Monday, February 23, 2009

CUPE Ontario endorses Israel Academic Boycott

Yesterday, CUPE Ontario approved Resolution 50, a plan to carry out an academic boycott against Israel and further along their divestment program. The resolution now needs to be endorsed by the 200,000 membership at the annual convention in April. CUPE Local 3903 at York University who were just ordered back to work after a lengthy strike are fully commited to backing Israel Apartheid Week, next week on York's campus. The motivation behind this boycott can only be based on pure feel good emotions rather than an honest attempt to holding by true values and convictions.

This new boycott was propsed during Operation Cast Lead when IDF forces attempted to stop the daily barrage of rockets on Isaeli civilians. During the 3 week war Hamas used schools, hospitals and civilian homes for launching attacks. The initial inspiration of this round of the boycott is when Israel bombed the Gaza University. CUPE choose to leave this fact for the very bottom of their webpage explaining the reason for the boycott.

In their explanation of the boycott section they site the case of "On January 7th, Israeli forces killed over 40 Palestinian civilians who had taken shelter in a United Nations school. " One would expect a boycott lead by the highest level of acadamia would be able to have their facts correct. The incident they are refering to took place on January 6th. The United Nations has already issued a correction that Israel never bombed the school. An Israeli shell landed outside of the school. All of the victims were outside of the school. Even the casualty count from this incident is in dispute. When the dust settles it will probably be revieled that the casualty count is at least 25% less then reported. Of course this will be burried into some report that goes unnoticed by most of the world.

CUPE is claiming that their actions are as champions of human rights. Of all of the incidents in the world why have they choosen this one to be their champion cause? Gilad Shalit has been held hostage by Hamas for over 3 years. He has been denied all of his Human Rights of allowing visitation by the Red Cross and letting his family know if he is alive. CUPE has been silent. Hamas has commited numerous war crimes. They fired thousands of missles into civilian populations, striking schools and kindergartens. CUPE has been silent. Hamas has fought out of uniform and even in stolen IDF uniforms. CUPE has been silent. This is just to name a few, not to mention when Hamas violently removed Fatah from Gaza and tied Fatah supporters to chairs and threw them off of buildings. CUPE has been silent. They have used the fog of war to shoot the legs of Fatah supporters out of fear Fatah would retake control of Gaza after Operation Cast Lead.

There are other conflicts in the world. Darfur, Ethopia, Sri Lanka and more. CUPE Ontario is silent. Ontario has been condemned by the United Nations for providing full funding to schools belonging to one religion and providing nothing to others. When John Tory and his Conservative Party came up with a solution to this inequality, CUPE Ontario was front and centre in condemning the proposal. Tory was the only political leader banned from speaking to the various union groups at their conventions. One can only reach the conclusion that this boycott was not chosen simply out of moral conviction.

The York student government (YFS) was recently overthrown by the students for supporting CUPE 3903 in their strike. The outgoing YFS members blamed the Jewish student population for their dismial. They refused to acknowledge they were turfed for betraying the interests of the students they were supposed to represent. Now CUPE is openly supporting an anti-Israel week on the campus with the largest Jewish population. Instead of fostering an enviornment of acceptance and learning, Jewish students have to deal with a week of intimidation and fear. It would not be surprising if this year someone got hurt.

If CUPE Ontario really wants to divest from Israel they should enable their members to fully boycott all companies that do business in Israel. Coca Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, Sports Illustrated, Kellogs, Nestle, IBM, Intel, McDonalds, Burger King for starters. They should boycott the Vancouver Olympics for not banning Israeli atheletes. The Canadian Armed Forces just began using Israeli drone planes to help keep soldiers in Afghanistan safe. This should draw immediate protest. Blocking University assistance for Israeli military technology is directly targeted under the ban.

CUPE Ontario sites hundreds groups that they would normally have nothing to do with who support the boycott. Some the boycott Israel websites bring attention to the successes of their boycotts. They site examples of businesses withdrawing from doing business in the Arab world under pressure of the boycott, causing losses of millions of dollars. The same businesses have not closed up shop in Israel. They also claimed a victory in blocking as shipment of Valentines Day flowers at Heathrow Airport. Early that week the Israeli government gave permission to ship flowers from Gaza to the European market. They were probably stopping of shipment of flowers from Gaza and hurting the Palestinians they claim they are trying to help.

Resolution 50 is as hypocritical and backwards as the strikes that have now become a routine part of life at York University. Hopefully the general membership will choose to closely examine both sides of the conflict and vote down this rediculous resolution.

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