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Rights + Justice

Why We Greens Still Push for Anti-Occupation Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

Members on Israel and Palestine: ‘Green party values oblige us to stand with the oppressed.’

24 Green Party of Canada Signatories 13 Sep

On August 7, 2016, Green Party of Canada members who attended the party’s biannual convention in Ottawa voted overwhelmingly to support a limited use of boycott, divestment and sanctions against those sectors of Israel’s economy and society that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

That occupation has caused incalculable suffering to the Palestinian people. As stated by the Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Palestinians’ “humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

For decades, Israel’s occupation has facilitated its construction of settlements in the West Bank. In 2004, the International Court of Justice determined that Israel’s settlements and those parts of its separation wall that jut into occupied territory violate international law.

Canada’s own government states that “Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” and “constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

Moreover, according to Amnesty International, Israel employs torture “with impunity”, and makes extensive use of collective punishment. These too are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Despite all of this, no Western government has ever applied meaningful pressure on Israel to end its severe human rights abuses. Civil society is therefore filling the legal void and is offering to the long-suffering Palestinian people a realistic path to self-determination. That is the essence of BDS. Its supporters seek nothing more than respect for human rights law.

BC Green leader ‘misguided’

All of this is a bridge too far for Dr. Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party. Dr. Weaver issued a statement immediately after the GPC’s convention declaring that the policy’s adoption “represents a significant step away from the values that define the B.C. Green Party... BDS is a politically motivated movement that damages any attempt at peace in the Middle East by assigning blame to one party.” Mr. Weaver went so far as to criticize the GPC for allowing the BDS resolution onto the convention floor.

Although we commend Dr. Weaver for his exemplary work in the field of climate change, we believe that his perspective on the GPC’s BDS resolution, which is quintessentially an issue of human rights, is misguided.

Much like the GPC, the B.C. Green Party declares its core values to be sustainability, respect for diversity, participatory democracy, ecological wisdom, social justice and non-violence.

We are at a loss to understand how any of those values could conceivably be violated by the imposition of peaceful economic and political sanctions on a state that employs torture with impunity, repeatedly violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, and institutes an occupation that is comparable to South African apartheid.

Quashing debate

We are even more perplexed by the suggestion that the Green Party of Canada ought not to have permitted debate about the BDS resolution on our convention floor. In our view, that suggestion cannot be reconciled with the B.C. Green Party’s commitment to participatory democracy.

Israel possesses the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. Its military superiority over the Palestinian people is overwhelming. For decades, Israel has exploited that superiority to confiscate Palestinian land in violation of international law. In the face of so obvious an imbalance of power, those who refuse to stand with the oppressed are enabling the oppressor. The values of the Green Parties of Canada and B.C. oblige us to stand with the oppressed. 

Signatories to this opinion piece:

Chris Alders (Alberta)
Former Atlantic Canada Organizer, Green Party of Canada
Member, Green Party of Canada

Lisa Barrett (B.C.)
International Affairs Critic, Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet
Green Party of Canada Candidate: West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast (1997); Vancouver Centre (2015)
Mayor, Bowen Island Municipality (1999-2006)

Mark Bigland-Pritchard (Saskatchewan)
Deputy Leader, Green Party of Saskatchewan (2011-2012)
Green Party of Canada Candidate, Saskatoon—Wanuskewin (2011); Saskatoon—Grasswood (2015)

Saul Bottcher (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Brampton Center (2015)

Vincent J. Carbonneau (Quebec)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Dorval—Lachine—Lasalle (2015)

Sharon Danley (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Spadina—Fort York (2015)

Erin Davis (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Hamilton—Stoney Creek (2015)

Vince Fiorito (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Burlington (2015)

Roger Fleury (Quebec)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Hull Alymer (2011, 2015)
Executive member of the Green Party of QuébecChief of the Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples of Québec

Collin Griffiths(Quebec)
Science & Technology Critic, Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Pontiac (2015)

David Kattenburg (Manitoba)
Member, Green Party of Canada

Constantine Kritsonis (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: York Centre (1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 2015)
Former member of Green Party of Canada Federal Council

Dimitri Lascaris (Ontario)
Justice Critic, Green Party of Canada Shadow Cabinet
Green Party of Canada Candidate: London West (2015)

Corey Levine (B.C.)
Member, Green Party of Canada

Eva Manly (B.C.)
Member, Green Party of Canada
Delegate, Women’s Boat to Gaza (2016)

Jim Manly (B.C.)
Member, Green Party of Canada
Delegate, Canadian Boat to Gaza (2012)

Allan Menard (Manitoba)
CEO of the Green Party of Canada Electoral District Association of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley

Elizabeth Peloza (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Ontario Election Organizer (2011 & 2015)
Past EDA executive member: Kitchener—Centre & London—Fanshawe

Matthew Peloza (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: London-Fanshawe (2011 & 2015)
Past EDA executive member: Kitchener-Centre & London-Fanshawe

Nicole Peltier (Ontario)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Nipissing—Timiskaming (2015)
Green Party of Ontario Candidate: Nipissing (2014)
CEO of the Green Party of Canada Electoral District Association of Nipissing—Timiskaming

Diana Ralph (Ontario)
Member, Green Party of Canada
Member, Independent Jewish Voices

Reverend Karen Rodman (Ontario)
Member, Green Party of CanadaFormer Accompanier through World Council of Churches to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2014)

Alex Tyrrell (Quebec)
Leader, Green Party of Quebec
Member, Green Party of Canada

Dr. Abraham Weizfeld (Quebec)
Green Party of Canada Candidate: Pierrefonds—Dollard (2015)
Executive member of the Green Party of Québec

Read more: Rights + Justice, Politics

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