Sunday, February 8, 2015

Towards Peace and Justice


We appreciate your interest in learning more about the world’s longest on-going colonial project and the massive human rights violations stemming from the associated military dictatorship. 
Israel. Palestine. Occupier. Occupied.

What are the stickers all about?

The stickers are a graphic tool to raise awareness about Israel’s systematic and violent abuses of the human rights of the Palestinian People and Canada’s complicity in maintaining these violations of international law.

Israel is the largest military power in the Middle East and the only state in the region with nuclear weapons. The United States is the world’s most powerful military power. It provides 8.5 million dollars of military aid to Israel - per day.  In addition to American military aid, the US and Canada provide unconditional diplomatic support to Israel. What the Israeli Government does with this disproportionate largesse is to subject the indigenous Palestinian people to a racist and violent system of institutionalized oppression and control. Palestinians’ human rights are brutally trampled upon on a daily basis. Their land is forcibly stolen to make way for ever expanding illegal, Jewish-only  “settlements” - in effect, militarily backed, illicit settler colonies.  Fundamental rights that Canadians simply take for granted, are routinely denied. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement and access to one’s own land, for instance are regularly curtailed by Occupation forces. Those protesting the State’s theft of private property are subject to violent military raids and arbitrary imprisonment. Colonialism is a crime. That such crimes against humanity are taking place in the 21st century with the uncritical backing of our Canadian Government is unconscionable and totally unacceptable.

People of conscience around the world are demanding that their governments stop enabling Israel in its ongoing theft of Palestinian land and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.

The aim of the Israeli Apartheid – Don’t Buy Into It sticker campaign is to educate Canadians about our Government’s role in propping up a belligerent military occupation and to provide a peaceful strategy to help end the injustice and violence.

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

Many people when they hear the word “Apartheid” think of South Africa and its history of racial segregation and control. They may recall the white supremacist government’s punishingly hard control over the lives of the Black population between 1948 and 1994.

In fact Apartheid is not limited to any one specific situation. Apartheid is an institutionalized form of racism used to establish control and maintain domination of one group over another. Apartheid moreover is an international crime against humanity. In 1973, the UN General Assembly ratified the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Every country in the world is legally bound to respect the prohibition against it.

The legal definition of the Crime of Apartheid applies to any situation, anywhere in the world, where three core elements exist.

                       1. Two distinct racial groups can be found.

International law defines “racial” to include aspects of ethnic and national origin. “Racial group” can therefore refer to sociological as well as biological factors; Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
                   2.    “Inhuman acts” are committed against the subordinate group by the oppressing group in order to maintain the domination. 

    Inhuman acts perpetrated against the Palestinian people by Israeli authorities include targeted killings, military incursions, home demolitions, lethal force against Palestinians demonstrating against Israeli war crimes, arbitrary arrest, torture of political prisoners, incarceration and abuse of children, violations against the right to movement, military occupation, expropriation of land and theft of water, colonisation, and numerous discriminatory policies in the areas of housing, education and health. Jews living in segregated illegal settlements in the West Bank are governed by Israeli civic law and vote in Israeli elections. The indigenous Palestinian residents of the West Bank live under martial law and have no voting rights. 

                  3.   Such vicious human rights violations are committed systematically in the context of an    institutionalized regime of oppression and domination by one group over a subordinate group. The violence is thus not random or isolated but represents a coherent, state-sanctioned project.

    Israel clearly meets the international definition of the Crime of Apartheid in its dealings with the People of Palestine. South African Apartheid Prime Minister Hendrick Verwoerd said so himself as far back as 1961. “Israel, like South Africa is an Apartheid State.” Over the years, the state-sponsored ruthless violence has escalated and continues to undermine Palestinians’ right to freedom, equality and self-determination. See The Israeli Law Resource Center and The Russell Tribunal for further clarification and documentation.

    Israeli Apartheid moreover is not limited to policies and practices that subjugate Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Twenty per cent of the population of the State of Israel are Palestinians - Christians or Muslims. Palestinian citizens of Israel are discriminated against as Israel insists that it is the State of the Jewish People. By definition, Palestinians are therefore relegated to second-class status; the Jewish State is inherently not a democratic state of all its citizens. This blatant racism is in fact institutionalized. There are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures.

    Palestinians residing in the diaspora outside Israel or Palestine are also subject to Israeli Apartheid practices. While Jews living anywhere in the world qualify for Israeli citizenship, Palestinians expelled from their homeland are not permitted by Israeli law (and contrary to International Law) to return home.

    By providing unconditional support to Israel, Canada plays a key role in Israel’s continuing discrimination against, dispossession of, and military occupation of Palestine. Our country’s uncritical backing of Israel therefore enables the subjugation and expanding colonisation of Palestine to continue with impunity.

    The Canadian Government is facilitating Israeli war crimes against the Land and People of Palestine! If this is unacceptable to you, we encourage you to consider BDS.

    What is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)?

    In 2005 Palestinian civil society initiated a call to the world to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and ends the occupation and siege of Palestine. The global campaign is similar to what was effectively applied to South Africa during its era of Apartheid.

    Given that all forms of international intervention have failed to convince or force Israel to uphold its obligations under international and humanitarian law, BDS is a growing global movement to exert pressure on the Government of Israel to end its illegal Occupation. (Full text of the Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS.)

    In addition to Boycotting Israeli products and companies that profit from Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights - the focus of our Sticker campaign, there is Divestment from portfolios of Israeli companies and institutions complicit in human rights abuses, and Sanctions that Nations can apply to   encourage Israel to fall in line with international human rights norms.

    Broadly speaking, there are three goals BDS aims to achieve.

    1.  Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the illegal Separation Wall that cuts Palestinians off from their communities, properties and families. 
    2.  Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
    3.  Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

    What to Boycott Until Israel Terminates its Occupation and Subjugation of Palestine?

    Don’t buy goods from Israel or companies that support Israel’s colonial expansion. In the Vancouver Area your consumer boycott may include Chapters, Home Depot, Sears, SodaStream, Re/Max, Eden Springs water, Golan Heights and Galil Mountain Winery, and certain fruit and vegetables, labelled “Grown in Israel”, but often produced on occupied Palestinian land. Lists of products being boycotted can be found on the BDS National Committee’s website and the Vancouver-based, Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign’s pamphlet. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East has good, comprehensive background information and specifics on products and companies to boycott here.

    What’s the significance of the long number beginning with 729 on the sticker?

    Every country has a barcode assigned to it. It is referred to as the UPC – Universal Product Code. Israel’s begins with 729. Checking for this on product packages can serve as a rough guide, for while the code does indicate which country a company is from, it doesn’t tell you in what country the product was produced. If a Dutch company for example sells a product made in Israel, the package will display 871 – the Netherland’s bar code and not Israel’s 729.

    Please use the stickers responsibly.

    They are meant to be used as an educational tool to facilitate social and political change by raising awareness about human rights violations. Use them wisely, for example on your personal property - to launch a conversation on human rights abuses in Palestine, and to explore strategies to improve the situation. Do not place them on private or public property where it may be illegal. Please do not place stickers in places that may result in violations of local laws. PAC cannot be held responsible for consequences of vandalism or any other inappropriate use of the stickers.  

    Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about the on-going humanitarian and political crisis in Palestine. Together we can end this Occupation!

    The Palestine Awareness Coalition

    “The temptation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine … yet we would be less than human if we did so.” 

    - Nelson Mandela