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Canadian Financial Institutions: Complicit with Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israeli Illegal Settlement . Photo: Montecruz Foto via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Four Canadian Financial Institutions, BMO, RBC, Scotiabank and Manulife have been listed on Bank Track as owning and managing shares in two Israeli Banks, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. Both these Israeli banks are active in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli banks are facilitating the expansion of the Israeli illegal settlements  in several ways, including lending to construction projects in the settlements, providing banking services for settlements’ local authorities, operating branches in the settlements and providing mortgages for settlement homes and businesses.

Many international banks also support Israeli banks, including their activities in the illegal settlements, for example through direct shareholdings, linking them to these impacts.

 

About Israeli illegal settlements

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, are illegal under international law. This is widely recognised and has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council (e.g. see UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2012).

Through these settlements, Israel, the occupying state, violates numerous provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international humanitarian law (IHL): these are built and maintained primarily through unlawful appropriation of occupied land and natural resources and transfer of property rights, prohibited transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory, and arbitrary restriction of the freedom of movement and forcible transfer of the Palestinian and Syrian population.

Moreover, the settlements also amount to de facto annexation of occupied territory by Israel, which is a flagrant breach of general public international law and the UN Charter, violating the prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force and the internationally recognized right of Palestinians to self-determination

 

What Bank Track indicates should happen:Banks not operating in Israel but with shareholdings in or other exposure to Israeli banks lack the leverage to prevent or mitigate the adverse human rights impacts of business with the illegal Israeli settlements. They should therefore abstain from or end their relationships with Israeli banks, as well as other institutions and business linked to the illegal settlements. States should inform their businesses, including banks, about the risks involved in such business activities under international law, and about the consequences under domestic laws. 

See details of Canadian and other financial institutions involvement 

See Human Rights Watch report, June 2018

Learn more here.

 

Please be in touch with your own local branch of these financial institutions, and let us know by providing info HERE.

 

The following letters have been sent by email and registered mail to Scotiabank, RBC, BMO and Manulife.

Canadian BDS Coalition

…working together to promote justice for Palestinians.

Scotiabank

Brian J Porter, CEO and President

VIA EMAIL

brian.porter@scotiabank.com

Dear Mr. Porter:

We are writing to you about an important matter that has just come to our attention.

A few days ago, we  learned that Scotiabank owns and manages shares in two Israeli Banks, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. Both these Israeli banks are active in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

See: https://www.banktrack.org/project/illegal_israeli_settlements#_

As the Canadian government has long acknowledged, Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the pillars of international humanitarian law, and a serious obstacle to peace.

See: http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng.

Israel’s West Bank settlements also constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:

See: https://www.diakonia.se/en/IHL/where-we-work/Occupied-Palestinian-Territory/Administration-of-Occupation/Israeli-Settlements-policy/

We are deeply concerned by the oppression of the Palestinian people and with their struggle for self-determination. I am very troubled to learn that Scotiabank is profiting, albeit indirectly, from Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

We ask you to  provide further details to us about the nature and extent of Scotiabank’s investments in these Israeli banks and, in particular, to explain how these investments are consistent with international humanitarian law, and we would ask you announce publicly the withdrawal of Scotiabank’s funds related to illegal settlements.

According to 2017 EKOS poll, 78 % of Canadians support boycotts when organizations are violating human rights and international law. We expect as a matter of conscience that if  clear information is not provided along with a public statement made by Scotiabank related to its ending financial relations with illegal settlements, that many customers will re-evaluate their relationship with Scotiabank and may ultimately decide to take their business elsewhere.

We are available to speak with you as well, and expect others will be following up with your organization over the coming weeks.

Sincerely

 

The Canadian BDS Coalition

info@bdscoalition.ca

 

BMO

Darryl White, CEO and President, BMO

VIA EMAIL

darryl.white@bmo.com

Dear Mr. White:

re writing to you about an important matter that has just come to our attention.

A few days ago, we  learned that BMO owns and manages shares in two Israeli Banks, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. Both these Israeli banks are active in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

See: https://www.banktrack.org/project/illegal_israeli_settlements#_

As the Canadian government has long acknowledged, Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the pillars of international humanitarian law, and a serious obstacle to peace.

See: http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng.

Israel’s West Bank settlements also constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

See: https://www.diakonia.se/en/IHL/where-we-work/Occupied-Palestinian-Territory/Administration-of-Occupation/Israeli-Settlements-policy/

We are deeply concerned by the oppression of the Palestinian people and with their struggle for self-determination. I am very troubled to learn that BMO is profiting, albeit indirectly, from Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

We ask you to  provide further details to us about the nature and extent of BMO investments in these Israeli banks and, in particular, to explain how these investments are consistent with international humanitarian law, and we would ask you announce publicly the withdrawal CIBC’s of funds related to illegal settlements.

According to 2017 EKOS poll, 78 % of Canadians support boycotts when organizations are violating human rights and international law. We expect as a matter of conscience that if  clear information is not provided along with a public statement made by BMO related to its ending financial relations with illegal settlements, that may Customers will re-evaluate their relationship with BMO and may ultimately decide to take their business elsewhere.

We are available to speak with you as well, and expect others will be following up with your organization over the coming weeks.

Sincerely

 

The Canadian BDS Coalition

info@bdscoalition.ca

 

Royal Bank

David I McKay, CEO and President

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

 

VIA EMAIL

Via Paul French, communications with Board and Chair,  paul.french@rbc.com

Dear Mr. McKay

We are writing to you about an important matter that has just come to our attention.

A few days ago, we  learned that RBC owns and manages shares in two Israeli Banks, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. Both these Israeli banks are active in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

See: https://www.banktrack.org/project/illegal_israeli_settlements#_

As the Canadian government has long acknowledged, Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the pillars of international humanitarian law, and a serious obstacle to peace.

See: http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng.

Israel’s West Bank settlements also constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

See: https://www.diakonia.se/en/IHL/where-we-work/Occupied-Palestinian-Territory/Administration-of-Occupation/Israeli-Settlements-policy/

We are deeply concerned by the oppression of the Palestinian people and with their struggle for self-determination. I am very troubled to learn that RBC  is profiting, albeit indirectly, from Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

We ask you to  provide further details to us about the nature and extent of RBC’s investments in these Israeli banks and, in particular, to explain how these investments are consistent with international humanitarian law, and we would ask you announce publicly the withdrawal RBC’s  of funds related to illegal settlements.

According to 2017 EKOS poll, 78 % of Canadians support boycotts when organizations are violating human rights and international law. We expect as a matter of conscience that if  clear information is not provided along with a public statement made by RBC related to its ending financial relations with illegal settlements, that may customers will re-evaluate their relationship with RBC and may ultimately decide to take their business elsewhere.

We are available to speak with you as well, and expect others will be following up with your organization over the coming weeks.

Sincerely

 

The Canadian BDS Coalition

info@bdscoalition.ca

 

Manulife

 

Roy Gori, President & CEO, Manulife

VIA EMAIL

roy.gori@ manulife.com

 

Also:

info@manulife.com

Dear Mr. Gori

We are writing to you about an important matter that has just come to our attention.

A few days ago, we  learned that Manulife owns and manages shares in two Israeli Banks, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. Both these Israeli banks are active in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

See: https://www.banktrack.org/project/illegal_israeli_settlements#_

As the Canadian government has long acknowledged, Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the pillars of international humanitarian law, and a serious obstacle to peace.

See: http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng.

Israel’s West Bank settlements also constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

See: https://www.diakonia.se/en/IHL/where-we-work/Occupied-Palestinian-Territory/Administration-of-Occupation/Israeli-Settlements-policy/

We are deeply concerned by the oppression of the Palestinian people and with their struggle for self-determination. I am very troubled to learn that RBC  is profiting, albeit indirectly, from Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

We ask you to  provide further details to us about the nature and extent of Manulife investments in these Israeli banks and, in particular, to explain how these investments are consistent with international humanitarian law, and we would ask you announce publicly the withdrawal Manulife’s  funds related to illegal settlements.

According to 2017 EKOS poll, 78 % of Canadians support boycotts when organizations are violating human rights and international law. We expect as a matter of conscience that if  clear information is not provided along with a public statement made by Manulife related to its ending financial relations with illegal settlements, that many customers and companies/organizations will re-evaluate their relationship with Manulife nd may ultimately decide to take their business elsewhere.

We are available to speak with you as well, and expect others will be following up with your organization over the coming weeks.

Sincerely

The Canadian BDS Coalition

info@bdscoalition.ca

 

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Open Letter from Canadian BDS Coalition to Government of Canada, Cities of Vancouver and Montreal

Over 5,000 signatures to date on this call: Don’t Dance on the Ruins of Palestinian Childhood.  Add your signature by clicking HERE.

December 18, 2018.

The following letter has been sent to:

Pablo Rodriquez, Federal Minister of Heritage

Ambassador Deborah Lyons, Canadian Ambassador to Israel

Kennedy Stewart, Mayor of Vancouver

Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

—————————

Open Letter from Canadian BDS Coalition to Government of Canada, Cities of Vancouver and Montreal

We have become aware that you are listed as one of the official sponsors of the CanaDanse Festival, being held in Israel in January 2019. Promotional material on the venue’s website denotes the Government of Canada as a sponsor of the whole Festival while the cities of Vancouver and Montreal are sponsoring one segment respectively. You should be aware that there is an ongoing campaign regarding Ballet BC’s involvement in the Festival, along with the 2 other dance companies, Shay Kuebler-Radical System Art from Vancouver and Le Carré des Lombes/Danièle Desnoyers from Montreal.

Over 5000 people have already signed a petition to Ballet BC asking them to cancel their first-ever performance in Israel, and to not help Israel whitewash its crimes against the Palestinian people. There has been coverage on the U.S. website Mondoweiss about this issue and also coverage in Canadian local media.

In fact, support is increasing amongst the Canadian public for sanctions against the state of Israel until it complies with international law, despite the efforts of the political establishment to suppress such information. A recent EKOS survey found that seventy-eight percent of Canadians said they believe the Palestinians’ call for a boycott is “reasonable”, and two-thirds (66%) of respondents viewed government sanctions specifically on Israel as “reasonable.”

It is shocking that various levels of government, federal and municipal, including the Cities of Vancouver and Montreal, felt compelled to not only lend their names to this Festival, but we assume funding as well.

Although Ballet BC and the other two dance companies will be welcomed by Israeli authorities to perform there, you should be aware that Palestinian cultural figures, artists and writers are routinely denied entry to their own homeland. One recent case is that of Susan Abulhawa, prominent Palestinian author who was detained and deported by Israel on November 1, 2018 on her way to a literary festival. Cultural exchanges that are predicated on silencing certain voices do not serve the values Ballet BC (and presumably your government) claim to uphold: “Ballet BC serves as a cultural ambassador, inspires diverse communities through dance and promotes inclusion in and through all that we do.” There is no inclusion for most indigenous Palestinians, who cannot even visit their homeland, let alone return to live there.

The Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Deborah Lyons, has already used the CanaDanse Festival to state: “Canada and Israel are truly best of friends”; we are sure more euphemisms will follow during and after the performances to help cover up the horrors of what the Israeli state is doing to the Palestinian people. This is the essence of art-washing and this is why an increasing number of global artists are saying that they will not perform in Israel until it complies with international law and respects the rights of the Palestinian people.

Your shameful position does not represent us or our constituent groups and we are appalled that you speak in our names and use taxpayers’ money to promote the suppression and dispossession of an entire people. We call on you to immediately withdraw your government sponsorship and cancel your participation in this Festival, which will only be used by the Israeli government to obscure the injustices happening right now to the Palestinian people.

Otherwise, history will not look kindly on your actions.

The Canadian BDS Coalition

www.bdscoalition.ca

Canadian Court Hands Important Victory to BDS Movement

December 12, 2018

A Canadian Court ruled that Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions activists were denied free speech and campaigning rights when the city of Montreal tore down their posters highlighting an Israeli atrocity during an election campaign in Canada. We discuss the case with bruce Katz, one of the main plaintiffs in the case.

The Canadian BDS Coalition congratulates its Quebec BDS, a member of the Canadian BDS Coalition, on its important victory.

 

This is a victory of legitimacy of BDS in Canada by the Quebec Supreme Count.  It is applicable in other jurisdiction of Canada.

Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) Supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

CFS representing 500K+ members at 64 students’ union at universities across Canada has joined in solidarity for justice for the people of Palestine.

The Canadian BDS Coalition congratulates the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) on its resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that was unanimously passed at the CFS annual General Assembly on November 20, 2018. The resolution follows the BDS endorsement by the CFS-Ontario in 2014, and BDS victories at over 20 individual campuses across Canada over the last decade.

Join in sharing your support with the Canadian Federation of Students HERE.

The Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario is looking to hire an Executive Director or Executive Director

This direction by the Canadian Federation of Students’ with its more than 500,000 members at 64 students’ union at universities across Canada shows the momentum of the non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. 

The Canadian BDS Coalition congratulates the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) on its resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that was unanimously passed at the CFS annual General Assembly on November 20, 2018. The resolution follows the BDS endorsement by the CFS-Ontario in 2014, and BDS victories at over 20 individual campuses across Canada over the last decade.

The CFS is the voice of 500,000 members in 64 student unions at universities across Canada. The passage of this resolution demonstrates the increasing momentum for action to promote justice for the Palestinian people. This is consistent with the findings of a 2017 EKOS poll, that a majority of Canadians support actions of boycott and sanctions against Israel’s system of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid towards the Palestinian people.

The Canadian BDS Coalition is comprised of civil society organizations across Canada that support the call of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Canadian BDS Coalition stands in solidarity with the 2005 call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for boycott, divestment and sanctions until:

  • Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  • Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The Canadian BDS Coalition welcomes the voice of the Canadian Federation of Students in solidarity with the global movement for freedom, equity and justice for the people of Palestine.

 

Send along your words of support directly to: info@cfs-fcee.ca with copy to bdscoalition@gmail.com

 

Ballet BC, don’t dance on the ruins of Palestinian childhood

See article in Mondoweiss

 on 

 

Campaign organizers are calling on Ballet BC (and now the 2 other dance companies as well) to take a stand and not perform in Israel, which would be a permanent stain on their records. They are also calling on solidarity activists, both locally and around the world, to support this campaign, and to let these artists know that it is morally wrong for them to trample on the dignity and rights of Palestinians.

BC Attorney General Stonewalls on Israeli Wines in BC Liquor Store

BC Attorney General Stonewalls on Israeli Wines in BC Liquor Stores

17 OCTOBER 2018
Canada Palestine Association

BC Attorney General David Eby finally responded to two of the initiating groups on an Open Letter, regarding BC government liquor stores carrying Israeli wines in violation of international humanitarian laws. Mr. Eby refused to meet with representatives of the 30 groups who sponsored and endorsed the letter, and insisted again to focus solely on the “customers’ right to make choices”. Here is the public answer to Eby from CPA Vancouver and BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Public Response to David Eby regarding Israeli wines in BC Liquor Stores
Oct. 17, 2018

Dear Mr. Eby:

Thank you for your brief replies to our concerns.

Once again, you have completely ignored the issues raised on this subject, this time brought forward by 30 organizations. We mentioned in our open letter that selling Israeli wines in BC liquor Stores is “in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. The UN Security CouncilUN General Assembly and the Canadian government recognize the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel is in violations of many articles of this convention, including the theft of Palestinian land, building colonies in the occupied territories and transferring several hundreds of thousands of its citizens to live in them, in contravention of articles 49 and 53. Israel also expropriates and exploits the natural resources in the occupied territory to meet the needs of the occupying power, in violation of article 55. The wine that is carried in the BC Liquor Stores is the product of these Israeli settler colonialists who stole Palestinian land and its agricultural and natural resources.

The Federal Government currently imposes sanctions against 20 countries, 11 of them in the Middle East (the list does not include Israel nor Saudi Arabia), so we ask where is your “customers’ right to make choices” there?
And as noted in the open letter, these wines are mislabelled as “made in Israel” in an attempt to hide product origin, something that is currently being challenged in the Canadian courts. So how can a consumer make choices when they are not even aware of what they are buying?

As you can see, this is not a matter of a “customers’ right to make choices”. The only choices being made in these circumstances are the wrong choices. As Attorney General, would you advise any police department to not curtail the selling of stolen products in BC stores, because it infringes on a “customers’ right to make choices”?!

We feel your government is simply hiding behind the liberal façade of “customer choice” in order to avoid any meaningful discussion about your role in enabling the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Violating the many articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention amounts to war crimes. Supporting these violations is complicity in them.
As the anti Apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

And finally, your unwillingness to meet with us demonstrates an arrogance and disinterest in issues of serious concern to your constituents and British Columbians, a very disappointing approach for someone who claims to be interested in rectifying social and historical injustices.

Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Aiyanas Ormond, Coordinator, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish

c.c. All Signatory Groups on the Open Letter

Canadian BDS Coalition joins Palestinian Call for Boycott of Meteor Music Festival in Israel and Calls the Canadian-Danish Music Group to Withdraw

Palestinians urge participating artists to withdraw from the festival as a meaningful contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

 

Meteor - A festival on ethnically cleansed land.

We, Palestinian cultural organizations, municipalities and human rights campaigns, call for the boycott of Meteor Festival in Israel, scheduled for September 6-8, 2018. We urge all participating artists to respect Palestinians’ non-violent resistance and withdraw from this complicit festival as a meaningful contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Naranja, the Israeli organisers of Meteor Festival, bring international artists to Israel to serve later as future ambassadors for the country. In 2009, just months after Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, Naranja worked to “improve Israel’s image in Scandinavia”. Naranja say they want Meteor Festival to create an “alternative reality”. The reality for Palestinians is 70-year-old regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.

Just last week, Israel effectively declared itself as an apartheid state by adopting the “Jewish Nation-State Law”, which constitutionally denies Palestinian citizens equal rights and legalizes their exclusion.

The Meteor festival recommends accommodation located in illegal Israeli settlements built in violation of international law in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Israel’s expanding illegal settlements steal the land and resources of millions of Palestinians living under military occupation. Israel’s bulldozers demolish Palestinian homes and villages, leaving families and entire communities homeless refugees in our own land.

Since 2004, Palestinian artists and cultural organizations have urged their international colleagues not to perform in Israel as long as it continues to violate Palestinian human rights with impunity. Artists played an important role in isolating Apartheid South Africa by refusing to play in Sun City. Today, thousands of artistsacross the world support the Palestinian boycott call or have respected our nonviolent picket line, including Lorde, Ms Lauryn Hill, Thurston Moore, Shakira, Wolf Alice, Chuck D, Portishead, Brian Eno and Young Fathers.

The Israeli government uses international performances as a stamp of approval for its regime of oppression and ethnic cleansing and its violent attacks on Palestinian life and culture. Performing at an international music festival in Israel sends the message that Israel’s actions aren’t so bad after all. As the Washington Post remarked earlier this year, “From now on, if it weren’t the case already, merely scheduling a concert date in Israel will be considered a political act.”

Israel has confined two million Palestinians in Gaza under a cruel siege for over 10 years now. The UN has declared the Gaza Strip as “unlivable.” When tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza peacefully protested for their UN-stipulated rights in March, Israeli snipers implemented a “shoot-to-kill-or-maim” and killed over 140 Palestinians and injured over 16,000, leaving many with life-changing injuries. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the rights organisations who have condemned Israel’s massacre in Gaza.

In the area surrounding the festival site are the ruins of dozens of Palestinian cities, towns and villages violently destroyed during the establishment of Israel on the rubbles of Palestine. More than 500 Palestinian population centres were systematically destroyed in this way during the Nakba (“catastrophe”). Many Palestinian communities within Israel are denied basic services, including electricity, water, schools and roads and suffer under a system of racial discrimination that is entrenched with more than 60 racist laws.

Against this oppression and dispossession, as all oppressed peoples, we resist. An important part of our resistance is through culture, musicpoetryliteraturecinemadance and theatre. Israel’s response is to detain and arrest Palestinian artists at checkpoints, raid festivals, close Palestinian cinemas and ban Palestinian cultural events.

We appeal to artists who are scheduled to perform at Meteor to simply do no harm; to respect Palestinians’ non-violent picket line and to not lend your name to art-washing Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. Stand for freedom, justice and equality. Cancel your participation at Meteor Festival.

The Canadian BDS Coalition calls Canadian and other musicians, artists and civil society to call on the Danish-Canadian musical group Rhye to cancel their performance at Meteor.  To add you name/organization click here

Israeli Law passed which effectively declares itself an apartheid colonial-settler state

The Canadian government is called to condemn this law and uphold its own Special Economic Sanctions Act.

“The Canadian government is called upon to immediately condemn Israel’s apartheid law by putting sanctions in place as is required under Canada’s own domestic law.  The Canadian BDS Coalition joins with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian BDS National Committee in calling for the UN to activate its anti-apartheid laws and impose serious sanctions, on Israel such as those which were imposed on South Africa.”

On July 19, 2018, Israeli legislators approved the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People” bill that unambiguously defines Israel as a state that belongs exclusively to the “Jewish people.”  This law was approved even though one in five Israeli citizens is an indigenous, non-Jewish Palestinian.  This law makes discrimination constitutional and enshrines apartheid into Law

The Jewish Nation-State legislation was approved by 62 to 55 votes. Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset condemned the law that stipulates that  “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”

“It has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens,” Ayman Odeh, the head of the Arab Joint List – an alliance of four predominantly Arab parties – said in a statement following the law’s passage.

The newly passed law also states that an undivided Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and names illegal settlements as a “national value.”  This blatant disregard of United Nations resolutions is also contrary to Canadian foreign policy.  The legislation is a blatant disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention which does not allow for populations of the occupier to be moved into occupied areas.  Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Canada as a signatory of the Convention is responsible for ensuring that the Convention is upheld in all circumstances.

Adalah, a leading Palestinian human rights organization in Israel,said that the law  “affirms the principle of apartheid in housing, land and citizenship.” Adalah indicates “this law constitutionally sanctions institutionalized discrimination.”

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)  shared Najwan Berekdar, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, reaction:

As a Palestinian citizen of this state, this bill entrenches my third-class citizenship on the land where generations of my family have lived since long before the state of Israel even existed.

The Jewish-Israeli majority is loudly reminding us indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel that we are not welcome in our own ancestral homeland. My people have always suffered from legalized racism by the state of Israel and its institutions, but this law makes our apartheid reality the law of the land like never before.

As “non-Jews” we are already not allowed to buy or rent land on 93% of the area controlled by the Israeli state, and many of our communities are declared to be “unrecognized” and bulldozed out of existence by Israeli forces. I received a racially segregated and inferior education in a school system that conspicuously privileges Jewish-Israelis.

Israel is now stripping us of any semblance of equal rights based solely on our ethno-religious identity. It’s even demoting our language from one of the state’s two official languages.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) commented:

Israel has dozens of racist laws, including some which strikingly fit the UN definition of apartheid. But with the constitutional power of this Basic Law, Israel is effectively declaring itself an apartheid state and dropping its worn-out mask of democracy.

From now on, it will not just be legal to racially discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state. It will be constitutionally mandated and required. This should stir people, institutions and governments to take effective action to hold Israel accountable.

The Canadian BDS Coalition which includes over 25 groups from coast to coast, including national, regional and local groups, reminds the Canadian government that its own domestic legislation, the Special Economic Measures Act requires that sanctions are applied where gross and systemic human rights violations have been committed by a foreign state.

“The Canadian government is called upon to immediately condemn Israel’s apartheid law by putting sanctions in place as is required under Canada’s own domestic law.  The Canadian BDS Coalition joins with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian BDS National Committee in calling for the UN to activate its anti-apartheid laws and impose serious sanctions, on Israel such as those which were imposed on South Africa.”

contact: bdscoalition@gmail.com

Release from Palestinian BNC here.

Press release on wire service here.

Let’s cut the current between

Hydro-Québec and Israel Electric

Sign petition at:

The partnership between Hydro-Québec and Israel Electric is revealed by BDS-Québec

Let’s cut the current between Hydro-Québec and Israel Electric!

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/HQ_IEC_partnership_agreement_en/

Sign the petition to demand that Hydro-Québec terminate its agreement to cooperate on cyber security with Israel Electric Corporation concluded on May 22, 2017.

This memorandum of understanding is in fact a contract between two states: Quebec and Israel

The cooperation agreement was signed as part of the May 2017 economic mission to Israel and the West Bank by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, in his presence. Hydro-Québec refuses to disclose the content of its partnership agreement with IEC in contravention of the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information to which it is subject.

Why this is important

  • IEC is working closely with the National Cyber Security Authority on military cyber defenses (IDF), intelligence services (Mossad) and the Water Authority. IEC’s security IS Mossad.
  • A “partnership” in cyber security with Israel means “a pact with the Mossad and a pact with Israel’s apartheid regime”.
  • Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) – a state-owned corporation – shares responsibility for the State of Israel’s abuses towards the Palestinian population:
  • IEC regularly cuts electricity in Gaza.
  • IEC frequently cuts electricity in the West Bank.
  • IEC electrifies the separation wall between Israel and Palestine.
  • IEC has supplied electricity to illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
  • IEC supplies the Israeli army with electricity.
  • Since 1948, Israel has repeatedly violated with impunity resolutions adopted by the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council and continues to ignore the International Court of Justice’s condemnation of its policies.

Gaza has been under an illegal blockade for 10 years. In recent weeks Israel has adopted the official policy of ‘shoot-to-kill’ in Gaza, targeting and shooting Palestinian demonstrators seeking to improve their living conditions and to end the blockade:

  • Bullets and targeting were aimed to kill and maim as hollow bullets exploded on penetrating bodies: 112 killed, 13, 500 wounded (1029 women), 7,618 by gunshots, with 32 amputations and more coming.
  • Israeli snipers have targeted and killed journalists wearing identifiable press jackets
  • Israeli snipers have targeted and killed medical personnel, both doctors and paramedics
  • No Israeli was killed

In signing its memorandum of understanding with Israel Electric Corporation, Hydro-Quebec – and the Quebec state – makes themselves complicit in these crimes. Please sign the petition demanding that Hydro-Quebec cancel its partnership with Israel Electric Corporation!

Sign:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/HQ_IEC_partnership_agreement_en/

To learn more about the cooperation of Canada’s energy industry read this IT World Canada article that provides details about Toronto Hydro, IESO (Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator), and the Canadian Electric Association, as well as Canadian energy sector.

from Israel in Toronto Facebook page

Israel enjoys a close relationship with Canada’s electricity sector. Last year, a delegation of Canadian electricity companies, government officials, and regulators visited Israel.

Yesterday, Israel in Canada‘s Ambassador Rafael Barak, Nissan Amdur (Israel’s Economic Attache to Canada), and Yosi Shneck (Senior Vice President and CIO of the חברת החשמל לישראל Israel Electric Corporation), participated in IESO – The Electricity Outlet‘s Executive Briefing on Cybersecurity in Toronto.

Canadian BDS Coalition Working for Freedom, Equity and Justice

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The following is a report on the work of the Canadian BDS Coalition during 2017. 

The Canadian Coalition come together in the spring/summer of 2016.

Report from 2017

The Canadian BDS Coalition formed in 2016 bringing together organizations in Canada that support the Palestinian Civil Society Call through the BDS National Coalition (BNC).  By the end of 2017, the Coalition grew to over 23 member organizations.

Initiation of the Canadian BDS Coalition

Work began in January 2016 towards contacting the organizations which had been part of the now Canadian Boycott Coalition.  Based on follow up during February and March 2016 with the groups that were part of the previous Canadian Boycott Coalition, it was indicated there was strong interest in moving forward with discussions towards a Canadian BDS Coalition.

The inaugural conference call was held in April 2016, with the indication that there was interest in moving towards a shared Basis of Unity based on the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Basis of Unity

A subcommittee was formed in June 2016 to develop mission, purpose & function to present to the Coalition.  From this work, the Coalition finalized its Basis of Unity in September 2016.

The Coalition’s agreed Basis of Unity (BOU)  is on the Canadian BDS Coalition website.  The description of who we are can be found in the About Us section.

The aims of the Coalition are to:

  • promote, support and help coordinate boycott, divestment, and sanctions activities in Canada;
  • provide Canadians with resources to help them understand and take action in support of the Palestinian call for BDS;
  • promote and defend the right of Canadians to freedom of expression in support of BDS. 

Member Organizations

Member organizations share a common commitment to pursuing peace in Palestine/Israel through the realization of freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians, without which a lasting peace is impossible to achieve. Any Canadian group or organization that supports the BDS National Committee call and endorses the Coalition’s Basis of Unity is invited to join.

Member organizations that support the BDS call and the Canadian BDS Coalition’s Basis of Unity  listed on the Coalition’s website.

The Coalition also works with a network of friends—organizations which have chosen not to join the Canadian BDS Coalition for a variety of reasons, but who work with the Coalition towards a just peace in the region. Several are listed on the Coalition’s website, and others are part of the network but not listed.

At the end of 2017 there were 23 member groups, and about 30 other groups that are part of the network associated with the Coalition including two international groups which have Canadian members.  Now, in the summer of 2018 we are approaching 30 member groups.

During 2017 the Coalition had a focus on capacity building, relationship development, outreach, as well as standing in solidarity with voice of unity for BNC call.

Action with Focus on Education and Action

The Coalition recognizes the importance to educate people on BDS: It is important that we talk about what BDS is and what it isn’t,.  The Coalition provides a window of opportunity to share from an educational position about what BDS is about.

Coalition International Campaign

End AIR CANADA Complicity with Israel

The key 2017 campaign of the Canadian BDS Coalition was “End Air Canada’s Complicity with Israel.”  This campaign launched in June 2017, built on a several year long campaign of the Canada Palestine Association.  The Coalition campaign was international and also include strong labour support in Canada.

On November 5, 2017, the Canadian BDS Coalition announced that Air Canada had informed them that Air Canada had cancelled it contract with Israeli Aerospace Industries midterm.

The Canadian BDS Coalition announced this as a partial victory as Air Canada continued with a small maintenance contract with Israeli Aerospace Industries and still sold Sabra products on board.  See release here.

Canadian BDS Gains During 2017

During 2017, several notable BDS gains were made in Canada.  The Coalition stands with these efforts involving their members and friends across the country.

Political: The Green Party of Canada

In February 2017, the Green Party of Canada ratified at 90 percent a resolution supporting a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions policy.  See here for the actual motion passed.  Subsequently, the Green Party of Canada and its leader Elizabeth May have been reluctant to implement this policy even in light of legislation from the Israeli Knesset such as the Regularization Bill in January 2017 immediately following UNSC Resolution 223.  Letters such as this one sent to Leader May/Green Party of Canada during “Holy Week” were sent prepared by the Coalition speaking to the blatant ignoring of the party’s own policy and calling them to account.

Two Student Groups: Supreme Court of BDS Ground Breaking Ruling and a 76% vote for boycott and divestment

Two student groups led the way with BDS work.

On March 30, 2017, the SPHR at University of British Columbia had a ground-breaking victory when a British Columbia Supreme Court judge brought down this ruling and dismissed a case to stop a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) referendum.

At the University of Western King’s College 76% of the students casting votes voted “yes: on a referendum calling for  lobbying the King’s administration to boycott and divest from companies complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians.

Labour: Unifor

Unifor, the largest private union in Canada was the first private union to support BDS with a motion passed at their Convention in August 2017.  The Coalition joined in congratulating Unifor.

Political: the New Democratic Party

During the summer/fall many Coalition members were providing support for Niki Ashton’s campaign for the New Democratic Party leader as she spoke in support of BDS in her foreign policy platform.

Following the election of Jagmeet Singh as federal leader, focus shifted to bringing forward grassroots motions across the country through local electoral district associations (EDAs) and affiliates for the Convention scheduled for February 2018.  There were a number of Palestine related motions (full BDS, settlement/occupation BDS, labeling, ending siege of Gaza, military embargo, and support for the No Way to Treat a Child).  The Canadian BDS Coalition while not partisan did provide a way for NDP members within the Coalition to be in contact for mobilization, and also for reach out across the country through the Coalition to NDP members.

Academic Boycott Partial Victory: Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

In October, the first academic boycott  in Canada was achieved when the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University voted to not renew a contract with an Israeli institution. It is not clear if York University administration will follow the direction of the vote of the Faculty based on a release made by the President of York University. The Coalition joined in congratulating the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University on this partial victory.

Campaigns from the Canadian BDS Coalition Through 2017

Other campaigns undertaken by the Canadian BDS Coalition included:

The TSO Don’t Play for Israeli Apartheid campaign in the Spring of 2017 which saw over 1 K signatures being added within a few days to a petition, letters sent to the TSO members, administration and board, as well as Roy Thomson Hall;, and an action in Toronto when the TSO did a pre-Israel tour concert.  Work was undertaken by the Coalition working with Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and a number of US organizations and local groups on a campaign related to the IPO (Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra) North-American campaign, but when a local Toronto group chose to do an independent action when the IPO came to Toronto, the sole Canadian location in the tour, the Coalition stepped aside.  Two members of the Coalition did attend with Adalah-New York action at Carnegie Hall when the iPO played in NYC in October 2017.

In January 2017 the Coalition worked with several Canadian groups and Adalah-NY and other US group on a campaign to say no to the Israeli government cultural ambassador Batsheva playing in North America.  Actions were held in several cities in Canada including Montreal and Toronto.  Also, venues where Batsheeva has played in the past were contacted across Canada urging them to not host state of Israel cultural ambassadors.

A key campaign of the Canadian BDS Coalition was Unplug from Israeli Apartheid Bryan Adams campaign.  The Coalition worked with Artists for Palestine in the UK and was in touch with over 50 BDS groups internationally with getting support from various countries such as Malaysian, Jordan, Austria and Israel. Boycott from Within (Israel) asked Bryan Adams to contact them.  During the campaign Feldman, Adam’s agency had indicated there would be a meeting with a delegation from the Canadian BDS Coalition, however this never materialized despite follow up.   This campaign also involved contacting many Canadian artists showing that there is much work to do to build up understanding within the Canadian artist community in regard to BDS.

In October 2017, Roger Waters played in seven cities across Canada. The Coalition had a presence in all cities at Roger Waters concerts providing information pickets about BDS at the concerts, as well as a number of the B’nai Brith screenings of their “Wish you weren’t here Roger Waters” films across the country.  In Vancouver a finale event to the Canadian tour with a thousand people join to hear Roger Water speak about BDS.  Contact with other groups in Australia and several locations in Europe that are working to have a similar approach during Roger Waters concerts in their area during 2018.

The Coalition followed up on social media when the Toronto Sun pulled down an article written by Stephen Ellis of Toronto BDS the day following its publication.

During the year, the Coalition joined in supporting actions related to: #HandsOffAlQuds across the country following the US Trump Administration decision to name Jerusalem the capital of the jewish state of Israel, the #HandsOffAlAsqa when during the summer the Al Asqa was closed; and the prisoners’ strike in the Spring. At least 75 Canadians from coast to coast joined in days of fast in support as well as actions happening across the country.

When Omar Barghouti was arrested the Coalition released a statement of solidarity.

Several multi-organizational letters and/or letters that the Coalition initiated were sent to the liberal government, including this one. Also to the Green Party of Canada when they did not implement or speak to their own policy approved at their Special General Meeting (December 2016) and ratified by their membership in February 2017 (see above).

During the year, the Coalition also provided support to those who were attacked for their work related to BDS and Palestine reaching out to offer support.  A campaign was put in place to support UOIT/Durham College SJP in Oshawa when they were attacked following zionist project attacks to silence them.

Tools used included four Canadian BDS Coalition Change,org petitions related to Batsheva, Bryan Adams, TSO, and Air Canada.  These petitions saw over 3500 signatures.

Palestine has called for a clear focus on sanctions, and the Coalition sees this as especially important in Canada given the relationship with Canada and Israel.  Even as the Liberal Trudeau government has taken power in the Fall 2016 election the tone may have shift to be a bit more civil, but the policy direction is essentially undifferentiated from the Harper Conservative Administrations.

In Ontario, in May 2016, a bi-party (Conservative & Liberal) private members anti-BDS bill was put forth, although not passed.  At this point Premier Wynne said she would come forward with consensus legislation in the Fall 2016 sitting.  There was strong advocacy to meet with Ontario MPPs during the summer/fall but all three parties pretty much shutout setting up meetings in this regard.  On November 30, 2016, the anti-BDS Motion 36 was presented.  Following this the NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh did agree to a meeting of a delegation from the Canadian BDS Coalition.  The NDP had voted against the motion on the basis of defending free speech but not in regard to the principles of equity, freedom and justice for all people including those of Palestine.  Work carried on through 2017, with a multi-organization comprehensive brief to the newly establish Ontario anti-racism directorate, along with a separate submission from member of the Coalition, Independent Jewish Voices.  Work was undertaken to monitor and raise concerns related to shifted directions to the anti-racism legislation that was focused on feedback from pro-Israel lobby during committee taking away from the resources for those groups which had been identified during the cross province consultation, particularly, black and indigenous.  There was not mention of islamophobia but anti-semitism and no mention of people of colour other than black and indigenous.  Some changes were made in the final legislation.

Also action and support took place in regard to both proactive municipal work, and towards counter-narratives of the zionist anti-BDS action within municipalities.

BNC Campaigns

The Coalition supported the following BNC campaigns during 2017:

The Boycott HP campaign through the social media campaign, with actions including in Calgary and Vancouver, and in writing letters to HP/HPE head offices and to various levels of governments through freedom of information requests and letters.  A letter was sent to the federal government which insisted this was not a procurement request and deferred it to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who did not answer. In November during International Week of Global Boycott HP, Canada participated through the social media campaign.

Other campaigns supported include:

The Hyundai End its Complicity with Israel campaign of Israel Boycott within (1948).

Paypal which is also a campaign that was promoted by a friend of the Canadian BDS Coalition, the United Church of Canada.

Air BnB  which was promoted by social media, including in the blitz that happened through twitter.  Canadian media, politicians and organizations were tweeted from the @BDS_Coalition twitter account.

Red Card FIFA  was promoted on social media.

Goldman Sachs/Open Shuhada Street was promoted on social media, and several info pickets in Canada.  Plans for an action related to the Canadian Head Office were deferred until 2018 due to short planning time.

Even as the Coalition is focused on being a unifying voice for BDS in Canada, local groups also have specific emphases in their campaigns. Organizations have specific mandates and the Coalition is not intended to in taking away from these; in fact, the opposite, the Coalition is meant to provide a stronger voice for all Canadian organizations that support the BNC call. 

Several new groups were formed/revived during 2017, and became members of the Canadian BDS Coalition.  The Niagara BDS  Coalition formed after three pro-Israel national lobby groups attended the June 8, 2017 Region of Niagara Council meeting, resulting in the passing of the first anti-BDS municipal resolution in Canada.  Work continues to build education and action towards reversing this draconian resolution that condemns the actions of those who support equity, freedom and justice for all people including Palestine in Niagara Region.

The Toronto BDS Action group was formed in September 2017 and is an active member of the Canadian BDS Coalition deciding to support the work of a comprehensive consumer economic boycott list for Canada that can be locally updated by local groups.

Local campaigns in regard to Remax, Quebec Hydro and Israeli wine continue..

There were a number of Freedom of Information and Access to Privacy Request put in through the year including to City of Toronto and Mississauga, anhttps://jonathankuttab.org/d a comprehensive set of requests to about ½ the Ontario Ministries.

Also several depuations were made during the year include one by Toronto BDS to the City of Toronto executive committee which had a motion targeted at cancelling as Al Quds as a white  supremacist action! Follow up is currently under way with the city of Toronto including a complaint to the City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner based on the Councillor who was making this motion telling the deputant to get lost.

After the Quebec terrorist mass shooting in the mosque, the Canadian BDS Coalition and members signed a number of endorsements related to specific actions denouncing white supremacy and islamophobia, and endorsed the forming of the Organization Committee Against White Supremacy and Islamophobia which became the SAFE: Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere, and now has several chapters forming across the county.

The Coalition had one rep who attended the Anti-War Conference in Toronto (International League of People’s Struggles) in August 2017.

Two members of the Coalition attended Michael Lynk’s report as special rapporteur to the UN for occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in October 2017.  They also met with various NGO from Palestine, the US and other places both individually and through planned meetings.  As well, the set up a meeting with the Canadian UN Ambassador, Blanchard’s office, meeting with a senior staff member who did understand the situation, and did encourage people to come to meet with the office when they are in NYC.

Social Media Presence

A key focus has been to get social media presence with the Coalition through:

Web Site.  https://bdscoalition.ca/ Scott Harris has taken the lead to update the site, along with John Turnbull and Tyler Levitan.

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BDSCoalition.

Twitter account https://twitter.com/BDS_Coalition, @BCS_Coalition.

As we move forward for 2018 and byeond, we focus on the words of Omar Barghouti’s call for the South African Moment to get the Israeli boots off Palestine’s Neck.