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April 21, 2009


yoram kastiel


In an interview with Member of the Knesset Dr. Arieh Eldad in the New
English Review...

I was instrumental in establishing the Israeli National Skin Bank,
which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin
for every day needs as well as for war time or mass casualty
situations. This skin bank is hosted at the Hadassah Ein Kerem
University hospital in Jerusalem where I was the chairman of plastic
This is how I was asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza,
who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba after her family
burned her. Usually, such atrocities happen among Arab families when
the women are suspected of having an affair. We supplied all the
needed Homografts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by
my friend and colleague Prof. Lior Rosenberg, and discharged to return
to Gaza.
She was invited for regular follow up visits to the outpatient clinic
in Beersheba. One day she was caught at a border crossing wearing a
suicide belt. She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of
the hospital where they saved her life. It seems that her family
promised her that if she did that, they would forgive her.

This is only one example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the
Land of Israel. It is not a territorial conflict. This is a
civilizational conflict.

Lorrie Goldstein

Dear Israeli Apartheid Week enthusiasts:
Greetings and congratulations on your ongoing fifth annual Israeli Apartheid Week, which I understand began at the University of Toronto in 2005 and has now spread to 40 universities around the world.
While I don't agree with your mindlessly simplistic likening of Israel to apartheid South Africa in its treatment of the Palestinians -- just as I would never describe the Palestinians as terrorists because that would be wrong and inhuman -- I also believe in free speech.
That's why I'm not calling for your event to be cancelled, or to have your posters depicting Israeli gunships swooping down on Palestinian children in Gaza taken down.
That said, since the Sword of Allah cuts both ways, so to speak, I will be urging my alma mater to accommodate the following on-campus events next year at this time.
Darfur Destruction Week: An examination of the slaughter in Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children have been forced from their homes, starved, tortured, raped and murdered in the world's worst ongoing human rights disaster and old, familiar pastime -- Muslims killing other Muslims.
Iranian Intelligence Week: An exploration of the comedic stylings of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who unforgettably told a Columbia University audience in 2007 that Iran has no gays or lesbians. To wit: "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country ... I don't know who has told you we have that."
Syrian Bulldozer Week: A retrospective on the savage attack on the city of Hama by the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Hassad, during which thousands of innocent civilians died while Syrian forces mercilessly crushed a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. Particular attention will be paid to the bulldozing of the rubble, apparently the Syrian idea of "urban renewal."
Hamas Hitler Week: A study and discussion of the similarities between the philosophies of Hamas and Hitler, drawing on the Hamas Charter and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. A special seminar will be devoted to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem's support of Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War.
Pakistani Honour Killing Week: Examining the ... uh ... intellectual basis behind "honour killings" in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, described by Amnesty International thusly: "Women in Pakistan live in fear. They face death by shooting, burning or killing with axes if they are deemed to have brought shame on the family ... They are even murdered by their kin if they are raped, as they are thereby deemed to have brought shame on their family."
Saudi Arabian Suicide Week: A study of the role played by Saudi Arabia in funding and exporting radical Islamist Wahhabi theology throughout the world, while many among its oil-rich ruling class would be the first to be beheaded for their decadent lifestyles, should Islamists ever seize power.
Anyway, those are just some of the events I'm working on for next year. And not to worry. I doubt any of them will steal your thunder. Heck, you can just blame them all on the Jews ... oops ... I mean "on Israel" anyway, eh?
Lorrie Goldstein

Mark Binder

Well done MEC.
You have made the right decision. Regardless of your opinion on the Israeli - Palestinian conflict boycotting companies on the basis of national origin is the corporate equivalent to racial profiling. Just as a person is not guilty due to their ethnic or national origin neither is a company. By focusing on the members of your supply chain you are acting in the best interests of MEC and its membership and exhibiting not only ethical decision making but sound business decision making.

Well Done

Judith Berg

Congratulations MEC,
Your decision is a breath of fresh air and a refreshing excursion beyond the stultifying confines of anti-Israel propaganda.I enjoy using MEC products because of their excellent quality and value, and it is comforting to know that you are looking out for the workers who produce them.

Judith Berg

After sending you a note congratulating you on your principled stand, I noticed that the meeting has not yet taken place. Are you certain that the resolution copied below will be defeated?

Whereas many members have expressed concern over the position of
Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) with regard to Israel and "partnering"
with Israeli companies,

And whereas a Feb. 7/2009 statement from Peace and Global Educators
( ) said in part -

"According to communications from Harvey Chan, Director of Ethical
Sourcing, MEC 'partners' with factories in Israel. In PAGE's view,
this is incompatible with MEC's promotion of itself as an ethical
organization. MEC's engagement with Israel is incompatible with its
professed concern for both human rights and the environment",

And whereas South African leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu
and former Cabinet Minister Ronnie Kasrils who recently spoke in
Vancouver, have not only compared South African apartheid with the
system of discrimination by Israel but have said Israel's apartheid
system is worse,

Therefore be it resolved that we call on the MEC Board of Directors to
halt all dealings with Israeli companies and to reverse its position
on Israel.

Ruth G.

I, too, applaud your even-handed and thoughtful response to this complex and difficult issue. The rhetoric on both sides can be passionate and inflammatory and your decision to continue to focus your human rights efforts on working to improve the factory conditions and treatment of the workers that make MEC-brand products is admirable. Thank you.

Erez Rotem

You know, today all over the world we remembered the 6 Millions Jews that were murdered by the Nazi regime. Yesterday the presidents of Iran stood in front of a UN conference and call for the destruction of Israel and deny the Holocaust. It’s so symbolic that at the same day some ignorant call Israel an apartheid state. The only democratic country in the region, almost the only state in this dark region in which women have full rights, gays don’t have to hide and can participate in the Love Parade, Muslims and Arabs can vote to the Parliament and protest in the streets of Tel-Aviv while Israeli soldiers are getting killed in Gaza. The Israeli Arab conflict is so complicated and so not one-dimensional that just ignoramus could call to boycott Israel. Jewish and Israeli have given the world some of its greatest achievements in science, culture and humaneness. What did the Muslim extremist gave the world? 9/11??!
I think you took the right choice boycotting will lead to other boycotting not to a better world.

Duncan Coo

As it should be MEC. Good decision. Your business is not politics.

And to those anti-Israel groups who shout down speakers at universities or force them to be cancelled because you don't agree with what they have to say -- you are a disgrace to the principal of free speech and hypocrites for turning a blind eye to the outrageous atrocities committed by muslim countries, examples of which have already been given above. You people don't understand the principals that founded this country, don't respect the principals that founded this country and you don't even believe in human rights ... you're just anti-Israel. And no - I'm not a Jew.

Lisa Anthony

If you want to boycott a country based on human rights abuses, look at China. I can't imagine their factories are better than the Israeli ones. I suppose MEC is looking for a public relations nightmare, but the damage has already been done. Add me to the list of people who will never step into one of your stores again, no matter how the vote turns out.

Richard Roberts

I find it odd that these people are singling out Israel and want MEC to boycott Israel and not boycott China -a non-democratic, communist government with well documented human rights abuses. Why is Israel singled out - a free society and the only democracy in the middle east - the only country in the middle east where all citizens (about 5.5 million jews and 1.3 million arabs) have a free democratic vote. Furthermore, many Palestinians in the West Bank, which is run by the Palestinian Authority, both work in and do business with Israel and Israeli companies and both sides want this economic cooperation to increase. Rather than helping, these unwarranted calls for boycotts against Israel harm those in the Palestinian controlled areas. Are these same people asking the Palestinians themselves in the West Bank to boycott Israel like they want MEC to do??
It is an absurd one sided attack. There is no connection to Israel and apartheid. All citizens of Israel have the same vote and live under the same constitution. Those in the PA controlled West Bank and Hamas controlled Gaza are not citizens of Israel, do not want to be, and they have their own elections - electing Hamas and the PA as their representatives. It would only be if some citizens of Israel were not allowed to vote that one could make a connection to apartheid but that is not the case. These hateful calls for boycott do not further the peace process. I congratulate MEC on doing the right thing.

Gary Gerofsky

I urge Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) of Vancouver not to boycott Israel in your Annual General Meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 30.

It seems to me that there is a small group of "activists" within your organization who have taken up this cause to display their own political views which have nothing to do with your business. These ideas are not based on sound research, knowledge, history or the fact that Israel, like Canada, is a democratic and free country striving to survive in a neighbourhood that is actively trying to destroy it through terrorism, propaganda and war. Canada is a major trading partner with Israel and we derive a great deal of benefit from this relationship.

Israel is also a country that is on the cutting edge of science, medical, energy conservation and environmental research - developments which have been widely used throughout the world to save on energy, improve the treatment of patients, and generally make the environment and this world a better place to live.

The group of "activists" involved ought to get back to the core business at MEC and not involve themselves in foreign affairs and the politics of the Middle East. We do not see Israel condemning and boycotting companies in other countries for political reasons even though Canadian and American companies, if we look hard enough at our own political positions on a range of issues and the fact that all of our infrastructure for businesses is on indigenous land, could easily be found culpable on many levels. The Jewish people have a 3700 year unbroken claim to the land of Israel.

I suggest that you stay on track and build your company rather than put on a display of prejudice and ignorance by using your company to attack another people and another country in a most unfair and biased manner.


C. Bell

Well done MEC. This is a very sound decision.


Congratulations on boycotting Israel. Will you also be boycotting Hamas as well or are you just against the Jews and not terrorists? Hamas is a terrorist organization in Canada although it is widely supported in our Universitiesand in Gaza and by MEC apparantly. I will never take one step into MEC again. I will not support your company in any way for your racist and anti-semetic views. You should hang your heads in shame - this is Canada not your political platform to decide who is wrong - perhaps when you have your discussions you can also show Hamas robbing the UN aid station in Gaza or perhaps get a close up of Hamas sending rockets into Israel. Slowly the Arab/Muslim archaic viewpoint is working through our society and pat yourself on the back for contribuing to racism right here in Vancouver.

Robert Assaly, Chair, Canadian Friends of Sabeel

Dear Mr. Southam,

We find your position troublesome, as the Globe and Mail reports the movement to have MEC reconsider its relationship with Israeli suppliers, ““It's become very political, much to our consternation,” Mr. Southam said, adding the company follows international sanctions and boycotts set by the federal government.” We also note the offensive position from the MEC blog below.

The federal government didn’t boycott South African apartheid and more than Israeli apartheid. Archbishop Tutu has drawn the parallel, incidentally, supported by many South African and North American Jews. That is to say, with that dubious rationale, MEC wouldn’t have joined the international boycott of South African apartheid either.

Moreover, our government has sanctioned British MP George Galloway for bringing aid to Gaza, as well as sanctioning the entire suffering people of Gaza, supporting Israel’s war crimes under the Geneva Conventions committed against them, because in a free and fair election actively encouraged and supported by this very government, the people’s choice turned out not to be Canada’s or Israel’s choice.

Our organization, in fact, hosted the international MRI conference on Israel in Toronto in 2005, addressed by the International Patron of Sabeel, Archbishop Tutu. And so we gather that you are in fact supporting the government sanctions blessing the restrictions on food, water and basic necessities against the long-suffering people of Gaza, victims of Israel’s war crimes, while ignoring the Jerusalem based call for international Morally Responsible Investment (MRI) sanctions on some Israeli products and services.

MEC hypocrisy has made it “become very political” indeed.

Let us be frank: your blog statement thus amounts to the very dissembling rationalizations expected only of the most unethical corporations defending their market-driven practices.

Let us be clear: Either MEC will change its position, and take its cues not from the government but international ethically initiated MRI, or we will call for a boycott of MEC under the guidelines of Morally Responsible Investment.

I look forward to your public or open response to us.


The Rev. Robert C. Assaly
Canadian Friends of Sabeel


Your company is such an absolute farce. Ban Israel for their policies but still do business with China. Apparently the Jews have to be taught a lesson on democracy but China doesn't. Your a joke and obviously pathetically transparent racists.

Glen Nudd

Good decision, MEC!

Should the mission of MEC ever get high-jacked by those who use 'peace' as a smokescreen to advance their anti-Israel rhetoric, that will be the end of my support for MEC.

Congratulations for keeping on task.

Howard Bentley

To use political issues for not purchasing from various countries could possibly mean that we would not be buying many products from our stores.
I'm sorry but all countries have there political issues which some of us agree with and some do not. Those people who will not buy from MEC anymore because of their beliefs should be extremely careful of the alternatives. MEC has a great record in my book for balancing cost with human issue. Some other manufacturers do not.
We (MEC and its member) should leave the political issues well alone.

Lewis Rossman

As a long time member I am relieved that MEC has made the correct decision in this matter.
I can't believe that this motion was given any credence. What is amazing is that those who condemn Israel ignore the fact that of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one that supports workers rights, women's rights, Gay rights, allows religious freedom and has a free press. Perhaps the detractors should consider all the facts before they condemn Israel

If they are so worried about Human rights,why do they not also call for a boycott of products made in other countries such as China or Sri Lanka or do they not think that there are any human rights violations there? Ask the Tibetans or the Tamils, how they feel. Obviously those whose who claim to be worried about Human Rights but only in Israel are demonstrating their own biases.

Howard Sandler

I applaud MEC for this sensible and reasoned decision not to boycott Israeli products. Israel is a western-style democracy with social and judicial checks and balances on state behavior exceeding most of the world.

Francis Dunlop

This morning (22-April-2009) The Calgary Herald indicated MEC was considering an anti-Israeli motion.

I was very happy to see your blog was updated to state that MEC is NOT taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The only side people ever take is the Palestinian side, which is of course would be the height of hypocrisy.

This means I can continue to shop at MEC, which I have done for 33 years!


Hey guys,
I won't tell you which side I'm on (strongly) and I know people on both sides also.

Please trust me when I say this is a no-win situation for MEC. No matter what is decided, there will be lots of people very upset, and business will suffer. Please don't wade in to this mess any further than you already have. Emotions run high, and both sides (including myself) tend to lose all connection with reality and rational thought, and get driven by strong emotion only. Its a no-win for any organization that goes there.

Jens Bagh

I have read of the resolution regarding trading with Israel in the Calgary Herald this morning (April 22.) and trust in view of the comments already posted by MEC that this will be heard by the AGM but not heeded. The MEC does not need to get involved in this already messy situation and will only loose customers if it tries to enter this already highly politicized situation. By all means buy from the Israelis and the Palestinians too! That is, if the Palestinians are capable of producing quality goods at a good price.

Jens Bagh

Richard Cohen

I have been a member for over 25 years and I have always found Mountain Equipment Co-op to be a leader in corporate responsibility in many areas. I commend you on your decision to keep the co-op out of “international politics”. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a highly emotionally charged issue on which most people have very strong personal beliefs. You have once again shown great leadership by sticking the co-op’s corporate mandate rather than being influenced by the personal political beliefs of members (whatever they may be). This is a courageous decision and not a sell out.

Robert Betty

Well done MEC.

I agree with MEC's decision not to be distracted by poltical agenda's of others and rather, remain focused on an appropriate target of factory conditions and worker treatment in MEC's suply chain.
Keep up the good work directing a great organization.



As a customer who loves your products, I am shocked and appalled that your company would get political and venture into the Middle East conflict and entertain thoughts of banning Israeli products. If you do so, you will lose me as a customer (and I suspect thousands of others).

Will you also ban Chinese products? Or American? Both of which have governments which have made very poor domestic and foreign policy decisions and inflict violence against either its own people or foreign people.

The audacity of organizations that seek to punish the only free democracy which has Arabs in its parliament while ignoring the atrocities of the anti-Semites is disgusting and only displays an agenda that is out of touch with reality.

So too is the disgust I would feel towards MEC, an organization I have admired and appreciated and purchased from for over a decade should they do the extremely naive and wrong-headed thing to boycott Israel.

Every debate has two sides. Is MEC going to hire a historian on its staff to dig into the history of Israel? At the very least, do some consultations with pro-Israel groups.

Long live Israel! Long live MEC!

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