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  • Writer's pictureAvi Abraham Benlolo

Shock & Disappointment in the Canadian Labour Congress

Peace is already taking place all over the Middle East. The way toward peace is through peace and reconciliation...not by inflammatory language.

06/21/21: A shocking and potentially inflammatory resolution passed by the Canadian Labour Congress' Canadian Council says its will "work with global unions, affiliates and civil society in Canada on an urgent campaign to stop Israel's bombing of Gaza and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians".

This statement was made despite the fact Israel is not bombing Gaza (a truce was reached several weeks ago) and has never conducted "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinians. In fact, the reverse is true whereby Israel is an inclusive society that practices pluralism and diversity and is making peace all over the region.

The best example of Israel's pluralism is the inclusion of Ra'am, an Arab party into the current Israeli government. But what is called inflammatory language threatens to undermine these significant steps.

The CLC says it "supports a ban on goods produced and exported from the settlements in the occupied territories" essentially supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS). The boycott campaign against Israel has been widely likened as a promotion of antisemitism for its double-standard of targeting products originating from Jewish communities. (see full resolution below)

"Having spoken with officials within the Canadian labour movement this afternoon, they are in complete and utter shock at this resolution. They said they had just completed their convention last week and that this resolution was not tabled. In fact, they expressed that this resolution was at the bottom of the list" said Avi Benlolo.

"The outrageous resolution also calls for an end to selling military goods and services to the Israeli Defence Forces - in an attempt to try to prevent Israel from defending itself against missile attacks from Gaza. The one-sided resolution does not appear to condemn Hamas - a terrorist organization - and does not call out indiscriminate rocket fire against a civilian population.

The inflammatory language in the resolution further accuses Israel of "land theft, ethnic cleansing and violence". And while it calls for Palestinian self-determination, it disregards the facts that Israel vacated Gaza in 2005 for this exact reason - only to have a terrorist organization on its doorstep. Moreover, Israel has attempted to secure peace agreements with the Palestinian Authority on multiple occasions - to no avail.

On June 16th in advance of the CLC's annual convention, I wrote a personal letter to its president: Hassan Yusseff:

...I am very concerned especially about the resolutions that promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) against Israel. As you may be aware, the BDS campaign has been declared antisemitic by its very nature of attempting to isolate and marginalize the State of Israel. It has been condemned by Canada and numerous nations for its double-standard of only focusing on Israel, unfairly. I strongly encourage the CLC to avoid passing these inflammatory resolutions.

I believe that the CLC can be much more productive by taking a balanced and fair approach by condemning Antisemitism and all forms of hate and intolerance. As you may be aware, incidents of antisemitism have increased dramatically over the last month, with Jewish people being assaulted in Toronto and Montreal. The CLC can help promote peaceful relations between Canadians by advocating against inflammatory language, such as the promotion of BDS and false narratives that Israel is an apartheid and colonial state.

Over the next few days, I will be exploring this matter further with my friends within the union movement. For now, this resolution is very disappointing for many Canadians and threatens to further undermine a reasoned approach to solving the conflict in the Middle East.

In my letter to Mr. Yusseff, I said that I would be available to assist the CLC in any way possible in finding a resolution. I believe that as Canadians, we should make every effort to do so.

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ABOUT: Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities, was founding President and CEO of a major organization in the Jewish community, has raised over $150 million for charities and is a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.

As a supporter of Israel, he is proud to have established "The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security" at Haifa University.

Full Resolution:

Support for Palestinian Human Rights

Submitted by: CLC Canadian Council

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will:

Work with global unions, affiliates and civil society in Canada on an urgent campaign to stop Israel’s bombing of Gaza and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians;

Support a ban on goods produced and exported from the settlements in the Occupied Territories;

Call on Canadian-based companies to end any and all complicity with the occupation of Palestine and the siege on Gaza, in particular from selling military and security-related

goods and services to the Israeli Defence Forces;

Call on the Government of Canada to halt all arms sales to Israel and play an active role in ensuring the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to live in safety and security;

Support divestment actions against Canadian companies known to be exporting military and security-related goods to the Israeli Defence Forces;

BECAUSE Israel continued to bomb Gaza over the past few weeks, including on Tuesday; and

BECAUSE Palestinians continue to be subject to policies of exploitation, arbitrary imprisonment, land theft, ethnic cleansing, and violence; and

BECAUSE the CLC supports the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination as the basis for a just peace in the region.

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