The following open letter was sent today to Heather McPherson, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic and cc’d to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and BC Premier John Horgan.
Dear Ms. McPherson:
On December 22, 2021, you issued a statement marking the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. As you correctly noted in your statement, that resolution is “binding under international law”, and called for “States to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
You went on to state that “New Democrats also urge Canada to end all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine.”
Your statement echoed earlier ones from the NDP on this subject of trade with the illegal Israeli settlements. Although such words are commendable, it would be profoundly more impactful if they were backed up with action. Action in areas where the NDP has influence, for example in BC where the NDP government is in power and could take a stand to remove the illicit Israeli settlement wines being carried in publicly owned BC liquor stores.
For almost 14 years, I have been one of many human rights activists in BC that have been campaigning to have successive provincial governments called to task on this issue. We have picketed, we have sent letters, we have done petitions, we have promoted educational sessions; our social media posts highlighting our actions have reached tens of thousands of people. Some of the activists on our pickets were people who stood in front of the exact same liquor stores years ago and called for the boycott of South African apartheid wines. They were an embodiment of the links that bind all oppressed peoples everywhere.
When the NDP took power in the BC legislature in 2017, we were hopeful that there would be a change in policy on stocking these products of war crimes in BC stores. We were disappointed. When the NDP convention in April 2021 passed their resolution committing to end “all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine”, it looked encouraging. How could such strong words, such a clear commitment passed by a large majority, not be followed by action to implement one of the most clear-cut cases of illegal settlement trade in Canada. But again, at least to date, we have been disappointed.
A new statement issued last month by over 25 organizations laid out the basic facts:
The Israeli wines carried in BC stores have consistently been linked to the Israeli settlement enterprise. The wines in question are either from the Golan Heights Winery and its joint venture the Galil Winery; or from the Israeli Teperberg Winery, which proudly displays a map on its website showing vineyards in occupied Palestinian territory. According to the progressive Israeli research group “Who Profits”, Teperberg Winery “owns and sources from vineyards in the occupied West Bank, including in the Ezion Bloc settlement and in Mevo Horon.”
Human rights violations are not a valid “consumer choice” – but they are the choice being made every day by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch …The current BC government has recently shown its disregard for the rights of indigenous people, with its violent raids on Wet’suwet’en territory. They need to make a change and respect international law rather than violating it.
From Turtle Island to Palestine, profiting off colonization is a crime!
We call on you, as the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, to make this issue a priority. Enough has been said, the time is now for concrete steps to show that profiteering off war crimes is unacceptable. In August 2019, a NDP statement regarding the labelling of these illegal Israeli settlement wines concluded: “The NDP will always stand up for what is right, even when others don’t have the courage to do it.”
Where is that courage now to do what is right? Your party’s credibility is on the line.
Member, Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver