Friday, June 02, 2006

Reading Dawg on that CUPE thing

(I thought I would spare the usual suspects the chore of deconstructing this piece on CUPE Ontario's recent resolution on the Middle East by providing my own handy decoding and rebuttal in square brackets. --DD)


Predictably, assorted growling and snarling attack dogs are piling on to CUPE after its Ontario division recently passed a resolution that (gasp) is critical of Israel.

"critical of Israel" is just code for "anti-Semitism." Other examples include such things as suggesting that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Just ask Warren Kinsella, who has linked the Toronto Star's prima bloggista Antonia Zerbisias with neo-Nazi David Duke for daring to say such a thing. Those sneaky anti-Semites lurk in the most unlikely places.]

Here, first of all, is CUPE Ontario's resolution, which passed according to some "unanimously" and by others "by an overwhelming majority."


1. With Palestine solidarity and human rights organizations, develop an education campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the political and economic support of Canada for these practices

2. Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refigees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

3. Call on CUPE National to commit to research into Canadian involvement in the occupation and call on the CLC to join us in lobbying against the apartheid-like practices of the Israeli state and call for the immediate dismantling of the wall.


The Israeli Apartheid Wall has been condemned and determined illegal under international law. Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and other organizations including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign of boycotts and divestment against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid. CUPE BC has firmly and vocally condemned the occupation of Palestine and have initiated an education campaign about the apartheid-like practices of the Israeli state.

Predictably once more, the anti-labour crowd is demanding to know why CUPE is dealing with international issues at all, but that's a stale old discussion, and I'd like to bypass it. Let's cut to the chase, and examine the two most contentious issues raised by the wording of this resolution. First, the word "
apartheid," which some of the critics are claiming is a false moral equivalence.

So why not ask an expert on apartheid?

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what [Israel] did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about....

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured.

[Dawg is grasping at straws here. Desmond Tutu is likely just another anti-Semite-- certainly he's no Martin Luther King.]

Here's another individual who seems to know what he's talking about. Israel's plan for Palestine certainly does look like a duck and quack like a duck.

[The man's an obvious self-hater. There are many such. Anyway, what do Nobel laureates and nominees know? They're just the academic version of Hollywood stars.]

Now, secondly, we have that pesky "right of return," which international law dictates, not CUPE. This, of course, is not to be confused with the Law of Return. Let's not have any of those false moral equivalences, now. "This land is our land," as the old song goes. If they let all those people come back, Israel will cease to be a Jewish state.

But you know, there are alternatives less stark. The Palestinians don't all want to move to Tel Aviv, after all. This matter would certainly be the basis of negotiation: an honourable settlement (no pun intended) would not require a mass migration of Palestinians into Israel. But the inconvenient fact remains that, according to international law and numerous conventions, CUPE has a point.

[Well, sure, as a labour activist Dawg will stick up for anything a union does or says. What does Israel owe to these so-called "Palestinians," anyway? Israel won the damned war, and to the victor belongs the spoils.]

The wording of the resolution, then, that some might find inflammatory, conveys a reality, the one that Palestinians today are continuing to live. They are a dispossessed people, their civilian casualty rate in the on-going skirmishes have been far higher than those of Israel, the West Bank settlers in their midst are gulping 80% of the available water, and their participation in democratic elections has resulted in a financial squeeze that threatens to gut their state before it even really begins.

Some people give a damn. Like CUPE. Good on them.

Let's turn now to that smelly red herring, the dark suggestion that the resolution was deliberately brought forward on a Saturday (the Jewish sabbath) to screen out Jews. I for one find that to be a simply outrageous assertion. One wonders how many observant Jews (as opposed to secular or Reform Jews) were actually in the delegation, knowing the dates of the Convention beforehand--and whether their numbers would have turned the tide. That being said, though, it might have been reasonable, in retrospect, for the emergency resolution to come to the floor earlier in the week. If there were other voices to be heard, opportunities should have been accorded them. After all, CUPE has successfully negotiated religious observance provisions in its own collective agreements.

[Aha! Dawg is backpedaling here, leaving alive the suggestion of deliberate planning by the Convention organizers. The rest is just weak rationalization by an anti-Israel fanatic. In fact, his entire article seeks to excuse the inexcusable. CUPE has no business meddling in complex Middle East issues. Human rights only get raised when people want to make Israel a target. What about the suicide bombers? What about Hamas? What about Islamism? What about...]

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