SK Conference The Call Echoes weekend June 16-18

You’re invited to The Call Echoes, SK Conference events June 16, 17, 18 in Saskatoon
Register: www.sk.united-church.ca/register/ or call the Conference office.

In need of some faith revival and community? Come and be fed . . . Saskatchewan Conference does not have an annual general meeting this year, but The Call Echoes, Saskatchewan Conference’s Ministry event, is for you. This is an exciting get together for renewal, justice-seeking, learning, and celebration of our ministry is for everyone. Please help promote these events! (See below for promotion resources and details).

Come join us for a Friday retreat, Saturday singing and workshops, and the celebration of ministries banquet, and Sunday’s celebration of new ministries service. We even have a micro brewery tour and tasting! It all takes place June 16 – 18 in Saskatoon. Please register as soon as possible as registration is only open until June 5th. Some events have limited enrollment.

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Workshops and bios: June 17, Call Echoes event

Workshops and great workshop leaders! June 17, 2017: SK Conference Education Day at McClure United Church. (Map. And a flyer about the whole weekend.)

Scroll down for bios of our amazing facilitators. Please indicate your workshops preferences at www.sk.united-church.ca/register/ or call the Conference office at 306-721-3311. Workshops are free and open to the community. Lunch is $12 and you must register for it in advance. Registration and coffee at 8:30; worship is at 9:15 and workshops will begin by 10:15AM. Lunch: 12:30- 1:30, then afternoon workshops at 2:00PM- 4:15PM. Click here for a workshops flyer.  (PDF) Continue reading

UN expert warns of deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Palestine and Israel

GENEVA (21 March 2017) – Human rights defenders working to draw attention to abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory are being increasingly targeted as a result of their work, according to a new report from a United Nations human rights expert.

Michael Lynk – the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – expressed deep concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“As human rights defenders – Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – persist with their intrepid activism to investigate and oppose the regime of human rights violations that is integral to the occupation. All indications are that they will continue to be the prime targets of those who are intolerant of their criticisms, yet alarmed by their effectiveness,” Mr. Lynk said.

The Rapporteur noted with alarm that Palestinian human rights defenders have been subjected to attacks, arrest, detention, and threats to their lives and safety. “They have experienced sophisticated interference with their vital work, and have faced toxic denunciations aimed at silencing them and discouraging their supporters,” he continued.

Mr. Lynk also drew attention to the work of Israeli human rights organizations which call attention to human rights abuses that occur in the context of the occupation. He noted that these organizations “are enduring an increasingly hostile public atmosphere in Israel and from the settlement movement, stoked by the Israeli political leadership and the media, as well as obstructive legislation enacted or being considered by the Knesset.”

The Rapporteur emphasized the essential nature of the work of these defenders: “They provide invaluable advocacy, independent and reliable analysis, effective protection, the courage to investigate and protest, and offer both a progressive interpretation of existing rights as well as a vision of new rights in embryo. The work of these human rights defenders animates and enlarges the enjoyment of human rights for the rest of us.”

In his report, the Rapporteur also highlighted issues of pressing concern with respect to the human rights situation in the OPT. He noted with alarm the rapid pace with which the settlement enterprise has advanced since the start of 2017, referencing the announcement of the construction of 6,000 new housing units. He also expressed concern about the so-called “Regularization Bill”, noting that “removing one of the only domestic legal barriers to settlement construction moves Israel even further from compliance with international law.”

The Rapporteur further drew attention to the situation in Gaza, highlighting the fact that as the 10th year of the blockade begins, the situation is becoming ever more dire as infrastructure crumbles under the strain of a growing population and continued significant import and movement restrictions. Mr. Lynk also noted the decline in the number of exit permits granted at the end of 2016.

“The free movement of people would bring education, training, and increased skills to a part of the world that not only is in desperate need, but shows great resilience and potential for innovation,” the Rapporteur said.

Mr. Lynk called on the Government of Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, and to comply with Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed that settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law”. He also called on the Government of Israel to fully honour and implement the rights and obligations contained in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full report.

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council designated Mr. Michael Lynk (Canada) as the seventh Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. As a Special Rapporteur, Mr. Lynk is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country pages:

Occupied Palestinian Territories

– See original press release at: https://goo.gl/MhvT7a

BDS Breakthrough at King’s University College London, Ontario

LONDON, ON, March 21, 2017 /CNW/ – After a long and vigorous debate, students at King’s University College in London, Ontario, voted 76 per cent in favour of boycotting and divesting from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. The referendum question was worded as follows: “Do you as a King’s student support calling upon the KUCSC to lobby King’s administration to boycott and divest from any and all companies and products complicit with Israeli occupation based on principles of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption and change the responsible investment policies to reflect these lobbying efforts?”

The results came in on March 15, the same day the United Nations released its historic report on “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid.” This report shows that beyond any reasonable doubt, Israel practices apartheid against the Palestinian people, and the report calls upon governments to support the Palestinian-led global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Following the outcome of the BDS referendum question and another successful referendum vote to divest from fossil fuels, the King’s University College Student Council (KUCSC) passed a Responsible Investment Sub-Committee resolution at their March 19 Annual General Meeting that brings these concerns to the King’s Foundation Board and the ethical investment and finance committee. The resolution also mandates the KUCSC research and write their annual Advocacy Paper on ethical investments and divestments that will include a five year plan for ethical investing.

Following the trends of other University campuses across Canada who have endorsed BDS through their Student Councils and unions, the King’s BDS Network has taken this initiative one step further to take action on a symbiotic referendum vote through the passing of the resolution at their AGM.

“This historic breakthrough at King’s is the result of a long battle by those of us who chose to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Here at Western University, we have been up against forces who simply don’t want students to debate issues of human rights and international law,” stated student BDS campaigner Marie Rioux. “Expect to see a reinvigorated campaign at the rest of Western University and throughout London after this victory. More and more students are expressing a drive to stand on the right side of history, just as they did when Canada boycotted South Africa. This is just the beginning.”

Recent EKOS polling shows that 66 per cent to 78 per cent of Canadians find it reasonable to sanction and/or boycott Israel over violations of international human rights law (http://ijvcanada.org/2017/poll-on-bds), with even higher levels of support among students and other Canadians under 30 years of age.

SOURCE KING’S UNIVERSITY COLLEGE BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS NETWORK  
For further information: Media Contact: Anna Badillo at yestobdskings@gmail.com, King’s BDS Network

Stop the Demolition of Khan Al Ahmar

You may have already heard that Khan Al Ahmar, a small Palestinian village situated in Area C, is being targeted for demolition and its people for forcible transfer.  See previous article below or see the page on the UNJPPI web site for more details.

United Church partners and allies have offered this urgent update on the situation:

On March 5th, Israeli Civil Administration issued 42 demolition orders for Khan Al Ahmar. The community was given seven days to execute the orders–they must self-demolish all homes and structures, including their school. Shlomo Lecker, the legal advocate for Khan Al Ahmar, is now trying to find a way to bring this issue before another judge. Lecker describes the situation as “extremely serious and urgent,” adding that “maximum diplomatic pressure” is required.

Take Urgent Action

Visit the Take Action Nowhere to Go for more information and action ideas to help stop the demolition of Khan Al Ahmar:

1. Write to the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and your member of Parliament. A sample letter is provided with this Take Action.

2. If you have already written to your MP, follow your letter up with a phone call. You can find MP’s contact information by entering your postal code here. Urge your MP to call on Minister Freeland during question period to ask what actions Canada is taking to press the Israeli government to reverse the demolition orders for Khan Al Ahmar.

3. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #KhanAlAhmar, #Israel, #Palestine.

Please continue to apply pressure on Israeli authorities by shining the international spotlight on Khan Al Ahmar. Demolition orders could be activated as early as March 12th.

URGENT ACTION: Threat of Demolition in Khan Al Ahmar

This appeal for urgent action has been issued by The United Church of Canada.
Please respond as you soon as you are able. 

This short video from United Church solidarity partner B’Tselem, a human rights organization, shows Israel’s civil administration and police serving stop-work orders in this small village in the occupied West Bank on February 19.  Khan Al Ahmar was given only five days to object to the stop-work orders, and demolitions could occur at any point after.  A court case, scheduled for February 23, could be the beginning of a much longer process.

The people of Khan Al Ahmar have lived as refugees for 50 years. Although the village is located 10 minutes from Jerusalem, its households have no running water and no electricity.  Now Khan Al Ahmar, situated in an area earmarked for future expansion of the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim, is targeted for demolition and its people for forcible transfer.

In the film Nowhere Left to Go, an elderly resident of Khan Al Ahmar states: “We have an empty life.  We have no land, no home.  And now they’re threatening to transfer us—what can we do?”  In 2016, 12 dwellings in this same community were demolished with 60 residents left homeless (including 35 children).

Take Action

Write to your elected representatives, asking them to act urgently for the sake of justice for the people of Khan Al Ahmar.
1. Write to The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and/or your member of Parliament:

  • Ask Minister Freeland to urge Canada to call on the Israeli government to immediately freeze all settlement activity and demolition orders
  • Urge your MP to call on Minister Freeland during question period to ask what actions Canada is taking to press the Israeli government to reverse the demolition orders on Khan Al Ahmar

A sample letter is attached.

2. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #KhanAlAhmar, #Israel, #Palestine.

Background

The United Church of Canada has a long history of working with others to seek peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners.

The repeated demolitions of Bedouin Palestinian villages are a violation of international law. As the occupying power, Israel is bound by international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian civilian population and administer the territory for their benefit. International law also prohibits the destruction of private property and the forced transfer or displacement of civilians.

According to Canadian policy, all Israeli settlements, including Ma’ale Adumim, are illegal. Demolitions and forcible displacement of Khan Al Ahmar and similar communities are a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and leave hundreds of people homeless.

Khan Al Ahmar was given only five days to object to the stop-work orders, and demolitions could occur at any point after. A court case, scheduled for February 23, 2017, could be the beginning of a much longer process.

For more information about current activities, see Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca

Peter Kent
Conservative Party of Canada
Email: peter.kent@parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
New Democratic Party
Email: hélène.laverdière@parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada
Email: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Luc Thériault
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: luc.theriault@parl.gc.ca

Send copies of your letters and emails to:
Christie Neufeldt
Program Coordinator, Public Witness and Advocacy
The United Church of Canada
E-mail: cneufeldt@united-church.ca

When Law Enforcement is a Crime, by Amos Gvirtz

This is no provocation, although saying that in certain cases law enforcement is a crime might place me in dangerous waters – I find this discussion important.

History has seen cases where the enforcement of certain laws was a crime in itself: the Nurnberg laws against the Jews of Germany, South Africa’s apartheid laws, and the racist laws of the southern states in the US. All of these were laws that impacted people because of their belonging rather than their actions. The injured parties could do nothing to prevent their fate.

Here in Israel things are somewhat more complicated. Over the years of my human rights activity, and especially regarding the right to shelter, in Israel and in the Occupied Territories, I face the claim to legality of home demolitions. Indeed, a modern state cannot exist without planning and construction laws. Unlike criminal laws – that give legal validity to moral values (no stealing, no killing, etc.) – these laws in themselves have no moral significance, only planning considerations. Importantly, these laws characteristically enable politicians and ministry officials to rule what is legal and what is not. The government of Israel has decided not to recognize the Bedouin villages that existed in the Sayag zone (south of the West Bank) even prior to the founding of the State. The very government that transferred Bedouin tribes from their lands into the Sayag zone refrained from legalizing and recognizing the villages it created. The Israeli government decided to declare most of the Sayag lands exclusively cultivable land, thus criminalizing any Bedouin seeking to realize his right to shelter in his village!

Behind these facts hides policy. Note that Israeli governments continued to expel Bedouins from the State until 1959. Beside expulsion, they concentrated the remaining Bedouins inside the Sayag zone and stole their lands. Since the 1960s the Bedouins have been assigned to dwell in government-built towns. In other words, these are citizens in whom Israel’s governments are consistently not interested (just as in all of the State’s Palestinian citizens). Since they can no longer be expelled, the State attempts to reduce their living space as much as possible, while stealing nearly all of their lands. This is a nationalist-racist policy that impacts people only because they have been born Palestinian-Arabs in the Jewish state. Naturally the official establishment must not utter such things explicitly, so a false discourse of law enforcement is created. After all, people cannot be simply expelled from their homes and villages for no reason. So the State plants forests and to that purpose enforce the law upon villages that they wish to evacuate. This is what happened in Tawayel Abu Jarawal situated near the town of Laqia, and at present replaced by a JNF forest planted on its ruins. Thus Al Arakib has already been demolished over 100 times because the State “must” complete planting the Ambassadors’ Forest on its ruins. Thus the government has ruled to build Jewish Hiran precisely at the site of the Bedouin village of Umm Al Hiran.

Thus, too, in the Occupied Territories: homes are demolished to make Palestinians leave, or to limit the expansion of their localities. Israeli Policemen inside Israel and soldiers in the Territories are told that they are enforcing the law. They are not told that such law enforcement is conducted on behalf of a policy that is not to be openly discussed.

Rabbi Kahane’s “Kach” political party was outlawed because it openly and loudly declared what it wanted to do and did, the unutterable. The political party “Moledet” was defamed for the same reason. Headed by a retired army general, however, it could not be outlawed.

If any country in the world would dare do to Jews what Israel is doing to its own Bedouin citizens (and its other Palestinian citizens), or to the Palestinians living under its occupation, we would name that country’s law enforcement anti-Semitic. When a legal situation is created whereby citizens cannot realize their human right to shelter, because they have been born Palestinian Arabs under Israeli rule, the enforcement of the planning and construction laws is criminal!