Coalition member, Justice for Palestinians-Calgary launches #CAFOutofCalgary

The Canadian BDS is pleased to join in endorsing the #CAFOutOfCalgary campaign of its member organization Palestinian for Justice-Calgary.

Recently the Canadian BDS Coalition also endorsed the UN submission by Just Peace Advocates and Al-Haq in regard to WSP, the project manager of the Jerusalem Light Rail.  Read more HERE.

An Open Letter to Mayor Jyoti Godek, City Manager David Duckworth, Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti and Calgary City Councilors


We, the undersigned, formally request that the City of Calgary cancel its contract for Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) for Calgary’s new Green Line with Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). We make this request because of CAF’s illegal and unethical business relationships in Israel-Palestine with the City of Jerusalem and Israeli partner companies.

As a group of organizations and individuals based in Calgary, supported by like-minded groups across Canada and internationally, we do not make this request lightly. Rather, our concerns are based on thorough research of CAF’s deep relationships with Israeli institutions and companies committing well-documented human rights violations over extended periods of time. We are also moved by the request of Palestinian civil society which, in 2005, called for economic pressure to be applied on Israel “until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”1

CAF is a Basque/Spanish multinational company known primarily for its transportation vehicles and technology. In April 2019, Trans Jerusalem J-Net Ltd consortium, formed by the CAF Group and the Israeli construction company Shapir Engineering and Industry was awarded a $2.5 billion CDN contract for trams and infrastructure to expand the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) network, extending its Red Line, and constructing its Green Line. Under the contract, the consortium will operate the tramlines for 15 years. CAF also has a 50% stake in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) company that will manage operations and maintenance works on the two lines during this period.2

CAF’s contract for the JLR intersects with a long history of Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians. In 1967, Israel invaded and militarily occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza – territories slated to form a future Palestinian state. Since 1967, Israel has never withdrawn its effective military control of these territories, and commits human rights violations against the Palestinians in these territories on a daily basis.3 In fact, according to a February 2022 report by Amnesty International, Israel has instituted a form of apartheid in these territories to ensure Jewish racial dominance over Palestinians.4

Today, one of the most obvious outward features of Israel’s illegal regime of apartheid is its Jewish-only “settlements.” International law prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilian population into territories it controls militarily,5 and the international community has repeatedly condemned these Israeli settlements.6 Legal experts point out that Israel’s settlements even constitute a “war crime” under international law.7

The West Bank areas to the east and south of Jerusalem have been a focal point for Israel’s illegal settlements. Since 1967, Israel has illegally moved 700,000 Jewish-Israelis into dozens of these de facto colonies.8 In the Jerusalem area, the JLR serves to connect the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem-proper, entrenching the settlements’ illegal presence, and further dispossessing and marginalizing Palestinians and their communities. In fact, the JLR itself is a showcase of Israeli apartheid: of the JLR Red Line’s 23 stops, only three are located in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods; and of the JLR Green Line’s 40 stops, only one will be located in a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood.9 10

In February 2020, CAF’s consortium partner Shapir Engineering and Industry was listed as one of 112 companies which, through its involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements, unlawfully profits from the infringement of Palestinian human rights.11 In December, 2020, 31 organisations formally requested that CAF also be included in this same UN list of shame,12 and there is growing global momentum for such a move.

The City of Calgary has defended itself by asserting that it had a rigorous procurement process which involved a “fairness monitor.” It is hard to believe that a truly objective “fairness monitor” would award a contract to a company involved with projects in a country deemed to be an apartheid society by both Israeli13 and international human rights organizations.14 15 The City of Calgary has also argued that CAF considers itself compliant with UN and OECD guidelines for multinational corporations. Yet one can hardly expect CAF to self-regulate objectively on such a matter, and there is currently an active complaint before the OECD concerning breaches of the organization’s guidelines with CAF’s JLR project.16

The City of Calgary has suggested that CAF is not in breach of international law with its JLR project. Such an assertion comes across as legal “cherry picking,” especially when the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights call on businesses to respect human rights, especially when operating in conflict-affected areas. Among other precepts, the Guidelines state, “Business enterprises should respect human rights. This means that they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.”17 Surely the City of Calgary is able to recognize that CAF’s JLR project cements and exacerbates a horrific set of Israeli laws, policies and practices designed to dominate and oppress the Palestinian people.

The international public outcry against CAF’s unethical involvement in the JLR is widespread and overwhelming,18 even including unions representing CAF’s Basque/Spanish workers.19 We echo this cry, and refuse to condone CAF’s complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses by awarding it a contract for Calgary’s Green Line. As such, we demand that the City of Calgary cancel its contract for LRVs for Calgary’s new Green Line with CAF.

Signed below by the following organizations and individuals:

Calgary organizations

  1. Justice for Palestinians, Calgary
  2. Independent Jewish Voices, Calgary Chapter
  3. Association of Mexicans in Calgary

Solidarity with our brothers and sisters of Palestine is for Mexico and the world an act of human dignity, in the face of one of the greatest injustices in history. We deplore the decision of the City of Calgary to participate in this injustice by endorsing and approving a contract with a multinational like CAF, with illegal and unethical business relationships with Israel. Israel is only able to maintain its regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid over the Palestinian people because of international complicity. Corporations play a key role in this. CAF plays a role on this and if this contract isn’t canceled, Calgary will play a role on this. Both Nations, Mexico and Palestine have suffered under colonization and genocide, therefore the Association of Mexicans in Calgary stands in solidarity for the peace and justice the Palestinian people deserve and are fighting for. From Palestine to Mexico! All these walls have got to go! Free Palestine!

  1. Reconciliation Action Group

The Reconciliation Action Group recognizes that colonization and it’s negative impact on Indigenous peoples in Canada and Palestine is ongoing. So is the resistance at all government levels to fully implement UNDRIP in order to effect real change”.

  1. We’re Together Ending Poverty
  2. Voice of Oppressed
  3. Migrante Alberta
  4. Run for Palestine – Calgary
  5. Palestine House Association – Calgary

Community leaders

  1. Saima Jamal, Community Organizer, Calgary
  2. Sam Namoura, Calgary Immigrant Support
  3. Rory Gill, President, CUPE Alberta Division
  4. Yves Engler, Author
  5. Yvonne Schmitz, Human Rights Activist
  6. Annette Lengyel, Organizer and Activist, Justice for Palestinians Calgary
  7. Mark Ayyash, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Mount Royal University
  8. Mary-Anne Williams
  9. Naheed Gilani
  10. Miriam Meir, PHN (ret’d), IJV Calgary
  11. Jalal Kawash, PhD
  12. Saba Amro, MSW
  13. Rosemary Brown, Calgary community organizer
  14. Fuad Abboud, PhD, LLB (ret’d), Justice for Palestinians Calgary
  15. Vicki Perkins, Justice for Palestinians Calgary
  16. Wesam Cooley
  17. Ronnie Joy Leah, PhD
  18. Aseel Qazzaz, PhD candidate and community activist
  19. Don Ray, Phd, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Calgary

Canadian Organizations

  1. Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
  2. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
  3. Canadian BDS Coalition
  4. Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
  5. Faculty for Palestine
  6. Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement pour une Paix Juste
  7. Canadian Peace Congress
  8. Canadians United Against Hate
  9. Canadian Arab Federation
  10. Rideau Institute
  11. Indigenous Land Defence Across Borders Initiative
  12. Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  13. Canadian Palestinian Research Center
  14. United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
  15. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
  16. The Canadian Palestinian Foundation of Quebec
  17. Oakville Palestinian Rights (OPRA)
  18. Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba – Winnipeg
  19. NDP Socialist Caucus
  20. Canada Palestine Association – Halifax
  21. Canada-Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
  22. Green Party of Quebec – Parti vert du Québec
  23. Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War
  24. Laurier Students Public Interest Research Group
  25. Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste
  26. Toronto Raging Grannies
  27. Victoria Friends of Cuba (VFoC)
  28. No More Silence
  29. Victoria Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
  30. Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at York University
  31. Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)
  32. Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
  33. Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia)
  34. Student Christian Movement of Canada
  35. Canada Palestine Association – Vancouver
  36. Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)
  37. Arab Palestinian Association of Ontario – Mississauga
  38. Canadian Palestinian Foundation of Quebec – Montreal
  39. Canadian Palestinian Social Association – London
  40. Arab Canadian Society of London
  41. Canadian Palestinian Council – Mississauga
  42. Palestinian Association of Hamilton
  43. Palestinian Association of Brantford
  44. Human Without Borders – Hamilton
  45. Palestine House Toronto
  46. Ottawa Run For Palestine
  47. Run For Palestine – Edmonton
  48. Run for Palestine – London
  49. Canadian Physicians for Palestine – Mississauga
  50. Jerusalem Sports & Social Club
  51. Atlantic Canada Palestinian Society
  52. Human Rights for All ( HR4A ) Saskatchewan
  53. Regina Peace Council

1 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” BDS Movement, July 9, 2005, accessed Jan. 30, 2022 at

2 “CAF-Saphir consortium wins Jerusalem tram project in Israel,” Railway Technology, Aug. 9, 2019, accessed Jan. 30, 2022 at

3 “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2021, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at

4 “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity,” Amnesty International, Feb. 1, 2022, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at d-a-crime-against-humanity/

5 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Article 49, p.6, 12 August, 1949, United Nations, accessed Jan. 30, 2022 at

6 See, for example, UN Security Council 2334, Dec. 23, 2016, adopted unanimously, which states that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;” accessed Jan. 30, 2022 at

7 “Israeli Settlements Amount to a War Crime, Special Rapporteur Tells Human Rights Council,” UN Human Rights Council, July 9, 2021, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at

8 “Israel settlement expansion ‘tramples’ on human rights law, experts contend,” UN News, Nov. 3, 2021, accessed Jan. 30, 2022 at

9 “Tracking Annexation: The Jerusalem Light Rail and the Israeli Occupation,” Who Profits, July 2017, pp, 3-4, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at raeli_occupation.pdf

10 The JLR is so egregious in its violations that in May of 2019, Israel’s Globes publication wrote, “For most of the international transportation and infrastructure companies, Jerusalem is ‘outside the pale,’” accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at

11 “UN rights office issues report on business activities related to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” UN Human Rights Council, Office of the High Commissioner, Feb. 12, 2020, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at

12 “Palestine: 31 Palestinian & European human rights organisations, networks & trade unions demand Basque company CAF be included in UN settlement database,” Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Dec. 18, 2020, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at


13 “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” B’Tselem, Jan. 12, 2021, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at

14 “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2021, accessed Jan. 31, 2022 at

15 “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity,” Amnesty International, Feb. 1, 2022, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at d-a-crime-against-humanity/

16 “Comité de la Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe v. Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF),” OECD Watch, Jan. 6, 2020, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at

17 “Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 2011, p. 18, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at

18 “CAF is feeling the heat: Pressured from all sides to drop its business with Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail,” BDS Movement, June 11, 2021, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at


19 “The Basque company CAF complicit in Israel’s apartheid railway,” European Trade Union Initiative for Justice in Palestine, accessed Feb. 3, 2022 at



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