Here is the letter I sent to Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario. I’ll post a reply if I receive one.

Dear Ms Wynne,

I am a Canadian citizen from Toronto living in London, England, where I remain actively engaged in Canadian politics.

I understand from my friends and family in Canada, along with the media there, that you are taking an aggressive stand against the non-violent movement to secure human rights for the Palestinian people, known as BDS.

As I’m sure you know, the three objectives of the BDS movement are to obtain:

1. equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel

2. the right of return of Palestinians expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948

3. an end to the occupation of Palestinian land and the dismantling of the 8-metre high concrete wall that sits inside the Green Line and separates thousands of Palestinians from their jobs, schools, and communities, both of which contravene international law.

As we approach a half-century of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, I would be grateful if you would clarify which of the goals of the BDS movement you object to?

Also, could you please explain your assertion that the non-violent pursuit of Palestinian rights is ‘anti-Semitic’? I confess that I am struggling to grasp how advocacy of the very rights Canadians hold dear constitutes a form of racism when pursued in the name of the Palestinians. Perhaps you do not feel Palestinians are entitled to human rights? Some clarity on this point would be useful.

I am especially perplexed by your decision in light of the increasing number of churches in Canada and the US divesting from enterprises that profit from injustices committed against the Palestinians. You can find more information about these activities here.

Also, as you might know, just last week a fifth Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Viet Thanh Nguyen, joined other Pulitzer winners, along with Nobel laureates such as JM Coetzee and Desmond Tutu, to support BDS as an act of solidarity with Palestinians.

Finally, you are no doubt aware that hundreds of Palestinian children sit in Israeli jails after being tried in military courts in a language they do not speak. Also that Palestinian farmers in parts of the West Bank require authorisation from Israel to irrigate their own fields. And that 500,000 Israeli settlers occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank use six times more water than its 2.5-million Palestinian inhabitants, often to fill their swimming pools and water millions of non-indigenous trees that have been planted to ‘de-Arabise’ the Middle Eastern landscape.

Are these activities you support? I look forward to your early reply.

Best wishes, Juliana Farha

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