UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private-sector union with over 310,000 members, passed a motion in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) at its August 18-20 convention.
Resolution number 5, entitled, “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” was put forth by the Oshawa-based Local 222 and was easily adopted at the Unifor Canadian Council.
The full text of the resolution reads:
Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
WHEREAS article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies; and
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violate international law; and
WHEREAS Israeli settlement expansions in the OPT are an undeniable obstacle to the Israel – Palestine peace-process; and
WHEREAS Israel has continued, despite international pressure, to expand its settlements and to demolish Palestinian homes and other infrastructure in the OPT; and
WHEREAS Canada and other nations have previously succeeded in ensuring respect for human rights through the use of economic and political sanctions, including in the case of South Africa; and
WHEREAS the Liberal and Conservative parties recently supported a motion ‘condemning’ attempts by Canadians to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement; and
WHEREAS nothing in this resolution condones the use of force against innocent civilians or other human rights violations by either side in the conflict;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Unifor supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Unifor will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state ; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Unifor opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.
As reported on bdsmovement.net, the world’s largest security company, G4S, announced last week that it is selling most of its Israeli business after an effective campaign against the company, waged by the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, caused it “reputational damage.”
“We have succeeded to push one of the world’s largest corporations into selling its key business in Israel,” said Rafeef Ziadah, speaking for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) . “Our globally coordinated campaign has had a real impact. We will continue campaigning until G4S ends all involvement in violations of Palestinian human rights.”
French multinationals, Veolia and Orange, and Ireland’s largest building materials company, CRH, have all exited the Israeli market since September 2015, mainly as a result of BDS campaigning.
“A domino effect is at play here,” said Ziadah. “Some investment fund managers are recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from international and Israeli corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s persistent violations of international law.”
G4S is a British security company that helps Israel run prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. It is also involved in providing equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints, illegal settlements and to military and police facilities.
The international Stop G4S Campaign has cost the company contracts worth millions of dollars in Europe, the Arab world, South Africa and elsewhere.
G4S’s list of lost clients includes private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies.
Despite the sale of its subsidiary, G4S will remain directly complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights through Policity, the flagship national police training centre it co-owns, and the settlement-profiteer Shikun & Binui group.
Israel’s police operates in occupied East Jerusalem, instead of the Israeli military in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, serving as the guardian of Israel’s illegal annexation, protecting the illegal settlements, and oppressing the city’s Palestinian population.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights also celebrated the victory, while committing to keep targeting G4S given its ongoing role in Israeli police training and settlement construction in Palestine; guarding the Dakota Access pipeline construction; aiding ICE and Homeland Security with immigrant deportations; running youth detention facilities and providing prison technology as part of the U.S. prison industrial complex; and other repression worldwide, as outlined on the intersectional g4sfacts.org website released by the US Campaign and its partners earlier this year.
The announcement is a victory, first and foremost, for the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, whose hunger strikes and other collective struggles inspired years of boycotts and divestments in solidarity. G4S is the world’s second-largest private employer, and was pushed into this action by the mobilization of people’s movements in response to its involvement and complicity in the persecution and torture of Palestinian political prisoners. During the campaign, G4S has lost contracts in the Arab region, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, the United States and elsewhere as a result of its involvement in the imprisonment of Palestinians.
Earlier this week, an open letter signed by over 70 activists, academics, artists, and intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Bruce Cockburn, Tariq Ali, Gabor Mate, Yann Martel (and PSN) encouraged the Green Party of Canada to maintain its support for economic pressure on Israel for its human rights abuses against Palestinians.
The United Church of Canada has launched the national Unsettling Goods campaign to work towards peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. The campaign “encourages United Church members and others to become involved in the search for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis by contributing to the end of the occupation of Palestinian Territories.”
In a November, 2013 letter to all United Church congregations announcing the campaign, United Church of Canada Moderator The Right Rev. Gary Paterson wrote
The 41st General Council in August 2012 called on United Church members to take concrete actions to support the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. You and your congregation are now invited to “Pray, Choose, Speak for Peace in Palestine and Israel.” Join in worship, prayer, and study; economic action focused on settlement goods; and support for trust-building programs between Palestinians and Israelis. Become involved in conversations with Canadian Jews and Canadian Palestinians. Take positive actions for peace with justice.
A core element of the Unsettling Goods campaign is support for the boycott of three settlement products: Ahava, Keter Plastics, and SodaStream, and engagement with four key Canadian retailers that sell these products: Canadian Tire, The Bay, Home Depot and Walmart Canada. Fact sheets, sample letters, and tips for engaging with retail store managers can be found on the UCC’s Economic Action Resources page.
Serious questions have arisen about the position regarding Palestine of Green Party of Canada leader (and only sitting MP) Elizabeth May following the release of the transcript of an interview in which she expresses opposition to “any forms of boycotts of Israel,” reiterates “the Green Party’s strong support for the State of Israel” and praises the Jewish National Fund for “the great work that’s done in making the desert bloom.”
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is distancing herself from the “anti-Israeli stance” of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), despite agreeing to speak at one of its fundraisers.
“A pro-Netanyahu, ‘whatever Netanyahu does, right or wrong, is okay with Canada,’ is not the Green Party position, but neither would we ever want to be associated with the anti-Israeli stance of the [CJPME],” May told the Jewish Tribune by phone from Vancouver.
CJPME “have made a mistake in thinking that they will advance the goal of peace in the Middle East by basically putting forward an agenda hostile to the state of Israel. I don’t think that’s a constructive way forward [and] I plan to tell them that…. I’m not going to pander.”
May said she accepted CJPME’s invitation to speak in Ottawa next month without realizing it was a fundraiser “so mea culpa on that.”
She added, “I think there are many good people who belong to this organization but [they] have not thought through the real politic of life in the Middle East [and] the positive role that Israel plays as the bulwark of democracy in the Middle East.”
On November 27, May sought to clarify statements attributed to her in the article, publishing a short statement on the Green Party website:
In the course of a fairly combative interview in the context of a very aggressive response to my upcoming speech at the Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CJPME) on December 5th 2013 in Ottawa, some misleading statements were published.
For the record, I did not suggest the CJPME had failed to tell my staff that the event was a fundraiser and I did not describe the CJPME as “anti-Israel”.
In the interview, May says that “I don’t plan to give a speech that deviates from the Green Party’s strong support for the State of Israel.” May also voices opposition to the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), saying, “We don’t support any forms of boycotts of Israel: we oppose those.”
Regarding the positions of CJPME, May says, “To the extent that Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, I think have made a mistake in thinking that they will advance the goal of peace in the Middle East by basically putting forward an agenda hostile to the State of Israel and I don’t think that’s a constructive way forward. I plan to tell them that.” May also states that “a pro-Netanyahu, ‘whatever Netanyahu does, right or wrong, is okay with Canada,’ is not the Green Party position, but neither would we ever want to be associated with the anti-Israeli stance of the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.”
May reiterates the Green Party’s position is that “a two-state solution is essential and at the heart of that is the absolute inviolability of the principle that Israel has a right to exist and that its nearest neighbours are often threatening in stance and certainly Iran is a particularly worrying case in point.”
On the building of Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, which is illegal under international law, May says, “the continued settlement construction, when we are trying to restart a peace process, isn’t helpful.”
In the interview, May also reveals she participated in the October 29 Negev Dinner, a fundraiser for the Jewish National Fund, saying, “I went to the Negev Dinner in Ottawa the other night and goodness, I could see that we were successful; it was a great event. It was sold out and the tickets were a significant commitment to the great work that’s done in making the desert bloom. No doubt in my mind a lot of money was raised there.”
May’s comments about “making the desert bloom” are particularly troubling given the current Prawer Plan, which will see forced displacement of up to 70,000 Bedouin from the Negev (Naqab). Tomorrow, November 30, has been called by Palestinian activists as the Day of Rage against this latest round of ethnic cleansing.
If you’re concerned about Elizabeth May’s comments or her perspectives on Palestine-Israel, let her know!
On May 23, 2013, the United Church of Canada announced its Executive of the General Council had approved the activation of the Palestine Israel Education and Economic Action Campaign. The campaign follows last August’s decision by the United Church of Canada to approve a comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
The Palestine Israel Education and Economic Action Campaign will begin in spring of 2013 in three phases:
from June 2013: engagement with select companies and retail stores, and selection of target items;
from September 2013: consumer economic action, highlighting spiritual reflection and action for Advent, Christmas and Lenten seasons;
July–December 2014: Evaluation, follow-up actions, and preparation of report for March 2015 Executive Meeting.
The campaign has been named Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel, which focuses on the illegal Israeli settlements and the obstacles they pose for peace. The campaign will encourage economic action against several settlement products. The General Council Office staff has been researching companies that have production in one or more Israeli settlements. Three companies have been selected for engagement:
Keter Plastic, a company that manufactures a range of home and garden products such as storage containers, planters, toolboxes, toys, and patio furniture. Keter has a factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, as does its wholly owned subsidiary, Lipski Plastic Ltd.
SodaStream, a company that manufactures home sodamaker devices and ingredients. SodaStream’s main production facility is in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, near Jerusalem in the West Bank.
Ahava, a cosmetics company that sells skin care, bath, and other personal cosmetic products. Ahava operates its factory in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement on the shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.
Over the next several months, the United Church will engage in dialogue with these companies regarding their involvement in the settlements and request that they cease all production in the settlements. They will be informed that failure to do so will result in economic action against their products.
The products of Ahava, SodaStream, and Keter can be found across Canada in major retail stores such as Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona, Future Shop, The Bay, Walmart, Sears, and Costco. The United Church will also begin engagement with select Canadian retailers to inform them about the origin of the settlement products of Ahava, SodaStream, and Keter and request that these items no longer be sold in their stores.
Depending on the responses of the three companies operating in the settlements and of the retailers selling their products, United Church people will be invited to initiate economic actions to avoid identified products and to continue engagement with the companies and retailers. These actions will begin in the fall of 2013 and continue until the companies and retailers disengage from their association with the settlements, or until directed otherwise by the Executive of the General Council or the General Council.
Campaign resources will be developed for use by United Church people for the fall and winter of 2013/14. These will include worship materials, advocacy tools, and other resources to help congregations, community ministries, small groups, and individuals to engage in education and economic action initiatives focused on the Israeli settlements.
Ten years ago today, on March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old human rights activist and observer volunteering in Palestine, was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in the Gaza Strip as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. PSN joins with the Corrie family and all those around the world who today are remembering Rachel’s life, sacrifice, and legacy.
Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy, have posted a video blog on the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice website, writing, “March 16, 2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of our daughter, Rachel Corrie’s death. We thank you all for the love and support you have sent us over the last 10 years, and we thank you for all the work you do on human rights. Please view and share this video and act. Join us at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice in our call to action!”
You can also remember Rachel by reading the emails she sent home from Palestine in 2003 before she was killed, including this from a February 27, 2003 email:
“Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it.” Continue reading “Rachel Corrie, 1979-2003”→
What happened in Gaza Parents of deceased activist Rachel Corrie to keynote Israeli Apartheid Week
Rebecca Medel / firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Corrie says she’ll always remember the first night her daughter Rachel called home from Gaza, where she was protesting Israeli occupation of Palestinian land with the International Solidarity Movement.
“Her voice trembled when she asked if we could hear the shelling outside. And she was staying in the same house when she made that call; that was the house that she stood in front of when she was killed,” Cindy says. “But then during the weeks that followed she connected with the Palestinians and became so connected to the people and the children and the families that she was working with. We saw her confidence grow and I think ours did, too.”
Rachel was killed on March 16, 2003, less than two months after her arrival in Rafah, when she stood in front of a Palestinian home that was to be demolished. An Israeli bulldozer scooped her up in a pile of dirt and then ran her over, fracturing her body and skull. Fellow activists dug her out of the dirt and held her head straight as they waited for an ambulance, but Rachel died in the hospital half an hour later. Continue reading “Vue Weekly article on Corries IAW 2013 keynote”→
On December 10, 2012, the University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union (GSU) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to endorse the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), at their annual general meeting. Over 150 graduate students were present at the meeting, of which approximately 97% voted in favour of the motion, with only a few students opposed.
The resolution states “Be it resolved that the Graduate Students Union endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions by calling on the University of Toronto to refrain from investing in all companies complicit in violations of international law. This includes any company that: profits from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, directly benefits from the construction of the Wall and Israeli settlements, is economically active in settlements, and profits from the collective punishment of Palestinians. This would include the companies BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard”.
The resolution was adopted in support of Palestinian rights and opposition to Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine and its violations of international law under the Geneva Conventions, as affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004. By divesting, the University of Toronto will fulfill its legal obligation not to invest in companies or organizations that are complicit in human rights violations, and will help force Israel to comply with international law.
In March 2011, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Toronto launched a divestment campaign addressing the university’s investments in companies that assist in, and profit from Israeli apartheid and the occupation of the Palestinian territories, with a specific focus on BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard, which provide the Israeli occupation with weapons and technology. In passing this resolution, U of T joins York University, University of Regina, Carleton University and universities around the world, who have all passed similar resolutions at their student unions.
The passage of this resolution is a milestone in divestment activities in North America and will hopefully pave the way for a broader campaign which demands that the University of Toronto divest from any and all companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.
Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton has joined groups from across Canada in an open statement in support of Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, following condemnation of Falk and calls for his resignation by Conservative MPs Jason Kenney and John Baird. The comments came in response to Falk’s report and call to the UN General Assembly and civil society groups “that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted, until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards.”
You can read Falk’s report to the UN General Assembly here.
We, the undersigned, write today to make clear our strong opposition to the recent Canadian government call for the resignation of Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The attack came following comments by Richard Falk on October 24 that highlighted corporate complicity in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He noted that the settlements are in clear violation of international law, and warned that civil and criminal liability may be extended to companies acting in contravention of international human rights. Falk called for boycott of corporations engaging in such business practices, drawing particular attention to the activities of Caterpillar Incorporated (USA); Veolia Environment (France); G4S (United Kingdom); The Dexia Group (Belgium); Ahava (Israel); the Volvo Group (Sweden); the Riwal Holding Group (the Netherlands); Elbit Systems (Israel); Hewlett Packard (USA); Mehadrin (Israel); Motorola (USA); Assa Abloy (Sweden); and Cemex (Mexico) in establishing and maintaining settlements.
Falk’s comments are consistent with the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and complicit corporations until Israel recognizes international law by:
Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands 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.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird labelled Falk’s comments “offensive and extremely unhelpful,” and “biased and disgraceful,” while Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accused Falk of “singl[ing] out the only Jewish country in the world for particularly unfair treatment.” Kenney admitted that he did not read Falk’s report before making his accusations.
Baird’s statement that exposing corporate complicity is “offensive and unhelpful” turns reality on its head; it is Canada’s ongoing support for Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine that is offensive and unhelpful. In addition, multinational corporations are not in any sense victims nor “singled out” for “unfair treatment.”
Falk’s record as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is exemplary. A distinguished scholar of international law, Falk’s voice of conscience has risen time and again to oppose Israeli impunity for human rights violations, from the Cast Lead assault on Gaza to the mass imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners. It is in fact because of his dedication to conscience that he comes under attack today.
Falk’s statement in response to Baird and Kenney pointed out the failure of the international community to take any substantive action regarding Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. “This is taking one more concrete, tangible step in saying that if governments don’t take the international law obligations of Israel seriously, and if the UN as an institution doesn’t take it seriously, then it’s time to recommend some more tangible way of implementing the obligations of Israel.”
Baird and Kenney’s criticism of Falk is only the latest in a long line of official Canadian actions in support of Israeli apartheid. From Canada’s position as one of the earliest advocates of the establishment of Israel, to being the first country to support a siege against Gaza in 2006, to Baird’s recent declarations that Canada is “Israel’s best friend,” to the defunding of Palestinian and Arab community organizations by Kenney’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Kenney’s repeated attacks on supporters of Palestinian rights, Canada’s record is one of overt support for Israeli apartheid – and its corporate partners.
We note that Canada’s rigid defense of Israeli settler colonialism speaks directly to its own realities of historical genocidal policies — including residential schools, and ongoing colonisation — including exploitation for resource extraction, of Indigenous peoples, and protection of Canadian mining corporations in their on-going human rights violations throughout Latin America and Africa
We stand in solidarity with Richard Falk and with the Palestinian people, and we call on the Canadian government to apologize for this latest attack on supporters of Palestinian human rights.
Stella Abbas, Bath, ME
Haidar Abdulrazak, Calgary, AB
Yousef Abudayyeh, San Diego, CA
Antonio Artuso, Montreal, QC
Haroon Bajwa, Vancouver, BC
Khaled Barakat, Vancouver, BC
Mahnaz Beiraghdar, London, ON
Charles Belcher, Vancouver, BC
Dave Bleakney, Ottawa, ON
Robin Boodle, Victoria, BC
Alison Braley-Rattai, London, ON
Sharon Burns, Vancouver, BC
Brian Campbell, Vancouver, BC
Sam Choukeir, St. Catharines, ON
Everett Coldwell, Dartmouth, NS
Kathy Copps, Vancouver, BC
Dr Edwin E Daniel, Victoria, BC
Peter Davis, Vancouver, BC
Nouzha Deramchi, Ottawa, ON
Katherine Dunster, Denman Island, BC
Glenn Fidler, Comox, BC
Mary Fidler, Comox, BC
Claudette Fortier, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC
Jack Friesen, Courtenay, BC
Sonia Dorko, Vancouver, BC
Judith Goldschmidt, Courtenay, BC
Dr Richard Gordon, Vancouver, BC
Ann Grant, Vancouver, BC
Donald Grayston, Vancouver, BC
Richard Guillemette, Dollard, QC
David Heap, London, ON
Walt Heinzie, Delaware, ON
Sandra Hennessey, London, ON
Joy Johnston, Comox, BC
Charlotte Kates, Vancouver, BC
Nancy G Klassen, Coquitlam, BC
Michel Labelle, Montreal, QC
Elise Leblanc, Halifax, NS
Rod Lemay, Vancouver, BC
Mary Lewis, Vancouver, BC
Amir M. Maasoumi, Montreal, QC
Johanna Mazur, Burnaby, BC
Gene McGuckin, Burnaby, BC
Rabbi David Mivasair
Carel Moiseiwitsch, Vancouver, BC
Khaled Mouammar, Richmond Hill, ON
Marlene Newesri, New York (US)
Marion Pollack, retiree
Valeriy Retyunin, Toronto, ON
Martha Roth, Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver, BC
John Soos, Vancouver, BC
Michael Springate, Vancouver, BC
Glen Staples, Courtenay, BC
Charles Steele, Vancouver, BC
Ken Stone, Hamilton, ON
Susan Stout, North Vancouver, BC
Ron Strand, Vancouver, BC
John Turnbull, Vancouver, BC
Peter Vickers, BC
Victor Woods, Courtenay, BC
Art Young, Toronto, ON
Carrie Zadrazil, Sechelt, BC