CAIA Picket of Jerusalem String Quartet

Patrons coming to see the Jerusalem String Quarter in Toronto on October13th 2011 were made to realize that any performance providing a cultural facade to the state of Israel and its oppression of the Palestinians was going to be met with opposition. On a wet and chilly evening in front of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, twenty members of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) staged an information picket to demonstrate against this attempt at re-branding Israel. See the video here

The Toronto demonstration was in response to a call issued by PACBI and USACBI to picket the Jerusalem String Quartet’s North American tour ( The Jerusalem Music Centre, the home base for the Jerusalem String Quartet, is prominently featured on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, revealing how it is among the Israeli cultural institutions that are part of theongoing effort to “re-brand” Israel’s image in the West.

The picket creatively raised awareness about the use of cultural ambassadors to whitewash Israel’s human rights abuses and violations of International Law. While CAIA members handed out informational flyers to patrons and passersby, others staged a mock string duet playing cacophonic music (by design) under placards that read “No Harmony In Apartheid”. In addition, CAIA members handed out brochures to theatre goers that seemed, on the outside, to provide information on the quartet, while on the inside exposing Israel’s apartheid system and attempts to whitewash it through cultural re-branding.

While the picket provoked some lively responses and discussion, many people reacted with interest and cautious affirmation.

The picket was one among many that have followed the quartet during its North American tour from October 2-16.












BDS Action: Protest the Jerusalem String Quartet on Oct 13th

With their “Brand Israel” campaign, the Israeli government sends cultural creators and “ambassadors” abroad in an effort to whitewash the ongoing crimes, human rights abuses, and apartheid they are responsible for. Currently on a North American tour, The Jerusalem String Quartet (JSQ) are a perfect example of Israel’s desire to use art and culture to distance itself from occupation, apartheid and racial discrimination.

“We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits…This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” -Arye Mekel, Israel Foreign Ministry

The Jerusalem Music Centre—home base for the Quartet—is prominently featured on the Foreign Ministry website. The Centre’s stated purpose is to “showcase the State of Israel as a thriving cultural environment that stimulates creativity and artistic life.”

From October 2 – 16 protests of the Jerusalem String Quartet (JSQ) performances are being held in Vancouver, Toronto and cities across the United States. These protests join a growing international cultural boycott of the JSQ from Edinburgh (2008) to Australia (2009) to London (2010). The JSQ has made no attempt to dissociate itself from Israel’s apartheid policies. We can only assume that it is happy to play under the patronage of the State of Israel and/or its institutions while the charges of war crimes against Israel hang thick in the air worldwide.


In 2009 filmmakers and artists from around the world protested the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) participation in Brand Israel through its celebratory “Spotlight on Tel Aviv” program. Toronto’s resounding response to Brand Israel … not welcome here!

The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) was formed in 2006 in response to the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and the call for the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations signed the BDS call in July 2005, and an overwhelming majority of Palestinian cultural and artistic institutions have endorsed the call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

When: Thursday Oct 13th, 6:30pm
Where: St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts 
27 Front Street East (1 block East of Yonge Street, South side)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
For more information:

Challenging Power (Free Film Screening)

Join the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) as we host Filmmaker Johan Genberg for a screening of his documentary Challenging Power and a discussion about the film.

Friday, September 23
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Palmerston Library Theatre

560 Palmerston Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

On July 15, 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op became the first grocery store in the United States to boycott Israeli products. Challenging Power is a series of reflections on the decision to boycott, its significance, and the role it plays in the process of social change. Olympia, Washington-based documentary filmmaker, Johan Genberg, will be in Toronto to discuss the film, the boycott campaign and what it has meant in Olympia.

See a trailer and learn more about the film:

Contact for more information

Labour Day Parade: March with Labour for Palestine

Monday, September 5
9:00am – 12:00pm
Southbound lane of University Ave just north of Armoury St. (one street south of Dundas)

This year marks the sixth anniversary of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) call from Palestine. Around the world labour unions are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, many have passed resolutions in support of BDS and continue to work to end the siege on Gaza. In the last year the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Britain, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour and the PEI Federation of labour all passed resolutions in support of BDS.

In May of this year the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) was established representing nearly all Palestinian workers’ and professionals’ unions,. Dr Amjad Barham of PTUC-BDS spoke to unions and the public across Canada about the situation of Palestinian workers on a speaking tour organised by Labour for Palestine.

We are marching in the context of an attack on public services and austerity measures against communities in Toronto and across Ontario. We will march with CUPE against austerity measures and cutbacks to public services.

Join us in celebrating the successes of BDS in the labour movement and working towards more!

See you at the Labour for Palestine contingent on Labour Day. Bring noise makers, Palestinian flags and your union flags.


Labour for Palestine is a network of activists involved in promoting and strengthening the BDS campaign across a variety of Canadian unions as a sub-committee of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA). For information about Labour for Palestine or to get involved please email

For BDS labour news see