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CUPE National would like to state its position on the January 2, 2009 media release by CUPE Ontario announcing a plan to introduce a resolution to ban Israeli academics from Ontario universities unless they condemn the “assault on Gaza”.

As the national president of Canada’s largest union, with over 580,000 members, I can say that none of CUPE’s over 2,000 chartered bodies – including CUPE Ontario – have adopted such a resolution. I believe such a resolution is wrong and would violate the anti-discrimination standards set out in the CUPE Constitution. I will be using my influence in any debates on such a resolution to oppose its adoption.

In a letter sent January 2, 2009 to Prime Minister Harper, I condemned both the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and the Israeli government’s disproportionate response. The death toll in the Middle East has climbed to more than 900. CUPE National will continue to call upon Prime Minister Harper to lend Canada’s voice to the growing list of nations demanding peace in the Middle East.

The promotion of peace and international solidarity has been a hallmark of CUPE’s work since its founding 46 years ago.  The events over the past weeks in the Middle East are tragic and many innocent lives are being lost while the world watches in disbelief.

CUPE’s national policy on the Middle East was fully debated and adopted at our 2003 National Convention and reaffirmed at the 2007 National Convention. That policy states that we:

 “Demand that the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN Resolutions 242 and 338;

Call for and actively work towards an end to all acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli; and,

Help develop a peace process based on equality between Israelis and Palestinians and based on the implementation of United Nations resolutions and international law.”