We, the undersigned, write today to make clear our strong opposition to the recent Canadian government call for the resignation of Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The attack came following comments by Richard Falk on October 24 that highlighted corporate complicity in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He noted that the settlements are in clear violation of international law, and warned that civil and criminal liability may be extended to companies acting in contravention of international human rights. Falk called for boycott of corporations engaging in such business practices, drawing particular attention to the activities of Caterpillar Incorporated (USA); Veolia Environment (France); G4S (United Kingdom); The Dexia Group (Belgium); Ahava (Israel); the Volvo Group (Sweden); the Riwal Holding Group (the Netherlands); Elbit Systems (Israel); Hewlett Packard (USA); Mehadrin (Israel); Motorola (USA); Assa Abloy (Sweden); and Cemex (Mexico) in establishing and maintaining settlements.
Falk’s comments are consistent with the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and complicit corporations until Israel recognizes 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.”
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird labelled Falk’s comments “offensive and extremely unhelpful,” and “biased and disgraceful,” while Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accused Falk of “singl[ing] out the only Jewish country in the world for particularly unfair treatment.” Kenney admitted that he did not read Falk’s report before making his accusations.
Baird’s statement that exposing corporate complicity is “offensive and unhelpful” turns reality on its head; it is Canada’s ongoing support for Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine that is offensive and unhelpful. In addition, multinational corporations are not in any sense victims nor “singled out” for “unfair treatment.”
Falk’s record as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is exemplary. A distinguished scholar of international law, Falk’s voice of conscience has risen time and again to oppose Israeli impunity for human rights violations, from the Cast Lead assault on Gaza to the mass imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners. It is in fact because of his dedication to conscience that he comes under attack today.
Falk’s statement in response to Baird and Kenney pointed out the failure of the international community to take any substantive action regarding Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. “This is taking one more concrete, tangible step in saying that if governments don’t take the international law obligations of Israel seriously, and if the UN as an institution doesn’t take it seriously, then it’s time to recommend some more tangible way of implementing the obligations of Israel.”
Baird and Kenney’s criticism of Falk is only the latest in a long line of official Canadian actions in support of Israeli apartheid. From Canada’s position as one of the earliest advocates of the establishment of Israel, to being the first country to support a siege against Gaza in 2006, to Baird’s recent declarations that Canada is “Israel’s best friend,” to the defunding of Palestinian and Arab community organizations by Kenney’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Kenney’s repeated attacks on supporters of Palestinian rights, Canada’s record is one of overt support for Israeli apartheid – and its corporate partners.
We note that Canada’s rigid defense of Israeli settler colonialism speaks directly to its own realities of historical genocidal policies — including residential schools, and ongoing colonisation — including exploitation for resource extraction, of Indigenous peoples, and protection of Canadian mining corporations in their on-going human rights violations throughout Latin America and Africa
We stand in solidarity with Richard Falk and with the Palestinian people, and we call on the Canadian government to apologize for this latest attack on supporters of Palestinian human rights.
Stella Abbas, Bath, ME Haidar Abdulrazak, Calgary, AB Yousef Abudayyeh, San Diego, CA Antonio Artuso, Montreal, QC Haroon Bajwa, Vancouver, BC Khaled Barakat, Vancouver, BC Mahnaz Beiraghdar, London, ON Charles Belcher, Vancouver, BC Dave Bleakney, Ottawa, ON Robin Boodle, Victoria, BC Alison Braley-Rattai, London, ON Sharon Burns, Vancouver, BC Brian Campbell, Vancouver, BC Sam Choukeir, St. Catharines, ON Everett Coldwell, Dartmouth, NS Kathy Copps, Vancouver, BC Dr Edwin E Daniel, Victoria, BC Peter Davis, Vancouver, BC Nouzha Deramchi, Ottawa, ON Katherine Dunster, Denman Island, BC Glenn Fidler, Comox, BC Mary Fidler, Comox, BC Claudette Fortier, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC Jack Friesen, Courtenay, BC Sonia Galbi, Vancouver, BC Judith Goldschmidt, Courtenay, BC Dr Richard Gordon, Vancouver, BC Ann Grant, Vancouver, BC Donald Grayston, Vancouver, BC Richard Guillemette, Dollard, QC David Heap, London, ON Evelyn Hecht-Galinski Walt Heinzie, Delaware, ON Sandra Hennessey, London, ON Joy Johnston, Comox, BC Charlotte Kates, Vancouver, BC Nancy G Klassen, Coquitlam, BC Michel Labelle, Montreal, QC Elise Leblanc, Halifax, NS Rod Lemay, Vancouver, BC Mary Lewis, Vancouver, BC Amir M. Maasoumi, Montreal, QC Johanna Mazur, Burnaby, BC Gene McGuckin, Burnaby, BC Rabbi David Mivasair Carel Moiseiwitsch, Vancouver, BC Khaled Mouammar, Richmond Hill, ON Marlene Newesri, New York (US) Marion Pollack, retiree Valeriy Retyunin, Toronto, ON Martha Roth, Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver, BC John Soos, Vancouver, BC Michael Springate, Vancouver, BC Glen Staples, Courtenay, BC Charles Steele, Vancouver, BC Ken Stone, Hamilton, ON Susan Stout, North Vancouver, BC Ron Strand, Vancouver, BC Harvey Totten John Turnbull, Vancouver, BC Peter Vickers, BC Victor Woods, Courtenay, BC Art Young, Toronto, ON Carrie Zadrazil, Sechelt, BC