Tell corporations to get out of Israeli settlements

On January 31, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report announcing a historic database of companies doing business with illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

But they didn’t name any of the 206 companies on it.

Luckily, we already know at least some of them.

The Washington Post reported in August that among the American companies that received letters informing them that they’d be on the UN list were Caterpillar, Priceline.com, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb.

Jewish Voice for Peace has launched an online tool where you can add your name to call on these four US-based corporations to get out of the settlement business.

The UN has spoken:

“The violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life. Owing to settlement development and infrastructure, Palestinians suffer from restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and education; their rights to land and water; access to livelihoods and their right to an adequate standard of living; their rights to family life; and many other fundamental human rights.”

Take a stand with Jewish Voice for Peace by taking action today.

Sign the ‘Peace in Palestine’ parliamentary petition

Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East has launched the Peace in Palestine campaign in an effort to force Canada’s politicians to have an honest public discussion about Israel’s illegal settlements and how Canada must respond. The goal of the campaign is to have Parliament pass a motion condemning Israel’s illegal “settlements” (aka colonies), which are an ongoing obstacle to peace and violate Palestinians’ human rights.

The campaign includes a House of Commons Parliamentary ePetition open to all Canadian citizens or residents calling on the government to “demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The petition launched mirrors the wording of UN Security Council resolution 2334 (December 2016), and has the sponsorship of NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Helène Laverdière.

You can see organizations who have endorsed the initiative and read more about Israeli settlements and why they are an obstacle to peace.

United Church to start settlement campaign in June

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.

United Church of Canada approves boycott of settlement products

On Wednesday, August 15 the General Council of the three-million member strong United Church of Canada (UCC) voted to approve comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. The vote was re-confirmed by members on Friday, August 17.

The policy also said the United Church policy would include “continue to identify the end of the occupation as necessary for peace in the region” and affirmed that “non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified and should be supported by all who seek and end to the occupation.”

It also calls for education and economic action directed against settlement products and directs “the Executive of the General Council to explore the wisdom of divesting in companies that are profiting from or supporting the occupation” and “requesting that the Canadian government ensure that all products produced in the settlements be labelled clearly and differently from products of Israel.”

You can read the full details of the resolution.

The policy was passed after seven hours of debate with what United Church officals said was a vote “substantially in favour” of the boycott motion. The resolution comes after the United Church released on May 1, 2012 its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.

This action by the UCC, Canada’s largest Protestant mainline denomination, follows moves by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA), two large mainline Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, which both adopted boycott motions targeting settlement products at their membership general assemblies in May and July 2012.

Below is a round-up of some of the reaction and press coverage in response to this historic win for the BDS movement in Canada, and was only possible due to years of work and education carried out by people of conscience within the UCC working in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Reaction

Independent Jewish Voices commends United Church for finalizing stand against Israeli occupation

BIAC congratulates United Church of Canada on settlement boycott

CJPME: In historic vote – United Church will boycott “Settlements” and United Church approves boycott as official church policy

Canadian Friends of Peace Now: CIJA’s Outrage is Outrageous, Says CFPN (in response to the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs’ reaction to the vote)

Media Coverage

Electronic Intifada: United Church of Canada adopts resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

Toronto Star: United Church members vote for boycott of products from Israeli settlements

Globe & Mail: United Church of Canada approves Israeli settlement boycott

Globe & Mail Op-ed by Thomas Woodley of CJPME: The United Church boycott is in keeping with its principles

rabble.ca: Israeli settlements and the United Church boycott: Responding to three common distortions

Postmedia: United Church approves controversial boycott of some Israeli products

Huffington Post: Israel Boycott: United Church Of Canada Will Not Buy Products From Settlements

Haaretz: Canada’s largest Protestant church approves boycott of Israeli settlement products