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Canadian union seeks ban on Israeli academics

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TORONTO (JTA) — Canada’s largest union said it will seek a ban on Israeli academics working at Ontario universities.

The Ontario arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees announced Sunday that it will propose at a meeting next month "a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities" if they do not explicitly condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Leaders of the union, which represents 570,000 workers across Canada in the fields of health care, municipalities, universities, social services and other sectors, say the proposal is in response to Israel’s Dec. 29 attack on Islamic University in Gaza, which Israel claimed was affiliated with Hamas.

"Attacking an institution of learning is just beyond the pale," said the union’s Ontario president, Sid Ryan. "They deliberately targeted an institution of learning. That’s what the Nazis did."

Many union members have distanced themselves from Ryan’s proposal.

The Canadian Jewish Congress condemned Ryan’s remarks.

"Anyone who compares Jews and Nazis really enters into the dark realm of anti-Semitism," said Bernie Farber, the organization’s CEO. "Mr. Ryan should be absolutely ashamed of himself."

The union’s Ontario arm, which has about 20,000 members in Ontario universities, passed a resolution in 2006 supporting boycotts of Israeli goods, sparking a firestorm of debate. 

 

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