In Memoriam: Bob Rosen

The Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign mourns the sudden death of Bob Rosen. Bob was a strong supporter of BDS and participated in both the Deltaport ZIM actions and spoke strongly in favour of BDS on the Labour for Palestine committee. His personal strength and conviction and his generosity of spirit will be missed throughout the community. His musical gift which he happily and generously shared with the Vancouver progressive community and which brought joy in a troubled world will be particularly missed. Our condolences go to Eva, Michael and those in the many organizations with which he closely worked including Independent Jewish Voices, CanPalNet, Solidarity Notes, Red Eye on Co-op Radio and the Gram Partisans. He has left a tremendous void.

We redistribute below an article by Charlie Smith from the Georgia Straight:

Activist and teacher Bob Rosen passes away
By Charlie Smith, November 22, 2011

Retired Surrey teacher and peace activist Bob Rosen has died.

A member of Independent Jewish Voices, Rosen wasn’t afraid to criticize the government of Israel when he felt that it had taken a wrong turn.

One of Rosen’s friends, Lawrence Boxall, sent out the following tribute by email:

“Our noble friend, Bob Rosen, has passed on. I wish all his family and friends a long and healthy life. Bob was an inspiration to all of us in the struggle for a just society at every level. Eloquent, yet humble, Bob always brought a sharp mind to the political problems we faced without ever being vindictive, mean-spirited or petty. He embodied generosity of spirit for me. I will miss him very much.”

The Gram Partisans (with Bob Rosen singing in the middle of the screen) perform the Ballad of Rachel Corrie, which Rosen cowrote.

Words and music by Bill Hood and Bob Rosen. Dedicated to the memory of Rachel Corrie

Vancouver’s The Gram Partisans play at the Vancouver District Labour Council Cabaret at the Prophouse Cafe Nov 8 2011.

The Gram Partisans are:

– Bob Rosen – guitar and vocals
– Willian Hood – guitar and vocals
– Alan Zisman – accordion
– Georgina Arntzen – mandolin and vocals
– Peter Bazovski – violin
– Phil Wallace – bass

Last year, Rosen wrote an article in the B.C. Teachers’ Federation magazine called “Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israel?”

In the piece, he maintained that a growing number of Jews around the world were distancing themselves from Israeli government policies.

“In the past year, there has been a spate of actions by government bodies in Canada in an attempt to brand critics of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic,” Rosen wrote. “At the same time, the Harper government has acted to defund the Christian human rights NGO Kairos because of its alleged support for a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In fact, Kairos never did support the BDS campaign, although many defenders of human rights around the world—Jews and non-Jews—do.”

He also wrote: “Conflating criticisms of the actions of the state of Israel with attacks on Jewish people in general is utterly false. There have always been Jews who have been critical of the Zionist project. In fact, many of the strongest critics of Zionism and of Israel’s policies have been Jewish.”

As a spokesperson for the Palestinian solidarity group CanPalNet, Rosen condemned last year’s visit to Vancouver by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

“This man has an appalling track record when it comes to human rights issues,” Rosen said at the time. “Dershowitz has defended the Israeli use of ‘preventive detention’ of Palestinian citizens of Israel and has advocated the use of collective punishment, including the destruction of villages, against Palestinian communities in response to individual acts of terrorism. This, despite the fact that collective punishment is a violation of international law.”

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