Category Archives: Statements

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

This year we know that there is a good supply of fresh 2019 Medjool 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.

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 has not reported back on the complaint.

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.

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 have actual product from Jordan as well),

Green World (from Al-Rwad),

Alard,

Palestine Just Trade (from Al-Rwad),

Jericho Delights (via USA). 

Do you know others? IIf so let us know and we can update this list.

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

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.

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.

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 medjool 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

Canadian BDS Coalition call to speak out against Trump’s plan of impunity for Israeli war crimes

March 8 2020

The Trump plan for Palestine explicitly gives a further green light to continued Israeli war crimes and settler colonization.  Trump devised  this plan with Israel with one aim–to further cement Israeli apartheid rule over Palestinians.  The Canadian BDS Coalition calls on people across the country to speak out against the recent Trump plan for Palestine.  It is no deal of the century, it is the steal of century at best.

The Canadian BDS Coalition supports the BDS National Committee (BNC) when it says this plan “ is the final nail in the coffin of the moribund ‘peace process’, making #BDS the most effective response.” 

The Canadian BDS Coalition calls for ending international complicity through measures of accountability.  This include bringing Israeli officials to trial at the ICC.  

The Canadian BDS Coalition calls Canada to hold Israel accountable through the grassroots driven movement for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).  For the Canadian government or others to condemn BDS is to show complicity with war crimes, and blantant disregard for Canada’s own domestic law as well as accountability under international law.

The Canadian BDS Coalition calls on the Canadian government  to show accountability through both international and domestic law. Specifically:

Domestic Law: Canadian sanctions laws implement United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes under the United Nations Act, as well as Canadian autonomous sanctions regimes under the Special Economic Measures Act. Under the Special Economic Measures Act, sanctions are required when gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in a foreign state.  This so so-called “deal of the century” provides a signal for impunity to the continued war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinian people, and so the Canadian BDS Coalition calls on the Canadian government to put economic sanctions and an military embargo to hold Israel accountable for its systemic human right violations.  

International Law: Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all high signatories in which Canada is one are required to take actions to ensure that violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention do not occur under any circumstance.  Thus, the Canadian BDS Coalition calls for Canada to make a clear statement in regard to its accountability under Article 1 related to the the war crimes committee by Israel  The Coalition calls on the government of Canada to what ever is required including putting in place the provisions under the Special Economic Measures Act in this regard, including sanctions and military embargo until at least illegal settlements are removed from occupied Palestine and the Syrian Golan, and until the apartheid Nation Law   and other racist Basic Law is revoked, and until the right of return is realized.

The Canadian BDS Coalition calls on civil society to stand against this impunity to the continued war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinian people.   Thus, the Canadian BDS Coalition calls on all people of conscience and the international community at large to respond to these plans by intensifying campaigns for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.  This includes a clear call to the Canadian government that sanctions be put in place as required under our own domestic law and our international law accountability related to the gross systemic human rights and international law violations by the Israeli government.

Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation and land defenders

February 28, 2020

The Canadian BDS Coalition expresses our total solidarity with indigenous rights and land defenders. we stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation and land defenders at the Unist’ot’en Camp and Gidimt’en and across Turtle Island who continue to resist Canada’s colonial incursions of their unceded territories. 

Wet'suwet'en

We denounce the Canadian governments for their colonial violence and their callous disregard of indigenous rights. We understand the struggles of the indigenous people of this land and the indigenous people of Palestine have always been against the supremacist settler colonialist mentality, that has at its roots lack of respect for indigenous rights and dignity. 

We also honour the brave resistance of our indigenous sisters and brothers all through their history and know that they believe, as we do, in defending their land to their last breath. We are deeply grateful for the Wet’suwet’en people for their indomitable spirit, and their tireless defence of the land and water resources. 

The Canadian BDS Coalition stands firmly with the indigenous people on Turtle Island in your struggle for your land and ancestral rights.  We stand united with you in the struggle against settler colonialism, racism, corporate criminality and your inalienable rights for justice and self-determination.

We  join with the BDS National Committee in their statement of solidarity Palestinians stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation

February 29, 2020

The Canadian BDS Coalition  in expressing its solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, led by their hereditary chiefs, standing up for sovereignty, includes opposition to pipeline construction across their unceded, ancestral lands.  As proponents of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, we stand with Indigenous people who are asserting their rights, and fighting to end occupation and neo-colonial rule, including by blocking railway lines, highways, bridges and major ports.  

For that reason, among others. our Coalition opposes the Canadian government’s bid to obtain a seat for the Canadian state on the United Nations Security Council.  

In addition, we celebrate the withdrawal of Teck Frontier’s proposal for a huge tar sands project in Alberta — at least in part due to the impact of mass protests across the Canadian state in solidarity with Indigenous people and against imminent climate catastrophe.