Deactivate Airbnb on Nakba Day

After initially committing to stop listing rentals in Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, Airbnb did a complete reversal, and will now continue to allow rentals on stolen Palestinian land.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) and Jewish Voice for Peace have launched a campaign calling on people to send a clear message to Airbnb by signing a pledge to deactivate your Airbnb account on May 15, Nakba Day – a day that commemorates Israel’s establishment through the ethnic cleansing of 80% of all indigenous Palestinians from their homes and lands 71 years ago. Airbnb is enabling an ongoing Nakba – Israel’s continued and systematic dispossession of the Palestinian people.

There’s no neutrality in situations of injustice. Airbnb cannot simply donate away dirty profits, as they’ve said they will, and keep their hands clean of illegal occupation, knowing they contribute to inequality, land theft and racial discrimination. The fact remains: Palestinians cannot regain their homes and land, whereas settlers can rent out homes built on Palestinian land with the help of Airbnb.

Sign the #deactivateAirbnb pledge and save this link to deactivate.

Take action to stop the JNF Canada

Last week, a CBC exposé revealed that the Jewish National Fund of Canada has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over a complaint that it used charitable donations to build infrastructure for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), in violation of Canada’s tax rules, and to support illegal settlement projects in the Occupied West Bank.

Created to purchase land for a Jewish State in Palestine, the JNF is today the largest single landowner in Israel. Most commonly known for its century-old campaign to “make the desert bloom,” the JNF is not a public body in Israel but a private corporation whose lands were obtained through exploitative land sales and often-violent, forced removals of Palestinians from their lands. While the JNF has planted millions of trees—a remarkable environmental achievement—it has also used its forests to keep Palestinians off the lands taken from them. In Israel, the JNF has been charged with corruption by the State Comptroller and faced High Court challenges due to its explicitly discriminatory practices.

In Canada, the JNF’s fundraising branch, JNF Canada, raises millions of dollars for its projects in Israel/Palestine each year which are tax deductible due to JNF Canada’s charitable status.

In the words of the CBC report:

[The JNF Canada has] funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases. While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them. …

In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Yet JNF documents describe some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those very terms.

Independent Jewish Voices released a media release in response to the CBC’s report, saying, “A comprehensive complaint has been filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding the Jewish National Fund of Canada (JNF Canada). The complaint, submitted in October 2017 with the support of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), presents detailed evidence that JNF Canada works in violation of the Income Tax Act and in contravention of Canadian foreign policy in various ways.”

Despite multiple letters and complaints sent to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and to Ministers of National Revenue over the last four decades—expressing strong concerns about the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s (JNF Canada) violations—the organization maintains its registered status with the CRA. It appears that JNF Canada has not even received any penalties from the CRA.

Take action

Independent Jewish Voices has launched a new Stop the JNF Canada website where you can take action to revoke the JNF Canada’s charitable status and expose, challenge and stop the JNF’s discriminatory and harmful activities.

If you are resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada living either in Canada or abroad, take a moment now to add your name to the Parliamentary E-Petition to call for the revocation ​of JNF Canada’s charitable status!

Once you’ve signed the petition, you can also help spread the word about the campaign, sign up for campaign updates, read IJV’s policy recommendations, read answers to frequently asked questions about the JNF Canada, and read, watch, and listen to more information about the JNF Canada.

Please take action now! In the words of Dr. Ismail Zayid, a Halifax-based retired professor who was expelled from his home and whose entire village was demolished in 1967 for what became JNF Canada’s flagship project, Canada Park, along with a new adjacent Israeli settlement, “I along with several others have been complaining to the CRA about the JNF for nearly four decades now. It’s about time that the CRA acted on its own rules and regulations and revoked the JNF Canada’s charitable status.”

Air Canada terminates main contract with Israel’s IAI

The Canadian BDS Coalition has declared a partial victory in its #AirCanadaComplicity campaign to pressure the airline to ends its collaboration with Israel’s Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Here’s is the coalition’s November 2 statement:

On November 1, 2017, we were informed in writing by Air Canada management that the five-year contract with Israel Aerospace Industries Bedek Group for heavy maintenance on its B767 jets had been terminated early. That contract, reported to be worth tens of millions of dollars, was set to run until March 2019.

Air Canada offered no reason for dropping the contract other than to say it was due to a practice of reviewing such “arrangements on a regular basis” with all service providers. Air Canada also claimed in its letter that this process happened in “early 2017” and that the contract was transferred to “another provider in North America”.

However, we need to point out that this new information was only released after our #AirCanadaComplicity campaign was taking off and receiving increasing support both from within Canada and internationally. Unions representing hundreds of thousands of members (and their families) had signed on to the new open letter, as had groups in other countries from the U.S. to Norway, France, Germany, Belgium and Ireland to Australia. The Open Letter was a shortened version of a previous official letter to Air Canada, sent 4 months earlier, which received neither an acknowledgement nor an answer.

Air Canada also said in its letter that it still has one smaller contract with IAI, where “in compliance with international safety regulations that apply to all carriers, Bedek provides a certified aircraft engineer to do a check that is required on aircraft prior to departure of regularly scheduled return flights to Canada”. However, they noted that if any substantive problems are found during that check, then Air Canada dispatches its own employees to conduct the work.

They did not address the issue of the Sabra food products being part of the on-board menu on certain flights.

However, the Canadian BDS Coalition is pleased that the largest and most significant element of Air Canada’s involvement with Israel Aerospace Industries has been terminated. Given the recent publicity IAI has received in the international press in the last months, it is not surprising that any company would want to distance themselves from such a partner. First, we heard of a subsidiary of IAI being involved with building the U.S.-Mexico border wall and then just last week, the Israeli press reported that IAI was one of the 190 companies included on the United Nations upcoming blacklist for violating international law by doing business in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Although the issue of maintenance outsourcing is still ongoing and we will continue to pressure Air Canada regarding the carrying of Sabra products and their remaining small contract with IAI, we feel that this is a significant national victory for the #AirCanadaComplicity campaign. The Coalition wishes to thank all our supporters, both here in Canada and abroad, who made the difference in showing that justice for Palestinians can be achieved. The collective will and efforts of our strong movements for social justice cannot be denied!

Open letter calls on Air Canada to end complicity with Israel’s IAI

PSN is one of the signatories to the Canadian BDS Coalition open letter to Air Canada CEO Calvin Rovinescu, calling on Air Canada to end its outsourcing partnership with drone maker Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Oct. 16, 2017

Mr. Calin Rovinescu
President and CEO
Air Canada
P.O. Box 14000, Station Airport
Dorval, QC H4Y 1H4
FAX: 514-422-4945

Dear Mr. Rovinescu:

We wish to bring to your attention our concerns about Air Canada’s partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries for maintenance on the Air Canada fleet of Boeing 787 and 767 jets.

Israel Aerospace Industries [IAI] is the subject of boycotts across Europe for its deadly drone technology and production. Corporate Watch from the UK says “IAI was one of the earliest developers of drone technology and launched its first surveillance drone in 1979. IAI’s website boasts that its drones have an “unsurpassed track record of over 1,200,000 operational flight hours for over 50 users on five continents.”

A 2014 study entitled ‘Sleepless in Gaza’ by Dr. Atef Abu Saif details the terrifying impact of drone attacks on the Gaza Strip, especially on children, “Since their first use in 2000, drones have led to the death of hundreds of Palestinians and have injured thousands more. In addition, they have directly impacted Palestinian psychological and social life, as well as causing a grossly negative impact on education.”

By partnering with IAI, Air Canada becomes complicit in the war crimes of IAI. This is fundamentally wrong.

In having the maintenance of the Boeing 787 and 767 jets performed in Israel, you send valuable Canadian jobs out of the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. Again, this is fundamentally wrong.

In addition to partnering with Israel Aerospace Industries, Air Canada also sells Sabra Hummus and guacamole as part of the onboard canteen service. Sabra is a partner with the Strauss Group. Strauss is the second largest Israeli food and beverage company and is known for supporting two Israeli military units implicated in human rights abuses, the Golani and Givati brigades.

We join with the Canadian groups that have already called on you to immediately halt this complicity with Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian civilian population.

Signed by:

Canadian Union of Postal Workers
CUPE 3902 (Canadian Union of Public Employees), Toronto
Fredericton & District Labour Council
New Brunswick Federation of Labour/Fédération des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Nouveau-Brunswick
Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
UNIFOR Local 4504, University of New Brunswick

Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, Victoria
Bathurst United Church of Canada, Toronto
BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Canadian Peace Congress
Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC)
Christian Peacemaker Teams-Ontario
Coalition against Israeli Apartheid CAIA, Victoria
Coalition BDS Québec
Independent Jewish Voices Canada
International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in Canada
Justice for Palestinians Calgary
Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Vancouver Island
NDP Socialist Caucus
Niagara BDS
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Palestine Solidarity St. John’s
Palestinian and Jewish Unity, PAJU, Montreal
Palestinian Solidarity Working Group, Sudbury
Peace Alliance Winnipeg
People for Peace, London, Ontario
Socialist Action.
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, UBC
Toronto Action for Social Change
Toronto BDS
United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine & Israel (UNJPPI) – Toronto Chapter

And also signed by the following international groups:

Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine
Australian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign for Palestine
Australians for Palestine
BACBI (Belgian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)
BDS Berlin
BDS France
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine CJPP, Sydney
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Palestine Support Network Australia
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Amnesty International calls for settlement goods ban

For the last 50 years, Israel has been forcing thousands of Palestinians off their land, occupying and illegally using it to create settlements that exclusively house Jewish Israeli settlers.

Entire Palestinian communities have been displaced by these settlements. Their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, they’ve had restrictions enforced on their movement, access to their own water, land and other natural resources. The communities have also been violently attacked by the Israeli military and settlers.

Amnesty International wants governments to stop enabling the economy that keeps these illegal settlements growing and fuels the suffering of Palestinians.

The issue is not just about Israel taking Palestinian land and resources illegally. Governments around the world are letting goods produced in these settlements into their markets, and are allowing companies in their countries to operate in settlements. All of this helps the illegal settlements profit and thrive.

Help put an end to the cycle of violations. Join Amnesty International in calling on the Canadian Government to ban Israeli settlement goods from entering Canadian markets, and stop companies based in Canada from operating in settlements or trading in their goods.

Read Amnesty International’s media release from earlier this year, background information on 50 years Israel’s occupation and Palestinian dispossession, and Amnesty’s public statement calling on states to stop sustaining illegal Israeli settlements.