By Marion Kawas
On September 12, 2018, protestors gathered in Vancouver, Canada outside the constituency office of BC’s Attorney General, David Eby, to call for an end to complicity in Israeli occupation and war crimes and a boycott of Israeli wines in BC government-owned liquor stores. A letter signed by 25 groups was hand-delivered to the office staff, and the protestors made it clear this was an ongoing campaign that would continue until their concerns were addressed. They highlighted the parallels with the campaign in BC 30 years ago against South African apartheid wines and concluded by refusing to be made complicit in Palestinian dispossession and violations of international law.
Following is the text of the letter that was delivered, along with the signatories to date.
David Eby, BC Attorney General
Dear Mr. Eby:
We wish to bring to your attention our concerns about Israeli wines, many of them produced in the Occupied Territories, which are being sold in our publicly owned BC Liquor Stores. We note that as BC’s Attorney General, you are responsible for the provincial Liquor Distribution Branch.
We had hoped that the current NDP government would be more concerned with these blatant violations of international human rights, but we are aware that your response to inquiries so far has been to completely ignore the issues raised and instead focus solely on “personal choice”.
The wines in question are either from the Galil Winery, which is a joint venture with the Golan Heights Winery (the name of which speaks for itself) or from the occupied West Bank, including the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc around Jerusalem. Two wines of particular note are the Efrat Judean Hills Kosher and Vision Malbec, both produced by the Israeli Teperberg Winery. This winery openly states that some of its vineyards are in occupied Palestinian territories and even provides a map on its website showing vineyards in the occupied West Bank.
One of the Teperberg vineyards is in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mevo Horon according to the progressive Israeli research group “Who Profits”. This particular settler enclave is in the Latrun area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and is close to the infamous “Canada Park” built by the Jewish National Fund on the rubble of 3 Palestinian villages with Canadian tax-deductible monies.
All of this is in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and “stated” Canadian policy. Detailed information on Israeli wineries can be found in the exhaustive study done by “Who Profits” entitled Forbidden Fruit: Israeli Wine Industry and Occupation.
We recognize that an ongoing campaign was initially launched 10 years ago and was endorsed by 22 local and international groups. At that time, the Israeli government had announced plans to “rebrand” its 60 years of dispossession and ethnic cleansing; sadly, we are now at 70 years of Palestinian dispossession and the situation for Palestinians, especially in Gaza, is worsening by the day.
Educational pickets have also highlighted the parallels between the campaign in BC against South African apartheid wines and this campaign. Public reaction to these actions has been encouraging and additionally, other activists in eastern Canada have launched a lawsuit against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for mislabelling such wines as “made in Israel”.
We, the undersigned groups, call on the BC Government to investigate the stocking of these illicit wines on BC Liquor Store shelves; we do not wish to be made complicit in these violations of international law.
- BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish Territories
- Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
- Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet), Vancouver
- Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Vancouver
- Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria
- Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver
- International League of Peoples’ Struggle Canada
- MidIslanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Vancouver Island
- Palestine Study Group-Vernon/Kelowna
And endorsed by:
- Canadian BDS Coalition
- Canadian Peace Congress
- Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
- Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ontario
- Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement pour une Paix Juste
- Justice for Palestinians, Calgary
- Palestine Solidarity Network, Edmonton
- Palestinian and Jewish Unity
- Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
- People for Peace, London
- Regina Peace Council
- Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
- Socialist Action Canada
- Toronto BDS
- United for Palestine: Toronto/GTA
· United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine&Israel
– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.cpavancouver.org.