An open letter to CUPE National Members

November 25, 2021


The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred calls on all CUPE members to vote against Resolution No. 70 at the upcoming CUPE National Convention on November 26, 2021


Resolution 70 states that CUPE will:

  • Support the Palestinian peoples’ right to self-determination;

  • Work with unions and civil society to demand the Canadian government to exert pressure on Israel to stop violating international law; and

  • Support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (“BDS”) campaign until Israel abides by international law and ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

This resolution is based on a number of untruths and distortions which demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel and promote antisemitism while doing nothing to advance the rights of Palestinians.


When it comes to the issue of Palestinian rights to self-determination, the resolution makes no mention of encouraging Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table or to otherwise engage with Israel.The creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is something that has been repeatedly stressed by both American and Israeli negotiators previously.Only a resumption of talks can lead to this goal being realized. Please join us in encouraging all sides to resume positive discussions so that all people in the Middle East can achieve the highest standards of living, including Israelis and Palestinians.


With respect to the resolution’s statement that “Israel is violating international law”, this is a charge that is leveled at Israel consistently, yet Israel's detractors are never able to point to a specific law which is being violated. This brings into question the validity of the accusation with many concerned that it is nothing more than a convenient way to colour people's perceptions of the Jewish state. Much as above, all parties should be encouraged to follow international law and we would welcome an opportunity to speak to all CUPE members about this complex situation.


Further, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) movement must be noted for the anti-Jewish character of the movement’s philosophy. Specifically, it attempts to remove any Jewish connection to portions of the Land of Israel — the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. Statements which remove the Jewish connection to the areas in question, and assume that Israel — and by extension the Jewish people — has no claim to the land, is antisemitic in tone and undermines efforts on all sides to engage in meaningful dialogue.


The official definition of antisemitism, as adopted by the Federal Government, signifies that there does not have to be a correlation between supporting Palestinian rights and hatred towards Jews and Israel. As such, we additionally invite all CUPE members to join with us in a discussion exploring the intersection where anti-Israel bias and antisemitism often meet.


Lastly, CUPE members should consider precisely how this resolution, if passed, would apply in a practical sense. For example: Would all CUPE health care workers be expected to not participate in any medical treatment that was developed in conjunction with any Israeli institutions? Are CUPE members expected to refrain from doing business with or engaging in consumer boycotts of any organization that does business with the State of Israel as encouraged by The Palestinian BDS National Committee (“BNC”)?


The reality is that if one is unable to demonstrate any practical or tangible actions that would be undertaken following the adoption of a resolution such as this, they should question why it was brought up and approved in the first place.


“Some of the most difficult conversations I have had as an elected official have been with CUPE members who feel disenfranchised by their own union,” said Thornhill MPP Gila Martow. “We remain hopeful that the general CUPE membership will stand against intolerance and hate, and vote NO to all resolutions that seek to promote hatred against Jews and the State of Israel.”


“There are hundreds of different world conflict zones and territorial disputes and it is ill advised for CUPE to take a position. CUPE’s mandate is workplace safety, workers’ rights, fair wages, salaries and preserving the collective bargaining process,” said James Pasternak, Toronto City Councillor. “CUPE must remain focussed on our workers here in Canada and not expend time, energy and money on taking sides in complex disputes and grievances worldwide. CUPE members should vote against Resolution 70 and resolve to help our dedicated workers here at home,” continued Pasternak.


The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred is a coalition of grassroots community organizations. Let’s join together to fight hate and intolerance. VOTE ‘NO’ on Resolution 70 on Friday, November 26th.

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For more information, please contact:

Becky Battat | becky.battat@pc.ola.org | 905-731-8462

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