Marking Palestinian Land Day, the Canada Palestine Association and BDS Vancouver organized a demonstration in Vancouver urging the boycott of “Israeli” wines and demanding that the BC Liquor Stores (owned by the government of British Columbia) stop selling these wines. The demonstration is part of an ongoing 15-year campaign led by CPA demanding a boycott of the wines, several of which are produced in the West Bank of occupied Palestine, or on the Golan Heights of occupied Syria, highlighting that the British Columbia government is taking part in war crimes for putting these wines on the market.
The demonstration, outside a BC Liquor Store on Pacific Boulevard, was joined by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Vancouver as well as organizers with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, the Masar Badil, Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, and other left and internationalist groups.
Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags, banners calling for the boycott of occupation products, and an array of signs. They chanted in support of the Palestinian people and their resistance, called for total boycott of Zionism, and urged, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Participants distributed information and literature to passers-by, calling on them to contact the BC Finance Minister to demand the boycott of apartheid wines, and to contact International Cellars, the importer of these wines, to urge them to comply with the boycott call.
The demonstration also highlighted the unity of the Palestinian land and people, from the river to the sea and inside Palestine and in exile and diaspora, including the struggle of Palestinian prisoners for liberation. Participants highlighted three cases in particular: that of Walid Daqqah, Palestinian author, thinker and imprisoned freedom fighter, who is currently in critical condition with a rare cancer after years of Israeli medical neglect; Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine jailed in France since 1984, who marks his 72nd birthday on 2 April; and Khader Adnan, the Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for 57 days for freedom, who previously undertook and won his freedom in four prior strikes.
Aiyanas Ormond of BDS Vancouver highlighted the campaign to boycott Israeli wines, emphasizing that the BC government’s continued support for these Zionist products implicate it in war crimes, as well as expressing solidarity with Indigenous struggles for liberation, sovereignty and self-determination locally and throughout North America. Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, spoke about the cases of Daqqah, Abdallah and Adnan, urging action and solidarity to demand their release and the international isolation of the Zionist regime. She noted further that Canada’s actions continue to make it complicit with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine.
After distributing hundreds of leaflets outside the BC Liquor Store, protesters marched from the store to the offices of International Cellars, the company responsible for importing the wines in question. Marion Kawas of BDS Vancouver and the Canada Palestine Association spoke about the role of the company in introducing these wines to the local market, noting that it was the only company that distributed Israeli wines in BC. She held up a letter being delivered to International Cellars by the demonstrators, demanding the company end its ongoing complicity with war crimes in occupied Palestine.
Khaled Barakat of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, delivered a political speech for Land Day, highlighting the history of the day and the mass protests of Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48 in 1976, the martyrdom of six Palestinians, and the way the day has since come to symbolize the unity of the land and people of Palestine. He also saluted the martyr Mohammed al-Osaibi, shot dead just that morning by occupation forces at the entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque, a newly graduated medical doctor who was defending a Palestinian woman being assaulted by occupation guards. He noted that al-Osaibi is from al-Naqab, carrying Israeli citizenship, but treated as expendable like all other Palestinians.
He emphasized the importance of joint struggle and solidarity with Indigenous struggles on Turtle Island, noting that the Israeli occupation’s strongest allies are imperialist powers and settler-colonial states like Canada and the United States. Finally, he affirmed that the Palestinian struggle for liberation and return would continue by all means necessary until colonialism is uprooted from Palestine from the river to the sea.
Finally, Hanna Kawas, chair of the Canada Palestine Association — which has commemorated Land Day in Vancouver from the first day in 1976 — spoke about the need to continue the campaign to boycott “Israeli” wine and all such products stolen from Palestinian and Syrian land. He noted that the BC authorities had removed Russian vodka from its shelves within a day of the Ukraine war beginning, but has ignored the calls from the Palestinian community for over 15 years, connecting this to Canadian federal policy which continues to protect Zionist racism against the Palestinian people.
He noted that the occupation can no longer rely on an unchanging international balance of power, noting the rise of a multipolar world and growing strength in the East and South of the globe, while the U.S. empire and its fellow Western imperialist powers supporting the colonization of Palestine are in retreat.
Samidoun Vancouver is continuing to organize events and activities in Vancouver for the liberation of Palestinian prisoners and all of Palestine. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter or Instagram to get involved.