In response to Mr. Fegelman’s letter of November 6th:
Let’s set the record straight, BDS is an international movement begun in 2005 with a call to the international community from 170 Palestinian non-governmental organizations. The BDS movement calls upon the international community to use non-violent measures - boycott, divestment and sanctions - until Israel fully complies with international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Contrary to Mr. Fegelman’s statement that BDS is “outside the Canadian consensus,” according to an EKOS poll published in March 2017, two-thirds of Canadians think government sanctions on Israel would be reasonable in light of last year’s UN Security Council resolution condemning the construction of Israeli settlements. Canadians value peace and non-violence and BDS is a non-violent way to work for justice and peace.
Mr. Fegelman left an important part of the quote from Abbas out of his letter. The statement was made at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013. The whole quote was: “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel, but we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.”
At the time many in Palestine and in the international community said that this quote only reinforced Abbas’s disconnect from the Palestinian people. Mr. Abbas’ objective in making this statement was to protect the trade with Israel from which Mr. Abbas and other rich Palestinians in the West Bank profit.
Mr. Fegelman does not seem to realize that Israel has conducted an illegal, violent occupation of Palestinian land and people for 50 years. Israel has the world’s 14th largest military, Canada is 20th, and has almost unlimited military support from the United States. What do the Palestinians have? You might call it a police force if you stretch it a bit. So how can he use words like “differential treatment” as if there was some kind of equal military might?
Mr. Fegelman says the BDS movement doesn’t care about peace. The BDS movement is me and Richard and hundreds of people I know and millions I don’t know personally who support the only way we know how to work non-violently for peace with justice for Israel and Palestine. We will not accept Mr. Fegelman’s comments.
All we want is that Israeli children and Palestinian children grow up with equal dignity, rights and respect for each other. All we care about is justice and security for both peoples. That is the righteous cause for which we work in a non-violent way with all who care to join in that effort. Boycott and divestment are time-honoured ways that have been successfully used to counter injustice in the past.
An international movement of boycott and divestment was critical to ending apartheid in South Africa and a similar movement is growing to end the occupation of Palestine. It is the growing success of this international, grassroots movement that is obviously disturbing people like Mr. Fegelman.
Such a movement would not be necessary if Israel would stop taking land, water and other resources that belong to the Palestinians, would abide by international law, and would allow Palestinians their basic human rights.
- Jim Wicks of Charlottetown is a member of Islanders for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.