Past Events

Hani Faris On the Maps of Disappearing Palestine: Fact & Fiction — January 24, 2014

An informative presentation was made by Dr. Faris on the context and history behind the 4-map views of “Disappearing Palestine” at SFU Harbour Centre.  The event was co-sponsored by the member groups of the Palestine Awareness Coalition.


Penny Rosenwasser
Book Talk, January 16, 2014

Penny spoke about her new book, Hope into Practice: Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears.  This interactive presentation was part of her book tour, a kindly place provided at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture.  This event was co-sponsored by Building Bridges Vancouver, Independent Jewish Voices, InterSpiritual Centre of Vancouver Society, and Spirited Social Change.  The plan was to hold the presentation at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, but the Board of Directors refused to host this event.


Rabbi Michael Lerner
Visit to Vancouver, October 20 – 24, 2013

Rabbi Lerner made several addresses in Vancouver at a variety of locations, including The Unitarian Church, Langara College, SFU and UBC.  He spoke about his book, Embracing Israel/Palestine: a strategy to heal and transform the Middle East, and geared each conversation in a slightly different way.  Overall, his talks stressed a “new bottom line”, a new way of thinking not based on the values of money, greed, ownership of land, etc.  He stressed the need for healing both Palestinians and Israelis, and an end to the Occupation.  A main focus of his trip was to invite Vancouverites to form a local chapter of  the Network of Spiritual Progressives.


Disappearing Palestine
September, 2013

A joint ad campaign sponsored by the
Palestine Awareness Coalition

Building Bridges Vancouver, along with Independent Jewish Voices, Canada-Palestine Support Network, Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, Seriously Free Speech, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, and Canadian Friends of Sabeel/ Near East Cultural & Educational Foundation, sponsored the posting on several Vancouver buses and Skytrain stations the four maps of Disappearing Palestine to bring public awareness to the plight of the Palestinian people.  There were mixed reactions.  Some ads were torn down (and later replaced), some leaders in the Jewish community saw the ads as promoting hatred, and spokespersons for the Coalition restated the purpose of the campaign was for education and awareness, the ultimate goal to demonstrate the need to end the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem by the Sate of Israel before Palestine completely disappears.


“The Forgotten Palestinians”
Speaker: PeterLarson, NCCAR

May 27, 2013

A joint presentation by Building Bridges Vancouver and the National Council on Canada Arab Relations

Peter gave a most interesting first-hand report on Arab Israelis.  His slides and statistics were very informative and very surprising, given that Arab Israeli’s are officially designated as  “citizens of Israel.”


Book Launch
Freedom Sailors
Edited by Greta Berlin and Bill Dienst, MD
Speaker:  Greta Berlin

Feb. 19, 2013 

In August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years to break the illegal siege.  Greta Berlin, media communications expert, spokesperson and co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement was at Co-op Books launching Freedom Sailors, the story of 44 passengers on two dilapidated boats that sailed to Gaza in August, 2008 to breach Israel’s illegal blockade.

This event, held at  People’s Co-op Books was co-sponsored by:
Gaza’s Ark and Independent Jewish Voices
And endorsed by:
BIAC — Boycott Israeli Apartheid Committee — Vancouver
Building Bridges Vancouver
Canada Palestine Association


Arab Awakening but are we hearing the truth?
Speaker:  Robert Fisk

February 2, 2013
Veteran Middle East journalist Robert Fisk has “seen it all” in his 30+ years of international journalism.  Yet perhaps nothing could compare to the upheavals in the Middle East which began in 2011 – what some have termed the “Arab Spring.”  As always, Fisk  reports from the epicentre of the tensions with his honest and insightful perspective.

As Fisk himself states, “When we journalists fail to get across the reality of events to our readers, we have not only failed in our job; we have also become a party to the bloody events that we are supposed to be reporting. If we cannot tell the truth […] because this will harm ’our‘ side in a war or because it will cast one of our ’hate‘ countries in the role of victim […], then we contribute to the very prejudices that provoke wars in the first place. […] Journalism can be lethal.”

Beyond the popular support and recognition he has earned internationally, Mr. Fisk has received more professional journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent, including the Amnesty International UK Press Award, which he was awarded twice, and the British International Journalist of the Year Award, which he was awarded seven times. In addition to his reporting, he has also published several books, the most influential of which is The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.


Understanding Narratives of Conflict in Israel/Palestine
Speaker:  Dr. Katerina Standish

October 26, 2012
Dr. Katerina Standish presents on Understanding Narratives of Conflict in Israel/Palestine. Conflict narratives are stories or ‘histories’ of the past that become markers of group identity and as such become a crucial component of protracted ethnic conflict. For Jewish and Palestinian Israelis the past becomes compartmentalized and serves to erase and delegitimize the perceived histories of others. The meta-narrative of Zionist Israel contrasts with the unrealized sovereignty of Palestine for Palestinians, and each event in the past is remembered and re-remembered by each new generation.

In the Israeli/Palestinian conflict both sides harness cultural and historical symbols of identity that contribute to a continuation of the conflict, and our session explores the origins of four narrative themes: ideology, armed struggle/resistance, the city of Jerusalem and exile and return.

Dr. Standish holds a PhD in Peace & Conflict Studies from the University of Manitoba, and she is an independent research scholar investigating the connection between peace, conflict and education.


Christian Peacemaker Teams and Non-violent Resistance in Palestine and Israel
Speakers:  Drs. Mark and Twilla Welch

September 24, 2012
Dr. Mark Welch and Twilla Welch present on their experience as delegates with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Palestine and its pacifist, non-violent, multi-lateral opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank Palestinian territory. The presentation focuses on the situation in and around Hebron, one of the most difficult and contested sites in the occupied West Bank.

Mark and Twilla Welch are both Psychiatric Nurses with extensive experience in clinical psychiatry, research, teaching and project development in many countries, including several visits to Palestine. Both have worked with survivors of torture and trauma. Mark worked on a five- month sabbatical with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. In March, 2011 they went as delegates to Israel and the Occupied Territories with the Christian Peacemaker Teams during which time they were engaged in pacifist, non-violent resistance to the conflict and the occupation.


The False Paradigm of Peace:  Revisiting the Palestine Question
Speaker:  Ilan Pappé

Saturday, May 5, 2012
“The False Paradigm of Peace: Revisiting the Palestine Question” offers Canadians a fresh perspective on the prerequisites for a durable, just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Pappé will discuss the reasons behind the decades of failed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and what the future has in hold for both peoples.

The renowned Israeli historian  Dr. Ilan Pappé is a professor at the University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (UK) and is currently Director of Europe’s first Centre for Palestine Studies, housed within the Institute. He is a specialist in 20th Century ethno-politics and the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and nine other books.


Christian Zionism and Israel
Speaker:  Ron Dart

April 2, 2012
Christian Zionism has played a significant role in supporting the state of Israel.  Who are the Christian Zionists? And what do other Christians think about their view of the coming end of the world?  Is their belief that Jews must convert to Christianity respectful of Judaism in an inter-faith context?  Ron Dart discusses the origins, development and contemporary forms of Christian Zionism, the relationship between Christian Zionism and Israel and the impact of such a symbiotic relationship on the Palestinians.

Ron Dart was on staff with Amnesty International before joining the Department of Political Science/Philosophy/Religious Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, where he has taught since 1990. He is the author of 23 books and numerous articles on a wide variety of topics.


A Palestinian Library in Deisheh Refugee Camp:  Literacy and Peace
Speaker:  Emma Swan

March 14, 2012
From former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

“Literacy is essential to the development and health of individuals, communities and countries. It is a condition for people’s effective participation in the democratic process … and it is the most precious way we have of expressing, preserving and developing our cultural diversity and identity. Literacy, in short, is a prerequisite for peace.”

Emma Swan describes her experience initiating a bilingual (Arabic and English) library in Karama Women’s and Children’s Centre in Deisheh refugee camp in the West Bank. The result is a practical, beneficial project that makes a difference on a daily basis. Emma also discusses the effects of the Israeli occupation on education and explores the importance and potential that education offers for Palestinians.

Emma Swan has a BA in Peace and Conflict and is currently pursuing an MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads University. Growing up, Emma traveled extensively around the world with her parents who worked as volunteer medical professionals. She continues globe-trotting today.  She has lived in and has stayed for extended periods of time in many difficult economic and political situations, including Palestine, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. She is currently working in Vancouver and would like to return to Palestine to expand and further develop the new library at Karama.


A Child’s View from Gaza Exhibit
The Vancouver Child’s View from Gaza Committee
Speakers:  Barbara Lubin of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and
Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj (on video) Gaza Community Health Program

March 9, 2012
Since 1988 Barbara has regularly traveled to Palestine and has led nearly twenty delegations of North Americans to Palestine/Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon. She has lectured on the issue of Middle East politics and the plight of the children in the region to dozens of schools, universities, conferences, religious institutions and community groups. Barbara’s current presentation focuses on the impact of Israel’s occupation and siege on children in Gaza.

Dr. El-Sarraj shares his experiences with Gaza’s children and discusses the art project as a vital part of the therapy needed to deal with the children’s mental health and well-being following Operation Cast Lead.  The exhibit of the children’s art, censored in many places,  was on display following the talks.


Harvesting Olives in Palestine:   Resisting the Occupation One Olive at a Time
Speaker:  John Soos, PhD

February 20, 2012
Because of the construction of the Separation Wall, settler violence and discriminatory water restrictions, the annual Palestinian olive harvest has become less productive, less joyous and more dangerous over the years. To help preserve the harvest, people from around the world help out with both the planting of olive trees and the harvesting of the olives.

John volunteered to help with the olive harvest in the West Bank in November, 2011, and he shares with us his experiences.


Peace Education in Israel and Palestine
Speaker: Sedi Menachi

January 23, 2012
Based on her PhD thesis and her on-the-ground experience in Palestine and Israel, Sedi Minachi explores the narratives of peace educators who use dialogue among their students to create a culture of peace.  She asks: How do they implement peace education programs in their communities?  What challenges do they face?  She outlines historical aspects of the conflict, crucial to understanding the existing conflict and improving relations between Palestinians and Israelis.


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