Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Letter from Jews for a Just Peace to United Church of Canada," August 9, 2006.

We strongly disagree with the address to your gathering from the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) opposing the motion on ethical investment. The CJC’s claim to represent Canadian Jews is invalid. They certainly do not represent us.

Vancouver, B.C.
August 9, 2006

Jim Sinclair, ''
Executive Secretary of General Council,
United Church of Canada.

*Submission by Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver, B.C. to the 39th General Council of the United Church of Canada August 13-19, 2006 regarding Proposal GS 2,“Ethical Investment for Peace in Palestine and Israel*”.

Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver believes in the right of both Israel and the Palestinians to live in peace and security. The Palestinians have the right to establish a viable independent state in the whole of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. (This does not preclude the eventual establishment of one democratic bi-national state, with equal rights for both peoples.)

We support the principles of human rights and self determination and oppose all violence against civilians, whether perpetrated by the state or by others. We deplore all racism and ethnic hatred, whether directed against Jews, Arabs or any other group.

The most urgent problem is the Israeli occupation and the refusal of the Israeli government to recognize the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, in all its forms, under their own leadership. Occupation is violence. The occupation must end before there can be hope for a lasting, just peace.

We wrote those words years ago and since then, we’re sorry to say, the situation has only become worse.

Israel has chosen not to recognize the Palestinians’ democratically elected Hamas government and, with the support of the U.S. and, other western countries, has been withholding funds from the Palestinian government. This has resulted in further deterioration in the already deplorable living conditions of Palestinians.

In the west bank, Israel’s expansion into Palestinian territory continues at a rapid rate. This has nothing to do with security or prevention of attacks against civilians. To quote Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, in a recent statement:

"Israel’s occupation is being institutionalized and made permanent. Neither security nor terrorism are really the issue; Israel’s policies of annexation are based on a pro-active claim to the entire country. Virtually no element of the Occupation – the establishment of some 300 settlements, expropriation of most West Bank land, the demolition of 12,000 Palestinian homes, the uprooting of a million olive and fruit trees, the construction of a massive system of highways to link the settlements into Israel proper or the tortuous route of the Barrier deep in
Palestinian territory – can be explained by security. Terrorism on all sides is wrong (let it be noted that Israel has killed four times more civilians than the Palestinians have), but to demand that resistance cease while an occupation is being made permanent is unconscionable."

In Gaza, the siege continues. Israel has kidnapped elected Palestinian officials, shelled and bombed, conducted military operations resulting in civilian deaths, and destroyed civilian infrastructure – power grids, bridges, government buildings and more. Still understood as occupation under international law, Israel controls Gazan airspace, borders and ports.

The appeals to the Israeli government to end their harsh treatment of Palestinians –appeals from Israelis and from around the world -- for justice and compassion, employed in the past have simply not worked. That’s why stronger measures are called for, measures such as selective divestment. That’s why we support the proposal coming before your council “Ethical Investment for Peace in Palestine and Israel”.

We strongly disagree with the address to your gathering from the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) opposing the motion on ethical investment. The CJC’s claim to represent Canadian Jews is invalid. They certainly do not represent us.

There is no such thing as a benign occupation. We support the views of the prominent Israeli writer, the late Yeshayahu Leibovitz, who wrote: “We must free ourselves from the curse of dominating another people”.

Respectfully submitted by Jews for a Just Peace

For further information, contact:
Stephen Aberle
Tel. 604-765-7074
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