CJPME Factsheet 238, created December 2023: This revised and updated factsheet explains why the Palestine solidarity movement in Canada has been calling for boycott of Indigo Books & Music Inc., since 2006. It outlines how the founder and CEO of Indigo Heather Reisman co-founded the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which encourages foreigners to join the Israeli army and continue their studies in Israel. The factsheet also explores additional ties between HESEG and the Israeli military.Read more
In this episode, Michael is joined by Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the UK. They discuss the anti-boycott bill currently being pushed by the British conservative government, how it poses a threat to freedom of speech and expression, and how civil society is fighting back to defend the ‘right to boycott.’Read more
CJPME Congratulates Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Churches for Adopting Resolution on Palestine and Israel
Montreal, July 6, 2023 - CJPME has sent a letter to the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) to congratulate them for adopting a principled resolution in support of Palestinian human rights. Read the letter text below, or click here to download a PDF.Read more
Montreal, June 8, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) congratulates the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Manitoba) for endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. BDS is a Palestinian-led movement to put economic pressure on Israel until it complies with international law. A resolution unanimously adopted by delegates at the CUPE Manitoba Convention on May 17-19 resolved to “support the [BDS] movement to end Israeli Apartheid and the oppression of Palestinians.” CUPE Manitoba represents approximately 37,000 workers in Manitoba.Read more
February 22, 2016: Parliament votes to condemn Canadians who boycott Israel
“We join our voices together to express our deep concern about the Opposition motion that condemns the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. We are strongly committed to democratic rights and freedoms for all Canadians […] Any attempt to criminalize, condemn, intimidate or silence peaceful and nonviolent actions of individuals and groups that support or sympathize with the BDS movement, should be rejected.” – Joint statement from Canadian civil society groups
On this day in 2016, Canada’s parliament unfairly targeted Canadians who stand up for Palestinian rights by voting (229-51) to condemn the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its supporters. BDS is a non-violent movement launched by Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 to put pressure on the Israeli government to end its human rights violations. Canadian civil society organizations including the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE) and the Canadian Labour Congress strongly criticized the motion, saying that “any attempt to criminalize, condemn, intimidate or silence peaceful and nonviolent actions of individuals and groups that support or sympathize with the BDS movement, should be rejected.”
The heavy-handed motion was introduced by the Opposition Conservative Party and called for the House of Commons to reject the BDS movement for allegedly promoting the “demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.” The motion also called for the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) warned that the government’s “vague” condemnation “chills public discussion both of the BDS movement and the Israeli State more broadly.”
In total, 229 Members of Parliament voted in favour of condemning the BDS movement while only 51 opposed it. While the Conservatives and most Liberals voted for the motion, MPs from the New Democrats (NDP) and Bloc Quebecois (BQ) voted against it. While few MPs defended BDS in itself, many cited the importance of free expression and the right to boycott. NDP MP Charlie Angus argued that whether MPs agree with BDS or not, “it is the role of parliamentarians to stand up for individual rights,” adding that he is “shocked” that members would vote to “condemn individuals for their right to dissent.”
Many observers noted that even though the motion did not outlaw or criminalize the BDS movement, it had the potential to create a “chilling effect” for Canadian groups seeking to speak out against the violations of Palestinian human rights under Israeli oppression, constituting an infringement of their freedom of speech. Yet, on the very same day of the vote, McGill University’s Student Society voted to adopt BDS, demonstrating that support for the BDS movement continues to grow in Canada and beyond. Over the years, organizations representing millions of Canadians have endorsed the BDS movement, including CUPE-Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Canadian Federation of Students, Mennonite Church Canada, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and dozens of labour and student unions.
CJPME is a member of the BDS-Quebec coalition, which released the following press release about Quebec's pension fund, la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which has invested in the Israeli company Policity Ltd.Read more
CJPME Factsheet No. 231, published August 2022: This factsheet looks at the history of the successful boycott campaign against Pillsbury products. It explains how Pillsbury had been operating in the illegal Israeli settlements, outlines the goals of the boycott campaign, and explains the company's decision to divest in 2022.Read more
Goals of the BDS movement
In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations appealed to the international community to impose a strategy of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a way to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights and international law. The BDS movement will end once Israel complies with these three demands: 1) End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; 2) Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Why is CJPME calling for a boycott of Israel?
- Over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations have asked for such a boycott. They did so because the international community's attempts to modify Israel's conduct by "constructive engagement" (i.e.dialogue, pressure at the UN, etc.) have failed entirely. Successive Israeli governments have ignored dozens of UN resolutions condemning Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, its siege of Gaza, its establishment of illegal colonies (settlements) in occupied Palestinian territories, and its systemic discrimination against Palestinians resident in the occupied territories and Israel. Israeli governments have also violated most of the key commitments they undertook in signed peace accords to stop engaging in those actions. Since Israel is an image-conscious, trade-dependent country, a boycott may well work where diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiations have not.
- Many multinational and Israeli companies are violating international law by investing in or profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Click here for targeted brands and why you should boycott them. All economic ties with Israel - even ones not directly implicated in the occupation - bolster its economy. This in turn has helped successive governments fund and promote the Occupation.
- BDS tactics have had success in other contexts, including the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We can learn from this legacy, which shows that non-violent resistance and economic pressure can play a major role in challenging systems of oppression.
To learn more about why BDS is justified, check out these quick talking points.
What injustices are being committed by Israel?
The original Palestinian call for BDS was motivated by the following injustices by Israel…
- Continued construction of the Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory in contempt of the International Court of Justice’s 2004 finding that the Wall and its associated regime are illegal.
- Continued expansion of Israeli colonies, to a population of almost 500,000, 40 years into Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights.
- Unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and de facto annexation of large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall.
- Sixty years after the State of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are still refugees, most of whom are stateless.
- Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens.
Each of these acts is in violation of International Law and, most notably, International Humanitarian Law.
Responding to criticisms
Sometimes, BDS is criticized and it is important to know what to do if ever you hear BDS being criticized as being, for example, antisemitic or violent. Check out the resources below to stand up for BDS!
- For an overview of BDS and some common questions, see Factsheet 195 - BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)
- Wondering how to respond to accusations that your solidarity with Palestinians is 'singling out Israel'? Scroll through our workshop PowerPoint (and share it with friends!)
- Check out these common myths about Palestinian-Israel
Montreal, June 14, 2022 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) congratulates the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) for endorsing a series of measures in support of Palestinian human rights, including sanctions on Israel. A resolution adopted by the OFL and published today in a statement on international solidarity calls for an end to Canadian arms sales to Israel, a ban on goods from illegal Israel settlements, and divestment from Israeli military companies. Another resolution adopted by the OFL upholds free speech on Palestine by rejecting the discredited IHRA definition of antisemitism, which equates legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. The OFL is Canada’s largest labour federation, representing more than 1,500 locals from 54 affiliated unions.Read more