Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Mountain Equipment Co-op and Israel ," Peace and Global Educators, February 7, 2009.

Peace and Global Educators (PAGE) would like to express concern over the position of Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) with regard to Israel.

According to communications from Harvey Chan, Director of Ethical Sourcing, MEC “partners” with factories in Israel. In PAGE’s view, this is incompatible with MEC’s promotion of itself as an ethical organization. MEC’s engagement with Israel is incompatible with its professed concern for both human rights and the environment.
Mr. Chan’s statement that MEC "will not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" is a mischaracterization of the conflict as being between two equal sides.

This simply is not the case. The kill ratio, since December 2008, has been roughly 100:1. Israel is the world's 17th largest military spender. Gaza, under an Israeli blockade, is effectively the world's largest prison. There is no comparison.

In the context of the aforementioned statement by MEC, PAGE understands MEC to be siding with the clearly more powerful actor. This interpretation of the MEC position seems born out by Mr. Chan’s statement that MEC will cease doing business with Israel only if guided by Canada and the United Nations. PAGE understands this as a strong commitment to continue doing business with Israel. As Mr. Chan is likely aware, Canada is the only country on a UN human rights panel to have voted against a ceasefire in Gaza, and UN sanctions against Israel are subject to an automatic US veto.

Apart from human rights issues in Israel, PAGE questions the need for MEC to have its seamless underwear manufactured halfway around the world. This unnecessarily increases MEC’s carbon footprint, and needlessly ships jobs offshore. PAGE questions MEC’s commitment not only to human rights, but also to the environment and the local economy.

PAGE is concerned that MEC’s members may not be aware of their organization’s disturbing lack of concern for the human rights of Palestinians. We call on MEC members to pressure the MEC Board of Directors to reverse its position on Israel. We also encourage MEC members to elect a Board of Directors that is sincere about ethical principles. The MEC election runs from February 19 to April 9, 2009.

Executive Committee
Peace and Global Educators (PAGE)
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