MONTREAL (Oct. 27)
Members of a Quebec labor union who recently visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip have denounced Israel as an “apartheid regime” and called for a boycott of Israeli products.
The Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec, a major union representing teachers, healthcare and social service workers and other labor groups, sent 10 members on a 12-day fact-finding mission to Palestinian areas.
The group did not meet with any Israeli government representatives or Israeli colleagues from the Histadrut trade union federation.
The delegation prepared a blistering report on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, outlining a litany of Palestinian suffering that they blamed on Israel’s military presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel has reoccupied much of the West Bank this year in response to waves of Palestinian terrorism.
Robert Silverman, a founder of the Montreal-based Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation, is part of the union group, which is calling for a Quebec-wide boycott of Israeli products.
Monique Richard, the president of CSQ, went so far as to refer to the “apartheid regime put in place by the Israeli authorities.”
Incensed, Montreal’s Jewish leadership is striking back. At an Oct. 24 news conference, representatives of Canadian Jewish Congress’s Quebec region, the Canada-Israel Committee’s Quebec region, representatives of Quebec’s Sephardic community and Federation CJA condemned the union’s report.
“So far, the reports from this mission have been blatantly one-sided,” the groups said in a statement. “The tremendous hardship of the Palestinian people themselves was properly recognized; the cause and the tragic corruption and oppression imposed by the Palestinian leadership completely ignored.”
“How in good conscience,” the Jewish groups asked, can union leaders “use such absurdly inaccurate and inflammatory language? Israel is a democratic Jewish state with 1 million Arab citizens. It seeks the peace and security of its people. It has been rebuffed every time it seeks to contribute to the peaceful and orderly transfer of territories to autonomous Palestinian control.”
The leaders also called the union’s boycott call a move of “abject intolerance, blatant revisionism and terrible injustice.”
Richard did not return a call for comment. But Philippe Elharrar, director of the CIC-Quebec, told JTA that the Jewish groups have requested a meeting with her.