Author Archives: cbcjpi

About cbcjpi

Designated to maintain the site for Canada's BDS Coalition.

Statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The Canadian BDS Coalition believes in ending racial inequality, thus we support and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We as a coalition believe in the importance of cross-solidarity across movements, thus we support and call on for an IMMEDIATE and INDEPENDENT inquest into the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet.. Regis Korchinski-Paquet died when she fell from the balcony of a Toronto highrise while Toronto Police Services were on the scene.

The Canadian BDS Coalition also supports the arrest and charging of Derek Chauvin, the officer who is on film murdering George Floyd. As well, we support the call for systematic change to the police system.  

We condemn the training of Canadian police officers in Israel, and the delegations of law enforcement and government leaders under whose leadership this happens.

Bryan Adams Waking Up the World With Xenophobia

Bryan Adams is making news again and it’s not flattering.

In 2017, the Canadian BDS Coalition launched the UNPLUG FROM APARTHEID CAMPAIGN. Roger Waters, Checkpoint 303 and about 25 other artists all asked Adams to cancel his tour dates in Israel. Boycott from Within and many other groups and indviduals asked Adams to cancel. Information pickets happening Toronto, and other locations around the world including at several of Adam’s European concert stops.

Adams went ahead and played  in Tel Aviv and Jersualem in December 2017 despite these requests and the  huge cultural boycott campaign asking him not to travel there.

Initial Adams said he would meet with the Coalition, but then went silent. In the end he did not respond to any of the calls, not even the final request to be in touch with Boycott from Within to learn more.

Back in 2014 he did speak out against Israel’s attack on Gaza, but totally ignored the UNPLUG call when this was raised.

However, Adams has shown that he has a political conscience in the past. In 2016 he cancelled a Mississippi tour date because of the state’s anti-LGBT laws.

The cancelling of the Mississippi concert and the tweet re Gaza in 2014–these are  both admirable acts.  However, one has to ask, why did Adams go ahead play in Israel in 2017? We will have to continue to wonder as Adams never responded to those questions when the UNPLUG FROM APARTHEID campaign asked him in 2017.

These are facts that Adams cannot ignore.

Now, in 2020 Adams is in the news again for racist, xenophobic comments about China and COVID 19 that he posted on his web site www.bryanadams.com.

In the same post Adams then encouraged people to become vegans. Perhaps Adams would like to let Vibe Israel know that vegan-washing is not cool!

Adams had recently announced some of his upcoming concert dates had been postponed until October 2020 because of COVID-19. Let’s hope that gives him some time to think about why his 2017 behaviour was that of a PEP–progressive except Palestine. Although his latest move leaves us wondering about the label progressive at all.

There was great criticism of his comments and although he eventually did apologize, his reasoning that he only meant to promote veganism is weak.

One of the Canadian BDS Coalition members said “I am a vegetarian who often eats vegan and I also support justice for Palestine and oppose the 53 year occupation. Adams’ comments about China were still up on his web site the last time I checked. Those who haven’t seen them should visit the site and leave comments.”

Check out the 2017 UNPLUG FROM APARTHEID CAMPAIGN

At Ramadan and all year support #BDS, don’t buy Israeli medjoul dates

Learn more about what to consider when purchasing Medjoul Dates in Canada to ensure they are not from Israeli companies, and to ensure you are purchasing Palestinian product. Steps you can take, and tools to assist you in letting retailers know that you expect them to not carry Israeli Medjoul dates or any Israeli products.

If you know of other Israeli product coming into Canada, or of Palestinian product that is available in Canada, please contact us at bdscoalition@gmail.com and we will up date our information.

Also, if you are aware of any retailers carrying Israeli product please let them that supporting Israeli apartheid and war crimes is not okay, and if you wish you can let us know and we can also follow up.

#Nakba72: Sanctions not statements is what is required

#Nakba72 like every day, our thoughts are on Right of Return, our hearts are with Palestine and our actions are for sanctions on Israel until right of return is realized.

A few things to check out and participate in over #Nakba72

  1. Check out the interview about  Canadian BDS Coalition  with Karen Rodman, Hanna Kawas and Bruce Katz!

Canada Files talked about the state of the Canadian BDS movement, Israeli apartheid during COVID-19, the Canadian federal politics of BDS and the Green Party’s leadership race.

2. Palestine is indivisable: a virtual rally by Al-Quds Committee, a member of the Canadian BDS Coalition

3. #QudsistheReturn Key

4. BNC events

Online Nakba Day Rally – May 15, 9 PM Palestine time: With speakers and performers including DAM, Janna Jihad, Diana Buttu, Roger Waters and Ken Loach. Organized by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), Jewish Voice for Peace (US), South African BDS Coalition, and the BDS Movement.

5. Nakba event with various partners who are members of the Canadian BDS Coalition including Independent Jewish Voices, and Socialist Action, as well as others including Courage and Palestine House.

Canadian BDS Coalition is endorser of this event.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada's photo.

6. Never Forgotten: 72 Years of Restistance.

https://www.ampalestine.org/

7. Petition to the Government of Canada

Almost 1000 signatures. Petition to the Canadian Government calling for end of blockage on Gaza and aligning voting at the United Nations with the rest of the international community. Thanks to Paul Manly for sponsoring.

Whereas:

  • The Palestinian people in Gaza have been under blockade for 13 years;
  • This has resulted in accelerated de-development, and led the United Nations to indicate that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020;
  • COVID-19 has grave potential for human catastrophe in this most densely populated area of the world;
  • Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically provides that an occupier has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics; and
  • Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all high signatories, of which Canada is one, are required to take actions to ensure that violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention do not occur under any circumstance.

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to request that Israel immediately lift the blockade on Gaza to enable medical and humanitarian aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, and insist that Israel permanently end its blockade of Gaza; and vote at the UN General Assembly in alignment with the majority of the international community taking a stance in line with international law and human rights for Palestinians.

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2565

#BoycottPuma Round 3: Puma Canada what’s up!

#Boycottpuma Round 3: Online Rally of Solidarity With Palestinians Ahead of PUMA Shareholders Meeting!

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Puma’s already deeply immoral support for Israel’s ever-expanding illegal settlements takes on a more sinister dimension.  Puma’s exclusive licensee in Israel, Delta, was listed in the UN database of complicit settlement companies. The UN considers all Israeli settlements in the occupied territory a war crime.

Puma is the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes teams in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

We invite you to join us in ROUND 3 of Give Puma the Boot including specifically writing to Puma Canada.

To PUMA Canada

Sent by email and registered mail with signature required.

We await Mr. Maguire’s response from letters send in 2019.

So we wrote again on May 1, 2020.

You can also write to Mr. Maguire HERE

May 1, 2020

mark.maguire@puma.com

Mark Maguire

Sr. Vice President Sales & Country Lead

175 Galaxy Blvd, Suite 201
Toronto, Ont, M9W 5R7

Dear Mr. Maguire

As we mentioned in our email and registered letter to you in October 2019, we are still waiting for a response to the email sent to you on June 11, 2019. 

We had appreciated your response to our earlier email, but it left several questions, thus our email back to you on June 11, 2019.  We still would ask for a response to the following:


Are you saying that there is no support of any kind that goes to the Israel Football Association (IFA)?  You mention that support does go to Israeli National Teams.  Which teams are these?  You also mention support to football club Hapoel Beer Sheva.  As well, you mention NO support goes to the Israeli Premier/Japanika League.  We would ask you to clarify and make a definitive statement that NO support has gone to the Israel Football Association.


The Israel Football Association has teams in Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine, which is part of the territory of the Palestinian affiliate.  This is occupied territory under international humanitarian law (the Fourth Geneva Convention).   The international call to PUMA is to withdraw support to the Israeli Football Association until it withdraws teams from these illegally occupied lands. If there has been no support to the Israel Football Association in any form from PUMA including through local distribution partners, we would welcome that news. It is not clear in your message that this is the case, so we would appreciate further information in this regard.  If PUMA is announcing its withdraw of funding from the Israel Football Association through your correspondence would you please make this clear, and also indicate if you will be making a public notification in this regard.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Puma’s already deeply immoral support for Israel’s ever-expanding illegal settlements takes on a more sinister dimension.  Puma’s exclusive licensee in Israel, Delta, was listed in the UN database of complicit settlement companies. The UN considers all Israeli settlements in the occupied territory a war crime.

Puma is the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes teams in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Puma shareholders should also know that supporting Israeli apartheid comes with costs!

A Puma attorney recently admitted to a Palestinian rights supporter that the #BoycottPuma campaign is making their lives “miserable.”

See the letter provided to the CEO of Puma from 200 Palestinian sports teams.  We provide this again to you, and ask you to take leadership to speak to the CEO and other leadership of Puma to insist that Puma to end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA) due to its deep complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Israel’s settlement enterprise and associated military checkpoints and walls force Palestinian families from their homes, limit access to clean water and impede travel to hospitals and clinics. Puma’s claim of a “devotion to universal equality” could not ring more hollow.

Sincerely,

the Canadian BDS Coalition

bdscoalition@gmail.ca

www.bdscoalition

Check out Canadian BDS Coalition letters to Puma Canada and other actions during

Give Puma the Boot: Round 2

Give Puma the Boot: Round 1

And join in the Global Campaign Round 3

What to do when you find Medjoul from Israel or without appropriate trusted label. Tell your local store KHALAS.

Contact your local retailer and let them know you insist that they stop carrying Israeli product. How to determine if from Israel check here

Template you can use to send email to your local retailer/store owner in:

English

Arabic

Just copy & paste text from the above links to send email.

This year we know that there is a good supply of fresh 2019 Medjoul harvest from importers/suppliers bringing product from trusted Palestinian sources. Please do your due dilligence to be sure that you do not buy product that comes from the Israeli company Hadiklaim via NBF or other sources, or from any other Israeli provider. All Medjool that are coming from these Israeli companies are from illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Steps you can take

Read more detail including actual “sightings” of medjoul from Israeli company Hadiklaim

Step 1, check the label, and if it says product of Israel, do NOT buy.

Step 2, check the label and see if it includes a country of originThe product must have a country of origin but many do NOT. Do NOT buy if it does not have country of origin listed on the package.

There is at least one supplier in Canada, National Best Food/NBF which imports from Hadiklaim, an Israeli companyWho Profits has clearly documented the source of Hadiklaim’s dates as coming from occupied Palestine and Golan. Also, several countries have had victories of cutting ties to Hadiklaim such as South Africa.

Step 3: Print & provide this letter to the owner and/or manager of the store. Indicate the product and concerns in the template, or use letters above to email in English or Arabic.

Step 4: Provide pictures of the product including the labels (all sides of the box, and shelf labels), along with the store name/address and if possible website, to bdscoalition@gmail.comWe will use this information for further follow up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and/or with the store.

Step 5: Tell your friends and your family what you have found, and make them aware of what to look for in regard both product of Israel (dates, other fresh fruits & vegetables, other products). For more info check out Economic Boycott Resource.

Final Step: look for appropriate alternative ideally from Palestine.

Labels you can trust for Medjoul Dates include:

If you know others please contat bdscoalition@gmail.com so we can update our list.

Lara (their product of Palestine from Al-Rwad, Sadra from Jordan)

Green World (from Al-Rwad),

Heritage (From Al-Rwad)

Al’ard,

Palestine Just Trade (from Al-Rwad),

Jericho Delights (via USA). From Damen’s Farm

Palestine Gardens – Sinokrot Holding

If you see Israeli medjoul product (including those who are mascarading with no country/being sold with a label on shelfsaying Jordan for example) please take action–talk to the store manager/owner, don’t buy the product, ask them to stock Palestinian product from a trusted source, lets your friends and family know to avoid these products and insist that the store buy from a trusted supplier of Palestinian (or Jordanian) product.

Afraid of BDS, Céline Dion? Serendipitous January cancellation of your Beirut concert due to fear of “situation” six months later in Lebanon

We noticed! But saw nothing on Ms. Dion’s official website or social media! What happened to your scheduled concert for Beirut Ms. Dion?

This obsure article provides the answer.

In January, Ms. Dion, you were afraid of the sitution in Lebanon so you cancelled your July concert!

Seems BDS is a scary thing for someone bound and bent on playing to APARTHEID.

Check out the letter sent in November 2019 by over 50 artitsts to Ms. Dion coordianted by the Canadian BDS Coalition. Even though we did hear back Ms. Dion , maybe your handlers did hear your fellow artists, and decided the situation in Beirut would not look good for you as BDS call mounted on July 31, just before your August 4-5 concerts in Tel Aviv?

Individuals wishing to write to Ms. Dion can do so HERE. Thanks CJPME for this campaign. There are close to 5K signatures.

Artists who wish to join in adding their name to the call to Ms. Dion can continue do so HERE.

Beyond the November call from fellow artists, Ms. Dion heard direclty from Palestinian artists and form Israeli citizens.

In February 2020 50 Palestinian artists told Celine Dion to not play in Tel Aiv.

Message from Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (aka Boycott from Within) in March 2020.

The Canadian BDS Coalition call to Canadian artist Céline Dion

Céline, the Canadian BDS Coalition would welcome your response, which we would be pleased to convey to your fellow artists. We would also welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the situation in Palestine and the art washing under Brand Israel. We expect more artists will join in the call. We also understand you have received a letter from Palestinian artists directly. Read more HERE

The Beruit concert would have seen BDS actions mounting as Ms. Dion prepared to play her APARTHEID concert.

Why did you not choose to share info on your own official site Ms. Dion?

Of course your current North American concerts are cancelled, or as you say “going to be rescheduled.” One would expect you would also be cancelling your European concerts shortly given situation with Covid-19.

We did notice that you quietly backed out of Beirut.

A signal that you were afraid of the mounting BDS call for you to cancel your Tel Aviv aparthied concerts scheduled for several days later! Seems you left it to venue to announce, rather than you making your own statement!

Was also reported by Arab News.

Ramadan 2020: Be sure you know where your Medjoul dates are from!

This year we know that there is a good supply of fresh 2019 Medjoul harvest from importers/suppliers bringing product from trusted Palestinian sources. Please do your due dilligence to be sure that you do not buy product that comes from the Israeli company Hadiklaim via NBF or other sources, or from any other Israeli provider. All Medjoul that are coming from these Israeli companies are from illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

What you need to consider.

Step 1, check the label, and if it says product of Israel, do NOT buy.


Fruit and vegetables are one of Israel’s biggest exports and all Israeli agricultural exporters are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law as they operate on stolen Palestinian land.

In case of Medjoul the products are from the Jordan Valley in occupied Palestine, and therefore from an illegal settlement on stolen land. These are not from Israel, these are from illegal settlements.

Step 2, check the label and see if it includes a country of originThe product must have a country of origin but many do NOT. Do NOT buy if it does not have country of origin listed on the package.

There is at least one supplier in Canada, National Best Food/NBF which imports from Hadiklaim, an Israeli companyWho Profits has clearly documented the source of Hadiklaim’s dates as coming from occupied Palestine and Golan. Also, several countries have had victories of cutting ties to Hadiklaim such as South Africa.

Some products from NBF do say “Product of Israel” but others especially in stores where Arabs and/or Muslims shop have NO country of origin listed. The product simply says “imported by NFB.”

This seems to be illegal under Canadian legislation and regulations, and this was reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during Ramadan in 2019. The CFIA has launched investigation in summer 2019, but had not reported back on the complaint at time of posting.

In many cases these NBF products also do not include the other mandatory labeling information such as a “nutrition fact table” or health & nutrition information, and also don’t include mandatory information in both bilingual languages. This was included in the complaints made to the CFIA.

In several cases product was found to have “Product of Jordan” on the shelf, but the boxes the bulk product was coming from was labeled NBF with no indication of country. When asked verification was not provided, and no indication that there is any organization from Jordan providing this product. Again this was reported to the CFIA.

Step 3: Print & provide this letter to the owner and/or manager of the store. Indicate the product and concerns in the template.

Or currently with Covid-19, you may wish to send email:

Template you can use to send email:

English

Arabic

Just copy & paste text from the above links to send email.

Step 4: provide pictures of the product including the labels (all sides of the box, and shelf labels), along with the store name/address and if possible website, to bdscoalition@gmail.com. We will use this information for further follow up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and/or with the store.

Step 5: tell your friends and your family what you have found, and make them aware of what to look for in regard both product of Israel (dates, other fresh fruits & vegetables, other products). For more info check out Economic Boycott Resource.

Final Step: look for appropriate alternative ideally from Palestine. Labels you can trust are

Lara (their product of Palestine from Al-Rwad, also Sedra Dates – Sedrat Al Montaha Dates Trading Co. from Jordan)

Green World (from Al-Rwad),

Heritage (From Al-Rwad)

Al’ard,

Palestine Just Trade (from Al-Rwad),

Jericho Delights (via USA). 

Palestine Gardens – Sinokrot Holding

If a Medjoul product not from a trusted Palestine source, then verify that it is indeed from Jordan or the USA, or another trusted location. If you are not sure, please contact us at bdscoalition@gmail.com

Product you should avoid as they are packaged by Hadiklaim include:

BOMAJA BLUE

GOLDEN VALLEY

JORDAN RIVER

LA PALMA

KING SOLOMON

These are some products that have been seen in 2019 an 2020 including at Raba Markets (Missisauga and Toronto locations) , Al-Quds Market (Mississauga), Arz Fine Food (1909 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough), and  Kabul Farms (230 Parliament St, Toronto)

Sold by National Best Food. Seen labelled as “Product of Israel”
Jordan River from National Best Foods. Sold without country of Origin. No it is not from Jordan. It is from the occupied Palestinian Jordan valley, from Israeli settlement via Hadiklaim.
More Jordan River from National Best Foods without country of origin. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is from Jordan. These are from Isreali settlement via Hadiklaim,
Golden Valley from National Best Food/NBF. No country of origin Packaged by Hadiklaim.
Sold in 5 KG and bulk. Store owners/managers report having been told it is from Jordan & thus, label from Jordan on their shelf. No country of origin. From NBF. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is from Jordan–ask for specifics about grower & exporter if you are told from Jordan.
Golden Valley Medjoul Dates (SEMI-DRY)
Golden Valley from Hadiklaim via NBF. No country of origin indicated in a number of cases. Sometimes have label saying “Product of Israel.” These do have bilingual info.
Image result for costco dates medjool israel
Medjoul “Product of Israel” label from Costco
Ameri Premium Dates by National Best Foods, no country of origin
Oriental dates, no country of origin
National Best Food, Golden Valley, no country of origin
Imported by National Best Foods. La Palma is brand of Hadiklaim in Israel. No country of origin.
Imported by National Best Foods. La Palma is brand of Hadiklaim in Israel. No country of origin.

We have written to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on May 7, 2019 asking CFIA to look into several concerns.

Concerns Raised with Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

Country of Origin

Our understanding of the requirement for fresh fruits and vegetables, which would include dates is that “Product of [Name the country of origin]” needs to be included. 

We take this information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website;

The country of origin represents the country in which the fresh fruits or vegetables were grown. The country of origin must be shown on the principal display panel (definition) of imported prepackaged fresh fruits or vegetables and in close proximity to the declaration of net quantity or the grade name. The country of origin declaration must be shown in boldface type in the same size characters as those prescribed for the grade name [269(1), 270(1), 271, SFCR].

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/requirements/labelling/industry/fresh-fruits-and-vegetables

What we have seen includes: i) indicating from Israel when in fact from settlements in occupied Palestine; ii) no country of origin;  iii) indication on shelf that is from Jordan based on verbal but not verified information; iv) possibly other countries being listed on product.

Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition & Health Claims

We understand that specific requirements in regard to Nutrition labeling including the Nutrition Fact Table are required, with serving sizes and daily intake. 

What we noticed was that in many cases under various brands this information was completely missing.  The one exception seemed to be the Organic brand.

Bilingual Requirements

Our understanding is that the CFIA requirements are than mandatory information including country origin, sizes, business name, nutritional information, nutrition and health claims, and best before dates need to be included in both English and French.

What we noticed is this information is missing on essentially all the products observed.

Request to Canadian Food Inspection made indicating we would appreciate your attention to as quickly as possible addressing this, especially since Ramadan 2019 is underway, and people are purchasing dates for breaking fast/Iftar and Eid.

See letter sent to Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The letter was sent by registered mail as well as email to CFIA. A follow up letter was been sent by email on May 27, 2019, asking for information on when we would expect to receive a response. We were told it was referred to VP of Operation at CFIA. A follow up on August 4, resulted in another letter from Mithani Siddika, the President of CFIA, indicating that the Toronto Regional Office has launched an investigation. The Toronto Region confirmed this on the phone, but to date has not provided any feedback. In March 2020, President Siddika has been asked for an update on the complaint.

RESPONSE from CFIA: in April 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has responded that it has worked with NBF to address labeling issues, however also indicated that Medjoul are considered “dried” and so do not need a country of origin. We have asked for clarification as Medjoul Dates (or other dates) would not normally be considered dried. We do note that Hadiklaim now is indicating on their website that Medjoul are semi-dried. We are seeking clarifcation

Letters were sent in 2019 to several stores in GTA that were carrying NFB or other products that are from Israeli settlements,, and in many cases were missing accurate labeling required under Canadian law. This included letter to Arz in Scarborough, Rabba Foods and Al Quds Market in Mississauga. NO responses were received.

If you see Israeli medjoul product (including those who are mascarading with no country or being sold as from Jordan for example) in these or other stores this Ramadan please take action–talk to the store manager/owner, don’t buy the product, ask them to stock Palestinian product from a trusted source, lets your friends and family know to avoid these products and insist that the store buy from a trusted supplier of Palestinian product.

Canadian BDS Coalition submission to the United Church of Canada Taskforce on Palestine

Canadian BDS Coalition

…working together to promote justice for Palestinians.

www.bdscoalition.ca

bdscoalition@gmail.com

March 15, 2020

Dear Rev Dr Martha Ter Kuile and Task Force members:

We in the Canadian BDS Coalition were pleased to learn that the United Church of Canada is reviewing the appropriateness of your existing policy, UCC Policy on Palestine and Israel as of 2019, specifically the three points: support for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; use of apartheid to describe Israeli actions and policies in Occupied Palestine; and altering your position on BDS. 

We appreciate the opportunity to address each of these points and we hope that our input will be helpful to your task force as you update your policy to be responsive to the injustice and oppression waged against the Palestinian people..

The Canadian BDS Coalition is an intersectional community of groups in Canada that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Secular Humanists, Universalists, a plurality of people of professed faith and of none, but with a common commitment to justice and peace in Palestine and Israel based in the universal values of treating others the way we wish to be treated, loving our neighbours as ourselves and doing justice where there is injustice, standing in solidarity with the oppressed, giving voice to the voiceless, and taking actions that give practical expression to those values.

The Canadian BDS Coalition is comprised of civil society groups that formed in answer to the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society to the world for BDS. BDS is a time-honoured means of peaceful resistance against odious systems of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid, that history has taught us is effective in bringing down unjust systems. Our cause is the cause of the Palestinian people who have suffered under systemic oppression, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, forced population transfers, and denial of basic human rights for more than 70 years under Israeli aggression.

It is in this capacity that we wish to be included in your consultation.

The 2017 Palestinian Christian Call

The Canadian BDS Coalition understands your review was prompted by the call made from the Palestinian Christian community in June 2017 as part of the “50 Years of Occupation” call to the World Council of Churches and Christians around the world.  In particular, the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine issued an open letter to the World Council of Churches (WCC) in June 2017. The June 2017 call spoke of the urgent situation of the people in Palestine saying, “this could be our last chance to achieve a just peace.” 

We have read the

open letter from The National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement.

The 2018 Call to Canadian Christian Community

In November 2018, realizing that there had been silence from the Canadian Christian community the Canadian BDS Coalition supported  a call for the Canadian Christian community to take immediate and decisive action in response the 2017 letter from the Christian Palestinian community.

This call was to the Canadian Council of Churches, Canadian Christian denominations, congregations and organizations asking them to implement the items identified by their Christian partners in Palestine in the June 2017 letter.  Specifically:

  • recognize Israel as an apartheid state;
  • condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust; 
  • take a clear theological stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies the occupation and privileges one nation over the other based on ethnicity or a covenant;
  • revisit and challenge religious dialogue partners; 
  • defend the right of Palestinian Christians to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently; support BDS.
  • publicly and legally challenge Christian organizations that discredit our work and  legitimacy
  • lobby, advocate and develop active programs towards justice and peace for the people of Palestine

The Canadian BDS Coalition asks you to consider these points in the work of your Task Force.

Acting on the Call of Palestinian Christians

The Canadian BDS Coalition would hope that your Task Force recommendations will align with the requests from your partners in Palestine through their 2017 Call.  This is the bare minimum required to support human rights and international law.

The Canadian BDS Coalition also hopes your Task Force is considering the Kairos document from 2009. in your deliberation.  The Canadian BDS Coalition supports fully the calls from the Palestinian Christian community through the Kairos 2009 document as well as the 2017 call to the World Council of Churches. We would urge your Task Force to also recommend this support to the United Church leadership.

Transparency regarding the United Church of Canada Agreements with B’nai Brith and other zionist groups

As part of your policy reconsideration it would also seem imperative that you recommend the end of the agreement from May 1973 with B’nai Brith and the United Church of Canada, and also the end of any formal or implied subsequent agreements with other groups such as the former Canadian Jewish Congress.  These should be publicly declared as no longer being operative by the United Church leadership.  This is important in order to prevent the fear that is faced by those within and outside church; this includes those who are shut down and silenced as Palestinians and allies. One recent example was the Palestinian Youth Movement event being cancelled by Trinity St. Paul church in the summer of 2019.

Response to the Three Points Raised by Your Task Force

We particularly think it is important for you to reconsider your position on the three issues raised, namely the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, the use of the term apartheid, and the attitude towards BDS.

1.       Israel as a Jewish State

People not states have the right to exist. According to the Israeli group Adalah there are over 70  pieces of legislation confirming such discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.  The Nation-State which is Israeli Basic Law (openly proclaims not only that Israel is a Jewish state, and the state of all Jewish people, but that it is specifically NOT the state of all its citizens, and that ONLY the jewish people have the right of self-determination in the state of Israel.  Non Jewish Palestinians today constitute half of the people living under Israel’s rule. Over 20% of its own citizens are Palestinians. For the United Church of Canada to continue to take a stance recognizing the state as Jewish would be shameful, and is discriminatory towards Palestinians.

2.       Use of the term apartheid  

We expect you have heard from others that “Apartheid” is now a well-defined legal concept that refers to a system of practices in a legally and legislatively sanctioned system, under which one group has policies and practices of segregation, separation  and discrimination for the purpose of establishing or maintaining domination of one group against another and such policies include legislative measures designed to divide the population by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of one racial group or groups . 

This crime as you may know is prohibited under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention of 1977, and is designated as a crime under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  It is also prohibited under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of apartheid adopted by the UN in 1973.

The three elements for such a crime include:  

a.       creating a regime for the domination by one group over another group,   

b.       by the creation of a separate and unequal system of governance to the detriment of the victim group and its members, and  

c.       committing various violations of the rights of the victim group including enslavement, forced transfer of the population, deportation, torture , persecution and other violations against any identifiable group based on political, national , ethnic cultural or gender grounds.

In the West Bank of Palestine today two distinct groups of civilians exist under the rule and control of Israel:  the indigenous Palestinian population and the Jewish settlers. Apart from the blatant illegality of these Jewish settlements under international law, and the fact that these settlements are largely established on lands stolen from the Palestinians, the system of governance in the West Bank of the oPt itself clearly fits the legal definition of apartheid. If anything approaches a system of injustice creating suffering, it is this apartheid system in the West Bank. As indicated in point 1 above, the Nation State Basic law along with the 70+ laws that discriminate against non-Jewish Israeli citizens are clearly apartheid at work. 

To call it by its proper name is the least that the United Church of Canada can do. The insistence of the United Church of Canada over the years to say that using “apartheid” is not helpful speaks of the zionist influences within and on the United Church of Canada, and leaves the  United Church of Canada badly out of step with international law and human rights. We surely hope you are not saying “apartheid” cannot be used as an excuse to avoid speaking truth, just because the powerful would find it objectionable! 

3.         Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).  

We understand the United Church of Canada has indicated it accepts the principles behind BDS as proper nonviolent tactics for addressing and combating the systemic injustices involved in the Israeli occupation and as legitimate tools for influencing Israeli policies.  Thus, the United Church of Canada’s objections against BDS seem very misguided. 

For the United Church of Canada further suggests that the BDS “as a whole involves too broad a spectrum of participants with significantly varied and sometimes unacceptable goals” is to misrepresent the historic nonviolent tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions.  

The essence of BDS is to provide an alternative nonviolent method pressuring Israel which has so far successfully defied international law. It also provides churches and others a means of promoting their values of freedom, equality and justice. BDS allows citizens and institutions to take action through boycotts and divestment when their own governments fail to pressure Israel into ending its occupation policies, providing equality to all citizens, and to upholding the universal right of return of refugees.  

Boycotts and divestment have been used against other countries, and their rulers have also had to face sanctions over human rights violations.  Israel should not be exempt from such pressures and consequences. 

In Canada at any time there are at least 20 countries being sanctioned under the United Nations Act and the Emergency Economic Measures Act. In this sense, Israel is not unfairly singled out, but rather, Israel is being unfairly exempted from the universal requirements we impose on other countries.   

It would be  a shame if the United Church of Canada does not take a clear call, now over a decade after the 2009 Kairos call from Palestinian partners, to show this clear leadership including support for boycott, divestment and sanctions related to end of occupation, ensure equal rights and release the right of return.  

The Canadian BDS Coalitions calls on your Task Force to seriously consider why NO action has been undertaken to the motion at your General Council 40 in 2012, and subsequently at General Council 41 in 2015, to implement the divestment call approved by the United Church of Canada grassroots, and to make clear recommendations to support the grassroots movement within the church in support of the full BDS call made by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

We would be available to discuss in further detail, and do urge the United Church of Canada to take the courageous leadership it is known for on many issues, and stand with the call made by the Palestinian Christian community for full support of BDS and a clear naming of the Israeli settler-colonization and apartheid regime.

Sincerely,

The Canadian BDS Coalition

Cc:

The Right Reverend Dr. Richard Bott, Moderator, United Church of Canada

Nora Sanders, General Secretary, United Church of Canada;

Reverend Michael Blair, Executive Minister, Church in Mission, United Church of Canada; Member of Task Force

Rev. Brenna Baker, Member of Task Force

Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Member of Task Force

Rev. Jim Cairney, Member of Task Force

Wendy Gichuru, Program Coordinator, Africa and Middle East Partnership Program, United Church of Canada

From Israeli citizens to Celine Dion – please cancel your performance in Tel Aviv

Message from Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (aka Boycott from Within). Also see below.

Check out the letter sent in November 2019 by over 50 artitsts to Celine Dion coordianted by the Canadian BDS Coalition.

Artists who wish to join in adding their name can do so HERE.

Individuals wishing to write to Ms. Dion can do so HERE. Thanks CJPME for this campaign.

In February 2020 50 Palestinian artists told Celine Dion to not play in Tel Aiv.

March 2020 from “Boycott from Within”

Dear Céline Dion


We are Israeli citizens, active against Israel’s policies of racism, occupation, and apartheid. We find it most unfortunate that you are scheduled to perform in Israel, at HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Any performance in Israel and in Tel Aviv at this time amounts to a political statement, and this statement would be in favour of Israel’s racist apartheid policies. We would therefore ask you to reconsider your decision, and postpone your concert here to a time when justice and equality in human rights prevail.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to use your concert to market Israel as a ‘cool hip’ place, in order to whitewash the crimes committed by Israel on a daily basis, just 45 minutes from Tel Aviv, in the West Bank, and in the Gaza strip. In the West Bank, Israel is violently repressing millions of people to perpetuate its illegal sprawling settlement enterprise. The Gaza strip is the world’s largest open-air prison, where more than two million people live under siege and bombardment, with inadequate, toxic water supplies and a lack of electricity.


In fact, even the chosen venue for your concert is tainted with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. As noted recently by a group of Palestinian artists:  

“HaYarkon Park itself is built on the ruins of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Jarisha, whose indigenous inhabitants were forcibly expelled in 1948 and never allowed to exercise their UN-stipulated right of return by Israel’s apartheid laws.”


At this time, the moral choice is clear. On the one hand, one could boost the Israeli government, the Trump Administration, and the global far-right, who support Israel’s Islamophobia, war crimes, and violations of international law. On the other hand, one could stand with the Palestinian people, with human rights groups all over the world, and with several international institutions which are trying to uphold basic human rights in our region.


Just like the times of struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, prominent international artists will go down in history for good or bad, based on the decision whether to play in a hub of racism and apartheid. Our Palestinian colleagues have also cite Nelson Mandela’s statement that “Palestine is the greatest moral issue of our time”. We believe this statement is still valid. 

By cancelling your performance in Tel Aviv, you can help not only the Palestinian people to make progress in their struggle for freedom and equality, but also help oppressed people all over the world, looking for a source of inspiration and encouragement, in a global struggle for justice, dignity and equality!


We would gladly address any questions or comments you may have.

Signed,

Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

(aka Boycott from Within)