<![CDATA[United Network for Justice & Peace in Palestine & Israel - Member's Blog]]>Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:13:55 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Jerusalem, Chronicles from the Holy City]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:28:07 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/jerusalem-chronicles-from-the-holy-cityPeter Fergus-Moore published a review of Guy Delisle's graphic novel Jerusalem, on his blog, Walking in Bethlehem: https://walkinginbethlehem.blogspot.ca/.  See an introduction to the review below.

Canadian artist Guy Delisle is married to an administratrice for Medicins sans Frontiers and in that capacity was afforded a year's residency in Jerusalem as she worked with MSF in Hebron. 

Jerusalem, Chronicles of the Holy City (Translated by Helge Dascher), is the result. 

Delisle is well-travelled. He has lived in Pyongyang, North Korea, China and Burma before, his sojourns all chronicled in graphic novels. As an artist, he gazes at what is around him and transfer his impressions to paper in a deceptively simple, accessible drawing style. 

He also has the ability to see with a beginner's mind, open to what he encounters without judgement. This second quality, for readers aware of the true situation in the Middle East, can be somewhat annoying--former Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) and activists for a just peace in the region know that there is little room for "objectivity" in such an unequal situation. That said, all I can add is, bear with him.

Read more about this review on the blog by Peter Fergus-Moore, 
Walking in Bethlehem

<![CDATA[Mary and Ahed – Advent 2017]]>Fri, 29 Dec 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/mary-and-ahed-advent-2017Picture
By Marianna Harris

​Two teenage girls, both living under occupation, albeit some 2000 years apart.

We have no photos of Mary, although of course there are thousands of paintings, statues, and icons.

We do have photos of Ahed, looking straight at the world as she is placed under arrest at Ofer prison in Israel.

We know little of Mary’s life prior to the coming of the angel to announce that she would bear a child.  That seems to have been irrelevant to the gospel writers.

And while, to most reporters, Ahed’s life prior to this week seems irrelevant, much is known about the 16 years of her life.  Ben Ehrenreich, a Jewish American, tells us about the family life of Ahed and the experience of living within her village of Nabi Saleh.   (The Way to the Spring – Life and Death in Palestine).   Her home is a village in the Occupied West Bank, a village which has been resisting the impact that illegal settlers have made on their life.

The resistance has been costly for her family.  In 1993, her father Bassem was interrogated by the Shin Bet.  They shook his head back and forth for so long that he lost consciousness.  He came out of a coma paralyzed after having a surgery to relieve a cerebral hemorrhage.  This was one of the 10 times he had been arrested and held under administrative detention. In 2012 Ahed’s cousin Mustafa was killed, shot in the face by a tear gas canister.  A few months later, in November, her Uncle Rushdie was killed, shot in the back by an Israeli soldier. 

Hours before Ahed confronted soldiers at her home, her 14 year old cousin Mohammed was shot at close range by an Israeli soldier.  The bullet entered his face below his nose, broke his jaw, and lodged in his skull.  His future is uncertain. 

Given this history, it is no small wonder that Ahed slapped the soldiers invading her home. After Ahed’s arrest, her mother Nariman was arrested.  Her charge of incitement was for filming the incident at their home.

In writing about Ahed following her arrest, Ben Ehrenreich pleads “Please don’t make Ahed a hero. Heroes, when they are Palestinian, end up dead or behind bars. Let her be a kid. Fight to set her free, so that one day she can be an ordinary woman, in an ordinary land”.

On December 22, Jeannie Alexander chose Mary to be the focus of her reflection on Advent in The Daily Advent Reader.  She declares that “Advent is the stillpoint in the midst of war.... Mary’s words of hope are most surely a declaration of war as well; not as the aggressor, but as one whose body is the target of a system that displaces and crushes; one whose body refuses to yield. The child growing inside of her is an act of resistance, and there is nothing meek or mild in her declaration of soul force. Systems hide their war on targeted populations through language and words…...

“Mary knows that Rome’s justice offers no peace to her people, no security for her child. And so she holds space in the tension of resistance, and clings to a hope which must surely look like madness in the face of empire. Giving birth to a child you know will be targeted by a system is an act of Advent. Living with purpose and intention in the face of an impossible life sentence, is an act of Advent. ……Advent is the beginning of the end of domination. The mighty will be brought low, the walls will fall, the prisons will burn, deportation centers will crumble, those who are occupied will inherit the earth, and the hard-fought resistance will yield reconciliation. But all of this exists in the not yet, in the going forth. And so we keep going forth, daring not to die, birthing a new world, one Advent act of resistance at a time.”

2000 years after Mary’s birth-giving, the witness of Ahed challenges us to be active participants in giving birth to a new reality for the people of both Palestine and Israel, and indeed the whole world.

​Marianna Harris

<![CDATA[Letter of Apology and Follow-up to Letter of  Oct. 15, 2017]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:45:13 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/letter-of-apology-and-follow-up-to-letter-of-oct-15-2017Rev. Steve Berube, chair of UNJPPI, shared a follow-up letter to Minister Goodale to apologize for his reliance on an erroneous report in the Jerusalem Post, noting that the meeting "occurred inside of the internationally recognized borders of Israel."

October 17, 2017
Dear Minister,
When I was in Palestine and Israel four years ago as a human rights observer, I quickly determined the best way to introduce myself to most others was to say, “Hi, my name is Steve Berube. I am a Canadian and I would like to apologize about my government.”
Many Israelis, Palestinians and internationals asked me what had happened to the Canadian government. They asked, why was our government so pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian in comparison to our traditional role as honest broker? Why had Canada fallen out of step with European nations and turned a blind eye on Israeli violations of human rights and the rule of international law with respect to Palestine? I was ashamed of how the previous government had abandoned our traditional diplomatic position rooted in John Peters Humphrey and Lester Pearson. This led me to apologize for Canada when I introduced myself.
Sir, I need to apologize to you and through you to foreign affairs officials. An erroneous report in the Jerusalem Post led me to believe that you met with an Israeli cabinet minister in occupied East Jerusalem. I was pleased and relieved to learn that the meeting occurred inside of the internationally recognized borders of Israel.
I reacted harshly and should not have relied on a single media report.  I apologize for my criticism.  
My initial reaction was rooted in the reality that many Canadians and I hoped your government would revert to a more balanced position vis-a-vis Palestine and Israel.
There is some evidence that your government’s position is slightly more balanced than the previous.
  1. Your government restored 2/3rds of the funding that had been cut by the Harper government.
  2. Currently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs usually offers a helpful reiteration of the overall Canadian policy that we desire a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Yet, in comparison to European and Nordic states, your government very seldom holds Israel to account in public for its ongoing violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention when reported in the media.
  3. The true mark of Canada’s position is how we vote in the UN General Assembly. Last year, Canada along with: the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States and Israel were the only nations that voted against motions calling Israel to account for its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. (There is widespread speculation that the four island nations cast their votes against Palestine because of chequebook diplomacy.)
Again, I offer my sincere apology for my comments that were incorrect. Also, I want to indicate that I am appreciative that you and the government are more sensitive to the optics of meeting in occupied Palestinian territory in contrast to John Baird.   

I still look forward to your response to two of the three questions I asked:
- Does your government reject the concerns of the Security Council outlined in SC 2334?
- As Minister of Public Safety, believe we actually have anything to learn with respect to public security from the only nation in the world that prosecutes 12 year old children before Military Courts?
Peace, Paix, Salaam, Shalom,
Rev. Steve Berube
Chair: United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel
<![CDATA[Diplomatic Breach]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 20:20:43 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/diplomatic-breechThe following is a letter to the editor submitted by Rev. Steve Berube, chair, UNJPPI, to most of the major newspapers in each province. (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto (Globe and Mail), Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Saint John's and Saint John.)

It is a shorter version of a letter sent to Ralph Goodale.

The letter to Ralph Goodale is also posted on ​http://itseemscomplicated.wordpress.com/

The installation of Gov. General Julie Payette reminded us of the importance of signs and symbols. Remembrance Day reminds us of Canada’s history of support for peace and justice internationally. 

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently attended a meeting in occupied East Jerusalem. This was a symbolic pat on the back for the Netanyahu government and a slap in the face to Palestinians.

In December, the UN Security Council chastised Israel for its ongoing violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.   

The meeting occurred shortly after the Israelis demolished four elementary schools in Palestine. In response, the Belgian deputy Prime Minister condemned this action, “By undermining such humanitarian projects, Israel contravenes its international obligations as an occupying power.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-destroys-west-bank-palestinian-schools-new-term-belgium-netherlands-compensation-a7912186.html)

These actions are tantamount to collective punishment targeting vulnerable Palestinian children and will inflame tensions for generations to come.

As a former human rights observer in the West Bank, I witnessed on a daily basis Israeli violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws. It was especially disturbing to witness the intimidation tactics of the Israeli military against Palestinian children including arresting and putting on trial children as young as 12 in Military Courts.

Minister Goodale needs to explain this significant breech of diplomatic protocol. After all, would he meet with Russian officials in the occupied parts of Georgia? Does his government reject the concerns of the Security Council? This meeting tarnishes Canada’s reputation as an honest broker for peace.

This Canadian government needs to stand up for human rights around the world – especially for the rights of children. 
Rev. Steve Berube
Chair: United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel
<![CDATA[Civil activism can make a difference]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 19:48:32 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/civil-activism-can-make-a-differencehttp://www.thetelegram.com/

I recently participated in the UN forum to mark 50 years of occupation, “Ending the Occupation: Creating the Space for Human Rights, Development, and a Just Peace.” Delegates gathered from around the world to discuss the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel — the longest occupation in modern history.

As we were getting settled, the woman sitting next to me asked how I came to be there. I explained that I had spent time in Palestine/Israel as a United Church of Canada volunteer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel. Our “job” was to accompany Palestinians in their daily lives in order to experience the effects of the occupation, and on our return to Canada, to inform others of our experiences and continue to work towards an end to the occupation and a just peace. I further explained that we have pockets of solidarity across Canada supported by returning United Church volunteers.

I then asked her how she came to be there. Her abbreviated reply was “My name is Jodi Williams. I won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for working towards the elimination of land mines.  I now chair the Women Nobel Peace Prize winners committee.”

I was more than a little awed at the company I was keeping — Jodi was to give the keynote address the next morning on the topic “The role of civil society in achieving an end to the occupation, conflict transformation and a just peace.” To my surprise and delight, she presented our United Church example of civil activism. Jodi felt it was an excellent example of citizens of the world moving an agenda forward to elicit change.

This is one of the conclusions of this forum: we cannot depend upon our governments to lead the way toward a just resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Governments change their positions when pressured by their constituents. Our Canadian government has yet to put pressure on the Israeli government to end their occupation of Palestine.

Change will come only when we, the people, insist upon it.

United Nations Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation - video record of sessions

Patricia Mercer
St. John’s]]>
<![CDATA[What leads to a hunger strike?]]>Mon, 29 May 2017 19:24:52 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/what-leads-to-a-hunger-strikeFrom a blog on itseemscomplicated

Hunger strikes are a desperate act by desperate people. They are an ancient, non-violent protest. Ghandi held several. The World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikes states, “(Hunger strikes) are often a form of protest by people who lack other ways of making their demands known. . . . Genuine and prolonged fasting risks death or permanent damage for hunger strikers.(iv)

The prisoner’s demands are simple. They are merely asking for rights guaranteed under international treaties; family visits, proper medical care, an end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge in so-called administrative detention and stopping the use of isolation.

Several NGO’s have documented Israel’s violations of the 4th Geneva Convention in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Amnesty International states, ”Israel’s decades-long policy of detaining Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza in prisons inside Israel and depriving them of regular family visits is not only cruel but also a blatant violation of international law.”(v)

It is time to pressure our governments as Signatories to the 4th Geneva Convention to stop turning a blind eye to the Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including children. Governments need to demand that Israel live up to its obligations under international law and that Israel acquiesce to the demands of the Palestinian prisoners. Supporters of human rights and the rule of international law need to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners – their lives depend on us.

Read the full blog in itseemscomplicated

<![CDATA[Free Issa Amro Campaign]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:03:10 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/free-issa-amro-campaign
Sara AvMaat is a Quaker who was sponsored by the United Church to serve with EAPPI in 2010.

She is currently a member of the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) Israel/Palestine working group. The group has been in touch with Youth against Settlements and their coordinator, Issa Amro.

The CFSC working group believes the Youth Against Settlements group is doing good non-violent work.

Currently Issa is facing a trial in military court.  He has asked us to share the petition to drop the charges against him.

Please sign the petition: 

More information:
<![CDATA[Denied a human standard of living: The Gaza blockade has entered its tenth year (UNRWA)]]>Sat, 29 Oct 2016 20:06:24 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/denied-a-human-standard-of-living-the-gaza-blockade-has-entered-its-tenth-year-unrwaLetter to the Canadian Government by Karin Brothers

Dear Prime Minister, Minister Bibeau and Members of Parliament:

Canadian support for this 10-year genocidal blockade of food, medical and building supplies -- not to mention putting the democratically-elected Hamas government on its "terror entity" list,  will be marks of shame until your government starts to redress its wrongs, which include reneging on its assurance to the United Nations that it would restore its contributions to the UNRWA.

The Canadian refusal to provide aid is profoundly discouraging to Canadians who thought that the new Liberal government would improve Canadian respect for international laws and obligations.

K. Brothers, Toronto

​(See OpEd below)

UNRWA Gaza Situation Report 167 - October 27, 2016

The Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, has written an opinion piece widely picked up by local (link is external) and regional (link is external) media. The op-ed reflects on the blockade of the coastal territory now entering its tenth year.  Mr. Schack starts with a quote from 36-year-old Ali, who works as a waiter in one of the coffee shops in Gaza city. Ali was born in Gaza and for almost ten years he has been living under a tight blockade on air, land and sea. “I have survived the past three wars, but that is not the problem. In this place, wars come and go. The bigger struggle is not to lose hope. The only way I can do that is to retreat, and create my own world, and become oblivious,” Ali told Mr. Schack, who notes that the blockade keeps Ali and the rest of the 1.8 million people of Gaza isolated and locked into a tin y 365 square kilometres- enclave - the Gaza Strip has one of the highest population densities in the world - tormented by extreme poverty and dilapidated by repeated conflicts. Mr. Schack also talked about the impact of the blockade on the people of Gaza during a press conference held in Gaza city in the previous week, emphasizing how the severe restrictions lead to more frustration, pessimism and, possibly, radicalization. A video of the event can be viewed here. (link is external)

Op Ed by Bo Schack, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza

“I have survived the past three wars, but that is not the problem. In this place, wars come and go. The bigger struggle is not to lose hope. The only way I can do that is to retreat, and create my own world, and become oblivious.” This was told to me by 36-year old Ali, who works as a waiter in one of the coffee shops in Gaza city.
Ali was born in Gaza and for almost ten years has been living under a tight blockade on air, land and sea, entering its tenth year in June 2016. The blockade keeps him and the rest of the 1.8 million people of Gaza isolated and locked into a tiny 365 square kilometres-enclave - the Gaza Strip has one of the highest population densities in the world - tormented by extreme poverty and dilapidated by repeated conflicts.

Chronic fuel and electricity shortages, with power cuts between 18 and 22 hours per day, extreme water pollution  - 95 per cent of the Gaza groundwater is undrinkable - and devastated infrastructure, as a dire reminder of repeated cycles of armed violence, are the daily reality. Gaza’s people are denied a human standard of living. This was not always the case: before the imposition of restrictions on movements of people and goods, the Gaza Strip was a relatively developed society with a productive base and a thriving economy.

Chronic fuel and electricity shortages, with power cuts between 18 and 22 hours per day, extreme water pollution  - 95 per cent of the Gaza groundwater is undrinkable - and devastated infrastructure, as a dire reminder of repeated cycles of armed violence, are the daily reality. Gaza’s people are denied a human standard of living. This was not always the case: before the imposition of restrictions on movements of people and goods, the Gaza Strip was a relatively developed society with a productive base and a thriving economy.

Blockade and occupation have reversed this process, accelerated by repeated Israeli military operations and widespread destruction, and today Gaza is subject to what the UN calls de-development. Located at the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Israel, Gaza could be famous for its palm trees, fruits and white beaches. Instead, it is known for a sewage and hygiene crisis titled by the Time magazine a “ticking global-health time bomb”.

UNRWA not only frequently spoke out against the disastrous impact of recurrent conflicts in Gaza, but has also - along with the UN at the highest level - repeatedly condemned the rockets launched from the enclave. We are disturbed by all risks to loss of life. At the same time we believe that the current, and increasing, restrictions on the movement of people and goods may in a very significant manner lead to exactly the opposite result of their stated reasons to enhance security in Israel. The severe restrictions represent a potential risk for increased frustration, violence and radicalisation, and could even be the trigger for another devastating conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The repeated warnings will become realityThe UN has issued repeated warnings about the unsettling and serious conditions prevailing in the tiny enclave; we warned already four years ago that the Gaza Strip will become unliveable – meaning that there will effectively not be enough resources for people to survive – by 2020. This is in less than four years. These warnings have been repeated ever since. If no fundamental and immediate action is taken to address the underlying causes of conflict such as the blockade which must be fully lifted, they will become reality; the catastrophe will not be looming on the horizon anymore.
When a place becomes unliveable, people move. This is the case for environmental disasters such as droughts, or for conflicts, such as in Syria.

Yet this last resort is denied to the people in Gaza. They cannot move beyond their 365 square kilometres territory. They cannot escape, not the devastating poverty or the fear of another conflict. Its highly educated youth - almost 50 per cent of the population are below 17 years of age - do not have the option to travel, to seek education outside Gaza, or to find work, anywhere else beyond the perimeter fence and the two tightly-controlled border-checkpoints in the north and south of the Gaza Strip.

With the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza almost entirely closed except for a few days per year, and with Israel often denying exit even for severe humanitarian cases or staff of international organizations, the vast majority of the people have no chance of getting one of the highly sought-after “permits”. They can also not leave across the sea without the risk of being arrested or shot at by the Israeli or Egyptian navies, and they cannot climb over the heavily guarded perimeter fence between Israel and Gaza without the same risks.

The blockade has effectively eroded what was left of a middle class, sending almost all of the population into aid-dependency and destitution. The unemployment rate in quarter two of 2016 stood at 41.7 per cent – not including heavy underemployment – and 80 per cent of the population are forced to rely on humanitarian assistance to be able to cover their very basic needs, such as food, but also basic education, basic health care, shelter, or even items such as blankets, mattress or a cooking stove. While UNRWA in 2000, before the blockade, provided food assistance to 80,000 beneficiaries, we support over 930,000 persons today – a 12-fold increase.

Psychosocial impact: high levels of stress and distress

The compounded effects of the blockade have also had a less visible, but yet profound and palpable psychological impact on the people in Gaza. Whatever resilience people have left, it is being eroded with every day the blockade continues. The UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme has found that Palestine refugees in Gaza are experiencing increasingly higher levels of stress and distress. The reporting of suicide cases across the Gaza Strip, once unheard of but now becoming a regular occurrence, clearly suggest that the coping capacity of Palestinians is being exhausted. 
Among Palestine refugee children, UNRWA estimates that a minimum of 30 per cent require some form of structured psychosocial intervention. Their most common symptoms are: nightmares, eating disorders, intense fear, bed wetting.

“Boredom is a key factor for the depression and hopelessness of the young people. They sit in the dark – literally because of the lack of electricity – and feel helpless. They think about their life and only see negative solutions. Gaza is full of ideas; there is so much creativity in this place.  But we don’t focus enough on our own ideas.  We focus on our aid-dependency. The blockade has also led to a blockade in the mind-set of people. Young people are retreating. Why should we try, if there is always and every time a big NO to everything?” summarised Rana Quffa, a youth community leader from Gaza’s Middle Area, the feelings that engulf Gaza’s youth to me.” Life in Gaza is a vicious cycle. Who will help us break it?” she also asked.

The blockade on Gaza is not just political terminology; it is also not a natural disaster that just “happened”. The blockade on Gaza is man-made, and it is about real lives, about real stories. It is time to give Gaza, and its youth, its future back. The blockade must be lifted.

Source: http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/denied-human-standard-living-gaza-blockade-has-entered-its-tenth-year

<![CDATA[Open Letter to Dion re Amnesty International report - "Israeli Government must cease intimidation of human rights defenders..."]]>Mon, 25 Apr 2016 03:42:14 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/open-letter-to-dion-re-amnesty-international-report-israeli-government-must-cease-intimidation-of-human-rights-defendersApril 13, 2016

Dear M. Dion,

On 12 April 2016 Amnesty International released a report, “Israeli Government must cease intimidation of human rights defenders, protect them from attacks”. As groups concerned with peace, justice and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis we call on you and the Canadian government to make a public statement upholding the rights of peaceful Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders in accordance with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.

[Print full letter...]
Recent threats against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders have included such things as:
  • Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz’s calling for "targeted civil eliminations" of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) leaders, specifically mentioning by name Boycott National Committee member Omar Barghouti.
  • Death threats against the Palestinian activist Emad abu-Shamsiyah, who filmed the March 2016 extrajudicial killing of a wounded Palestinian suspect Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif.
  • Ongoing death threats, unwarranted arrests, and attempts to shut down the work of Hebron-based Palestinian nonviolent activists Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash.
  • Death threats against the staff of al-Haq staff, a prominent and respected Palestinian human rights NGOs. These threats are directly connected to the organization’s work with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
  • Ongoing attempts to shut down Breaking the Silence, an organization for Israeli veterans that publishes testimonies of Israeli soldiers who have witnessed war crimes.
  • Arrest and imprisonment of Palestinian Parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar who was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after, according to Amnesty International, “unfair proceedings before a military court and during which it appeared that pre-trial detention – including the use of administrative detention -- was being used to punish her and pressure her into accepting a guilty plea.” Amnesty went on to state, “Her lawyers say that the authorities never supported their accusations with evidence.”
  • Additionally, in recent years, the Israeli authorities have passed a number of laws aimed at curtailing freedom of expression. These include laws that deny government funding to organizations that commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) and that make it a “civil wrong” for any Israeli citizen or institution to call for a boycott of Israeli institutions or companies in response to Israel’s occupation or illegal settlements.
These are not empty threats. For example, there was an arson attack on the home of a key Palestinian witness in last year's Duma arson attack case, which killed a Palestinian mother and father and their 18-month old son.

The safety of witnesses, whistleblowers, and nonviolent activists must be protected, as well as the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.  It is incumbent upon the Department of Foreign Affairs to closely monitor and respond to the human rights situation in Israel/Palestine.

To this, we call on the Department of Foreign Affairs to make clear to its counterparts in Israel, in a written public statement, that the Canadian government expects the Israeli government to preserve the safety and uphold the rights of Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders. Incitement to violence against human rights defenders must not be countenanced, whether coming from Israeli government officials or lawless right-wing settlers.

This issue ought to be of great interest to all Members of Parliament following the passage of the Motion that the government, “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” We would remind MP’s that supporters of BDS are also typically strong supporters of human rights for all people. Further that these Palestinian’s are also strong human rights supporters and are deserving of protection from the occupying power under the 4th Geneva Convention.

Rev. Steve Berube and Rev. Marianna Harris
Co-chairs: United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
Tyler Levitan
Campaigns Coordinator: Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Fr. Robert Assaly
Treasurer-elect, CEPAL Canadian Palestinian Educational Exchange
cc:          Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
               Hon. Rona Ambrose
               Hon. Thomas Mulcair
               Hon. Rhéal Fortin
               Hon. Elizabeth May          
<![CDATA[Commentary on "Robert Fulford: Rise of the anti-BDS Movement"]]>Mon, 25 Apr 2016 03:23:08 GMThttp://unjppi.org/members-blog/commentary-on-robert-fulford-rise-of-the-anti-bds-movementLetter to the Editor by Steve Berube, Co-Chair, UNJPPI
in response to Robert Fulford: Rise of the anti-BDS movement, National Post, April 15, 2016

Robert Fulford advocates that jobs should trump human rights and international law for Palestinians; a proposition that lacks moral credibility. He lifts up SodaStream as a victim of BDS yet ignores the reality they operated in an illegal settlement and did not have a good reputation as a fair employer toward Palestinians.

He paints a picture that makes it seem that campuses are about to blow up with race riots against pro-Israel students. The odds on this happening are similar to building a wall running along the Canada/US border.

Fear mongering and labelling BDS supporters as anti-Semites are tactics aimed at distracting attention away from Israel’s grievous violations of the 4th Geneva Convention and of Palestinian human rights.
Last week, Israeli cabinet minister, Yisrael Katz called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders and especially BDS founder Omar Bargoutti. There were also heightened death threats against Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, a Palestinian, who filmed the Israeli extrajudicial execution of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron. This lead to Amnesty International releasing a statement entitled: “Israeli Government must cease intimidation of human rights defenders, protect them from attacks”.

BDS arose out of the reality that politicians have failed to end the 49 year occupation of Palestine.  Supporters believe Israel has the right to exist and there needs to be a fair and just peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Perhaps, Mr. Fulford should spend time in Palestine to see the oppression Palestinians experience daily.

Rev. Steve Berube
Co-chair: United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.