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CUPE Israeli boycott sparks furor

Jewish groups are expressing deep disappointment after delegates at a Canadian Union of Public Employees conference of university locals voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli universities.

Jewish groups are expressing deep disappointment after delegates at a Canadian Union of Public Employees conference of university locals voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli universities.

“It’s got nothing to do with individual academics,” CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan said at the conference in Windsor.

He said the boycott is to protest the Israeli siege of Gaza, and will focus on university programs that research and develop weapons used against Palestinians.

Ryan describes the move as an “adjunct” to a resolution passed in 2006 that called for an economic boycott of Israel.

The union will also look into its pension plan to make sure it’s not funding the research and development of weapons.

He told reporters hundreds of Canadian academics recently signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for some kind of sanction against Israel.

The resolution is not binding and some within the union have threatened to leave CUPE Ontario if the boycott was passed. Local 1001 and local 1393 at the University of Windsor have both said they would not support it.

Meir Weinstein, who heads the Canadian arm of the Jewish Defence League, called yesterday’s vote a “black day.” He condemns the boycott as “anti-Semitic.”

Protesters called on CUPE members to impeach Ryan.

The boycott is expected to next come up for discussion at CUPE’s 46th annual convention in Toronto this May.

 
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