United Church of Canada settlement boycott campaign begins
The Executive of the General Council has approved the activation of the Palestine Israel Education and Economic Action Campaign. The motion of the Executive was passed unanimously on May 6 as follows:
- The General Council Executive receives the report of the General Secretary, Yellow Sessional Committee pages 87–92.
- The General Council Executive directs the General Secretary to activate The Palestine Israel Education and Economic Action Campaign beginning Spring 2013, in the following phases:
- from June 2013: engagement with select companies and retail stores, and selection of target items;
- from September 2013: consumer economic action, highlighting spiritual reflection and action for Advent, Christmas and Lenten seasons;
- July–December 2014: Evaluation, follow-up actions, and preparation of report for March 2015 Executive Meeting.
Gilo settlement, near Bethlehem
Photo: Dale Hildebrand
The campaign has been named Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel, which focuses on the illegal Israeli settlements and the obstacles they pose for peace. The campaign will encourage economic action against several settlement products. The General Council Office staff has been researching companies that have production in one or more Israeli settlements. Three companies have been selected for engagement:
- Keter Plastic, a company that manufactures a range of home and garden products such as storage containers, planters, toolboxes, toys, and patio furniture. Keter has a factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, as does its wholly owned subsidiary, Lipski Plastic Ltd.
- SodaStream, a company that manufactures home sodamaker devices and ingredients. SodaStream’s main production facility is in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, near Jerusalem in the West Bank.
- Ahava, a cosmetics company that sells skin care, bath, and other personal cosmetic products. Ahava operates its factory in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement on the shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.
Over the next several months, the United Church will engage in dialogue with these companies regarding their involvement in the settlements and request that they cease all production in the settlements. They will be informed that failure to do so will result in economic action against their products.
The products of Ahava, SodaStream, and Keter can be found across Canada in major retail stores such as Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona, Future Shop, The Bay, Walmart, Sears, and Costco. The United Church will also begin engagement with select Canadian retailers to inform them about the origin of the settlement products of Ahava, SodaStream, and Keter and request that these items no longer be sold in their stores.
Depending on the responses of the three companies operating in the settlements and of the retailers selling their products, United Church people will be invited to initiate economic actions to avoid identified products and to continue engagement with the companies and retailers. These actions will begin in the fall of 2013 and continue until the companies and retailers disengage from their association with the settlements, or until directed otherwise by the Executive of the General Council or the General Council.
Campaign resources will be developed for use by United Church people for the fall and winter of 2013/14. These will include worship materials, advocacy tools, and other resources to help congregations, community ministries, small groups, and individuals to engage in education and economic action initiatives focused on the Israeli settlements.