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CUPE Ontario needs your support

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CUPE Needs Your Solidarity for Bravely Standing in Support of Palestinian Academics

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:
http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=CUPE boycott&btnG=Search News.
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.html?subject_id=152&lang=en and
urge them to write in support of CUPE-Ontario.

(4) Write to the administrations of Carleton University (contact
information at bottom of http://www2.carleton.ca/about/administrative/president.html), York University (http://vpacademic.yorku.ca/directory/findadm.html?id=1001) and the University of Toronto (http://www.president.utoronto.ca/officeofthepresident.htm) 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: http://www.caiaweb.org/.


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.




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.


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.




There is no "Right of Return"

There is no "Right of Return" anywhere in International Law, ever that provides that that children or grand children of a "refugee" (or in this case, just as likely, fleeing Arab War Criminal fearing justice) has the "right" to return to the place that their ancestors fled. There is only "the LAW of return" passed by the Knesset, establishing Israel as a place of refuge for any Jew so that we as a hunted people may fi9inally have our own place of sanctuary.

Re: Re: Do You Support the Right of Return?

Yes, it is.

Lessons of Holocaust Compensation

From: Naseer Aruri ed., Palestinian Refugees and their Right of Return (London: Pluto Press, 2001).

Norman G. Finkelstein

Soon after the Nazi Holocaust, Jewish organizations and the government of Israel negotiated substantial compensation agreements with Germany. In the past decade, new compensation agreements have been negotiated with Germany as well as with other European governments. These agreements constitute an important precedent for Palestinian material claims against Israel.

In the early 1950s Germany entered into negotiations with Jewish institutions and signed a series of indemnification agreements.1 With little if any external pressure, it has paid out to date some $60-80 billion. The German government sought to compensate Jewish victims of Nazi persecution with three different agreements signed in 1952. Individual claimants received payments according to the terms of the Law on Indemnification (Bundesentschädigungsgesetz). A separate agreement with Israel subsidized the absorption and rehabilitation of several hundred thousand Jewish refugees. The German government also negotiated at the same time a financial settlement with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, an umbrella of all major Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Bnai Brith, and the Joint Distribution Committee.

The sums paid out by the postwar German government significantly affected Jewish life. During the first ten years of the agreement (1953-63), the Israeli historian Tom Segev reports:

the reparations money funded about a third of the total investment in Israel's electrical system, which tripled in capacity, and nearly half the total investment in the railways, buying German diesel engines, cars, tracks, and signaling equipment. Equipment for developing the water supply, for oil drilling, and for operating the copper mines ... was bought in Germany, as well as heavy equipment for agriculture and construction - tractors, combines, and trucks.2

Germany earmarked the Claims Conference monies (approximately one $1 billion in current values) for victims of Nazi persecution who were not adequately compensated by the German courts. As it happened, the Claims Conference used the monies mostly for other purposes, for example, subsidizing Jewish communities in the Arab world and Jewish cultural institutions such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel.

Beginning in the early 1990s mainly American Jewish organizations cooperating with Israel opened a new round of 'Holocaust compensation' negotiations with various European countries. The first target was Switzerland.3 The Swiss stood accused of directly and indirectly profiting from the Nazi persecution of Jews. Acting at Israel's behest, the World Jewish Restitution Organization mobilized officials at the federal, state and local levels in the United States to press Switzerland for Holocaust compensation. A senior official in the Clinton administration, Stuart Eizenstat, conscripted twelve federal agencies for this initiative. A major international conference was convened in London. The House and Senate banking committees held multiple hearings. Class action lawsuits against Switzerland were filed in American courts. State and local legislatures across the United States implemented economic boycotts. In the end, Switzerland agreed to pay some $1.5 billion in compensation.

For our purposes, the merits of the case against Switzerland (dubious at best) are less important than the legal and moral precedents it set. The chairman of the House Banking Committee, James Leach, maintained that states must be held accountable for injustices even if committed a half-century ago: 'History does not have a statute of limitations.' Eizenstat deemed Swiss compensation to Jewry 'an important litmus test of this generation's willingness to face the past and rectify the wrongs of the past.' Although they couldn't be 'held responsible for what took place years ago,' Senator Alfonse D'Amato of the Senate Banking Committee acknowledged that the Swiss still had a 'duty of accountability and of attempting to do what is right at this point in time.' Publicly endorsing the Jewish demand for compensation, President Clinton likewise reflected that 'we must confront and, as best we can, right the terrible injustice of the past.' 'It should be made clear,' bipartisan Congressional leaders wrote in a letter to the Secretary of State, that the 'response on this restitution matter will be seen as a test of respect for basic human rights and the rule of law.' And in address to the Swiss Parliament, Secretary of State Albright explained that economic benefits Switzerland accrued from the plundering of Jews 'were passed along to subsequent generations and that is why the world now looks to the people of Switzerland, not to assume responsibility for actions taken by their forbears, but to be generous in doing what can be done at this point to right past wrongs.' Noble sentiments all, but nowhere to be heard - unless they are being actively ridiculed - when it comes to Palestinian compensation for the dispossession of their homeland.

In negotiations with Eastern Europe, Jewish organizations and Israel have demanded the full restitution of or monetary compensation for the pre-war communal and private assets of the Jewish community.4 Consider Poland. The pre-war Jewish population of Poland stood at 3.5 million; the current population is several thousand. Yet, the World Jewish Restitution Organization demands title over the 6,000 pre-war communal Jewish properties, including those currently being used as hospitals and schools. It is also laying claim to hundreds of thousands of parcels of Polish land valued in the many tens of billions of dollars. Once again the entire US political and legal establishment has been mobilized to achieve these ends. Indeed, New York City Council members unanimously supported a resolution calling on Poland 'to pass comprehensive legislation providing for the complete restitution of Holocaust assets', while 57 members of Congress (led by Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York) dispatched a letter to the Polish parliament demanding 'comprehensive legislation that would return 100% of all property and assets seized during the Holocaust'.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Stuart Eizenstat deplored the lax pace of evictions in Eastern Europe: 'A variety of problems have arisen in the return of properties. For example, in some countries, when persons or communities have attempted to reclaim properties, they have been asked, sometimes required ... to allow current tenants to remain for a lengthy period of time at rent-controlled rates.' The delinquency of Belarus particularly exercised Eizenstat. Belarus is 'very, very far' behind in handing over pre-war Jewish properties, he told the House International Relations Committee. The average monthly income of a Belarussian is $100.

To force submission from recalcitrant governments, those seeking Jewish restitution wield the bludgeon of US sanctions. Eizenstat urged Congress to 'elevate' Holocaust compensation, put it 'high on the list' of requirements for those East European countries that are seeking entry into the OECD, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, NATO and the Council of Europe: 'They will listen if you speak ... They will get the hint.' Israel Singer, of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, called on Congress to 'continue looking at the shopping list' in order to 'check' that every country pays up. 'It is extremely important that the countries involved in the issue understand,' Congressman Benjamin Gilman of the House International Relations Committee said, 'that their response ... is one of several standards by which the United States assesses its bilateral relationship.' Avraham Hirschson, chairman of Israel's Knesset Committee on restitution and Israel's representative on the World Jewish Restitution Organization, paid tribute to Congressional cooperation. Recalling his 'fights' with the Romanian prime minister, Hirschson testified: 'But I ask one remark, in the middle of the fighting, and it changed that atmosphere. I told him, you know, in two days I am going to be in a hearing here in Congress. What do you want me to tell them in the hearing? The whole atmosphere was changed.'

'Were it not for the United States of America,' Eizenstat aptly observed in his paean to Congress, 'very few, if any, of these activities would be ongoing today.' To justify the pressures exerted on Eastern Europe, he explained that a hallmark of 'Western' morality is to 'return or pay compensation for communal and private property wrongfully appropriated.' For the 'new democracies' in Eastern Europe, meeting this standard 'would be commensurate with their passage from totalitarianism to democratic states.' Yet, judging by the claims of Palestinians, it would seem that a main US ally has yet to make the transition.

Apart from the moral link joining Jewish claims against Europe, on the one hand, and Palestinian claims against Israel, on the other, a direct material link potentially joins the respective demands. When Israel first entered into negotiations with Germany for reparations after the war, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe reports, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett proposed transferring a part to Palestinian refugees, 'in order to rectify what has been called the small injustice (the Palestinian tragedy), caused by the more terrible one (the Holocaust)'.5 Nothing ever came of the proposal. A respected Israeli academic, Clinton Bailey, recently suggested using part of the funds from the Holocaust settlements with Switzerland and Germany for the 'compensation of Palestinian Arab refugees'.6 Given that almost all survivors of the Nazi holocaust have already passed away, this would seem to be a sensible proposal.

One cautionary note should be entered. Elsewhere I have documented that Jewish organizations misappropriated much of the monies earmarked for the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.7 It would be regrettable should monies earmarked for the Palestinian victims of Israel's establishment also end up in undeserving hands. Indeed, if only to avert yet another injustice befalling the refugees, it is vital that Palestinians set up accountable democratic institutions.


1. For background, see especially Nana Sagi, German Reparations (New York, 1986), and Ronald W. Zweig, German Reparations and the Jewish World (Boulder, 1987).

2. Tom Segev, The Seventh Million (New York, 1993), p. 241.

3. For details, see Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry (New York, 2000), chapter 3.

4. Ibid.

5. Ilan Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-51 (London, 1992), p. 268.

6. Clinton Bailey, 'Holocaust Funds to Palestinians May Meet Some Cost of Compensation', International Herald Tribune; reprinted in Jordan Times (20 June 1999).

7. Finkelstein, Holocaust Industry.


Return to Gaza and the West bank

There is nothing in this article that supports what you claim

Re: Re: Do You Support the Right of Return?

Who are you talking to?

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