Canadian Mining Justice webinar June 8

The Canadian mining, oil and gas sector is a huge player internationally, with over 8,000 projects in over 100 countries. Yet there are virtually no regulations in Canada to prevent companies from taking advantage of weak environmental, labour, and human rights laws overseas.

Find out what you can do to engage your MP, as well as take action in your church and community, by participating in the Canadian Mining Justice Webinar, June 8 at 12:30 pm Central. Click here to register: http://www.unitedforminingjustice.com/#!events/c1xu8

For more information, see the national church’s Take Action Hold Canadian Extractive Companies Accountable.

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Pipelines: Honour Indigenous rights and climate commitments

The National Energy Board has been holding hearings into two pipelines—TransMountain and Energy East—that will carry oil from the oil sands. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna have announced interim measures to supplement these hearings.

Moderator Jordan Cantwell wrote to Minister Carr recently “to express concerns about the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines with specific reference to Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and our commitment to address global climate change.”

Add your voice to the Moderator’s by calling on the government to Honour Indigenous Rights and Climate Commitments: http://www.united-church.ca/social-action/act-now/pipelines-honour-indigenous-rights-and-climate-commitments

UNJPPI National Gathering – September 23-25 in Saskatoon

Friends:

It is time to register for the UNJPPI national gathering at Saskatoon, Sept. 23-25.

Here is the address for the Eventbrite page (for more information and registration).

www.unjppi2016.eventbrite.ca.

You will see we aren’t paying through Eventbrite and we have several categories of price, depending on whether you are flying and want to draw on the travel pool, whether you are staying at Queen’s House Retreat Centre or elsewhere in Saskatoon and whether you are from UNJPPI or a partner organization.

Only 30 people are able to stay at the Centre but 70 can come to the sessions so we are encouraging people to look for friends in Saskatoon!  And we have changed our schedule some so we really want you to stay for Sunday afternoon.  Our meals are Friday night supper and include Sunday lunch.

Pathways Forward to Justice and Reconciliation:  
Stories from Canada, Palestine and Israel
is the theme for our gathering.

We are trying to make connections between the stories of Canada and First Nations and Israel and Palestinians.  We are so pleased to have Lia Tarachansky showing her film “On the Side of the Road” Friday night and to have Jonathan Kuttab, Carmen Lansdowne and Brian Thorpe with us to talk about these issues as well as having Moderator, Jordan Cantwell with us and preaching on Sunday morning.

Please check out the Eventbrite page and register.  

We welcome people who have been to previous gatherings and we encourage newcomers to come and meet with people across Canada who are working together for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel.

Blessings,
Marianna Harris

Letter from UNJPPI to PM re Nakba Day Commemoration

A letter to the PM and party leaders has been posted on the UNJPPI website, as well as a link to a petition by IJV on this issue.

Please respond to the petition on the website.

Print the UNJPPI letter.

Letter to PM Trudeau and Party Leaders
re Nakba Day Commemoration

May 12, 2016

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

We write to you on behalf of United Network for a Just Peace for Palestine and Israel. We are a national network of United Church of Canada members and friends dedicated to a just and lasting peace for the people of Palestine and Israel in the Holy Land.

The Liberal Party and the Canadian government have issued public statements celebrating Israel’s independence day, Yom Ha’Aztmaut. We wonder why there is no recognition of Nakba Day for Palestinians?

Israel declared statehood on May 15, 1948 based on United Nations Resolution 181, which proposed that British Mandatory Palestine be partitioned into a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international jurisdiction. The proposed Jewish state represented 56% of British Mandatory Palestine, despite the fact that Jews constituted one third of the population, and owned only 6% of the land.

The indigenous Arab population, which was never consulted, found this proposal unjust. Prior to Israel’s declaration of statehood, more than 300,000 native Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Zionist military forces. In the war that followed Israel’s declaration of statehood an additional 450,000 other Palestinians were forcibly displaced. By the end of the hostilities, more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians had become refugees. Also, during this conflict, Zionist forces eradicated over 500 Palestinian communities and engaged in more than 33 massacres.

As you are aware the right of return of refugees is clearly protected under the 4th Geneva Convention. Also, the right of return for native Palestinians was a precondition for Israel’s admittance into the United Nations. Yet, even today, Israel denies responsibility for this refugee crisis and still refuses to allow indigenous Palestinians to return to their homes.

Zionists—both Jewish and Christian—celebrate Israel’s statehood each year. Meanwhile, Palestinians regard May 15, 1948 as a catastrophe (nakba in Arabic), and annually commemorate this episode in their nation’s history as Nakba Day.

You have stated you want Canada to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East. Therefore, it seems just and fair that our government acknowledge Nakba Day as well as Yom Ha’Atzmaut, thus sending a balanced and principled message to Canadians and the international community regarding Palestine and Israel.

We respectfully request your government treat Palestinians with the same dignity and respect which you provide for Israel by acknowledging the historic reality. In so doing, the Government will clearly indicate that it will play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East through a balanced treatment of Palestinians and Israelis alike. We look forward to our government`s statements action in recognition of both Yom Ha’Atzmaut and Nakba Day.

Sincerely,

Rev. Steve Berube and Rev. Marianna Harris
Co-chairs: United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel

Cc:         Hon. Stephan Dion
Hon. Rona Ambrose
Hon. Thomas Mulcair
Hon. Rhéal Fortin
Hon. Elizabeth May
Said Hamad: Chief Representative of the Palestinian Delegation in Canada

Israel Detains and Deports CPT Human Rights Worker and WCC Representatives

Here is some recent news in the growing list of deportations following detention and intimidation.  Sources (past EA) report that Itani was in Hebron with team 53 and then back on at least one other team.   He was back as an EA earlier in the year.

South African church activist, Itani Rasalanavho, was detained and then deported by Israeli authorities last week en route to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

On Thursday, May 5 Itani Rasalanavho was travelling to Palestine to join the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT), an organisation conducting human rights work in various countries including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, he was detained by Israeli authorities at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel-Aviv upon arrival, subjected to various strip searches, interrogations and ultimately deported back to South Africa.

One of the primary questions Rasalanavho was asked by Israeli authorities was whether he supported the non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement – to which he consistently answered “yes”. The other question that he was repeatedly asked was whether he thought Israel was an Apartheid state, to which he also answered in the positive.

Read more…

After traveling to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv in the last week for a climate justice meeting, World Council of Churches (WCC) staff and partners were detained or deported in a manner that WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit terms both unprecedented and intolerable.

“The WCC protests the excessive, unreasonable and wholly unwarranted treatment by the Israeli authorities of these representatives of WCC member churches and staff traveling to engage in discussions on climate change and environmental stewardship, at the invitation of and hosted by WCC’s member churches in the region,” he said.

Members of the WCC’s Working Group on Climate Change from as many as 13 countries reported they were held for hours of interrogation, including tough intimidation and detention in prison-like conditions for up to three days — a very difficult experience, Tveit said. “We react in different ways emotionally to experiences like this. For all of them, I think it was totally unexpected and very disturbing, for most of them shocking, as they have never experienced anything like this before.”

Read more…

Dismantling Barriers

“God has broken down the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2.14b)

Dear sisters and brothers,

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches announces the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. The theme of the week in 2016 is: “Dismantling Barriers.” The Bible passage on which we will centre reflections is: “God has broken down the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2.14b). The week will be observed from 18 to 24 September.
The PIEF invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations to join this week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, and in support of a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel.

In our choice of the theme and the Bible passage, PIEF seeks to affirm a dimension of hope in the midst of what are very harsh circumstances for the Palestinians.

Israel has taken a hard line against Palestinian resistance. There have been a plethora of legislative measures launched by the Israeli Knesset that are discriminatory and humiliating for the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Arab Palestinians in Israel are also confronted by callous measures designed to assign them secondary status and to make it tough for them to support their sisters and brothers in Israeli occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli security forces and the army frequently collude with illegal settlers, who number more than 400,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to attack civilians, burn down their houses, and shoot at children, the elderly, farmers, and other random targets.

Palestinians are defiant and decline to surrender their basic human rights as written into recognized international human rights laws, the Geneva Convention, and UN resolutions. They resist and, when the occasion opens up, they fight back. They refer to this spirit of boldness as “summud”— to be steadfast and resist even against the odds because what is at stake is their basic dignity.

Since last October, the situation has taken a violent turn, with attacks by Palestinians and full-bodied counter-measures by Israeli forces. These events have led to a large number of killings, mostly of Palestinians, but also of many Israelis. Too many Palestinians have been left with severe injuries, collective punishment in the form of closures of entire areas, house demolitions, arbitrary arrests, burning of houses, destruction of crops, and more.

Israel has erected additional barriers that separate Palestinians from their land, families, communities, livelihoods, farms, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, playgrounds, and other life-serving spaces. Examples of barriers in Palestinian areas include: the separation barrier, check points, fences, army barricades, army patrols, rocks on the pathways, and roads that cut into entire villages just to make the space “safe” for settlers who want easy access into their settlements. Perhaps one of the most loathsome barriers is the Gaza blockade. Now in its 10th year, the blockade involves a complex land, air, and sea cordon by Israel and Egypt. The restrictions on goods reaching Gaza via the land crossings are a significant cause of Gaza’s unsustainable and unacceptable humanitarian situation, in addition to the three full-scale military invasions. The blockade constitutes collective punishment of the population of Gaza and is therefore a direct violation of international law.

It is important to bear in mind the above context as we observe the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel this year. In previous years, the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel has united churches and Christian organizations in more than 40 countries along with a number of international solidarity groups who together have campaigned for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. It is an example of how the PIEF is steadily growing in scope and impact with regard to its core actions, namely:

  1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using specially prepared worship resources  for the week
  2. Learning about actions that make for peace, and also using specially designed resources
  3. Advocating with political leaders in light of ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.

The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel is an affirmation of our intent to offer global solidarity, especially to those who have become victims of the Israeli occupation in one way or another. To pray and work for the peace desperately needed by both Palestinians and Israelis is an ethical and theological imperative. It is a gospel imperative as well.
Let us respond with even greater intensity and commitment than usual to the call of Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem to Nazareth who call out to us with this pressing plea: “Enough is enough! No more words without deeds. It is time for action.”

Rev. Dr Robert Owen Smith
Co-Moderator
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

Dr Muna Mushahwar
Co-Moderator
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

We invite all of you to refer to the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel web pages which have a variety of resources for the year including a resource booklet, and a liturgy which may be used in totality or adapted as suitable. These materials can be found on http://pief.oikoumene.org/en/world-week-for-peace

Pathways Forward to Justice and Reconciliation: Stories from Canada, Palestine, Israel

Join United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel in Saskatoon, September  23-25, 2016.

Our kick-off Friday night is a public event at which Lia Tarachansky, an Israeli-Canadian film-maker, will present her film, On The Side of the Road.  (trailer on vimeo.com).  As a person brought up in a settlement, Lia tells the story of Israelis who have embarked on a process of metanoia – a changing of their outlook on their history.  “Without understanding 1948 you can’t understand where you live”.

Saturday will begin with Canadian stories.  How have we, in the United Church, changed our way of looking at our relationships with First Nations and our history around residential schools?  Rev. Dr. Brian Thorpe will help us to understand the path we have taken.  Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, will draw connections between the experience of First Nations in Canada and the Palestinian people.  Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian-Christian human rights lawyer will speak from a non-violent perspective on current realities in Palestine/Israel.

As well as the opportunity to hear excellent speakers, we are offering workshops on topics such as:

  • BDS 101 – what is it?How does it relate to United Church policy?
  • Christian Zionism and its role in Canada;
  • Working Effectively with our Members of Parliament;
  • Could I Be an Ecumenical Accompanier?

After spending time with us over the weekend, the Moderator, Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell, will preach at a public worship service at Third Avenue United Church on Sunday morning.

Come and join people connected with the United Church from across Canada as we deepen our learning and consider the actions we can take to educate ourselves and others as we work for peace and justice for the people of Palestine and Israel.

For more information, see www.unjppi.org or contact Kathy Bergen – bergenkathy@gmail.com

Watch the website for more information about the Gathering and how to register.