Montreal, October 26, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) applauds Dr. David Kattenburg for his application for judicial review of the decision of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in a matter of wines mislabelled as “Product of Israel.” Kattenburg had originally filed a complaint in March to the CFIA demonstrating that the wines in question were actually being produced in the West Bank – a territory never attributed or recognized as being part of Israel proper. The CFIA ultimately decided that it would allow the wines to continue to be imported and labelled as “Product of Israel” concluding that the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) overrode Canadian consumer protection laws.Read more
By Neil Macdonald, CBC, October 24, 2017
The time has come to call the duck a duck. It's time to agree with a long list of Israeli political leaders, academics and public figures on both the political left and right, including three former prime ministers, a winner of the Israel prize, two former heads of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, and one of the country's principal newspapers, all of whom have warned that the Jewish state is becoming, or already is, an apartheid state.
I would choose the latter characterization.
It's interesting that within the Israeli discourse, the assertion seems to have become routine, while it remains radioactive in the West, where energetic pro-Israel activists scrutinize the media, the academy and the polity, ready to declare anti-Semitism or incitement at any use of the word.
Look at the outrage and venom poured upon former President Jimmy Carter, under whose brokerage the peace accord between Israel and Egypt was signed, when he titled a 2006 book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.
Suddenly, Carter was transformed from a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and statesman to a dotty old man under the sway of terrorists, at least in the eyes of Israel's supporters, including a significant fraction of his own cohort, Evangelical American Christians.
But reality is reality, and a duck is a duck. As the late Yossi Sarid, longtime leader of Israel's Meretz party and former education minister once put it: "What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid."
This past June, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak re-stated a position he's held for years: "If we keep controlling the whole area from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan where some 13 million people are living — eight million Israelis, five million Palestinians ... if only one entity reigned over this whole area, named Israel, it would become inevitably — that's the key word, inevitably – either non-Jewish or non-democratic." The country is, he repeated, "on a slippery slope" that ends in apartheid.
The dividing line between prominent Israelis who use the term in the here and now, rather than as a warning of what's coming, seems to be the continued existence of the "peace process," with its promise of a Palestinian state, and self-governance.
And when I was posted in Jerusalem for CBC News, back in the late '90s, that actually did seem like a possibility, if an unlikely one.
Since then, the peace process — always half-hearted — has utterly collapsed. Expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank continued, and since the election of Donald Trump, colonization has surged with an invigorated enthusiasm.
Their existence is in fact currently being celebrated in a series of appearances by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"We are here to stay, forever," he declared two months ago in the settlement of Barkan, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
"There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel." (The "Land of Israel," as opposed to the State of Israel, is a term used by the Israeli right to describe all the territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, and sometimes even further).
Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, respectively Israel's justice and education ministers, have said the Palestinians must understand they will never have a state. Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman, a settler, has said there is "no hope" of a mutually agreed upon Palestinian state, but has warned Naftali Bennett against promoting outright annexation:
"What Bennett and his Jewish Home party are proposing is a classical bi-national state," Liberman said two years ago. "They need to decide if they're talking about a bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean … or whether they're talking about an apartheid state."
Liberman's logic seems to be that as long as the Palestinians are simply occupied and governed by a different set of laws, with far fewer rights than Israelis (as opposed to denying them a state but giving them a vote in some expanded version of Israel, which the Israeli right considers national suicide), then it is not really apartheid.
But annexation at this point would merely amount to staging a home already sold.
In the past decade, Ze'ev Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall" doctrine has given rise to an actual wall, sometimes an iron one, running roughly along the 1967 borders of the West Bank and Gaza. The main roads from Jerusalem north to Ramallah and Nablus and south to Bethlehem and Hebron are now blocked by gigantic, fortified military barriers. The roughly three quarters of a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have complete freedom of movement and their own set of roads, effectively forbidden to the disenfranchised Palestinian underclass.
Settlers suspected of crimes are entitled to full rights in Israeli courts; Palestinians endure military tribunals, indefinite imprisonment without charge ("administrative detention") and collective punishment. Settlers are entitled to carry arms and use them in self-defence; Palestinians are not. Settlers have property rights. Palestinians have property claims. Et cetera.
Netanyahu frames it all as a matter of national survival, warning that any land conceded will immediately be occupied by fundamentalist terrorists determined to destroy the State of Israel, with its nuclear weapons, tanks, fighter jets, layered missile defence systems and 600,000-plus active and reserve troops.
His definition of terrorism is a nuanced one; at an event a few years ago commemorating the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by Irgun fighters, considered a terrorist act by the British government to this day, Netanyahu characterized the perpetrators as legitimate military fighters, and warned the outraged British government to watch its language.
But then, an elastic worldview is apparently necessary to maintain the status quo; when Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party signed a formal reconciliation recently with the "terrorists" of Hamas, who rule Gaza, both Israel and the United States objected, saying such a union endangers, yes, the peace process. The fact that today's terrorists tend to become tomorrow's statesmen (the Irgun bombers later joined the nascent government of Israel, and former Irgun chief Menachem Begin became prime minister) is apparently irrelevant in this context.
At any rate, Ehud Barak's slippery slope is now in the rearview mirror. Yossi Sarid's duck has arrived. Let's accept that, drop the pretense, and move on.
Montreal, October 5, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is thrilled to announce that the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has officially endorsed its Peace in Palestine campaign. The campaign is a strategy to get Canada’s parliamentarians to pass a motion calling for an end to Israel’s illegal “settlements” (a.k.a. colonies.)Read more
Montreal, September 27, 2017 – In light of Canada’s silence on Israel’s human rights abuses, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) launches the Peace in Palestine campaign in an effort to force Canada’s politicians to have an honest public discussion about Israel’s illegal settlements and how Canada must respond. The goal of the campaign is to have Parliament pass a motion condemning Israel’s illegal “settlements” (aka colonies), which are an ongoing obstacle to peace and violate Palestinians’ human rights.Read more
Montreal, July 13, 2017 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a warning concerning the mislabelling of wines from Israeli colonies (aka “settlements”) as products of Israel. CFIA clarified that these grapes are “grown, fermented, processed, blended, and finished in the West Bank occupied territory,” – territories never attributed or recognized as being part of Israel proper. Following the CFIA report, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) discontinued the importation of these mislabelled wines, with remaining bottles to be removed from store shelves. CJPME commends CFIA for its decision to ensure rigor, transparency, and compliance in regards to the labeling of wines coming from the Middle East, specifically the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT.)Read more
Montreal, July 13, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) wishes to direct media attention to Dr. David Kattenburg, the Winnipeg resident who initiated the complaint to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) which resulted in a directive to liquor vendors to suspend sales of wines falsely labelled as “Made in Israel.”Read more
Montreal, June 15, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) urges Canada to sign on to Amnesty International’s campaign calling on all countries to refuse to recognize or assist illegal Jewish-only Israeli “settlements” (a.k.a. colonies.) Late last week, Amnesty introduced their “Occupation @ 50” campaign urging governments around the world to ban the import of all goods produced in Israeli colonies. In addition, Amnesty encourages countries like Canada to introduce national legislation to ensure that companies operating in Canada are not involved in Israel’s settlement enterprise or in the trading of settlement goods.Read more
Montreal, February 8, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) again implores the Trudeau government to publicly condemn yet another step in Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians from the West Bank. Right-wing coalition members of the Israeli government forced the bill, and it passed 60-52 in Israel’s parliament – the Knesset. Israel’s so-called “Regulation Bill” was slammed as a means to “legalize theft” of Palestinian land. “The Trudeau government’s ongoing silence on this, and other recent Israeli steps to dispossess Palestinians is unconscionable,” declared Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME.Read more
Montreal, February 2, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) considers the Trudeau government’s behaviour embarrassing in the face of dramatic announcements by Israel to expand its illegal “settlements.” In addition to announcing 3000 new settlement units yesterday, the Israeli government announced plans to break ground on an entirely new settlement – the first time since the late 1990s. “The Trudeau government says it believes in the two-state solution, but its silence these past few weeks tells a different story,” declared Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “The Trudeau government gives lip-service to Middle East peace, but continues to turn a blind eye to the illegal Israeli colonization of land that is slated to be part of a Palestinian state.”Read more
Montreal, January 31, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) calls on the Canadian government to condemn Israel’s recent statements announcing its intention to expand its illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. In the week ending Friday, Jan. 27th, Israel made three separate settlement expansion announcements, yet Canada remained unresponsive. “Not only are such announcements contrary to international law,” declared Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME, “But such belligerent moves also contradict long-standing Canadian policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”Read more