I choose a just peace for all on Earth, on Human Rights Day (10 Dec. 2013).

I feel sick. I have just learned about a new example of the Canadian government’s complicity in the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine. The Canadian group, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) (click here), reports the following:

“Harper will be the first sitting Prime Minister in Canadian history to be honoured by the JNF [Jewish National Fund] at one of their fundraising galas [on 1 Dec. 2013]. A bird sanctuary—the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre—is a new JNF project that sits over the lands belonging to dispossessed Palestinian fishermen and their families, who are banned from ever returning.

‘It’s ironic that Harper is being honoured with a bird sanctuary in his name, while his government has one of the worst environmental records of any in Canadian history,’ says [Tyler] Levitan. “Does Harper care more about the Hula Valley in Israel than the Athabasca watershed in his home province of Alberta, and the enormous ecological destruction—poisoning wildlife and First Nations communities—caused by the bituminous sands?’   -For further information contact: Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices – Canada, (613) 400-2550, tyler@ijvcanada.org”

As I wrote on 25 June 2011 (click here), “Lake Hula used to serve as a natural filter of [several] rivers into the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias Lake). But Lake Hula has shrunk considerably as a result of water-intensive agriculture and military (nuclear) purposes in Israel.”

On 31 March 2012 (click here), I wrote: “As a Canadian, I am embarrassed that a place (that is part of the story of the expulsion of Palestinians) in the occupied West Bank would be named Canada Park. I am moved to think about Canada’s own colonial history. I choose to listen and learn and join the global movement for justice for all….”

How will you mark Human Rights Day on 10 Dec. 2013, as a Canadian? As a global citizen?  (click here)

Why not write to Prime Minister Harper, or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird? Ask them to take a stance against the Prawer-Begin Bill that ‘promises’ to displace Bedouin citizens living in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If enacted into law and implemented, the bill would result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Naqab and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land and homes. To learn more, click here and here.

Unsettling Goods – a consumer choice

Once upon a time – no scratch that. That suggests a fairy tale, and this is no fairy tale. This is reality. This blog posting is about a reality that is “unsettling”…. To be unsettled, though, is not a bad thing. That feeling can move us into identifying hope and taking steps toward that hope (see Active Hope). Please see the end of this posting to learn about “Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel” (click here). Learn how you can take action.          ~~~~~~~~~~

We live in an increasingly politically and economically interdependent, global society. This means that what we purchase in one part of the world will have an effect in another part of the world.

For example, yesterday (‘Black Friday’), I, in a western Canadian city, was presented with an advertisement, in a Hudson’s Bay flyer, for SodaStream – “Appealing to foodies and environmentalists alike, SodaStream’s simple-yet-sleek system makes perfectly carbonated water and soda at the touch of a button.”

For ‘only’ $199.99, a consumer can buy this NEW Revolution Black by SODASTREAM. It’s a sleek, compact, and fancy looking appliance that appears to carbonate water. Add a bit of SodaStream cocktail syrup and voilà – you have a fancy, fizzy drink. No plastic bottle to deal with. All in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s the reality check:  SodaStream is a company that manufactures its products in Israeli-government occupied Palestinian territory but labels these products as though they’re made in Israel. Nothing on that sleek Revolution Black indicates that it was made in illegally occupied territory. Nothing indicates that that Revolution Black was made just east of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank – next door to where my friends, long-displaced Bedouin families, have been relegated to live (next to the reek of the Jerusalem garbage dump) . Because the Israeli government wants the land. For political and economic gain (click here).

Much like the British Empire wanted ‘the land’ of Turtle Island a few centuries ago and granted the Hudson’s Bay Company rights to occupy that land. Building up trade for products that citizens might buy.

How would anyone know that by ‘taking advantage’ of “Black Friday” (weekend) sales of snazzy looking items that are mislabeled, that that would help to shore up the Hudson’s Bay in Canada and SodaStream in the occupied West Bank and the Israeli government?

Yet, this is the reality. Now what do we do?

Why not re-claim the name of that Revolution Black? On this “Black Friday” weekend, let’s join a new consumer revolution. Consider the following hopeful shift.

Imagine that consumer conscience will grow and consumers will refuse to buy Revolution Black because it is not properly labeled. They/We will realize that we are able to influence Hudson’s Bay to pressure the Canadian government to require the Israeli government to label all products accurately – whether from Israel or from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Who would have thought that by refusing to buy mislabeled products, people in one part of the world could join a revolution in another part of the world – to grow a just peace in Palestine and Israel?

How to join this hopeful revolution? Check out the action list at the end of this posting and listen to this new song (click here): Unsettling Goods  by Tony Quarrington

“This soda machine was made in a factory
Which stands in an old land where olive groves grew,
Made in a place where homes were was ploughed under
That now is a settlement, thriving and new.
Built on a site from which people were scattered,
Driven away from their history and place,
Whose traces have vanished, whose name is deleted,
Whose story is written in each suffering face

CHORUS
Unsettling goods that are not good for all,
Made in the shadow of checkpoint and Wall,
Built with guns and with prisons, bulldozers and fists,
Justice means crossing these goods off your list …”

ACTION LIST:

The United Church of Canada’s campaign, Unsettling Goods – Click here.

A fact sheet about SodaStream, from the Unsettling Goods resources – Click here.

Contact Hudson’s Bay to ask them to stop selling SodaStream products and to ask Hudson’s Bay to ask SodaStream to label clearly the products it makes in Israeli settlements. Invite Hudson’s Bay to join The United Church of Canada in asking the Canadian government to require all settlement-made products that are sold in this country to be labelled clearly. Click here.

The United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) launch of the Unsettling Goods campaign is on December 3, 2013. Please participate as you can! See how here.

Canadian Boycott Coalition for Justice in Palestine/Israel – Re: settlement products. Click here.

“I do not like SodaStream [with apologies to Dr. Seuss].” Click here.

Boycott SodaStream – Click here.

Global Exchange – Click here.
Postcard – Click here.

Joint Tweet – Click here to participate in a joint Tweet to Target which distributes SodaStream in the US. The joint Tweet “will automatically be sent out on the last day of [this] action — December 10, Human Rights Day — by all who sign up. This will help amplify the message to Target that buying products that profit from abuse of Palestinian rights isn’t our kind of holiday.”

Listen…to these voices…

that differ from the political-economic, dominant, ’empire’ voices of our time…

Listen to the Palestinians’ call for a just path to peace: here.

Listen to the Israelis who are calling their government to account: here.

Listen to Ecumenical Accompaniers like Jan in occupied East Jerusalem: here.

What does your voice say?

Please use your voice. As a Canadian, please contact your Member of Parliament (click here) and Foreign Minister John Baird and invite them to… Listen to these voices… to your voice…

If you are a member or friend of the United Church of Canada, please write to your General Council (GC) Representative (click here) and urge her or him to not only work toward the Implementation of the 41st General Council Motion on Palestine/Israel Education and Economic Action but also to call for the GC Executive to take that path NOW…toward “education and economic action” across the United Church of Canada and thereby across Canadian society… To raise awareness of illegal Israeli settlements and, through the clear labelling of products made in those settlements, to grow aware of the option of not purchasing those products… 

How is this irrelevant?

Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird, has in effect declared that the internationally recognized Green Line is “irrelevant” (click here and here; commentary here and here). So, he had coffee with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (the Israeli government’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians) in East Jerusalem last week (click here); so what?

So… Baird disregarded international consensus on what is occupied territory and on Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. He went along with Israeli government hopes that we might all forget that the status of Jerusalem is one of the “permanent status issues – borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and water” (UN General Assembly media release, 12 Feb. 2010) yet to be resolved in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

So…the line is named, green, based on the colour of the ink used in the 1949 armistice following the 1948 Nakba/Catastrophe (click here) or Israeli War of Independence (click here). I disagree with Baird’s suggestion that whether he meets on one side of the ‘street’ (known as Road No. 1 on Israeli government maps, one way to encourage people to forget that it’s the Green Line) or on the other is ‘just a matter of words’. On the west side of the line (in Israeli West Jerusalem), the municipal infrastructure is maintained. On the east side (in Israeli government occupied East Jerusalem), the municipal infrastructure is left to crumble by Israeli authorities. In addition, the fact that the Israeli Separation Barrier runs inside of the Green Line for 85% of its route (including within East Jerusalem as a high concrete wall) rather than along the Green Line violates international law (click here and here). The International Court of Justice (ICJ) (the principal judicial body of the United Nations) advised in 2004 that the sections of the Barrier that run inside occupied territory are illegal.

So…is Samer Issawi’s hunger speech…irrelevant? (click here)

So…is this call from liberal Jews and Israelis…irrelevant? (click here)

I remember this stark difference when I lived within a block of the Green Line, with occupied Palestinians, in 2010-2011. For reference, see how the Green Line runs between East and West Jerusalem: ocha_opt_the_closure_map_2011_12_21_jerusalem  . The dark red line on the map indicates the illegal path of the Israeli Separation Barrier. (For additional maps here).

So what?

P.S. I extend ‘thanks’ to I.C.L. Marshall for offering this response to this posting: “To the great shame of us, i.e. Canadians, John Baird, supported by Stephen Harper, pursue a policy that supports Israel’s occupation and unlawful behavior unconditionally. Such attitude will never bring peace and it concerns us all. We need to lobby the Canadian government to change their course. Please, write to Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Minister Baird to make it clear that Canadians are greatly disturbed by their policies and demands changes.
I.C.L. Marshall”

JLRT tracks on the Green Line - Jerusalem - 13 Feb. 2011 - Photo: Sherry Ann

The Green Line – between West Jerusalem on the left and occupied East Jerusalem on the right – 13 Feb. 2011 – Photo: Sherry Ann

A just peace: The ‘threat’ for Palestine and Israel… a threat for the world…

The Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) recently posted a link (click here) to a well-articulated statement by Canadian Member of Parliament Jean-François Fortin.

“On March 26 [2013], after exchanges with CJPME staff (and leveraging CJPME’s research), MP Jean-François Fortin delivered an excellent critique of Israeli’s colonization of the West Bank, and Canada’s silence on this ongoing violation of international law. Watch the video here – debate starts at 9:49:40. For the full text of Mr. Fortin’s critique, see this link.”
In the video, for all that the Parliamentary Secretary (Foreign Affairs) Bob Dechert responds that Canada’s foreign-policy position is “principled Middle-East policy” as it stands with the United States, dear Canada, we increasingly stand alone  with our neighbour. See this helpful map (below) (or click here). Are we not obstructing the potential for a just peace in Palestine and Israel and thereby slowing the global journey to a peaceful world?

I invite you to take action. Learn more about the situation and how it is a global issue. If you live in Edmonton, drop into the 2nd Annual Palestinian Bazaar (Human Serve International) on Sat., 30 March 2013 (click here). Share this posting with family, friends, acquaintances. Share your thoughts with your MP…

By B1mbo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Results of U.N. General Assembly vote [Dec. 2012] on granting observer state status to Palestine. Green: In favor; Red: Against; Yellow: Abstaining; Blue: Absent; Black: Palestine. Map by B1mbo/Wikimedia (source). License: CC BY-SA
After hearing friends describe this stark map, I found it at this webpage (click here).