Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bookstore chain is picketed for bankrolling Israeli troops:

"Indigo protest:

"Indigo donates millions to Israeli soldiers"

by Sara Falconer

HOUR magazine (Canada)
June 7, 2007

On the Web at:

Indigo's military chapter
photo: Joseph Yarmush

At first glance, it's not what you expect from a protest. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, a modest picket in front of the Indigo bookstore on Ste-Catherine Street is notable for the upbeat sounds of an acoustic guitar and a jovial atmosphere.

Look a little closer and you'll see that tempers are starting to flare. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a more divisive issue, or a more crucial time to raise it: June 9 is the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and the Golan Heights.

But why a protest against the Indigo chain? The majority shareholders of Indigo/Chapters, Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, established the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which offers scholarships to individuals from other countries who volunteer to join the Israel Defense Forces. According to the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 lone soldiers in the Israeli military, and HESEG plans to donate up to $3-million per year.

"Everyone is shocked about Indigo," says Randa Chalhoub, an organizer with Tadamon!, a Montreal-based group that works in solidarity with grassroots struggles in Lebanon.

"Most people don't want to go into a bookstore, buy a book, and have that money go to an army."

This protest is only one in a week of events planned as part of a larger global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against "Israeli apartheid," building on the successful model of South African apartheid boycotts of the 1980s.

Part of this cultural boycott includes a picket at the second Israeli film festival, now playing at Cinema du Parc, and a rally on June 6 against a fundraiser for the Jewish National Fund.

The Coalition for Peace and Justice in Palestine (CJPP) is also asking supporters to participate in the boycott of Israeli products including oranges, wines and companies like Caterpillar, which provides bulldozers to destroy Palestinian homes and build the "apartheid wall."

On Saturday, June 9, following an overnight vigil and documentary screenings, the CJPP will march to mark the anniversary of the occupation. Palestine Day happens at Dorchester Square (Peel and René-Lévesque) starting at 1 p.m. For more information, visit and

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