Monday, December 08, 2008

Support for CUPE 3903 and Solidarity With Palestine

There are two events coming up in Sudbury on Thursday. The first is a support rally for the striking teaching assistants and sessional lecturers of CUPE local 3903 at York University. Here are the details:

Support Rally for CUPE 3903

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903 which represents 3400 Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, Research Assistants, and contract faculty at York University has been forced out on strike by the York University administration since Nov. 6th. They are fighting for a wage increase above inflation, job security for contract faculty, and improved working conditions and employee resources. Hear CUPE 3903 members Kelly Fritsch and AK Thompson report on the progress of their struggle and speak on the importance of Graduate Teaching Assistants and Teaching Assistants unionizing.

Thursday Dec. 11th, 3 pm, Room L-239 (just past the Student Centre on the way to the Parker Tower at Laurentian University). This is a wheelchair accessible location.

Sponsored by the Graduate Student’s Union (GSA), Students’ General Association (SGA), the Labour Studies Program at Laurentian University, the Laurentian University Faculty Association, the Sudbury and District Labour Council, CUPE 3903, and Upping the Anti.

For more information contact Gary Kinsman at 523-2205 or at 675-1151 ext. 4221

On the same day, there will be a launch event for Upping the Anti issue #7. Several articles in that issue talk about various facets of building solidarity with Palestine, and two of the people whose voices are present in the issue will be speaking at the event.

Building Solidarity With Palestine: Upping the Anti #7 Sudbury Launch Event

Speakers include:

* Clare O'Connor on “An ‘unshakable’ bond?: Canada's support for Israel." Clare is a student at York University and an editor of Upping the Anti.

* Dave Bleakney on "Smashing the Wall: Labour and Palestine. How the labour movement is overcoming years of silence and where we go from here." Dave is the national union representative for education (anglophone) for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. He was at the founding convergence of Peoples Global Action and has been active in many Latin American solidarity struggles. He is a recipient of the Commemorative Medal of Che Guevara from Cuba.

* Music by Dave Bleakney. Dave will also be performing songs of social justice. Dave started out as a New Brunswick folk punker and now is as comfortable with a string quartet as with high decibel ear splitting feedback...

Thursday Dec. 11th, 7pm, 4th Floor Resource Centre of St. Andrew's Place, 111 Larch Street. This is a wheelchair accessible location.

Copies of UTA #7 will be available for $5 each. For more information or for childcare or travel subsidization contact Gary at 523-2205 or at

On Upping the Anti also go to:

Please check these events out. And even if you aren't in the area, you can check out a listing of the other great content in Upping the Anti #7 and order a copy online.


Kai said...

Why is the left these days so eager to build "solidarity" with Palestinians? Has the modern left become so distorted that they actually believe supporting groups like Hamas and Hezbollah advances the cause of freedom and civil rights? Who will defend the rights of women, gays, atheists, or any other "dissenter" when Hamas or Hezbollah, should they take power start the executions? Who will defend the Jews when Hamas and Hezbollah create the latest in death camps?

Please, don't argue that it is because you are fighting Zionist Apartheid. That is BS, and you know it, or should. There is NO distinct Palestinian people. There NEVER was a Palestinian state in modern times (there was in biblical, and it was a Jewish state that became a Roman Colony). There is NO Palestinian culture. They are Arabs and Bedou who lived in Palestine, then a British Protectorate, and before that an Ottoman province. Pretending to support poor, displaced Palestinians just shows how ugly the left has become.

Scott said...

I wouldn't argue that it's simple.

I wouldn't suggest failing to name and oppose oppression committed by groups engaged in struggle in the so-called Third World -- some on the left fall into this trap, certainly, but it's just a lie to say that such a failing is universal. Though I would suggest that your comment indicates a simplistic understanding of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

I would suggest that settler colonialism is something that must be opposed, regardless of where it happens and even if the composition of resistance to it makes it all very politically complicated. The land was not empty. It was not a land without a people for a people without a land. People lived there, and they were violently evicted.

How to resolve that now? I have no easy answer. Certainly reversing the dispossession is completely out of the question.

Could you in good conscience tell a Palestinian whose grandparents were driven off their land by actual or threatened violence that there has been no injustice done? Could you tell those who are left in poverty by the blockade or harmed by IDF violence that there is no colonial oppression occurring?

Palestinian feminists, Palestinian queers, Palestinian secular leftists are hardly unconscious of the oppressions that they themselves at times face from the right wing within Palestine, yet the majority of them call for an end to the occupation. How is it more "ugly" to respond to that call than to ignore it?

Again, I don't pretend it's simple, and I don't pretend to have all the answers, but we cannot do nothing.

Scott said...

Okay. My reply there has some things that are not at all clear. I was in a hurry when I wrote it.

By the second paragraph, I mean there is no inconsistency in supporting anti-colonial struggle and supporting struggles around gender and sexuality and so on. In fact, I think doing one without the other is the politically inconsistent position.

By "Certainly reversing the dispossession is completely out of the question" I just mean that sustainable relations of decolonized justice must be found, rather than dispossessing new groups of people.

Okay, that's it for now.

Scott said...

Please note that CAW/Mine Mill Local 598 has also now endorsed the rally in support of CUPE 3903.

Anonymous said...

what Palestinian "queers?"
Everyone knows there are
no gay people in Palestine.

Jews originally bought land from
Palestininans, until Palestinians
who sold land to Jews were
executed by extremists.
Then, a few days after Israel
was affirmed as a country by the UN, it was invaded on three sides.
Anyhow, we both could go on with
our respective takes on history.

You can boycott Starbucks and
I'll have a steamed milk every

Scott said...

Hi anonymous.

Well, you and I certainly seem to have different "respective takes," and in blog-based encounters there often is not much to be done but agree to disagree. However, I think it is important to recognize that as a cop-out in some pretty important ways: the subtle cultural pressure to agree to disagree often amounts to an agreement to allow an oppressive status quo to prevail. It is actually possible to investigate history and make determinations about which historical stories are more accurate and which are less accurate. For instance, though there were certainly voluntary sales in the pre-1948 days, it is simply dishonest and incomplete to let that stand as the way that we reached the current situation, and as the way that predominant control over the territory shifted. There is plenty of historical evidence of the role of violence and terror in accomplishing that shift, including much evidence that has been advanced by Israeli historians. Of course, another important reason to challenge the thumbnail sketch you presented is common sense: Mass dispossession of a people _never_ happens without violence. And the myth that it can somehow in a magical, accidental, agent-less way is a foundational ideology for all settler states -- and not just Israel, but Canada and the United States as well. How to decolonize these areas is a key political question -- again, here as well as in Israel/Palestine.

And I'm not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse in saying that there are no Palestinians who desire and/or engage in sexual practices with those of the same is patently ridiculous to say that there are not.

But I think your concluding sentence is probably pretty accurate, and an indication that those who wish to implement the "boycott, divestment, and sanctions" approach called for by Palestinian civil society have a lot of work to do to make those effective.

Scott said...

A late follow up:

Commenter "Anonymous" claimed what Palestinian "queers?" Everyone knows there are no gay people in Palestine.Which is nonsense, of course. And here is an interesting and relevant article.