Tadamon! supports Dru Oja Jay for MEC board candidacy

January 28th, 2011 | Posted in Boycott, Canada, Palestine

Tadamon! supports candidacy of Dru Oja Jay for membership on the Board of Directors of Mountain Equipment Co-op in 2011.


    Photo: Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank, Palestine.

We agree with the many goals that Dru would like to achieve, not least his desire to strengthen MEC’s commitment to ethical sourcing. In this regard, what is especially important to Tadamon! is Dru’s goal to build on ongoing efforts to convince members of the Co-op to vote to prohibit the sale of products made in Israel at MEC stores in Canada.

This is in keeping with the call from Palestinian civil society in July 2005 for an international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in order to pressure Israel to end its policy of apartheid, its illegal occupation of Palestine, its war crimes and its human rights violations. As Dru puts it: “you can benefit from war and occupation, or you can be considered an ‘ethical supplier’, but not both.”

Dru Oja Jay’s campaign for membership on the Board of Directors of Mountain Equipment Co-op in 2011 has been endorsed by the following Palestine solidarity organizations across Canada, please consider lending your direct support by voting for Oja Jay.

Boycott Israel Apartheid Campaign (BIAC), Vancouver
Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), Toronto
Halifax Palestine Solidarity Network, Nova Scotia
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), Canada
Palestine Solidarity Network, Edmonton
Regina Solidarity Group (RSG)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (McGill and Concordia)
Tadamon! Montreal

Please read the Social Justice and MEC’s Purchasing Policy document that outlines Oja Jay’s position on a number of key issues in relation to the future of Mountain Equipment Co-op policy. Please consider voting for Oja Jay in the upcoming MEC Board of Directors between February 24 to March 31, 2011, full information on voting.

Social Justice and MEC’s Purchasing Policy


1. An ethical purchasing policy worthy of its name should not consider companies that benefit from war and occupation as ethical suppliers. I will work to change MEC’s policies to reflect this.

2. For member participation to be meaningful, it has to be based on informed, open debate accessible to all members.

The Boycott Controversy

A bit of MEC’s recent history with member resolutions has informed my views of what the next steps are for solidifying the co-op’s commitment to social justice.

MEC was the subject of controversy in 2009, when members presented a resolution at the Annual General Meeting, proposing that the co-op stop carrying products made in Israel. The proposal was a part of an ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that was called by 171 Palestinian civil society groups, centred around three demands: an end to occupation and a removal of the wall, equal rights for Palestinians in Israel, and the right of refugees to return home.

At the Vancouver meeting, opponents of this proposal outnumbered its supporters, and it was defeated.

At the 2010 AGM, a series of measures placing limits on member resolutions were were passed by those in attendance. (Minutes: 2009, 2010)

In a series of blog posts (1, 2, 3), MEC’s Director of Ethical Sourcing, Harvey Chan, laid out MEC’s reasons for opposing the boycott resolution. He explained, in part:

… we do not divide our supply chain along political lines. In short, we will not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our human rights efforts are squarely focused on our supply chain—on working to improve the factory conditions and treatment of the workers that make MEC-brand products. As much as this is cowardice to some or a sell out to others, it is our conviction and our intent is to not veer from this belief.

Chan did not mention the name of one of MEC’s suppliers, Haifa-based Source Vagabond. In its own words, many of the manufacturer’s staff are “experienced ex-officers of elite IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) units” and they proudly supply the IDF and the US Marine Corps. Their hydration systems have names like “USarmy TACTICAL 3L,” “ASSAULT,” “COMMANDER,” and “STRIKE 3L.”

My Position

Speaking as a candidate for the board, I don’t believe that it is the role of board members to change MEC’s policy with regard to a single country. That kind of decision needs, minimally, the support of a plurality of the co-op’s three million members.

I also believe that it is entirely legitimate for co-op members to make political decisions of this type. Few disagree with boycotts of the deposed racist regime in South Africa today, but the anti-apartheid struggle at the time was hotly contested in a great many venues. (MEC’s minutes from the 1980s are not available, but it would be interesting to learn the history, particularly given the role of the international sports community in the boycott of Apartheid South Africa.)

As a board member, I would see it as my duty to ensure that the differing perspectives in the debate were accessible to all members, with a view to facilitating an informed decision in the event of a vote.

I do, however, believe that the board have a mandate from the membership to set high ethical standards for selecting suppliers. More on this below.

Sympathy and a Different Approach

The approach of the management to the controversy is quite understandable, from their perspective. A polarized internal debate has the potential to embarass the co-op, create PR problems, and distract from existing priorities.

However, I believe that an approach that views a passionate membership as a gift, and embraces participation as the solution and not the problem, is ultimately the right and truly cooperative approach.

Facilitating Member Participation

We should be proud of what makes co-ops distinct from their corporate counterparts. Chan did the minimum in highlighting MEC’s “obligations” to its members, but MEC’s overall stance was defensive.

Why not take the opportunity to explain that beyond obligations, member participation is what makes co-ops one of the most democratic and equitable ways we know of to manage economic activity?

Organized and well-facilitated debate among the membership is the only way members can participate meaningfully in decisionmaking in a three million-member co-op.

Concretely, the members need more than a few hours a year in a room in Vancouver to discuss these issues amongst themselves. MEC should open the communications channels and let members speak to each other.

Such an opening would present many challenges, but they are far from being insurmountable. A system that gave increased prominence to proposals supported by more members, for example, would do a much better job of filtering out disruptive resolutions than the limiting measures passed at the 2010 AGM.

Social Justice and Ethical Purchasing

On a common-sense level, ethics on the one hand and benefitting from war and military occupations on the other do not seem to go together. In MEC’s current ethical purchasing policy, they do go together.

Few institutions of MEC’s size have any ethical purchasing policies at all. Many have little in the way of ethics in general. We are fortunate that MEC is as good as it is, but we can do better.

I propose that you can benefit from war and occupation, or you can be considered an ethical supplier, but not both.

The principle should apply regardless of the country of origin. If a Russian arms manufacturer benefitting from the military siege of Chechnya makes really nice sleeping bags, MEC should find another supplier. If a Lockheed Martin subsidiary manufactures quality hiking boots, or a factory owned by Filipino paramilitary leaders make great socks, same thing. Arms manufacturing is a major, fast-growing industry in Canada; they should not be exempt.

The ethical purchasing policy could be improved in many ways. Of those, war and military occupation are the least compatible with MEC’s goals. Both result in death and destruction. Both have massive environmental impacts, from fuel consumption to oil and chemical spills to depleted uranium contamination.

Without a doubt, war and occupation keep people from enjoying self-propelled outdoor experiences.

For those reasons, separating ethics from war is the right place to start improving the purchasing policy.


As a member of Mountain Coop who has boycotted the store for several years in protest against its association with Israeli manufacturers, I agree with and support the candidature of Dru Oja Jay and feel this would be a positive move in the right direction. And perhaps I will once again be able to shop with good conscience at one of my favourite stores.

Comment by dwight smith — February 25th, 2011 @ 5:35 PM

We should be boycotting Libyan, Bahranian and Iranian oil as their governments murder their own citizens. I wonder what Tadamon’s stance is concerning that, or does it only attack Israel and Jews?

Comment by Ian Robertson — March 4th, 2011 @ 1:22 PM

I joined the coop and bought my first climbing gear there when it was still located above a coin laundry on West 4th – My membership number is in the low 4 digits, so I have followed the evolution of MEC for something like 37 years.

I am entirely opposed to the extention of the “BDS” movement to our coop. I find the entire idea drenched in hypocrisy, political naivete or both. The coop stocks many items from countries with far worse human rights records than Israel. Although I have been critical of Israel’s settlement policies for more than 2 decades, the Israeli-Arab conflict is far more complex than many BDS advocates seem to understand. The 1967 war was a defensive one by Israel. Israel’s Arab neighbours attacked it in 1948 upon its declaration of statehood following the UN’s partition decision. For decades, Israel has faced unremitting hostility and attacks, and its muscular riposte should not be surprising. That said, my own view is that the Oslo principles are the way forward. I support a two state solution – a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem (where I have stayed) as its capital.

If you want the separation barrier/wall to come down, urge Palestinians to stop tolerating suicide bombs. But why boycott Israel when we source goods from China, and its HR record is far worse than Israel’s. I am not exaggerating when I say that — I lived in Beijing for 7 years, and for the first three years of that period, I was the Canadian Embassy’s domestic political analyst, reporting on human rights in China as well as the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang. Yet, are you calling for a boycott of Chinese goods….?

While I find a number of things about Israel which I criticise, I think it has for a long time been the only place in the Middle East where it is safe to be a religious dissenter, an open atheist, openly gay or lesbian, a trade union activist, to write critically in newspapers about the government, to take the government to court over HR policies, etc etc. And you want to boycott that country, of all places?! I am against it.

Comment by Andrew Halper — March 4th, 2011 @ 2:23 PM

As a member of Mountain Coop who has not boycotted the store and buys products from Israeli manufacturers, I strongly disagree agree with and do not support the candidature of Dru Oja Jay and feel his election to the board would be a negative move with severe consequences. Should he be elected and his views prevail, I will no longer be able to shop with good conscience at one of my favourite stores.

Comment by Harry Storm — March 4th, 2011 @ 7:34 PM

I would interested to see a list of all the countries that MEC imports goods from – interesting that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.

As far as I am concerned, protesting the association of MEC with Israeli manufacturers is just another form of deceitful and blatant anti-semitism, cloaked as a “social justice” issue. The history of Israel with respect to the Palestinians is very complicated and won’t be solved quickly or easily. The unsettled Palestinian-Israeli dispute aggravates Muslim-Jewish tensions, but it is not the root cause. So to call Israel an apartheid state is just irresponsible and wrong. The truth is that unlike apartheid South Africa, Israel is a democratic state for all its citizens and its 20% Arab minority enjoys all the political economic and religious rights and freedoms of citizenship, including electing members of their choice to the Knesset (Parliament). As well, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have standing before Israel’s Supreme Court. (In contrast, no Jew may own property in for example, Jordan; no Christian or Jew can visit Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia).

There are many inaccuracies in your description above.

Comment by Barb Caldwell — March 4th, 2011 @ 8:22 PM

You poor silly people, you have eyes and cannot see and ears and cannot hear, Mountain Co Op does not need your business. You should spend your money on learning why for thousands and thousands of years the Jew has survived amidst such rancor, dislike and hatred from other people groups. You will be punished if you persist in your foolish beliefs God has stated that He who blesses the Jew will be blessed and he who curses the Jew will be cursed, your not believing in this will have no effect on it coming to pass on you and your family one can only hope that God will give you another chance to come to your senses and return to the path of life.

Comment by Shazia Poopaman — March 4th, 2011 @ 8:41 PM

Thanks for the information! Now I know I won’t be voting for Dru. I will let all my friends know too. So much for peace with Israel, eh? War and boycotts, the Arab/Muslim so-called peace process.

Comment by Kagey — March 4th, 2011 @ 8:49 PM

As a Jewish woman who is disgusted by the crimes which are daily committed in my name against Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of the land on which the Israeli state was founded in 1948, I am glad to know of another way I can make my voice heard.

The boycott campaign is not about religion or individuals, it aims merely to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian human rights and international law, something I don’t think is (or should be) controversial. It’s good to see people like Dru Oja Jay taking action in solidarity with Palestinians, and I will be happy to vote for him and let MEC members who share my views know about his campaign as well.

Comment by Rosa — March 5th, 2011 @ 8:27 PM

thanks for the info I will definitely boycott Dru. The BD “industry” is predicated on delegitimizing Israel whilst ignoring the real fascist racist states of the world”: Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. Where were you all these years when Libya was butchering its citizens? Demonstrating against Israel of course.

“A lie travels around the world faster than a man can put his pants on” Mark Twain

Comment by KP — March 7th, 2011 @ 2:35 PM

I am a longtime member of MEC. I joined for a number of reasons. Two of these are 1) For the co-op structure which enables and empowers members to have a say in the co-op decision(s) andc2) For the moral and ethical principles that MEC supposedly espouses. Combining these two makes MEC a co-op where the members have a voice/say in determining the direction and decisions of the co-op. Having said that it is obviously unethical to source and support financially a military that maintain a brutal military occupation in contravention of International law. And that same military regularly violates human rights as is reported by all international human rights organizations including Israeli ones. In addition the Israeli military’s actions are so unethical that there are a large number of it’s own soldiers who are conscientious objectors. If they refuse to support the violations committed by the Israeli military then peace seeking nature lovers should definitely do the same.

Comment by Saib — March 7th, 2011 @ 3:03 PM

When considering the boycott please recognize that it ultimately hurts Palestinian employees who are specifically employed by the social enterprise that has been sourced by MEC to manufacture the high quality goods found in the store. It would be completely counter-intuitive to remove this excellent source of income from a place that goes out of its way to employ both Jews AND Palestinians in an effort to bridge both communities and sew the seeds of understanding between both peoples, in addition to your gear.

Comment by Annie — March 8th, 2011 @ 2:54 AM

If you are members of MEC and do not support Dru’s position of boycotting, please be aware that Jon Gallo, as one of the other candidates, stands against Dru’s position. As another member on this chat mentioned it is unrealistic to single out one country based on geo-political issues beyond the scope of MEC’s mandate.

We at MEC need to focus on the factories and how they treat their workers and the environment as part of our sourcing policy, not greater geo-political issues that the COOP has no business getting involved in.

Lets stay focussed on what makes the COOP great, and not get side tracked on issues that have little to do with the environment, nature, fitness and the outdoors.

Comment by Jon — March 8th, 2011 @ 1:04 PM

I’m somewhat confused by Dru’s position. Is it only products from Source that he is opposed to MEC purchasing from, due to their contracts to supply the military, or is it all Israeli companies he wants to see banned from MEC? Are the goalposts being moved to suggest that any Israeli company benefits from war and occupation?

Won’t be supporting Dru and will probably vote in the board election just to vote against him.

Comment by Jose — March 9th, 2011 @ 7:12 PM

Dru should be armed and bring a Hezbollah flag with him to MEC meetings. That way he will reflect the sentiments and wishes of those who support him., in the name of peace, social justice and the extermination of Jews everywhere. Idiot.

Comment by Holden — March 10th, 2011 @ 1:49 PM

rosa, you are repeating the same old trope: “as a Jew”, “in my name” – it might feel emotionally satisfying but it isnt well thought out. You describe the palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants of the land on which israel was built. True. But so were/are the Jews, who have had continuous historical presence there, even if as a minority. And the jews of Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria……hundreds of thousands dispossessed by Arab governments — refugees in France, Canada, Israel and elsewhere. What about them? this is a destructive game, this business of selectively adopting a class of victims. The coop itself is built on land taken from native peoples of the southwest coast of what we now call british columbia. There are unresolved land claims and as a result, you dont feel shame?. And you have adopted the Palestinians as your pet cause? Because, i suggest, “as a jew” you feel guilty/? I too am a jew and I believe in a just two state solution with east jerusalem as capital of a palestinian state. but turning selectively on your own people, identifying only with one side in this bloody complex historical mess….does that feel rational?

Comment by andrew halper — March 10th, 2011 @ 8:03 PM

Thank goodness for this site. I wasn’t impressed by Dru’s bio in our MEC flyer – it seems heavy on the activism and independent journalism, light on real work experience – but this seals the deal. Sorry BDS folks, after decades and decades of attacks upon Jewish people, they certainly have the right to defend themselves in Israel. I worry about the negative impact these professional activists will have on MEC.

Comment by DC — March 27th, 2011 @ 11:20 PM

Anyone who supports the boycotting of Israel without first condemning the practices of China, Libya Burma, Bahrain, Cuba, Pakistan, Nigeria, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe to name a few, is using this as a cover for anti-Semitism. I will not vote for Dru.

Comment by Russell — March 30th, 2011 @ 11:30 AM

Am I the only one who remember how people boycotted South-Africa without much debate ?
The boycott then was not questioned much, even if China, Sudan, etc… were (sadly) the same as they are today
Explain me how what was legitimate and successful in the 80’s is pointless and biased now ?

Comment by roodseuk — April 7th, 2011 @ 4:19 PM

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