not verify or evaluate groups about which you requested information,” the email read.

The Ubyssey reports that $13,000 has been spent on legal fees related to the $700 donation.

Filed under:

UBC students to fund boat to Gaza

  1. Thank you for your persistence Gaza supporters. When will Zionists learn to quit these immoral challenges to human rights of Palestinians?

    They’re learning, as with the young professor they challenged in Brooklyn who was later hired anyway, and thanks to you!

  2. Good news indeed. With each passing day Israel and its supporters are increasingly seen around the world as enemies of hard won human rights and pariahs.

  3. I have a different question, without giving my support for or against this cause.

    Should students money really be used for a political cause? Shouldn’t this money, especially this absurd amount of legal fees, be going to improving education and classrooms?

    Should students be indirectly giving their money to a cause they don’t agree with?

    I think not. Student unions are hypocrites. One side says “education needs more money and should be free”! Then the other spends tons of money on causes that not all their student body would agree on. (Don’t try to argue that. We know these boats are controversial.)

  4. “R” asks if students should be giving their money to a cause they don’t agree with. Should I be paying taxes where a portion goes to supporting an iniquitous occupation of Afghanistan that I don’t agree with? It’s an issue of democracy.

    It’s unclear from the Ubyssey report but presumably the $13k was spent to counter a small group’s challenge of the donation, requiring not doubt far more in expenditures to make. Unfortunately, a few with deep pockets are responsible for causing this unnecessary expense. A Fintrac review was easily avoided simply by reading through the Canada Boat Gaza website. Only a blindsided ideologue would see a terrorist threat in anything there. Ideologues with deep pockets are a constant threat to democracy, creating ‘controversy’ with their money and influence where none exists. That’s a wider issue.

  5. This story shows the great lengths to which pro-Israel folks will go to support Israel’s policies. Thirteen thousand dollars was spend in order to confirm what a a Canadian judge ruled almost a year ago: sending medicine, blankets and other civilian items to Gaza does not amount to support for Terrorism. At least not yet.

  6. @Andrea

    Don’t deceive yourself. Sending medicine, blankets and other civilian items is not what’s controversial. What IS controversial is how they’re sending it. The Israeli authorities will accept, without problem, ALL aid. Just they insist on screening it first.

    They learned the hard way what happens if they don’t, with a constant barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians.

    If UBC spent $700 on a donation to provide aid to the people of Gaza using proper channels, then there wouldn’t be an issue. However, a flotilla which insists on proving the aid themselves, especially after what happened in late May, is definition controversial.

    It’s Israel’s right to protect its civilians.

    Don’t tell me what happened in May by the Israeli army was illegal. They were well within their rights to protect their borders, and they were attacked. Look at the video. Just, if you repeat a lie enough (that they just sat there peacefully and were brutally hurt), people will start to believe it.

    Students have a right to give money to charitable causes. These flotillas however go beyond that point. They are controversial, and it’s wrong for student unions, who keep demanding more money and complain how underfunded education is, to spend money (even just $700, not $13,000) on a cause such as this.

    I know how these arguments work though. I’m completely expecting a response that the people of Gaza have no aid, and Israel is wrong to screen what goes in.

    Look at it this way. If a native-American ground in Canada kept sending rockets into Toronto, would Canada be wrong to monitor what goes in and out of those areas? Nobody would even question it. However, if Israel does it, well, how could they.

  7. Want to add. I accept that these flotillas will happen. If people want to support them, that’s their choice.

    However, there’s no room for student money to support this when there’s still a very large controversy.

    And also, unlike taxpayers, students are very vocal about the lack of funding they have. That’s where its especially hypocritical.

  8. In the first post “R” claims a neutral stance for the cause of sending a boat to Gaza and attempts to reclaim impartiality in the third but the middle one gives the game away, displaying a dedicated ideologue who unfortunately feels a need to disguise where they come from. So we can dispense with their expressed concern for how students’ money is spent.

    The middle post contains the usual claims by Zionist ideologues, refuted numerous times, uselessly. Evidence and logic never figure large in ideological thinking. Suffice it to note, the evidence for Gazan deprivation at the hands of Israel is legion and well-documented. WikiLeaks documents the deliberate Israeli policy to maintain Gazans in a severely deprived state, an undisputed crime against humanity.

    Every flotilla boat has been open to inspection before leaving and at sea. Israel is not concerned with security. It is focused on depriving Gazans, trying to break their spirit, what blockades are always about. All channels are “proper channels” for providing aid to needy people. There are no exceptions unless other agendas are in play. The Zionist agenda is clear. Dedicated followers with deep pockets will do whatever they can to thwart logic and evidence. It only works for so long.

  9. You’re right. I expressed my stance in my 2nd and 3rd post. I’m not hiding that.

    However, you’re also mistaken regarding “every flotilla being willing to allow inspection”. During the recent event in May, the boat was asked to stop at an Israeli port for inspection numerous times. Each and every time they simply said “no, we’re going to Gaza directly”. That is when the situation escalated.

    Don’t deceive yourself. Their argument was the blockade in Gaza is illegal, therefore, we shouldn’t have to commit to an inspection.

  10. And by the way. Prior to the blockade, people (not everyone, but some groups) were sending rockets into Israeli cities constantly causing civilian deaths. This is because they refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist anywhere, at all.

    Therefore, how should Israel have responded? Provide me with a viable solution that would lead to happiness for all groups with the least amount of civilian deaths. That would be a productive dialogue, which I am definitely willing to take part in.

  11. Inspections of flotilla boats have been freely offered before the boats leave port and at any time at sea. It is irrational to demand that boats set into Israel for inspections. If you are concerned that dangerous cargo is being carried, you don’t force a suspected boat into a port where explosives could be detonated. For this reason, the Americans always inspect vessels at sea.

    Also, once forced into an Israeli port, flotilla passengers were asked to sign a form stating they would be deported due to entering Israel illegally! The best term for this is chutzpah.

    Clearly security is not an Israeli concern. In fact, it no longer uses this as an excuse. Its current excuse for intercepting vessels on the high seas in international waters is it is maintaining a naval blockade against Gaza. The legalities of blockades are not as clear-cut as definitions of territorial waters. By international agreement, however, another standard applies to blockades. If they result in humanitarian crises for civilian populations, they are criminal actions. This was cited in the UN report investigating Israel’s attack on the May flotilla, declaring it to be a clearly criminal action.

    So there is no danger to Israel from flotillas and by international agreement the blockade is illegal and Israel’s preventing boats from sailing to Gaza is criminal. So why is Israel acting this way? To ethnically cleanse Palestine entirely of Palestinians? The conclusion is logical and inescapable.

    Rockets “constantly causing civilian deaths”? List the last five and their dates. In the same period, hundreds of Gazans will have died at the hands of Israeli guided missles and unmanned drones, infinitely superior technologically to crude rockets resembling pipe bombs, similar in affect and psychology to stones thrown at tanks. Stop the attacks, stop the occupation and the rockets stop. That’s the “viable solution that would lead to happiness for all groups with the least amount of civilian deaths” that you ask for.

    So why is it not happening? Seems to have something to do with maintaining a vicious occupation.

  12. “Clearly security is not an Israeli concern. In fact, it no longer uses this as an excuse. Its current excuse for intercepting vessels on the high seas in international waters is it is maintaining a naval blockade against Gaza. ”

    Cmon. Let’s be realistic. That statement is logically flawed. Why would Israel have a naval blockade against Gaza? For security.

    Israel learned from experience, prior the blockade, what happens when the port is open. They were attacked. Was it on the same scale as Israel’s response? No. But Israel wasn’t just sending rockets into random areas. They were targeting areas where these rockets were being built.

    Anyway, we can argue this for years. My final comments on this thread will be this:
    1. I looked at the website in your link. I didn’t realize your affiliation. Unlike what these flotilla groups proclaim to the media about how they just want to deliver aid to the poor people of Gaza, your website makes it pretty clear your purpose is to draw attention to what it seen as an illegal blockade and restrictions, while secondary is your goal to deliver aid. There are valid peace negotiations happening, which would lead to 2 independent states ideally. These flotillas, insisting on delivering the aid themselves, undermines the process.
    –> Why? Every Country has the right to protect their citizens from harm. The International Red Cross, the UN, and other groups have all stated and agree to ensure all aid reaches the people of Gaza. Israel is only doing this to ensure that weapons are not reaching these borders. Look up “Rockets in Sderot” to see what happens when they don’t. However, these flotilla groups have made it clear this is not acceptable.

    2. The UN report might have said that, but UN is known for a lot of bias against Israel. See: http://www.science.co.il/arab-israeli-conflict/articles/AIPAC-2002-05-20.asp Try to refute those claims. Google “UN bias against Israel”. You’ll find tons of stuff.

    3. You wrote above about Zionist ideologues. Zionism is simply: –noun
    a worldwide Jewish movement that resulted in the establishment and development of the state of Israel

    The purpose is not ethnic cleansing. It’s just for there to be a Jewish homeland. Note that Jewish homeland does not mean Land for Jews (and only Jews). It is quite the contrary.

    5, and final point. Just like the Jewish people feel they should have a homeland, I totally agree with the right of the Palestinian people. However, should groups like Hezbollah fail to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist at all, and should flotillas such as these continue to circumvent the peace process and Israel’s right to protect their citizens, then these battles will be unfortunately ongoing for many years to come.

    I believe intelligent dialogue such as this is smart and helpful, and nothing has any harm towards you or your beliefs. I support your willingness to ensure a better life for the people of Gaza, I just disagree with the approach of trying to fault Israel in every manner, instead of working with them.

  13. Re questioning the logic for why Israel would have a naval blockade against Gaza if not for security reasons. Naval blockades are commonly maintained for political, not security reasons. The US has maintained a blockade against Cuba for more than 50 years for political reasons – trying to bring down the Castro government. No one claims US security is a reason. Israel openly admits it’s blockade of Gaza and land border closings are designed to bring down the Hamas government. Hamas does not threaten Israel’s security. It does, however, threaten its occupation of Palestine which is the real reason for Israel’s blockade.

    Claiming that the blockade has improved Israeli security is an example of the classic syllogistic logical fallacy,” post hoc ergo propter hoc”, or “after this, therefore because of this”. Gazans have ceased firing rockets several times. In the past, whenever they do, Israel seems to deliberately provoke resumption, most notoriously during the ceasefire period prior to Israel’s all-out attack on Gaza. Israel refused to extend the ceasefire period and rocket attacks resumed. Presumably Gazans are currently being restrained from firing rockets so the world can more clearly witness Israeli one-sided violence.

    Re Israel’s selective targeting vs Gazan’s random targeting. The flip answer is, if you want Gazan’s to selectively target, then ask the Americans to give them the same sophisticated weaponry they have given the Israelis. More humanly, since targeted attacks and assassinations end up killing more civilians than those targeted, morally, asking for exoneration for acts of murder based on selective targeting seems more in the range of ‘hasbara’ propaganda than logic. One wonders who is aping whom advancing this excuse – Israel or the Americans.

    Re the purpose of the Canada boat to Gaza enterprise in particular and flotilla boats in general, as you noted, we make no effort to hide our goals. Providing aid is the short- term goal and breaking the illegal blockade is the long-term goal. The Gazan people have been consulted on this matter. They tell the flotilla boats what they need immediately but are adamant that ending the siege of Gaza is paramount. Even if we carried nothing, they urgently ask us to help break the blockade in order to end their need and dependence on handouts. Unlike Haiti and other natural disasters, this is a man-made disaster. The need for aid will end when the cause of the disaster ends.

    Re the need for Israeli security. ‘R’ insists on claiming Israel represses Gazans for reasons of security, flying in the face of reason and overwhelming facts on the ground. The Israeli state has invested a great amount of time and effort to advance this excuse. The Americans do the same to convince its people and supporters that its invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan were driven by security concerns. I presume ‘R’ is able to see the self-serving obfuscation there. It’s time to use the same critical analyses for Israel.

    In relation to Sderot, it’s the closest Israeli community to Gaza by far, a mere 3 km away, the only town Gazan rockets can reach with any reliability, a small community, economically depressed, requiring major state aid to exist. Israel would save millions in shekels and the thousands of Gazan casualties in Cast Lead if they simply bought out Sderot residents, which they refuse to do, and relocate the town out of rocket range. With few actual casualties but clearly stressed, it’s hard to avoid viewing the citizens of Sderot as pawns of their own government. It seems Israel cares as little for its own citizens as it does for Palestinians.

    Re the definition of Zionism as “a worldwide Jewish movement that resulted in the establishment and development of the state of Israel.” Sounds innocuous but one could define the settler movement in North America – and indeed it was a movement, mostly here for reasons of persecution, repression and near genocide, as in the case of Ireland, in Europe – resulted in the establishment and development of the states of Canada and the US, resulting in the massive and total genocide of a number of major tribal entities, numbering hundreds of thousands of people. The Zionist definition offered studiously steers around the occupation that resulted from it.

    Re Israel’s right to exist, I’ve never heard anyone working for justice and peace for Palestinians question Israel’s right to exist. Only Israel and its supporters make this claim. Hamas and others logically have refused to recognise Israel as a legitimate entity until it recognises Palestine as a legitimate entity. Non-recognition is not the same as denying Israel’s right to exist except in Israeli propaganda circles. Every time a country withdraws its ambassador it is withdrawing its recognition of the country’s right to legitimate relations, not denying its right to exist.

    Re finding fault with Israel rather than working with them – Israel is encapsulated delusional at the moment. People have been trying to break through to the state for the last 60 years to little avail. There was hope change would come from within the country but there is little reason for hope at present. Israeli academics who oppose the occupation are telling the world it is up to them to effect change as it won’t happen within Israel. This is not a plea for intervention, rather the opposite – to stop supporting Israel’s iniquitous occupation. Canada is one of the worst, of course, which is where the Canada Boat to Gaza effort came from – rallying civil society to counter the Harper government’s appalling support for a state that can only be characterised as criminal under the circumstances.

    Re referring to Israel’s policies as ethnic cleansing. The phrase comes from the well-known book written by Israeli historian Ian Pappe, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” highly recommended and well-documented, eye-opening reading. When he was in Canada, Pappe told his audiences there is a key word, rarely used in mainstream media, never in Israel – Sharon uttered it once in the Knesset that shocked the body and the nation. Pappe said the Palestine-Israel issue, despite attempts to cover it up and to characterise it as a complicated, intractable problem, is really quite simple to understand. It is an occupation of one people by another. I try to use the O word whenever possible.

  14. Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew who is co-founder of ther Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and was on the first Free Gaza flotilla, recently spoke at King’s College, London Ontario, in support of the Canadian Boat to GAZA (which UBC students are supporting). In his presentation, “Why We Need the Canadian Boat to Gaza” he provides background – from an Israeli Jew – and to read his work or listen to his talks is enlightening.
    One fact that he related has convinced me to strongly support this and other efforts to end Israeli apartheid. The United Nations has done studies to determine the absolute minimum number of CALORIES each individual needs in order to just survive. Working out the math, Israel has taken this figure and uses it to determine what foods can be allowed into Gaza. The minimum number of CALORIES excludes any treats – bananas, fruit, chocolate, PASTA, etc. etc. How does keeping the people of Gaza on the verge of starvation protect Israel? Don’t believe me about the calories? Contact Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew. It is time we all work together to end Israeli apartheid.


  15. Shir Hever, another Israeli Jew who gave a talk in Toronto last July, told his audience about another aspect of the Israeli siege of Gaza that is mostly unknown here – how Israel profits from it in many ways by controlling access to what goes into and out of Gaza, forcing Gazans to do business with their oppressor in a monopolistic environment. A more pointed illustration of the colonial nature of Israel’s siege of Gaza cannot be found.

    This was driven home recently when Al-Jazeera reported on the effects the Egyptian revolt is having on Gaza. Egypt has closed its one border crossing and all but one of the tunnels in the interim, resulting in a crisis for Gazans requiring medical attention in Egypt and a shortage of goods, including gasoline which is smuggled through the tunnels. What struck me was the fact that gasoline sold to Gazans by Israelis and brought in by truck costs three times what it does when brought in through tunnels, a counterintuitive price inversion. It must be quite lucrative for the Israeli suppliers.

    To echo the question asked in the previous post, how does gouging the people of Gaza on the price of basic commodities protect Israel?

Sign in to comment.