Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Union Boss Herald’s In New Era of Anti-Semitism?

The war between Israel and the various Palestinian factions in the Middle East has been going on far too long. This decades-long battle started when the League of Nations (now the United Nations) sanctioned a piece of land for Jewish folks, in the wake of the Holocaust. Israel was that piece of land, nestled in and around the most religiously sought after land by various world religions.

Sounds like the building blocks for geographical unrest – and that it was – and is today.

In steps Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a national labour group, which as with all unions, fights its own battles to the betterment of it’s members. CUPE represents many government and other public sector workers – including academics, which is where this whole story really begins.

Ryan put forth a motion to his national union, which would demand all Israeli born academics requesting work visas to work in this country – and requiring the support of the union for those workers, which is CUPE – to declare that they do not support the war in Israel.

Regardless of whether or not the motion passes and is enacted by CUPE isn’t at issue – the fact that such a declaration is being even considered is.

Granted, here in Canada we celebrate freedom of expression, and Ryan is certainly entitled to express his own personal beliefs and values on anything he’d like. However, forcing those beliefs and values upon someone else coming here to earn an honest day’s living is beyond wrong – it’s potentially Anti-Semitic.

The expression of hatred towards a particular ethnic and/or religious group is wrong. Anti-Semitism – expressing these thoughts of hatred towards the Jewish faith has been on the rise globally – there have been marked instances of this in Europe, the States, and even here in Canada over the years.

I remember just a few years ago, tombstones were toppled in a Jewish cemetery in Toronto, and just last year in the suburbs of that fair Canadian city, Swastikas were spray painted on some Jewish homes.

Now we have the front man for one of the nation’s largest unions forcing people, presumably of the Jewish faith, as that is the dominant religion and culture in Israel, to denounce their support of their homeland, to work in our land.

It’s one thing when teenage thugs topple tombstones, and spray hatred in paint, but quite another when a highly visible union boss does the verbal equivalent. Now Anti-Semitism has taken on a whole new tact – that of being publicly supported.

Ryan is an intelligent and skilled negotiator, he has to be, as that is key in any conflict negotiations. And that in a nutshell is essentially what the war in Israel is – a negotiations of sorts. It certainly isn’t as tame as one of Ryan’s typical negotiations across a table with labour on one side and management on the other. But in order for their ever to be peace in the Middle East, there will have to be some complex negotiations.

Which is why I wonder where Ryan’s head was at when he came up with the rather dubious and potentially Anti-Semitic notion that citizens from Israel would have to take a side at the negotiations table, before that table has even been set?

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