BDS is a movement in the spirit of human solidarity

Here is a letter that CUSJ President Margaret Rao wrote recently to Prime Minister Trudeau and to Chrystia Freeland.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you on behalf of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ), a national faith-based organization that advocates for peace and justice in our world. I have written to you on other occasions pointing out that the global, grassroots, Palestinian-led BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement is non-violent in nature, promoting economic and cultural boycotts as a means to end Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and international law. The BDS movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and to pressure Israel to comply with international law. Specifically, the BDS campaign seeks to end more than 5 decades of Israel’s military rule over 4.5 million Palestinians, including the 11 year illegal blockade of Gaza, the killing and maiming of unarmed Gazan protesters and medics, the ongoing forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes, the expulsion of indigenous Bedouins from their traditional lands and the construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.

The boycott movement also seeks equal rights for Palestinian (Arab-Israeli) citizens of Israel, currently discriminated against by dozens of racist laws and enshrined in the new Nation-State Law, defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. In December 2016, former Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out that the State of Israel “can be Jewish or it can be democratic – not both!’ Criticism of the State of Israel has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, nor with Judaism. When you conflate the Palestinian people’s struggle for basic human rights and freedom with anti-Semitism, you do a grave injustice to freedom- loving Jews and non-Jews everywhere.

Your recent statement of apology to the Jewish people for turning away a boat full of Jewish refugees in 1939 was right and good and well overdue. “There is little doubt that our silence permitted the Nazis to come up with their own final solution,” you stated. And what of Canada’s and the international community’s decades-long silence on the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people? Palestinian refugees constitute nearly 50% of all Palestinians. As Holocaust survivor and IJV (Independent Jewish Voices) supporter, Suzanne Weiss expressed to you in an open letter,’ “We must all demonstrate the spirit of human solidarity that Canada failed to show in 1939 to counter the persecution and suffering of all afflicted peoples, including the Palestinians.” Let us take the hard lessons learned from the past and apply them to the present, so that we may work together, Palestinians, Jews, and non-Jews, to cultivate a world of peace, justice and dignity for one and all.

Standing on the Side of Love and Justice!!

Margaret Rao

President, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

CUSJ commends Rev. Eklof for broaching a “taboo” topic: the BDS movement

This post was modified on November 9th to include details of Rev. Eklof’s correspondence with a local synagogue. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane in Washington state, created quite a stir recently when they hosted the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) who showed the film  “Occupation of the American Mind” to the congregation. … Read moreCUSJ commends Rev. Eklof for broaching a “taboo” topic: the BDS movement

CUSJ denounces “horrific hate crime” against faith community in Squirrel Hill

CUSJ members, and people of good faith everywhere, are shocked and saddened by the shooting of eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 27 2018. CUSJ President sent the Rabbi this message: Dear Rabbi Hazzan Myers and members of the congregation, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice send our deepest … Read moreCUSJ denounces “horrific hate crime” against faith community in Squirrel Hill

Trans Mountain update: No appeal, gov’t trying new tactics

The federal Liberal government has decided not to appeal the court ruling that cancelled the pipeline based on the fact that the government failed to properly consult First Nations. The court also found the government’s approval of the project violated its responsibility to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales, siding with Ecojustice clients Raincoast Conservation … Read moreTrans Mountain update: No appeal, gov’t trying new tactics

CUSJ to Liberal gov’t: stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia

On September 18 2018, CUSJ President Margaret Rao sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and to Chrystia Freeland, asking them to terminate the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Rao first commended the government for its principled verbal stand against Saudi Arabia’s recent arrest of women’s rights defenders. Then she went on to say, “If … Read moreCUSJ to Liberal gov’t: stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia

UNSG on climate change: The real danger is the risk of failing to act

The General Debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly took place between September 25 and October 1, 2018. World leaders gathered at the UN Headquarters in NYC, with a vast lineup of speakers on a variety of global issues. The September 25th speech by Antonio Guterres, Secretary General to the UN, included a … Read moreUNSG on climate change: The real danger is the risk of failing to act

Engler takes the bullies by the horns

On September 16, 2018, the Unitarian Church of Montréal’s Social and Environmental Committee (SECC), the World Federalists, and the CUSJ Québec chapter hosted author Yves Engler, at the first stop on his cross-Canada book tour. Yves has just completed his tenth book: Left Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada. The book shows how the … Read moreEngler takes the bullies by the horns

Dear Orcas: The Trans Mountain death machine has been stopped

Indigenous groups and other humans who are not in climate denial have significant reason to celebrate today, as the Federal Court of Appeal has invalidated the government’s approvals to build the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain expansion project. The court, represented by Justice Eleanor Dawson, found that the federal cabinet based its approval of the pipeline … Read moreDear Orcas: The Trans Mountain death machine has been stopped

The feeding of Russophobia

Editor’s note: This article was provided to CUSJ by Christine Johnston, with the permission of the author, Betty Krawczyk, who was famous some years ago as the Granny willing to go to jail for her support of the environment and especially the fight for Clayoquot Sound, near Torfino, on the  Pacfic Rim, about which she … Read moreThe feeding of Russophobia

Faint hope remains for stopping Enbridge’s Line 3

Remember Line 3? It was the pipeline that was proposed to replace Enbridge’s aging pipeline between the oil sands and Wisconsin. A previous CUSJ post sounded a hopeful note, since the Minnesota Department of Commerce had suggested that it might be better to shut down the existing line, since refineries in Minnesota and the upper Midwest already have … Read moreFaint hope remains for stopping Enbridge’s Line 3

Mason shows us how globalization perpetuates conflict and war

On Monday, May 21 2018, CUSJ AGM attendees were treated to a rousing speech from the Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason, entitled More peacemaking, less defence spending: What a Feminist Foreign Policy for Canada really looks like! Mason, as UN Ambassador for Disarmament and more recently as President and spokesperson for the Rideau Institute, has spent … Read moreMason shows us how globalization perpetuates conflict and war

CUSJ AGM 2018 in Hamilton, ON: Still growing!

About 20 CUSJ members gathered at McMaster University in Hamilton (or in local speak, at “Mac” in “the Hammer”) to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the future. There were about 22 attendees, including two online participants. Leslie Kemp began by inviting chapters to share what they valued about the CUSJ; participants … Read moreCUSJ AGM 2018 in Hamilton, ON: Still growing!

PEI gov’t torches its own ER referendum

New rules set fire to democratic process and burn voters New referendum legislation introduced by the PEI Government has been criticized for setting biased rules for the Island’s upcoming electoral reform referendum. “This is far beyond just tilting the playing field,” said Margaret Rao, CUSJ President. “Premier Wade MacLaughlin’s proposed rules will torch the whole … Read morePEI gov’t torches its own ER referendum

From West to East, a UU conversation about pipelines, principles, and the future

In one of the many UU forums out there, a UU from Alberta expressed the view that not all UUs think pipelines are a bad thing. This person wrote: I do not see an end to the need for fossil fuels in my lifetime, even if all of our governments immediately agreed on a plan … Read moreFrom West to East, a UU conversation about pipelines, principles, and the future

Canada is not a corporation, Mr. Trudeau

Mr. Trudeau, lately, we are bombarded with media sound bites in which you claim that the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline is “in the national interest”. Ahem. Canada is not a corporation. This pipeline is not in the national interest: This pipeline is not in the interest of British Columbians who bear the risk to their environment … Read moreCanada is not a corporation, Mr. Trudeau

In the national interest?

This letter, by CUSJ Past President Frances Deverell, was published in the Victoria Times Colonist. In the National Interest?  According to Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Horgan should compromise because this pipeline is in the national interest.  Why is that?  He doesn’t say.  I see the national interest as one where all of us move in a … Read moreIn the national interest?

Trudeau: Impose sanctions to end the blockade, end the bloodshed

In the face of the Land Day massacre (March 30 2018), CUSJ was one of 40 groups that wrote a joint letter to Canadian politicians. In addition, CUSJ President has personally written to Prime Minister Trudeau on behalf of CUSJ, asking him to discontinue the odious Canadian tradition (because, after 70 years, that is what it … Read moreTrudeau: Impose sanctions to end the blockade, end the bloodshed

“KM doesn’t have indigenous consent, and never will”

Above: On April 12th, a group of artists form a blockade in front of the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm as part of ongoing Indigenous-led resistance. “Let’s not forget in all the provincial and federal squabbling that the company still doesn’t have Indigenous consent and never will,” said Will George, Watch House project … Read more“KM doesn’t have indigenous consent, and never will”

Ask Parliament to fix Bill C-59

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), together with 20 other groups, is campaigning to fix the flaws in Bill C-59, Canada’s national security act. As you may recall, in the past, CUSJ had submitted a brief with recommendations for improving Bill C-59. Here is the helpful infographic that ICMLG is using in its campaign. To view … Read moreAsk Parliament to fix Bill C-59