BC Attorney General David Eby finally responded to two of the initiating groups on an Open Letter, regarding BC government liquor stores carrying Israeli wines in violation of international humanitarian laws. Mr. Eby refused to meet with representatives of the 30 groups who sponsored and endorsed the letter, and insisted again to focus solely on the “customers’ right to make choices”. Here is the public answer to Eby from CPA Vancouver and BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish.
Public Response to David Eby regarding Israeli wines in BC Liquor Stores
Oct. 17, 2018
Dear Mr. Eby:
Thank you for your brief replies to our concerns.
Once again, you have completely ignored the issues raised on this subject, this time brought forward by 30 organizations. We mentioned in our open letter that selling Israeli wines in BC liquor Stores is “in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. The UN Security Council, UN General Assembly and the Canadian government recognize the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel is in violations of many articles of this convention, including the theft of Palestinian land, building colonies in the occupied territories and transferring several hundreds of thousands of its citizens to live in them, in contravention of articles 49 and 53. Israel also expropriates and exploits the natural resources in the occupied territory to meet the needs of the occupying power, in violation of article 55. The wine that is carried in the BC Liquor Stores is the product of these Israeli settler colonialists who stole Palestinian land and its agricultural and natural resources.
The Federal Government currently imposes sanctions against 20 countries, 11 of them in the Middle East (the list does not include Israel nor Saudi Arabia), so we ask where is your “customers’ right to make choices” there?
And as noted in the open letter, these wines are mislabelled as “made in Israel” in an attempt to hide product origin, something that is currently being challenged in the Canadian courts. So how can a consumer make choices when they are not even aware of what they are buying?
As you can see, this is not a matter of a “customers’ right to make choices”. The only choices being made in these circumstances are the wrong choices. As Attorney General, would you advise any police department to not curtail the selling of stolen products in BC stores, because it infringes on a “customers’ right to make choices”?!
We feel your government is simply hiding behind the liberal façade of “customer choice” in order to avoid any meaningful discussion about your role in enabling the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Violating the many articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention amounts to war crimes. Supporting these violations is complicity in them.
As the anti Apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
And finally, your unwillingness to meet with us demonstrates an arrogance and disinterest in issues of serious concern to your constituents and British Columbians, a very disappointing approach for someone who claims to be interested in rectifying social and historical injustices.
Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Aiyanas Ormond, Coordinator, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish
c.c. All Signatory Groups on the Open Letter