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November 26, 2021 2:16 pm

Canada’s Largest Labor Union Rejects Israel Boycott by 2-to-1 Margin

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Canadian Union of Public Employees members protest against Israel in 2009 in Toronto. Photo: Tania Liu / Flickr

Canada’s largest labor union rejected a motion endorsing the movement to boycott Israel during its national convention on Thursday, by a broad margin that was applauded by Canadian Jewish groups.

Members of the 700,000-strong Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) held the body’s biennial summit online this week. Resolution No. 70 called for CUPE to “support the Palestinian people’s’ right to self determination and their demands to end Israel’s military occupation and colonization,” and to officially back the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Weighing the measure Thursday, CUPE members spurned the measure with 32% voting for and 68% against.

“CUPE members should be praised for standing up to the lies and intimidation of the BDS movement,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, on Friday. “The passage of this motion would have inflicted great harm not only on Jewish and Israeli members of CUPE, but on all workers who benefit from trade between Canada and Israel.”

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“CUPE has heeded the wise words of Tommy Douglas, Canada’s greatest labour icon: ‘The main enmity against Israel is that she has been an affront to those nations who do not treat their people and their workers as well as Israel has treated hers.’”

Commenting Friday, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said members voting against the resolution “chose peace over division.”

“BDS is an anti-Zionist, antisemitic movement that calls for the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and denies the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination,” CIJA said. “It does not stand for Palestinian rights.”

Among others, the motion was submitted by local unions representing contract academic workers at the University of Toronto and York University, as well as the Metro Vancouver District Council.

CUPE Local 1281, an Ontario-based union that represents workers in “small, nonprofit and social-justice focused workplaces,” said after the result it was proud to have helped organize the BDS resolution.

“CUPE 1281 was proud to sponsor and organize the BDS resolution at CUPE2021,” said Local 1281, an Ontario-based union that represents workers in small, nonprofit workplaces.”The large gap in support is disappointing given CUPE’s commitment to human rights and solidarity. We will keep organizing for a free Palestine, with/without
CUPE  National.”

Nationally, CUPE represents Canadian workers in health care, education, municipalities, social services, utilities, transportation and more.

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