Globe and Mail Friday, July 7, 2006, Page A17
Slurs will not silence us
When our union recently passed a resolution critical of policies of the
government of Israel, it was savagely attacked in several quarters and
by many as anti-Semitic.
When the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada, the largest
Protestant church in the country, called for a limited boycott and
strategy toward Israel, it, too, faced a barrage of baseless allegations of
anti-Semitism (though little was said about the two Jewish organizations,
Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians and Jewish Women to End the
who joined in the church group's action).
Canadian media, with few exceptions, refuse to report on the plight of
innocent Palestinians not involved in terrorist activities. They insist on
focusing on the minority of Palestinians who inflict despicable violence on
innocent civilians. Media refuse to address Israel's violation of
law, the Geneva Conventions, the rulings of the International Court in The
and a number of United Nations resolutions. This lack of reporting leaves
Canadian population with a one-sided view.
Israel's recent bombing campaign and incursion in Gaza has destroyed schools
and universities, demolished bridges and roads, and killed several
The sonic-boom bombardments wreak havoc on a civilian population, smashing
windows and doors and terrorizing children. More damaging, there is no
electricity for more than 700,000 people -- no lights, no refrigerators, and
fans in the suffocatng heat. It means no clean water -- the public water
uses electricity -- leading to disease, possibly cholera. It means limited
services in hospitals and clinics dependant on electricity.
Were this Northern Ireland, the wrath of the international community would
swift and harsh. Yet when we criticize this behaviour, we are labelled
anti-Semites -- a convenient tactic used to shut down debate and silence us
any criticism of the state of Israel.
Even Switzerland, renowned for its neutrality, criticized Israel this week."There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it
international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure,"
statement issued by the Swiss Foreign Ministry.
The strongest condemnation for the irresponsible Gaza campaign came Tuesday
from the editorial page of one of Israel's most respected newspapers,
In an astonishing moment of frankness and brevity, the newspaper called for the permanent withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Forces from
the occupied territories.
"The right always proposes the same recipe, but in ever-increasing doses: If
we did not manage to deter them by using force, we need to use more force;
if that fails, then we need to use even more force. The establishment of the
settlements was, and remains, a form of using force, as is construction of
fence along a route that harms Palestinian life more than necessary for
purposes," the editorial stated.
"The attempt to topple an elected government by means of tanks and to remove
members of an elected parliament by arresting them also constitutes a policy
"At this time, it must be reiterated," the newspaper said, "and it would be
appropriate for the Prime Minister to find the time and the strength of will
do so -- that Israel has no option in the long run other than withdrawing
the territories and from the occupation."
There you have it in a nutshell, the essence of CUPE Ontario's resolution
spoken from the pages of Israel's influential newspaper.
I now expect to hear B'nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress and Simon
Wiesenthal Centre, together with all their cronies, scream and hurl
of anti-Semitism at the editorial board of Haaretz.
Or is that treatment is reserved for CUPE and the United Church?
Sid Ryan is president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (Ontario).
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