Here is the letter I sent to Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party, in anticipation of her party’s conference in Ottawa this weekend. One of the resolutions at issue is in support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which uses non-violent means to pressure the Israeli government to respect international law and the Geneva Conventions. Friends of Israel call this tactic anti-Semitic.

The second is to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, which uses donations from Canadians to plant millions (yes, literally) of non-indigenous trees on occupied Palestinian land. The goal is to ‘de-Arabise’ the landscape, which requires a massive diversion of water resources from Palestinian farms, towns and villages, in order to keep these non-native trees alive. I presume the Green Party regard this as a dodgy use of a scarce resource, not to mention a violation of the right to water enshrined in UN Resolution 64/292. It’s also part of the broader campaign of ‘water apartheid’ documented in Counterpunch, Mint Press News, and various other news and campaigning websites.

I’m told the usual forces have aggressively mobilised against May and her party, so she can use all the support she can get; here’s her email address if you want to get in touch: Elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Dear Ms May

As a Canadian living in London, England, I was heartened to hear about the two resolutions in support of Palestine at your upcoming conference in Ottawa. I’m sure you are facing tremendous pressure to abandon these gestures of principle and solidarity and I am writing now to urge you to hold your nerve.

As the future of the Palestinians grows bleaker each day, I have been horrified to read and learn from friends about the ongoing unconditional support of Canada’s political and media establishment for the Israeli government. Frankly, I am ashamed that my own country, which makes regular claims to decency and fair play, colludes in whitewashing these horrors, and smears anyone who speaks out against them.

I follow Palestine/Israeli closely and write about it often on my blog, so I am uncomfortably aware that the prospects for Palestinian rights and dignity are worse than ever. Shortly before I sat down to draft this email, I spotted the news that Israel has just passed a law permitting children as young as 12 to be jailed. Yesterday I read about an Israeli soldier confiscating the bicycle of an eight year-old girl simply because he could, and watched an Al Jazeera video of two families in East Jerusalem being evicted from their homes so settlers can live there.

This is on top of Israel’s systematic, daily aggression and humiliation of Palestinians: West Bank farmers requiring Israeli permission to irrigate their own crops, the appropriation of their land, the demolition of their homes, the policy of collective punishment, not to mention the barbaric siege of Gaza.

Things aren’t great here in the UK, but this systematic behaviour by Israel is what Alan Duncan, a Conservative MP who has just been appointed Foreign Office Minister, called ‘apartheid’ in an October 2014 speech. Indeed, none of this would be possible if the international community were to go beyond occasional hand-wringing and demand that Israel respect international law and the Geneva Conventions.

In closing, I urge you not to abandon the Palestinians, who are a dispossessed and friendless people. I will be watching the events at your conference in Ottawa this weekend with an anxious ache in my stomach, but with my fingers crossed too.

Kind wishes, Juliana Farha

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