February 25, 2009

Support Solidarity with Palestinians in Canada

In Canada the struggle intensifies. On the one hand great resolutions supporting Palestinians rights have passed. On the other hand, Zionist forces are intensifying their pressure to silence Palestinian solidarity work, including threats to students, denial of academic facilities and more.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED.

Find below:
* Text of the two historic resolutions;
* Concrete ways to show your support.

Toronto, February 23, 2009 - The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) congratulates CUPE-Ontario’s University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) conference in Windsor for passing a historic resolution in support of the Palestinian civil society call for an academic institutional boycott of Israel. The resolution calls for education and research into institutional
links between Israeli and Canadian Universities that serve to perpetuate apartheid.

An additional emergency resolution was adopted by the OUWCC to protest the violation of free speech and forms of bureaucratic repression that are increasingly targeting Palestine-solidarity organizations and student advocates at several University campuses in Ontario.

Both motions are enormously important as they offer concrete support for academic freedom in Palestine and in Canada. As expected, supporters of Israeli apartheid and militarism are incensed by these resolutions.

Despite the mounting campaign of intimidation launched by pro-apartheid organizations and individuals against CUPE Ontario as a response to these resolutions - including death threats against CUPE Ontario members and their families - the union has stood firm in its commitment to freedom of expression and international solidarity.

Now it is time to show your support for CUPE! Here’s how:

(1) Please send letters of support to CUPE ON president Sid Ryan and the OUWCC committee Chair, Janice Folk-Dawson to cupeont@web.net or fax to 416 299 3480 thanking them for their strong stand in support of Palestinian Human rights (see form letter below for a template you can use to write these letters, though we always like to see people use their creativity and write their own!).

(2) Write to your local paper in support of CUPE-Ontario’s position. You can use Google News to track the story:

Also be sure to post online comments in support of CUPE-Ontario wherever the opportunity arises.

(3) Familiarize yourself with the resolutions pasted below and with CUPE-Ontario’s positions. Forward this message and the following link to co-workers, colleagues, friends, allies, partners, relatives, family, and community members: http://www.cupe.on.ca/doc.php?subject_id=152&lang=en and urge them to write in support of CUPE-Ontario.

(4) Write to the administrations of Carleton University (see bottom for contact information ), York University and the University of Toronto to register your disagreement with their systematic silencing of pro-Palestinian, pro-human-rights and anti-apartheid voices in Ontario. For specific information on the Free Speech Campaign, visit CAIA.

SAMPLE LETTER TO CUPE-ONTARIO:

Dear Sid and Janice:

I am writing to express my gratitude to the both of you for the incredibly important position you’ve taken in support of human rights in the Middle East. I am especially thankful that you have done so in support of academic freedom for Palestinians and their supporters in both Israel/Palestine and here in Canada as well.

As you know, the Palestinian people are facing an unprecedented attack on their ability to learn and teach. In short, their fundamental rights to education are being violated on a daily basis by Israel’s racist apartheid regime. By affiliating to the Right to Education Campaign, CUPE-Ontario has taken an important step forward in ensuring that Palestinian children have hope for the future – that perhaps someday soon they will be able to go to school without fear of checkpoints, arrests, beatings, or worse.

Furthermore, Israeli academic institutions are often complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. They are deeply integrated into Israel’s military-industrial complex and in the production of studies central to the perpetuation of apartheid over Palestinians. It is important to recognize that brave voices within Israel –both Jewish and Palestinian – have supported the call for a boycott. This is because these voices, those most committed to peace in the region, understand that war and occupation will not end until the institutions complicit in violations of international law are held to account.

Once again, I would like to applaud you for taking the lead in promoting a peaceful way forward in ensuring that justice in the region is achieved. CUPE-Ontario does not stand alone, as the recent global wave of actions in support of the Palestinian campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid demonstrates. Keep up the amazing work. Millions are standing with you.

Regards,

______________________

*** TEXT OF THE TWO RESOLUTIONS THAT PASSED ***

MOTION 1

The OUWCC will:
1. Affiliate to the RIGHT TO EDUCATION campaign at Birzeit University to defend the right of Palestinian students to have access to education and educational institutions in the Palestinian territory, and seek to raise awareness about the issues facing Palestinian education, students and
teachers under Israeli military occupation, and further that it will encourage member locals to affiliate to the Right to Education campaign

2. Encourage its member locals to hold public forums to discuss an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and

3. Ask campus representatives to work with locals to investigate both research and investment links between Ontario Universities and the state of Israel's military, and

4. Mobilize campus allies to pressure universities from engaging in acts of cooperation that assist and aid military research at the institutional level with Israeli universities;

5. Work with campus and community allies to pressure Ontario universities to refuse collaborations, corporate partnerships and investments that would benefit, either directly or indirectly, military research or the Israeli state military;

6. Request funding and support from CUPE Ontario to conduct an education campaign on the academic boycott, coordinate education sessions and assist in the implementation of resolution 50 as passed in 2006

Because, in response to a call from Palestinian civil society and trade unions, CUPE Ontario's Resolution 50 (in 2006) calls upon the Union and its locals to support boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) of the state of Israel, so long as that state continues to occupy Palestinian
territory and refuses to respect and uphold international law and covenants, and

Because the latest Israeli attack on Gaza killed over 1300 people, wounded thousands, and destroyed hospitals, schools, roads, power plants, sewage and water infrastructure, and thousands of civilian homes, and as a direct consequence of the attacks by the Israeli military, the Gazan education system has been unable to function, and

Because Israel's direct bombing of universities and schools and its years-long blockade forbidding educational supplies, fuel and other basic necessities, or movement of people including students and teachers, has brought about the collapse of the education system in Gaza, and Because
all three major Palestinian trade union federations are signatories of the Palestinian Civil Society for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions call including: The General Union of Palestinian Workers, PGFTU, and the Federation of Independent Unions.

MOTION 2

Because campus administrators have taken actions that seek to limit free speech and repress public discussions and campus dialogue about the occupation of Palestine.

Because students, staff and faculty members have been threatened with punitive measures for speaking out or organizing events against the state of Israel and have placed obstacles that prevent/limit public debate on campus.

The OUWCC shall;

1. Issue a public statement about our support for free speech on campus and the right of students and campus workers to speak out and organize events that support Palestine and bring awareness to the occupation.

2. Locals of the OUWCC be encouraged to write letters to the administrations of Carleton, Ottawa, York and the University of Toronto to protest the silencing and repression of public debate on campus.

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