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March 23, 2011

Non-violent pressure on Israel will continue until occupation of Palestinian territory continues

Gerry Pascal

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Here is an exchange of recent emails between Marlene Jennings, M.P. for Notre Dame de Grace and myself.

----- Original Message -----

From: Gerry Pascal

To: Jennings.M@parl.gc.ca

Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 6:33 PM

Subject: Re: Le Marcheur

Dear Marlene Jennings,

Thank you for your response to my letter. I do not want to prolong this discussion too much further except to say your reply is strongly biased in favour of the Israel side.

You do not make any mention of the injustice done to the Palestinians by the state of Israel.

I do not agree with the rocket attacks from Gaza but I also do not agree with the long list of injustices done to Palestinians.

Just to name a few: walls which separate Jews and Palestinians, (and Palestinians among themselves); the destruction of Palestinian homes to make room for Jewish settlements; the uprooting of olive groves on Palestinian territory; the constant construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands; the Israel military attack on a flotilla bring humanitarian supplies; the excessive attack on Gaza in early 2010; the numerous checkpoints in Palestinian territory impeding the free movement of its population; and the 8,000 to 10,000 Palestinians unjustly arrested and in Israel jails.

To get back to the economic boycott.

As you know, it is happening throughout the world just as it happened against South Africa to put an end to apartheid.

Just as it happened in India in Gandhi's time to free that country from British rule.

Just as it happened in the American south to bring racial equality under the inspiration of Martin L. King.

Yes, you have the right to buy shoes wherever you want. That is your choice. It is also the right of the store to sell whatever product it chooses.

But for those who hold the vigil and pickets outside of Le Marcheur and Indigo stores it is also their right to do so in support of the Palestinians.

Israel will not be moved easily.

Boycotts, divestment and other forms of non-violent pressure will continue until occupation of Palestinian territory continues.

Finally, I strongly encourage you and members of Parliament to speak in favour of justice for the Palestinians. As I mentioned in my previous message this has been seriously lacking among yourselves.

Respect.

Original Message -----

From: Jennings.M@parl.gc.ca

Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 10:00 AM

Subject: RE: Le Marcheur

Ottawa, March 3, 2011

Mr. Gerry Pascal

Verdun,  QC

Dear Mr. Pascal,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding Israel and my decision to support a local merchant’s shoe store.

Let me first say that I am greatly concerned by the deepening violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip and I lament the suffering on all sides that this mounting instability has caused.

I believe that Israel has an undeniable right to defend itself against attacks, and to exist in peace and security. However its citizens have endured years of rocket attacks which regularly result in injuries and deaths. What is worse is that these attacks are now being carried out by the elected government of Gaza, whose stated goal is the complete destruction of Israel. By wasting their time and resources on rockets instead of helping their people, the leaders of Hamas have proven that they deserve to be called a terrorist organization. Their deliberate targeting of Israeli citizens only confirms this.

Israel has demonstrated that it recognizes the negative impact their attacks on military installations in Gaza have on the residents of Gaza. Unlike the Hamas government, which aims for and celebrates the deaths of Israeli civilians, the Israeli government has made every effort to avoid killing Gazan civilians.

As you know, last January, I purchased a gorgeous and comfortable pair of Israeli made shoes (Beautifeel) at a local shoe store owned by Montreal resident Yves Archambault. I respect the right to free speech for all Canadians and I also support the right of merchants to sell a product that is legal in Canada. As a citizen, I furthermore have the right to buy shoes at any store that I choose!

There is nothing illegal or unethical about selling or buying Israeli shoes. These shoes were made by workers who benefit from stringent labour standards. Israel is a democratic country and it also has a progressive minimum wage.

There is no question that Canada has a responsibility to assist the innocent victims of this conflict and to ensure that basic humanitarian assistance is available to those who need it. This terrible cycle of violence has imperilled lives on both sides of the border and must be peacefully resolved through a durable ceasefire. The basis of a lasting peace is surely the mutual recognition by both states of the right of the other to exist.

Canada must stand ready to assist and ensure that basic humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it. I will be pushing the federal government to do everything in its power to assist the victims of this conflict.

While we do not agree on this issue, I appreciate you bringing your views to my attention.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Marlene Jennings, P.C., M.P.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine

From: Gerry Pascal

Sent: January 20, 2011 5:03 PM
To: Jennings, Marlene - M.P.; marc@marcgarneau.ca
Subject: Le Marcheur

Dear Mme Jennings, M.P. for Notre Dame de Grace and Mark Garneau, M.P. for Westmount

On Saturday afternoon, January 16, 2011, I observed that you and Mark Garneau, M.P. for Westmount visited Le Marcheur on Saint Denis St., Montreal, a store which sells shoes made in Israel.

I was disappointed with your action in support of the store. In my opinion you are on the wrong side of social justice. As you may know, PAJU (Palestinians and Jewish Unity) was holding a peaceful vigil in front of the store as part of an international campaign asking people to boycott products from Israel. The vigil in front of the store has been going on for several months. This type of action is similar to the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in the late fifties, in support of civil rights; and the international boycott of products from South Africa during the apartheid regime.

I would think you are aware of what is happening to Palestinians in the territory occupied by the state of Israel: the establishment of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, the construction of walls (in spite of the United Nations disapproval) separating Palestinians from the Jewish population, the  demolition of Palestinian houses to build more houses for Jewish settlers, the countless checkpoints and roadblocks impeding free movement of Palestinians and the attack on the 'peace flotilla' on its way to Gaza to bring humanitarian supplies last year; and finally the refusal of Israel to stop the construction of settlements while peace talks are going on.

If you understand non-violent protest you will know what the boycott of Le Marcheur is all about. I would suggest you reconsider you public position in support of the store. I would also ask you and fellow members of Parliament to speak against the injustices committed against the Palestinian people. I find that that this is sorely lacking.

Thank you for your attention. I would welcome your comments.

Gerry Pascal

Verdun

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