I read your note to Professor Ed Beck. While I agree with you that the
recent CUPE Ontario boycott resolution is outrageous, I don’t agree with
the criticism of the pro-Israel groups contained in your final sentence.
The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) has known about CUPE Ontario’s
anti-Israel positions for years and has consistently taken them on. In
fact, the administrative employees of UJA Federation of Toronto were CUPE
Ontario members until a similar resolution was enacted three years ago, at
which point they withdrew from the Ontario branch of the union and
affiliated directly with CUPE National. The leadership of CUPE National, at
CJC’s urging, has denounced the CUPE Ontario resolution.
The supporters of the CUPE Ontario resolution sprang it as a surprise
motion at a union conference, which took place on a Saturday thereby
ensuring that Jewish Child and Family Services, the last remaining Jewish
community organization affiliated with CUPE Ontario, would not be present.
The Jewish organizations generally make it a point not to attend sessions
on shabbat, which was exploited by the supporters of the resolution (as has
been done in the past).
In general, the Canadian Jewish advocacy organizations have made some good
inroads over the past two years with the organized labour movement, but
it’s a hard struggle. They can’t know everything that will happen at every
union conference in advance, but they do try where they can to head things
off. Of course, even if they know about these resolutions in advance there
is frequently nothing to be done about it if the majority of the union
members support it; the Jewish groups can educate and counter the
anti-Israel disinformation with an information campaign of their own, but
they can’t always change the outcome. This resolution is a shameful thing,
but we shouldn’t fall to the easy temptation of blaming the Jewish
organizations. They’re dedicated people, but they’re not magicians.
Professor Ed Morgan
Faculty of Law
University of Toronto
84 Queen’s Park
Toronto, Canada M5S 2C5
Tel.: (416) 946-4028
Fax: (416) 946-5069