[*note: on 12 March 2008 Western responded to the below joint letter confirming that Dr. Davenport will accept the award despite the concerns raised by Al-Haq and Zochrot]
23 February 2008
Dr. Paul Davenport
Room 113, Stevenson-Lawson Building
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, N6A 5B8
Dear Dr. Davenport,
Al-Haq is a Palestinian organisation committed to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Zochrot is an Israeli organisation dedicated to raising awareness amongst Israeli Jews of the historical injustices committed in their name against Palestinians. We write to you together, to express our common concern over your decision to stand as the JNF of Canada's 2008 Negev Dinner Honouree.
We understand that this award recognises someone that has demonstrated a commitment to equality, diversity, tolerance and human rights. As a supporter of such ideals, you must be inherently opposed to any organisation which openly implements discriminatory policies and is actively complicit in serious violations of international law.
Aside from its manifestly discriminatory practices in the distribution of land that the JNF owns or administers in Israel, the JNF of Canada, in particular, is further in breach of its obligations under domestic Canadian law, as well as basic principles of international human rights and humanitarian law, in its activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. As you may know, war crimes amounting to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention have been committed by Israel in the Latroun area of the West Bank during and since 1967, with the residents of three Palestinian villages forcibly displaced and still barred from returning, their villages having been completely demolished by the bulldozers and explosives of Israel’s occupying forces. The JNF of Canada is complicit in the perpetuation of these crimes by its establishment of “Canada Park” as a recreation area for Israelis on the occupied land of these destroyed villages. Indeed, until a recent petition brought to the Israeli Supreme Court by Zochrot, the JNF refused to even allow signs in the park to acknowledge the Palestinian history of the area. Al-Haq, with the assistance and cooperation of Zochrot, has recently completed a 100-page report on the human rights violations committed by Israel, Canada and the JNF in Latroun, which we will be happy to forward to you upon its impending publication.
In light of such violations of the rights of Palestinians in which the JNF consistently implicates itself, we call on you, as a joint Palestinian and Israeli voice, to show your true commitment to equality, diversity, tolerance and human rights by reconsidering your decision to accept an award from an organisation which disregards such precious values so irresponsibly. We look forward to your response, and should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
[handwritten signature removed] [handwritten signature removed]
Shawan Jabarin Eitan Bronstein
General Director General Director