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May 01, 2009

Comments

Ahmed

It seems like my entire adult life, seemingly well emaning people have told me that they will support the rights of Palestinians when Palestinians themselves practise non violent resistance to the occupation. This statement is alreadt probelmatic in the sense that it erases existing forms of such protests, which these same people seem to be never much interested in finding out much about. But what's worse is that the moment in which their is an opportnuitty to lend putative support, for such a targetted campaign, in this case boycotts, in order to pressure Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine, condemned by countless UN resolutions, these same people abstain , fearing that they will come across as being too "political" and not wanting to "take sides". This makes me wonder about the nature of "moderation" and how inaction and complacency, is the basis for complicity. It's great to have nice sounding rhetoric about human rights and an ethical purchasing policy, but when that policy cannot prevent MEC from doing buiness with a company which deals with an occupying army, which has a documneted history of engaging in torture, collective punishment, use of human shields and the targetting of civilains, then the policy is worthless and morally bankrupt.

I atteneded the meeting last night. I heard MEC board members say that they will respect boycotts as a tool, if the Canadian government acts first. Forgetting the fact that this essentially asks Stephen Harper to give us lessons about human rights, this idea strikes me as fundementally hiereachal and agianst every single value that coops are about. What happened to the idea thgat the people will lead and the leaders will then follow? The end of apartheid was not only a victory for black south africans, it created a more humane world for everyone. That vicotry was made pissible through the active solidairty movement of unions, churches, coops and other groups, which used the tool of boycotts to isolate the south african regime, and force it to change.

Boycotts are not dogmas. By nature they are specific tools responsing to specific situation. In this case Israel's refusal to implement international law, and our leaders inablility to put any pressure on it, despite the mass condemnation of the IDF's practices from all sortrs of human rights groups, compels us to act. Israel is a trade dependent country, the bouycott is being called for by civil society groups and I must add supported by many Israeli peace activits who beleive that the world must force an end to the occupation. Its possible that it may work. Its not intended as a dogma, if that were the case the boycottts of south africa were also wrong, somehting an MEC board member actually told me.

I undersand that people may fear being attacked in the Sun or coming acorss as being "divisive". But when has nay form of social progress been achieved without taking some risks.

Ahmed

I also just want to quickly quote this passage from Farid Eask, a human rigths campainger whio was active in the struggle against Apartheid. It affirms why this cause, is also our buisness too

am astonished at how ordinarily decent people whose "hearts are in the right place" equivocate when it comes to Israel and the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinians. And now I wonder about the nature of "decency." Does "objectivity," "moderation," and "both sides" not have contexts? Is "moderation" in matters of manifest injustice really a virtue? Do both parties deserve an "equal hearing" in a situation of domestic violence where a woman gets beaten up by a male who was abused by his father some time ago because "he, too, is a victim?" Why must someone else suffer because the husband was abused by some other male yesterday?

When we reduce the problem to "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" - or worse, the "Israeli-Arab conflict," or "the Middle East situation;" what does it really say about us, our own power interest and our refusal to have our comfort zones disturbed? To describe violence against women as just that risks alienating the male partner. If that abusive male husband is also our business partner, or possibly one"s boss, or one"s primary funder, then things can get really sticky. So we walk away saying, "I do not want to get into the middle of all of this" or we delude ourselves with seemingly conciliatory mutterings without ever addressing the question of abuse.

We are in the middle of it because we do business with the abusive husband (or we profit from his abuse of his wife) and we sustain his delusions that he is OK, a part of the civilized crowd. We seek refuge in "both sides have a story to tell" as a way of dodging our own complicity. Rather than us merely hallowing the abuser with the mantel of respectability, our silence draws us into a web of complicity. (As indeed, can be the effect of an uncritical solidarity with the victims of oppression.) However small a minority they may have been, only those who refused to turn a blind eye to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis were civilized; only those who refused to be silent were civilized; all others had Jewish blood on their hands. Talking about the "Jewish-German conflict," or the "Black-White situation," or "marital problems" in the face of manifest injustice and domestic abuse is no great virtue; it is the path of, initially, acquiescence and, ultimately, complicity."


reg saretsky

Welcome to 'Round three...."
Here is an extremely good site on what Gaza needs now & how much it will cost

http://login.live.com/login.srf?wa=wsignin1.0&rpsnv=10&ct=1241219033&rver=5.5.4177.0&wp=MBI&wreply=http:%2F%2Fhome.live.com%2F%3Fmkt%3Den-ca&lc=1033&id=251248

ahmed

"I have a bunch of observations but will keep most of them to myself simply because if I say "low" a whole bunch of people will be peeved or if I say "high" another group will be keyboarding furiously."

It sounds like you found the meeting, and the exchange of ideas both moving and educational. As someone who is active on the issues of human rights as it pertains to MEC, and keeps this blog why not share your thoughts honestly, forgetting about who it may offend. In fact, if one of the bennifits of last night is that it produced more dialogue, than why not add to that with your feedback on this blog. Saying that you'll keep your opnion to yourself, as to not riple the waters sounds like a form, of self censorship, which happens for too much in this particulalr debate. It is in my opnion part of the problem. So, with that said, Harvey, my man, find some courage and speak up. We'd love to hear your thoughts

Rick House

I am so relieved that the racial hatred proposal was defeated.

The suffering of the Palestinians? Please! Is anyone interested in some truth?

Israel is a tiny sliver of land, surrounded by hostile countries, sworn to wipe them off the map. Israelis are likely the most peace loving people on earth. Yet they are constantly being forced to fight for their very survival!

Hamas is the one using human shields ... not Israel.

A significant percentage of Israel's population is Muslim. Muslims who enjoy all the benefits that Israeli citizens enjoy.

The last time anti-Semitism reared its ugly head, six million people were murdered. Their crime? Being Jewish.

Has anyone noticed how anti-Semitism has escalated worldwide in the past year? Prime Minister Harper has. We should be proud that our Prime Minister has the courage to stand up to the vilest, most insidious form of racial hatred on earth.

Mountain Equipment Coop has defeated this racial hatred motion, so I remain proud to be a member.

Rick.


reg saretsky

here is the PROPER link:
http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/2959

My apologies....
Reg Saretsky

Jesse Brown

Arabs in Israel have more rights than any of their own country. In "palestine" it is a capital offence to do busienss with a Jew. How is really racist?

PA Court: Hang Arab for Selling Land to Jews
Iyar 4, 5769, 28 April 09 06:02
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
(IsraelNN.com)

A Palestinian Authority military court on Tuesday sentenced a Hevron Arab to death by hanging for the crime of selling land to Jews in Judea and Samaria, the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency reported. The three-member judicial panel heard the case last week and handed down its verdict and conviction on Tuesday.

Dozens of Arabs have been executed in the past for collaborating with Israel by selling land to Jews, but the court’s ruling is the first time the PA officially has handed down a guilty verdict of treason for the crime. Previous summary executions with the approval of the PA have been met with outcries from human rights organizations.

Jews have spent millions of dollars the past few years to buy land from Arabs in an effort to eliminate all claims against Jewish rights to the land. The PA began fighting the sales in the 1990s, announcing in 1996 that the death penalty would be imposed for selling land to Jews.

Seven Arabs were executed in the same year for “collaborating,” and the PA later admitted that it was responsible for the murders. More executions took place the following years, and one Arab, Mohammed Abu al-Hawa, was tortured and murdered in 2006 for allegedly selling an apartment building in Jerusalem to Jews.

The Human Rights Watch organization protested to then-PA leader Yasser Arafat at the time, declaring that statements by officials who encouraged punishment for selling land to Jews were ''casting grave doubt on your government's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.''

The PA law was based on a law ordered to be passed by King Hussein in 1973, prohibiting the sale of land in Jordan or in Judea and Samaria by a Jordanian to Israelis. A relatively more moderate law replaced it in 1995 but still effectively barred the sale of land to non-Arabs.
www.IsraelNationalNews.com

Hadas

Well, if you really want to boycott Israel you should watch this clip :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saeky9I5T9c

Reg Saretsky

In response to Ahmed: Form 1949-59 Israelis lived on a MONTHLY rathion of:
...Initially, the
rationing scheme was set only on foodstuffs, and it proved effective. Most
Israelis enjoyed a ‘food basket’ handed out monthly through coupons: 4
kilos of potatoes; 50 grams of beetroot; 5 eggs per child and 2 per adult;
100 grams of coffee; 50 grams of tea; 250 grams of chicken meat; etc. ....http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~idjlaw/PDF/18-1/18-1%20Seidman.pdf

The first corner of change has to be an Arab acknowledgment that 700,000 plus Jews were evcited from the Arab Middle east by 1950.

The second is a wholesale need to protect the rights of individuals in Gaza. I have a radical idea: Turn over the WHOLE city of Sderot to dispossessed Palestinians from the West Bank..

Sderot was founded 1 km from the Gaza Border as a Civita Imperium.

Andrew

A timely update on the global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign, from Nadia Hijab, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington D.C.

>>

The Israel Boycott is Biting


Motorola, Caterpillar, Veolia (light rail makers), the Tesco supermarket chain, and other companies across the world that do business with Israel are suffering losses due to a global boycott in support of Palestinian rights, argues Nadia Hijab.

On May 4, protesters will greet Motorola shareholders, already disgruntled by the company’s losses, as they arrive for their annual meeting at the Rosemont Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

The protest, organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, is part of a drive to “Hang Up On Motorola” until it ends sales of communications and other products that support Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land.

Inside the meeting, the Presbyterian, United Methodist and other churches will urge shareholders to support their resolution, which calls for corporate standards grounded in international law. Doing the right thing could also reduce the risk of “consumer boycotts, divestment campaigns and lawsuits.”

Although Motorola executives deny it, such risks must have played a part in their decision to sell the department making bomb fuses shortly after Human Rights Watch teams found shrapnel with Motorola serial numbers at some of the civilian sites bombed by Israel in its December-January assault on Gaza.

The US protests are part of a growing global movement that has taken international law into its own hands because governments have not. And, especially since the attacks on Gaza, the boycotts have been biting. There are three reasons why.

First, boycotts enable ordinary citizens to take direct action. For instance, the New York group Adalah decided to target diamond merchant Lev Leviev, whose profits are plowed into colonizing the West Bank. During the Christmas season, they sing carols with the words creatively altered to urge shoppers to boycott his Madison Avenue store.

The British group Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine teamed up with Adalah NY and others to exert public pressure on the British government regarding Leviev. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv recently cancelled plans to rent premises from Leviev’s company Africa-Israel.

There are other results. Activists in Britain have targeted the supermarket chain Tesco to stop the sales of Israeli goods produced in settlements. In a video of one such action -- over 38,000 YouTube views to date -- Welsh activists load up a trolley with settlement products and push it out of the shop without paying.

All the while, they calmly explain to the camera just what they are doing and why. They talk away as they pour red paint over the produce, and as British Bobbies quietly lead them away to a police van.

The result of such consumer boycotts? A fifth of Israeli producers have reported a drop in demand since the assault on Gaza, particularly in Britain and Scandinavia.

The second reason boycotts are more effective is the visible role of Jewish human rights advocates, making it harder for Israel to argue that these actions are anti-Semitic.

For example, British architect Abe Hayeem, an Iraqi Jew, describes in a passionate column in The Guardian exactly how Leviev tramples on Palestinian rights, and warns Israeli architects involved in settlements that they will be held to account by their international peers.

In the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace has led an ongoing campaign to stop Caterpillar from selling bulldozers to Israel, which militarizes them and uses them in home demolitions and building the separation wall.

The third, key, reason for the growing success of this global movement is the determined leadership of Palestinian civil society. The spark was lit at the world conference against racism in Durban in 2001. In 2004, Palestinian civil society launched an academic and cultural boycott that is having an impact.

In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society coalitions, organizations, and unions, from the occupied territories, within Israel, and in exile issued a formal call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) until Israel abides by international law. The call sets out clear goals for the movement and provides a framework for action.

In November 2008, Palestinian NGOs helped convene an international BDS conference in Bilbao, Spain, to adopt common actions. This launched a “Derail Veolia” campaign. That French multinational corporation, together with another French company, Alstom, is building a light railway linking East Jerusalem to illegal settlements.

The light rail project was cited by the Swedish national pension fund in its decision to exclude Alstom from its $15 billion portfolio, and by the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in its decision not to consider further Veolia's bid for a $1.9 billion waste improvement plan. There were active grassroots campaigns in both areas.

Other hits: Veolia lost the contract to operate the city of Stockholm subway and an urban network in Bordeaux. Although these were reportedly “business decisions” there were also activist campaigns in both places. The Galway city council in Ireland decided to follow Stockholm’s example. Meanwhile, Connex, the company that is supposed to operate the light rail, is being targeted by activists in Australia.

The “Derail Veolia” campaign has been the movement’s biggest success to date. Veolia and its subsidiaries are estimated to have lost as much as $7.5 billion.

As one of the BDS movement leaders, Omar Barghouti, put it, “When companies start to lose money, then they listen.” Perhaps governments will too.

Nadia Hijab is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington D.C.http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=31810

Reg Saretsky

Folks- It is May 4, the AGM meeting is over, & this debate is getting harsh. Look, in the past 60 years BOTH sides have behaved beastly towards each other. The evictions from Arab lands from 1946-56 were horrendous. The campaigns in Gaza were brutal. The Hebron massacres in 1929& 48 were as inhuman as, say,. The slaughter of 10 % of the surrendered Egyptian POW’s in 1967 , which was triggered by the slaughter of the surrendered Palmach at Hebron, etc, etc, etc!

The question is” what CAN MEC do to improve the lot of the Gazans, & the Palestinians? “ (Outside of that boycott).
Are we so unimaginative, or spiteful, that we cannot provide constructive ideas or advice? At least, can we get these one- sided histories off the table?

May I suggest an MEC prize for the ‘best constructive solution”?

Johannes

All human beings have a right to their homes. All the people who were living in the area called "Israel" today and their families have a right return to their homes or the area were they used to be. Keeping people away from their homes is a crime. Keeping millions of people from going back to their homes is a crime on a massive scale. Its called "ethnic-cleansing". Israel's existence as a state is a form of ethnic cleansing, and supporting it financially is supporting ethnic cleansing.

I believe business can advance human rights. Perhaps MEC tries to advance human rights in its policies. But by voting against correcting its policies, MEC has denied the humanity of millions of people living in exile from their homes. Supporting the rights of some people while denying the rights of others is a form of racism.

I oppose racism in all its forms. I won't be buying anything from MEC any more, and I'll discourage others to take their business elsewhere as well.

Jon

I have been to Israel three times, including a visit to the West Bank Settlement of Gush Etzion in 2007. What amazes me with these boycott attempts is that those proposing the boycotts are often far more extreme than the average Palestinians on the ground. One Palestinian told me that boycotts against Israel simply are stupid because it just angers the Israeli government and does nothing to help the Palestinians on the ground. In fact, Palestinians need the Israeli market in order to sell their goods, just as Israeli goods are sold to Palestinians. There is a lot more dialogue and cooperation on the ground between Israelis and Palestinians than you hear from the BBC or CBC news.

Yes, there are issues to be resolved, especially in Gaza, and there are decades-old grievances on both sides. But these ridiculous boycott campaigns are doomed to failure and they just waste everyone's time.

I really wish these unions in Canada would focus on the real human rights travesties in the world like the ongoing genocide in Sudan, where hundreds of thousands are dead. Or how about North Korea, where thousands of people are in concentration camps in horrific conditions. There are hundreds of thousands of child soldiers in Africa. Saudi Arabia carries out public beheadings on a regular basis. These are the issues that should be the focus of debate in civil society. The darling of the left, Cuba, has forced labour camps/prisons where countless political prisoners are executed and worked to death on a regular basis. Yet you will never hear a whimper of criticism from these union people.

Dan Tyndall

Re Boycott.

I agree that the events that transpired and continue in Gaza are horrific.

If there is to be a boycott it needs to be broad based and not selective. Boycotting one company that carries a few products that are made/designed/invented in Israel will not be enough. You need to boycott all things made/designed/invented in Israel, these include:

Voicemail
Medical Stents
Pentium MMX chips
Pentium 4 processors
Centino processors
ICQ
Firewalls for computers
Voice over IP phone calls
Memory sticks
Beta Interferon drug used to treat MS
Copaxone drug used to treat MS
The technology to produce seamless underwear
Text messaging

I have also have not seen any information on the companies that MEC purchases from. Do MEC’s purchases from these companies help finance donations to the people in Gaza? Just my personal thoughts.

Have a great day.

John Lucas

Perhaps we should also urge MEC to boycott China on account of its numerous human rights abuses? That said, I don't believe boycotting Israel will help bring positive change to the region. I would be most disappointed if MEC yields to the pressures to boycott.

Darren

Yes, what everybody else said.

virginia

Boycotts help to bring issues to public awareness. If MWC does not wish to end selling Israeli goods perhaps we should consider selling Palestinean made goods! Why is there little available? Because Israel controls the border crossings, imports, etc of the occupied lands. Ethics is more than about the age and pay of people that produce a product!

C. Kramer

Definitely not an easy topic. I would support the Boycott of products from country's such as Israel, China and Taiwan. Of all the products i find when shopping on line all i see is made in China, made in Taiwan... not so much Israel.

I believe we have to protect our children from Toxic materials so often found in products from China and Taiwan. Israel i believe we need to send a message that you can no longer commit genocide and get away with it.

All political views aside. what about the saying think globally act locally. we should be focusing on products made in Canada more and reduce green house gases with products that aren't shipped from a far. Our country is in a serious recession (depression) and we should be supporting our own citizens and keeping people here employed. With GM laying off thousands of people (a whole other political debate) we should be promoting made in Canada putting people back to work in canadian manufacturing.

I have a hard time buying products these days at MEC because I'm on my own personal boycott of chinese made products as well as Israel. I don't want my money going to support a country that has a military that constantly flex's it military muscle on a people with nothing more than home made weapons and a few ak47's.

I guess what I'm saying is that because MEC refuses to boycott these countries I'm now boycotting MEC. and will encourage my friends too as well. I will still buy products from lots of other foreign countries but we must target the worst culprits.

Jay

Props to Dan Tyndall:-)

LCT

If only those who posted their opinions actually had some grounding in the reality on the ground rather than basing their version of the truth on media propaganda or emotional beliefs.

I'm quite sure that 95% of those who have posted on this issue have never been to the region, yet they believe they know exactly what is happening here. The remaining 5% who have visited very likely only saw one perspective on this extremely complex puzzle during their two week tour.

Ideally we would know which products are made using resources from the occupied territory and boycott those ones only, since a product made from extracting resources from the West Bank is not the same as a product made in the heart of Israel. Yet, we do have the choice to boycott *companies* that are known to profit from the occupation, rather than divest from an entire country.

Those who are interested in learning more about which companies are benefiting from occupation - particularly those that benefit from the construction and services to illegal settlements (including Canadian companies) - excellent information and an extensive list of companies can be found at: http://www.whoprofits.org/index.php

Let's remember that critique of Israel's occupation practices ≠ anti-Israel or anti-Jew. All government practices should be open for critique and this freedom to express critical thought is a cornerstone of a free and open society.

I very much doubt that I would be able to convince anybody of anything here, I only ask that those with decision-making authority truly look at this issue with a rational mind and not be influenced by a vocal minority.

MEC, I do hope you do a little more homework and educate your Board and decision-makers so at least you are making an informed decision, whichever way it goes.

Sheldon Tyber

MEC: I, too, want to help. But boycotts do nothing to promote the needs of Palestinians. Kudos for sticking to your guns!

sportsflex@hotmail.com

If the MEC dares to "BOYCOTT" any products from Israel, then please send back my membership fee of $ 5.00 and I will never walk into the MEC again. The fact that this is an issue tells me antisemitism is alive and kicking with the Board members of the MEC ..absolutely disgusting. There is no need for this BS to even be an issue.. this is a store not a form for hatred from people who have no business, being at the MEC. IM

namoro pela internet

of course business can! do you believe that business is power?

victor woods

26 Nov. 2009
To whom it may concern,

This is the second time that I will have written to MEC regarding the unethical issue of my MEC Coop selling Israeli made products. This practice must stop!

Currently in the Occupied Palestinian Territories approximately 2.5 million Palestinian people are suffering the horrible effects of the violent Israeli siege that dominates every aspect of their daily lives. Indeed, according to the United Nations, 80% of Gaza's population is living in dire consequences; inadequate food, shelter and housing are challenging their very existence. Winter weather is now arriving there; it will not help the situation. Almost 50% of Gaza's population is comprised of children. Children who are innocent victims of life circumstances that they are born into and they need MEC's (our) assistance to help bring their suffering to an end.

As an MEC member I demand that the Ethical Sourcing principles that govern MEC's purchasing be made whole/good once again by not displaying/carrying or selling all Israeli made products for the reasons stated above.

 HC

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the recent comments on Israel, Palestine and boycotts. Rather than reiterate my thoughts or MEC's position on this, just re-read my two entries on Israel, Apartheid and Boycotts. I can't add anymore to the original discussion.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

The comments to this entry are closed.