CUSJ endorses call to boycott B.C. Ballet to protest its support of a rogue regime

How sad that the BC Ballet chose to support Israeli war crimes and apartheid, by performing as a Canadian cultural ambassador to the Zionist Israeli state in January 2019. The Canadian BDS Coalition, of which CUSJ is a member, has decided that, since B.C. Ballet will not boycott Israel, we will boycott BC Ballet. BC … Read more

CUSJ endorses #StopJNF campaign

CUSJ is proud to have endorsed the #StopJNF campaign, which seeks to revoke the Jewish National Front (JNF) Canada’s charitable status and expose, challenge and stop the JNF’s discriminatory and harmful activities.  As explained in the campaign website, the JNF is a private corporation whose lands were obtained through exploitative land sales and often-violent, forced … Read more

Opinion: Israel has taken the wrong path

Jake Javanshir is an Iranian Jew whose family emigrated to Israel in 1950. Jake knows Israel well: he grew up there and served in the army, and he has many family members there still. Jake confides that, years ago, he became disillusioned with Israeli politics and moved to Canada. He has visited Israel a few … Read more

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 more

Balfour gave away something that was not his to give

In his infamous tome The Prince, Machiavelli could have been presaging Lord Balfour’s Declaration when he wrote: ”You can be much more generous with what does not belong to you or your subjects, as Cyrus, Caesar and Alexander were. This is because giving away what belongs to others in no way damages your reputation; rather, it … Read more

March 15th a sad anniversary for Palestinians

May 15, 2017 marked the 69th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, made 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians into refugees to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls … Read more

Israeli smear campaign shows that BDS is working

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), of which CUSJ is a member, has reported this week that peace activist and BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti was arrested, interrogated and harassed by Israeli authoriites. This seems to be part of the Israeli government’s campaign to criminalize the BDS movement, intimidate activists and stop free speech. CUSJ has issued a statement, copied below. … Read more

Trudeau government favours bulldozers over BDS

One year ago, February 2016,  CUSJ President Margaret Rao wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau, urging him to overturn the anti-BDS motion that was introduced by the Conservative government. He did not grant our wish… But at least the UN acted, passing Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian terroritory as a flagrant violation of international … Read more

Anti-BDS motion pushback continues: Letter thanking MP Andrea Horvath

The moral arc bends towards justice, but not, alas, in a timely manner, BDS supporters would agree, as the struggle to achieve justice and peace in Israel and Palestine, through peaceful means, continues. Several political and Social Justice groups, including CUSJ, co-signed a letter, reproduced below, to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horvath (and members of the Caucus) in … Read more

CUSJ joins the Canadian BDS Coalition in support of Palestine

In January 2017, CUSJ joined the Canadian BDS Coalition (BNC), which endorses the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The Coalition’s Basis of Unity (BOU) statement affirms that non-violent punitive measures (that is, boycott, divestment and sanctions) should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and … Read more

CUSJ and other orgs support the GPC pro-peace resolution

CUSJ joined a host of signatories in saluting the Green Party of Canada for its motion in support of freedom, justice and equality in Israel/Palestine. This formal nod of appreciation to the GPC was announced in a press release on Nov. 28th, sponsored by the Palestine House and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at York University (Toronto). … Read more

BDS is lawful and paves the way for peace, say 68 signatories to CJPME letter

Perhaps you remember the anti-BDS motion that passed in Parliament on February 22nd 2016? Or a similar bill, Bill 202 that was passed and then defeated in the Ontario legislature in May? Such bills are doubtless drafted in order to keep strong ties (the bonds of trade) between Canada and Israel, and, indeed, in the case of … Read more

Threat to Canadian Democracy and Free Speech

Voices/Voix, an organization dedicated to documenting threats to the Canadian democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech, has just published a new case study on the issue of the right of Canadians to participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.  Many Canadians from churches, students, labour unions, and other walks of life are choosing … Read more

CUSJ President Urges Justin Trudeau to be a True Friend to Israel

On Monday, February 29th, 2016, CUSJ President Margaret Rao wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to overturn his government’s recent motion condemning those who support a boycott of goods produced in settlements, as a legitimate, peaceful and democratic means of putting pressure on Israel to cease its expansion of settlements. Israel is breaking the terms … Read more

CUSJ Board votes to work to end the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories


Israel’s continued expansion of settlements and destruction of Palestinian homes and farms must stop! Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, advocating Unitarian Principles, adopts a formal stance in favour of: 1) a boycott of products from companies, regardless of origin, that participate in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories; 2) a cultural boycott in which performing … Read more

It is not a crime to criticize Israel: Press release

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice P.O. Box 40011, Ottawa, ON, K1V 0W8 President, Margaret Rao Communiqué FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATE: 16 April 2015 CIVIL SOCIETY REJECTS CRIMINALIZATION OF CRITICISM  OF STATE OF ISRAEL CUSJ joins other civil society organizations in defending freedom of speech Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) has issued a … Read more

A call for peace between Israel and Palestine

(The Discussion Paper will open in its own window. Comments can be submitted here) CUSJ joins with many other faith communities to support an active search for peaceful solutions to the on-going crisis in Israel and Palestine.  It is time that both Israel and the International Community came to the table to honour the commitments … Read more