Category Archives: News

Write letter to Canadian Members of Parliament & Diplomats in support of Palestine Human Rights Defender

Prominent Palestinian human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa was taken from his family by Israeli occupation forces during a night raid.

Take a moment to write a letter to Canadian elected officials and diplomats.

Send letter:

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/write-letter-to-canadian-members-of-parliament-diplomats-in-support-of-palestine-human-rights-defender/

The Trudeau government’s complicity gives Israel carte blanche to commit human right abuses and international law violations without impunity.

Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all High Contracting Parties, which includes Canada, are required to take action to ensure respect for the Convention “in all circumstances.”  

Note: The Canadian BDS Coalition and Just Peace Advocates join together for this letter writing campaign.

In this circumstance, at the very least, the transfer of Mahmoud, as is the case of other prisioners, as a civilian from the occupied area to the occupier’s own territory is a war crime as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49.

Let us remind the Canadian government that the Fourth Geneva Convention provides for the protection of civilians who find themselves under the rule of a foreign power in the event of an international and internal conflict.

The Fourth Geneva Convention is based on the universally accepted principle that parties to a conflict should ensure that people living in an occupied territory should continue to live in as normal a manner as possible and in accordance with their laws, customs and traditions.

Articles 42 and 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention permit administrative detention only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary.The practice of administrative detention by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory contravenes fundamental human rights. Israel uses administrative detention in a highly arbitrary manner without even basic safeguards in place which also leads to other, grave human rights violations.
The Canadian government needs to stop providing impunity to Israel, and to call for administrative detainees that are held on account of their political views or their activities carried out in resistance to the occupation be released promptly and unconditionally.

Background of Mahmoud Nawajaa’s detention

#FreeMahmoud #BDS

Mahmoud Nawajaa, a prominent Palestinian human rights defender, has been dragged away from his family by Israeli occupation forces in a night raid on Thursday July 30 and is currently held in Israel’s Jalameh high-security interrogation center, denied access to lawyers.

Mahmoud’s arrest comes in the context of Israel’s plans for de jure annexation of much of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, on top of its decades-long de facto annexation and apartheid. His arrest is part of Israel’s attempts to clamp down on human rights defenders, such as Mahmoud, and constitutes yet another element of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Mahmoud is one of the more than 4,700 Palestinian prisioners in Israeli jails. In the current circumstances, with the COVID19 virus spreading, mass detention aggravates health and safety risks to all detainees, adding to the common culture of torture and degrading as well as inhumane treatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

The Canadian context:

The Trudeau Liberal Government has expressed that it does not support boycotts, divestments or sanctions, despite these actions and opinions being civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Over 60 federal members of parliament have said they are against further annexation of the “West Bank” of Palestine.

Canada touted itself as the world leader who would help countries fight and recover from Covid-19, during its bid for the United Nations Security Seat, but this does not seem to extend to Palestine, nor Palestinian prisoners.

Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all High Contracting Parties, which includes Canada, are required to take action to ensure respect for the Convention “in all circumstances.”  

See BDS National Committee for more information.

See Al-Haq for more information.

The “Deal of the Century” and Israel’s push for absolute apartheid against Palestine: The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan

The Canadia BDS Coalition agrees with Bruce Katz. As we approach July 1st and threatened annexation, “it is high time that sanctions be imposed on Israel. Specifically in terms of its long-term process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of lands enacted against the Palestinians.” The defacto annexation has been in place for decades. It is not about sanctions if annexation occurs, it is about santions because of decades long ongoing war crimes, settler colonialism, and apartheid.

Join events across the country over the next few days:

Vancouver – June 26, 5pm

St-John, NB – June 27, 1pm (In front of City Hall)

Toronto – June 27, 3pm

Montreal – June 27, 4pm

Ottawa – June 28, 3:30pm

St-Catherines – July 1, 2pm

Toronto – July 4, 3pm

The “Deal of the Century” and Israel’s push for absolute apartheid against Palestine: The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan

June 25, 2020

Written by: Bruce Katz

As we approach July 1 – the proposed date for the onset of the government of Israel’s plan for annexing the illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley – it is less than certain that Netanyahu will go forward with the annexation.

Israel has received a stern warning from over 1, 000 diplomats representing a number of European countries and though the House Republicans in the U.S, Congress have endorsed Israel’s annexation plan, the Trump administration is wavering. Netanyahu, in his usual guileful manner, has hinted at a ‘partial’ annexation but faces a growing crescendo of protesters in Israel opposed to the proposed annexation of the West Bank.

This is an appropriate moment to review the nature of that annexation plan included in the proposed ‘Deal of the Century’. It is essentially the blueprint for the creation of a permanent Palestinian Bantustan-state in eternal subjugation to an Israeli apartheid state.

This so-called Trump ‘peace plan’ was devised by the Netanyahu administration in Tel Aviv and rubber-stamped by three devoted Zionists close to Donald Trump. These three were his lawyer David Friedman ,who was appointed US ambassador to Israel, another lawyer by the name of Jason Greenblatt, former special envoy to Israel and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. No Palestinian, no Arab, no Muslim was involved in this so-called peace plan. In reality, this is not a peace plan but rather reflects the wish to carry out the Greater Israel project to annex the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The deployment of the plan is set to strengthen Trump’s position with his Christian-Zionist fundamentalist base and the right-wing of the Jewish community. Netanyahu, facing his third election within the past year will benefit as well. The main opposition candidate, Benny Gantz, has also welcomed the plan to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The recent election resulted in a Netanyahu-Gantz coalition government.

Contrary to Kushner’s claim to adopt “an unconventional approach”, Yehuda Shaul underlines in Foreign Policy online :

The Trump plan is actually as traditional as possible. In fact, it closely resembles another plan published over 40 years ago. In 1979, the World Zionist Organization published a plan entitled “Master Plan for the Development of Settlements in Judea and Samaria, 1979-1983”, written by Matityahu Drobles, former member of the Knesset for the liberal Herut bloc – a precursor of  today’s Likud Party – and the head of the colonial division of the World Zionist Organization, the body responsible for planning and building illegal settlements.

Drobles’ plan was essentially a detailed attempt to execute the colonial expansion plan of then Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon. This task was carried out with zeal over the next four decades successive Israeli governments, placing 640,000 settlers in key areas of the West Bank. Trump’s vision is actually Drobles 2.0.

The Drobles Plan essentially said that state land and uncultivated land must be seized immediately to colonize areas between “minorities,” to minimize the possibility of an Arab state.

There is an even more sinister dimension of the Netanyahu/Trump Deal of the Century – although it is largely under-reported in the mainstream media – envisions the “transfer” of Arab villages in northern Israel, home to 20 per cent of Israel’s non-Jewish population, to the false Palestinian “state” – and the “transfer” of the citizenship of their residents.

This plan, which follows the logic of the “Jewish nation-state law” adopted by Israel, is not only an outrage, but follows the rising trend of ethno-supremacist ideology in many regions of the world.

One of the most important examples is India, where the new “registration” law planned by the Hindu nationalist government threatens the citizenship rights of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims and other minorities who have lived there for centuries.

The Drobles project reached its second stage with the Oslo Accords which, unlike the narrative that has been conveyed since 1990 by our corporate media, was not a peace plan either. The Oslo process was not based on the idea of creating a Palestinian state – only pretending to offer one while building up a completely different reality on the ground. Above all, it offered “economic peace” – the same language used in Trump’s false peace plan.

It is true that, unlike the disingenuous Deal of the Century – to be imposed on the Palestinians without their consent and without any previous negotiation – there was a good deal of negotiations leading up to the Oslo Accords. Much of what was on the negotiating table at Oslo remained there and was never applied. The Oslo Accords set in place the ‘infrastructure’ for completing the annexation of most of the West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley.

Israel’s Oslo strategy was based on transforming fragments of the occupied Palestinian territory into free trade areas to exploit the captive Palestinian workforce. Through Oslo, the West Bank was divided into three: sectors A, B and C. Thus, the Israeli domination by the army and the settlers was completed on 62 per cent of the West Bank, that is to say Zone ‘C’ which includes, of course, the best agricultural land, water sources and mineral wealth in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Gaza, completely isolated from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the illegal and criminal blockade that has lasted for close to 14 years, has been described by prominent Israeli journalist Amira Hass as a ‘concentration camp’. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe called the deplorable living conditions in Gaza  an “incremental genocide”, that is, a slow-fire genocide.

Beyond the fragmentation of the West Bank via the Oslo process, the masterpiece of Israeli strategy was the creation of the Palestinian Authority. It continues to be the “guardian” of the West Bank as an open-air prison, which guarantees the continuity of Israel’s grip on the illegal occupation of the West Bank. It also keeps the Palestinian people in increasingly shrinking enclaves by way of Israel’s security matrix.

Recently, Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was officially ending its security co-operation with Israel. In fact, the security entente with Israel continues on the ground. The PA was created by Oslo, and meant to exist for five years while preparing the creation for a permanent elected Palestinian government. It is too integrated into the web of the Oslo Accords to break away from its security deal with Israel. The PA is kept afloat by Washington’s funding (Canada’s contribution to the Israel-PA security deal comes in at a few million dollars) so it finds itself permanently between a rock and a hard place.

Throughout the Oslo process in the 1990s, in addition to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Israeli authorities insisted on their desire to “dialogue” and establish real peace.

They talked about giving land to the Palestinians in exchange for peace, while creating irreversible facts on the ground and while asking the Palestinians to be “realistic”. They were to be “reasonable” and therefore to accept to suffer all these new violations perpetrated by Israel while it was “negotiating,” as reported by the media.

In short, this is the same language as that of the Trump plan, to tell the Palestinians to be realistic, to be reasonable and to accept to live in the Bantustan state which has been prepared by Israel for at least the past 40 years.

However, the false Oslo peace plan could not formalize the control and fragmentation of the West Bank and the annexation of the Jordan Valley, which had always been coveted from the start of the Zionist project in Palestine. Now redundant, Oslo was to be replaced by another false peace plan which would formalize and make the Israeli apartheid system permanent. This false plan is called the Trump Deal of the Century, a vision of permanent apartheid that formalizes a Palestinian Bantustan state or, if you like, a Palestinian reservation that resembles Canada’s reservations for its Indigenous peoples.

The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan in summary

The Deal of the Century document is roughly 180 pages, of which 150 pages deal with economic statistics and analyses that even economists would struggle to understand, all to show how much the standard of living for Palestinians would be helped by this so-called ‘Peace Plan.’

The real political question at the heart of the debate is completely removed in addition to the question of international law, which should direct all negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In passing, the sole Palestinian instance having the mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people is the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), not the Palestinian Authority.

Under Oslo, in principle, Israel was supposed to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories as a prerequisite for the creation of a Palestinian state. Under the Trump plan, this condition does not even exist. Israel immediately gets the land it wants by annexing all of its illegal settlements as well as the Jordan Valley, and it would get even more land later, unless the Palestinians accept a long list of impossible preconditions.

For example, the Palestinians would have no army and in addition would be forced to accept the permanent presence of the Israeli army in order to maintain its security control; the Palestinian state would have no control over its borders, and therefore no control over its foreign relations and trade.

It would be deprived of control over its offshore waters which include large deposits of natural gas, no control over its airspace. This Palestinian “state” would exist on only 15% of historic Palestine, being just a collection of enclaves connected by tunnels and bridges.

This false state would still be deprived of its most fertile land, of its sources of water still under the sway of Israel, deprived of access to the Dead Sea and its mineral industries, still exploited by Israel. So the Palestinian economy would continue to be entirely under the control of Israel.

East Jerusalem, including its holy places, would be isolated from the Palestinian state, which would instead have its capital outside the city in Abu Dis, a small suburb that would be renamed Al-Quds. The Trump plan even suggests that Israel and Jordan would eventually share sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, the third holiest place in the world for Muslims. All this to allow extremist Jews who believe the mosque is on the former site of the Temple of Solomon – who want to demolish the mosque and replace it with the temple – can pray there.

In addition, the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, thereby sanctioning the dispossession and colonization of the Palestinian people. There would be no Palestinian Right of Return. Yet that is exactly what United Nations Resolution 194 requires. This resolution was adopted in 1948.

The Netanyahu/Trump Plan requires the Palestinian Authority to strip the families of political prisoners and Palestinians killed by the IDF of their social benefits. If the Palestinians do not concede all that is asked of them within four years of the initial application of the Trump plan, Israel will be free to seize and annex even more Palestinian land as it sees fit.

Of course, the Palestinians will be blamed for being “unreasonable”. The media and various political establishments will say, as was said at Camp David, that “Israel has no partner for peace.” In short, the Palestinians are invited to disappear in one way or another.

The Palestinians however, will never consent being disappeared.  This Trump plan, this permanent apartheid document, promises a major escalation of violence and further destabilization of the region, in keeping with the fascist and racist vision of the Deal of the Century.

It is high time that sanctions be imposed on Israel. Specifically in terms of its long-term process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of lands enacted against the Palestinians. More recently against the Bedouin in the Negev and its apartheid system imposed on the beleaguered Palestinian population, in flagrant defiance of international law.

Bruce Katz is a founding member and current co-president of PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity), a Montreal-based pro-Palestinian solidarity organization.PAJU is a member of the Canadian BDS Coalition.

In solidarity for justice for Ejaz Choudry

The Canadian BDS Coalition condemns the use of excess force by the Peel Regional Police that resulted in the murder of Ejaz Choudry on Saturday, June 20, 2020.

According to his family Ejaz Choudry had mental health issues and they called the non-emergency line for help. Reports and videos show police barricaded the apartment, refused to let family members in, and, without waiting, immediately fired at least 5 rapid shots. See The video footage.

The Canadian BDS Coalition  joins with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), The Muslim Council of Peel (MCP), and The Urban Alliance of Race Relations (UARR) in demanding from Chief Nishan Duraiappah that the officer responsible for firing the bullets that killed Ejaz Choudry be taken off the force immediately.

We ask people to add your voice to NCCM call for Justice for Ejaz. 

With the murder of Ejaz Choudry, the police killings of six indigenous people in Canada since April, the recent killing of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Canada and George Floyd in the USA, it is a continous demonstration of police impunity that targets and kills racialized people in both in the US and Canada. 

The Canadian BDS Coalition condemns the inherent racism in the police system and we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the call to

  • end police brutality
  • address systemic racism and injustice
  • recognize that white supremacy underlies the bias, violence and brutality against Black, Indigenous and other racialized lives
  • defund and demilitarize the police
  • reallocate funding and resources to community-based programs

The Coalition recognizes the role the militarization of police plays in this blatant misuse of power, and condemns the training of Canadian police by Israeli security forces in Israel and Canada, and the elected officials and police leadership that funds and enables it.

How Canadian MPs in the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary group are at the table of apartheid

By Bruce Katz

https://www.thecanadafiles.com/the-middle-east/cmpic

In the U.S, pro-Israel organizations often fund the exchanges between U.S. police and their Israeli counterparts. The same is true of similar organizations in Canada vis-à-vis Canadian police forces. They are partners in violence and systematic racism. (2)

Imagine then, a group of Canadian Members of Parliament representing four of the five federal parties sitting in the House of Commons, implicitly, if not explicitly, supporting Israel’s brutal apartheid regime by participating in the Canada Israel Inter-parliamentary Group which functions as little more than an internal pressure group the function of which is to normalize and consequently whitewash Israel’s apartheid regime. Within this group sit 19 members of the Bloc Québécois (of 32 Bloc Québécois MPs sitting in the House of Commons), 18 Conservative MPs, 16 Liberal MPs, 2 New Democrats and 9 Senators. (3)

Aux États-Unis, les organisations pro-israéliennes financent souvent les échanges entre la police américaine et leurs homologues israéliens. Il en va de même pour des organisations similaires au Canada vis-à-vis des forces policières canadiennes. Ils sont partenaires de la violence et du racisme systématique. (2)

Imaginez alors, un groupe de députés canadiens représentant quatre des cinq partis fédéraux siégeant à la Chambre des communes, soutenant implicitement, sinon explicitement, le régime brutal d’apartheid d’Israël en participant au Canada Israel Inter-parliamentary Groupqui fonctionne comme groupe de pression interne dont la fonction est de normaliser et, par conséquent, de blanchir le régime d’apartheid d’Israël. Au sein de ce groupe siègent 19 députés du Bloc québécois (sur 32 députés du Bloc québécois siégeant à la Chambre des communes), 18 députés conservateurs, 16 députés libéraux, 2 néo-démocrates et 9 sénateurs. (3)

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

#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

2019 Annual Report

Canadian BDS Coalition

Working for Freedom, Equity and Justice

The following is a report on the work of the Canadian BDS Coalition during 2019

The Canadian BDS Coalition was formed in 2016 to bring together organizations in Canada that support the Palestinian Civil Society Call through the BDS National Coalition (BNC).  

To learn more about BDS, https://bdscoalition.ca/about-bds/

The Coalition has member organizations including members from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2019

Raptors Don’t Go declared victory.

The Current is Cut Between Hydro-Québec and Israel Electric

Partial Victory: Bombardier pulls out of Israeli settler railway

#IVotePalestine campaign

50+ Artists say Show Courage Céline

Read the whole report here

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.

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