Letter to Canada Post on Israel stamp

April 26th, 2010

Canadian Union of Postal Workers letter to Canada Post, April 2010

Moya Greene
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canada Post Corporation
2701 Riverside Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0B1

I am writing to you on the eve of Canada Post issuing a joint stamp with Israel.

A recent article in Canada Stamp Detail said “Canada Post will issue the stamp “to celebrate Canada”s strong bilateral relationship with Israel – a friendship that spans six decades and is marked by shared values, common interests and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties.”

While CUPW is glad to see Canada Post taking on new and innovative ways to sell stamps, we are somewhat concerned that Canada Post is launching a stamp with Israel on the basis of “shared values”.

CUPW recognizes that Israel is a democracy and has taken steps to end discrimination against lesbian and gay citizens. However, we are puzzled about the concept of shared values with a country that has consistently ignored United Nations and World Court decisions in regards to the ongoing Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

A fundamental value is that all human beings have equal rights without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, and other categories. Sadly, in Israel there are still over 20 laws that discriminate against the Palestinian national minority on such basic issues as education, jobs, land ownership and access to public resources.

Israel is still building a “separation wall” around the West Bank. A number of human rights groups have found that approximately 80% of this Wall is being built on West Bank land that has been illegally confiscated. On July 9, 2004 this Wall was declared contrary to international law by the International Court of Justice. This Court cited Israel”s obligation to dismantle the Wall, and to pay reparations for all the damage caused by its construction. To date, the Government of Israel has refused to abide by this ruling, thereby ignoring an important value of adhering to the principles of International law.

Israel is continuing to build settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The construction of some of these settlements has been criticized by Barack Obama, the President of the United States. These settlements are illegal under international law. In the same July 2004 decision, the International Court of Justice declared that “Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development. The continuing failure to live up to international law and respond to international pressure is a questionable value.

There are many United Nations resolutions which Israel is failing to live up to. One of the most important ones is UN resolution 242 which calls for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied during the 1967 war, is based on the principle of “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”. Disregarding United Nations resolutions is hardly a value which we want to uphold and endorse.

In the winter of 2008/2009, Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. A number of eminent people have concluded that Israel”s use of white phosphorous was unacceptable. Others, including jurist Richard Goldstone condemned Israel”s apparent targeting of schools, ambulances, and UN Institutions in Gaza. More recently, Israel”s participation in the blockade of Gaza has resulted in a serious undermining of living conditions. There have been desperately sad reports of increased child and maternal mortality as a result of this siege. Taking actions which result in the death or pregnant women and children is not an acceptable value.

The conditions of the Palestinian citizens in the West Bank is troubling for any one who holds the value of treating people with fairness and respect. John Dugard, the UN special envoy to Palestine reported that the rules governing the granting or permits which allow Palestinians to travel through the West Bank are constantly changing and create great hardship. In addition, Mr. Dugard reported that within the Palestinian territory there are highways solely for the use of Israeli”s. Palestinians are banned from these roadways. In addition, these checkpoints put lives in jeopardy in the west Bank as they often restrict quick access to hospitals. These are not conditions where respect is fundamental.

In light of these facts, CUPW is concerned that Canada Post is celebrating “shared values, common interests and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties.” with a country, whose Government has repeatedly failed to act with courtesy and sensitivity towards Palestinians.

Yours truly,

Denis Lemelin
National President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers

National Executive Board
CUPW Locals

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