Boycott Tel Aviv Healthy Vegan Conference
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Bianca Taylor and Nimai Delgado will no longer be speaking at the conference. Leo Venus and Jon Venus have now joined as speakers of the event: we now also call on you to withdraw your participation.
Veganism is Not “Healthy” When it Violates the Rights of Palestinians
October 31, 2019
Dear Kelly Witwicki, Dr. Michael Klaper, Nimai Delgado, Bianca Taylor, Loren Lockman and Bruce Frederick
We are writing to you to ask you to withdraw your participation from the upcoming "Veganism is Healthy” convention. This event will be held in Tel Aviv on 7–8 November, hosted by the group Vegan Friendly.
It has been documented that the Israeli state has been deliberately whitewashing its crimes against Palestinians by presenting as liberal through promotion of other leftist social issues. People internationally have boycotted Israeli when they saw how LGBTQ* rights were being weaponised to distract from the occupation. Now the Israeli state is using veganism to do this, too. Just as the LGBTQ* community rejected Pinkwashing, we too reject Veganwashing, and we are calling on you to join us in this boycott.
By adopting the “Jewish Nation-State Law” in the Spring of 2018 – which constitutionally denies Palestinian citizens equal rights and legalizes their exclusion – Israel openly declared itself to be an apartheid state. This measure only codified what has been a reality for Palestinians for the last 70 years: pass laws and more than 65 openly racist laws against Palestinians, home demolitions, extrajudicial killings, open discrimination in housing to assure Jewish only neighbourhoods and cities, administrative detention and torture and collective punishment. Israel’s Jewish exclusive settlements in the Palestinian West Bank are part of a larger ethnic cleansing program that has stolen the major water aquifers, destroyed Palestinian agriculture, and relegated Palestinians to fewer and fewer “Bantustans” and endless military checkpoints – while settlers enjoy settler-only roads and an abundance of resources provided by the Israeli state at the expense of Palestinians.
For over 13 years Israel has confined the more than two million Palestinians of Gaza under a brutal and oppressive siege. More than 95% of Gaza’s drinking water is poisoned, unemployment is in excess of 50% and the economy is in near total collapse. The UN has declared the Gaza Strip is imminently unlivable.
Since March of last year, tens of thousands of Gazans have protested peacefully for their UN-mandated rights, only to be faced with an open “shoot-to-kill-or-maim” policy for Israeli snipers, who have killed more than 300 Palestinians. In addition, Israeli occupation forces have wounded a staggering almost 19,000 people. Included in this figure are almost 5,000 children and almost 1,000 women, as well as medics, journalists and others – leaving many with life-altering injuries. Just this past Friday was the 80th Great March of Return – and on this day some 95 Palestinian civilians, including 43 children, a woman, 2 paramedics and a journalist were shot and injured by occupation forces. Among the human rights organisations who have condemned Israel’s massacres in Gaza are Human Rights Watch.
The BDS picket line exists through the appeal of Palestine civil society as a whole – and nowhere else has such a clear and meaningful appeal been made by a society under occupation and facing what can only be described as an ethnic cleansing campaign. Respecting this picket is a necessary political act in support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for basic human rights. To cross this picket line is thus a political act in support of the apartheid state that continues to deny them those rights.
This picket has been in place for more than 13 years. It includes a full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israeli organizations and state initiatives. While your participation in this convention may perhaps be viewed, in part, as an exercise in building the international vegan movement, we must recognise that this would build an exclusive vegan movement – one which does not recognise Palestinian human (or animal) rights.
Further, we urge you to recognize that the Israeli animal rights movement is conspicuous in its avoidance of “politicizing” issues outside of a narrow animal-specific focus – thereby maintaining tacit support for the occupation and the ethno-state project that is supports. The participation of international organizations and individuals with Israeli ones not only normalizes the occupation but provides an aura of movement respectability. By making no comment on the politics of Israel, your participation will be interpreted as giving support to the Israeli state and its ongoing oppression of Palestinians. This is unacceptable.
There are more meaningful ways to support animal liberation and veganism without either corporatizing the movement or lending direct support to the crimes of the Israeli state. The occupation is not in any way “vegan”. We are appealing to you, as speakers scheduled to participate in this convention, to respect the Palestinians’ non-violent boycott and to not lend your name to vegan-washing Israel’s crimes.
We urge you to cancel your participation with Vegan Friendly.
Rather, please join us in standing for basic freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians. Answer the Palestinian peaceful call for boycott, and by doing so create a more vegan-friendly world for all.
Vegans for BDS
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