CUPE Ontario Calls for Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
Thursday, January 22, 200914 Comments
This would involve a boycott against institutional activities, like fund raising, partnerships, investment and joint projects.
He wants to clarify that this boycott is not targeting Israeli academics themselves, but Israeli academic institutions particularly. In preparation for the anticipated response from pro-Israel lobby groups, he said: "Opposing and targeting the policies of the Israeli state is not opposing and targeting Jews. Neither is criticizing Israel synonymous with challenging Israel's existence."
But he also made sure to clarify his stance on Hamas rocket attacks saying "The firing of these rockets is a completely unacceptable violation of human rights."
The basis of the boycott call, according to Ryan, has to do with the not only the illegality of Israel's actions, but also the issue of proportionality. Ryan writes: "There is no denying Israelis, too, are dying. But the reality is this is not a fight between equals...Based on reported figures, 20 Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since 2000...During the same period the United Nations reports that Israel, which has one of the best equipped militaries in the world, killed 2,677 Palestinians in Gaza."
Ryan argues that CUPE should be supported for taking such a strong stand, and that refusing to oppose Israel now is to be "morally bankrupt".
This call for a boycott is an extension of a May 2006 motion by CUPE Ontario where delegates voted to support "an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel because of its refusal to comply with international law."
Ryan rightly points out that "Boycotts have traditionally been used as a non-violent way to protest what is unfair and to affect governments to change. In the campaign to end colonial rule in India, Gandhi called for a boycott of British universities and colleges as well as all British-made goods. The U.S. began a boycott of the Moscow 1980 summer Olympics after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan."
Responding to allegations of Ryan being anti-Semitic from pro-Israel lobby groups, he replies "this is exactly the tactic used by these lobby groups all the time to shut down debate and democracy … the big weapon in their arsenal is name calling. They call people racist, they call people anti-Semites, if you happen to be Jewish, they call you a self-hating Jew."
Do you support the position of Sid Ryan and CUPE Ontario? What about the general concept of a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions as a means of non-violent opposition to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine? Please comment below, and vote in our online poll.