Founded in 1994 and based in Montreal, Alternatives Canada (AC) describes itself as an “international solidarity organization” that implements and funds “sustainable development projects” which “promote climate justice, struggle for democracy, and/or defend human dignity” in more than 30 countries around the world. With an emphasis on aiding “people and communities affected by poverty, discrimination, exploitation, and violence,” AC aims to help “create a world” where all people “equitably share the power and resources they need to live and thrive.” AC also trains approximately 30 interns per year in Montreal, and then sends them abroad to work with local partner organizations in other countries. Since its inception, AC has dispatched more than 1,000 such interns.
AC is unremittingly critical of Israel, even as it downplays or ignores Palestinian human-rights abuses and terrorism. For example, it has published articles asserting that the Jewish state wishes “to practically transform [Gaza] into a series of prisons”; depicting Israel’s seizure of Palestinian terrorist funds as “bank robbery”; and stating that as a result of terrorist campaigns like the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Palestinians have “definitely gone forward.” Moreover, AC has repeatedly: (a) accused Israel of subjecting Palestinians to “apartheid”; (b) promoted the notion of a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; (c) characterized Israel’s creation in 1948 as Al-Nakba (Arabic for “The Catastrophe”); and (d) supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement designed to delegitimize and financially cripple the state of Israel.
Since 1997, AC has promoted its anti-Israel message in the pages of Le Journal des Alternatives, a monthly compendium of international, national, and cultural news that is distributed by Québec’s widely-read daily newspaper Le Devoir. As NGO Monitor notes, AC’s publication “features numerous opinion pieces with anti-Israel themes and arguments” — e.g., pieces accusing Israel of such transgressions as “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “heinous war crimes” — while “no articles representing a pro-Israel or Zionist perspective are presented.” Moreover, Le Journal prints many articles justifying BDS campaigns against the Jewish state as retaliation for Israel’s “massacres,” “occupation,” “colonization,” “racism,” and “savagery.” A May 2018 piece quoted anthropologist Irene Calis’s claim that “the problem [for Palestinians] is not occupation, but Zionism.”
In 2010-11, AC was a supporter of the Free Gaza Movement‘s “Freedom Flotilla” project, whereby a coalition of groups repeatedly sailed to Gaza in an effort to break the Israeli naval embargo on that region. In 2011, AC and a Canadian nonprofit group named Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid partnered to raise money for the Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign, whose mission was essentially the same as that of the Freedom Flotilla.
AC belongs to Alternatives International, a nine-member federation of NGOs “struggling against neoliberalism, imperialism, social injustice and war.” NGO Monitor reports that Alternatives International, like AC, regularly “accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ and ethnic cleansing, and supports BDS and a narrow pro-Palestinian view.”
AC has often endorsed, or provided a forum for, anti-Israel statements by fellow non-governmental organizations such as the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I). In 2005, for instance, AC used its own website to promote PNGO’s claims that Israel’s then-recent disengagement from Gaza was a “trade-off meant to legitimize the Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” and that Gaza would undoubtedly “continue to be one big prison.” In a May 2006 report published by Alternatives Canada, PHR-I asserted that “Israel is responsible for the outcome of the collapse of Palestinian civil society in general and the health system in particular.” And in November 2014, AC published an article by ICAHD founder Jeff Halper, alleging that “Israelis and Palestinians liv[e] under separate legal systems,” and that “the Israeli legal system has become an instrument of oppression.”
In 2013, AC and two other NGOs co-hosted an event titled “Israel Guilty of Apartheid,” which featured the author and BDS activist Frank Barat.
AC is a member of the Coalition For Justice And Peace In Palestine, a network of radical organizations that promote BDS and accuse Israel of practicing a brand of “apartheid” similar to that which was once practiced in South Africa.
Prior to 2014, approximately half of AC’s funding was derived from the Canadian government – principally the Canadian International Development Agency. The remainder of the group’s operating funds were supplied by more than 50,000 individual donors and members, as well as by partner organizations (including major unions and church groups) that worked alongside Alternatives. But the Canadian government stopped funding AC in 2014. By 2016, 25% of AC’s revenues came from “European governments,” and 33% came from the Province of Quebec.
In August 2016, AC co-hosted a workshop to launch its campaign for a “complete military embargo against Israel.”
AC’s high-profile supporters have included such notables as Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Judy Rebick, Ariane Émond, Stanley Péan, Françoise David, Amir Khadir, Asma Jahangir, and Gil Courtemanche.
For additional information on AC, click here.
Further Reading: “Alternatives – Canada” (NGO Monitor.org, APC.org); Alternatives Canada Website (“Frequently Asked Questions,” “About Us“); “Alternatives: Update on Canadian NGOs Agenda (NGO Monitor, 4-22-2004, re: “gone forward” quote); “Alternatives Update: Apartheid Rhetoric and BDS” (NGO Monitor, 12-10-2009); “Lawsuit Seeks to Block Canadian Flotilla Group” (Investigative Project on Terrorism, 6-6-2011, re: Freedom Flotilla); “Noam Chomsky Among Supporters of UBC Students’ Right to Donate for Gaza Aid” (Rabble.ca, 12-1-2010, re: Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign); “Alternatives (Canada) Update: Government Funding for Radical Politics” (NGO Monitor, 5-2-2007); Alternatives Annual Report 2015-2016 (Alternatives.ca,, 2016).