Response to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) article in the G&M
by coalition of Christian & Muslim Arab-Canadian organizations
The Globe and Mail, while publishing a piece by the Israeli lobbydesigned to intimidate United Church of Canada (UCC) Commissioners voting on the boycott report, repeatedly chose not to publish opposing letters, including this letter below from key Arab-Canadian Christian and Muslim organizations.
By choosing to publish only an Israeli Lobby op-ed, replete with distortions and trashing the church, “Canada’s national newspaper” covertly, if disingenuously, willfully co-opted itself as an instrument of Israeli State Hasbara “propaganda”.
What the Globe and Mail twice declined to publish prior to the final UCC vote:
A letter of response to Fogel’s commentary has been endorsed by a coalition of nine Christian and Muslim
The lobbyists’ claim that the pending resolution “would put the United Church outside the genuine peace movement and the Canadian consensus” is bizarre (“Boycott of Israeli settlements would shatter United Church credibility,” Aug 14).
Our organizations, including Canada’s oldest Middle East peace NGO, have been at the core of the “genuine peace movement” — without Mr. Fogel and his lobby. We reflect Canada’s official position on the Occupied Territories: Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Swallowing up Palestinian lands outside of Israel and destroying prospects of peace, those lands are seized from Palestinian Christians and Muslims by Israeli military force of arms in occupied territories and handed over to Jewish settlers.
United Church faithfulness to its very principles would neither allow it to ignore the call of its own Palestinian Christian partners to merely boycott products from stolen land and resources, nor jeopardize relations with Christian and Muslim Arab-Canadians.
From the following organizations, each of which have signed on to this letter through their authorized representatives:
Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation
The Rev. Robert Assaly, President (Montreal)
Canadian Arab Federation
Farid Ayad, National President (Toronto)
Canadian Friends of Sabeel
Dr. Magi Abdul-Masih, (Ph.D, Ph.D), National Director (Halifax)
Canadian Palestine Association
Dr. Ismail Zayid, President (Halifax)
Canadian Shia Muslims Organization
Riaz Hussainis, President (Toronto)
Palestine Community and Information Centre
Issam al-Yamani, Executive Director (Mississauga)
Palestinian Association of Brantford
Ibrahim Kanaan, Vice President (Brantford)
Islamic Society of York Region
Zafar Bangash, Director (Richmond Hill, ON.)
Palestinian Association of Hamilton
Wael Ghuneim, President (Hamilton)
Other unpublished responses
I wish to strongly commend the United Church on its integrity and courage in passing the motion to boycott Israel. This motion is not new; it has been presented several times in earlier general meetings of the church. While it has been fully supported by members of the Jewish-Israeli community, such as myself, it has also met with fierce opposition from large parts of the Jewish community and its allies. However, the people challenging this resolution are protecting a country that has been occupying Palestinian land for over 60 years while most of the world has been silent, even though, since1948, Israel has never been honest in its role in peace negotiation and has benefited far too long from confiscated Palestinian land and other resources. If the world does not fight these injustices by boycotting, divesting and sanctioning, Israel will only continue its ways. By passing this motion the United Church is taking a stand that should be followed by anyone who cares about justice and human rights.
Smadar Carmon, Toronto
Actually it is the author, Mr. Fogel and his organization the Centre for Israeli and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) that have no credibility. CIJA is a lobby group for a foreign state which has a very right-wing government and no Charter of Rights. A boycott of settlement products is a very moderate and peaceful action to take considering that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is illegal according to international law. In addition, it is an extremely oppressive occupation. Israel confiscates Palestinian land daily under a variety of pretexts. Settlers harass farmers working their land and children walking to school. Israel determines which roads can be used by Palestinians, refuses building permits to Palestinians in their own lands and destroys their water cisterns. Israel rules the West Bank but the Palestinians have no vote. It’s past time we took a strong stand against this illegal and inhuman treatment. Kudos United Church of Canada.
Linda Belanger, Toronto