Statement of Solidarity with Palestine and Student Activists

Statement of Solidarity with Palestine and Student Activists

The executive of CUPE 3903, guided by membership at the October 12th SGMM, extends our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and community members grieving the violence and tragic loss of thousands of human lives in Palestine and Israel. It is with a commitment to the sanctity of human life and social justice that we write this letter of support for Palestine, condemning the genocidal violence happening in Gaza and urgently calling for an immediate end to it. 

Home to more than 2.3 million people, Gaza has been under an unrelenting land, sea, and air blockade since 2007. Last week, Israel imposed a total siege on Gaza, unleashing over 6,000 bombs in six days. This included white phosphorous bombs that cause continued suffering through severe burns and organ failure. This devastation has wiped out entire families and neighbourhoods, destroyed universities, and has targeted hospitals and other places of refuge. All vital services including electricity, water, food and medicine remain cut off to Gaza. We decry this siege as an intentional widespread and systematic attack on the Palestinian civilian population. 

Beginning with the violent Nakba of 1948, when militias and then the newly-formed Israeli army destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages and towns, killing thousands and uprooting more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land, there has been sustained Israeli state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians. We echo the statement recently made by Jewish members of Showing up for Racial Justice – Toronto, that the “end to this horrific violence will only be achieved through an end to Israeli apartheid and to all ongoing systemic aggressions towards Palestinian people.” 

Following from our ongoing support for the Palestinian Civil Society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, we also echo the demands from unions, academics, and other civil society organizations in Palestine for:

  1. An immediate ceasefire
  2. Humanitarian aid into Gaza
  3. UN protection for Palestinians in Gaza
  4. Halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research

We make these calls in light of the increasing intimidation and silencing of pro-Palestinian voices in Canada. As students and workers in Canada, we remain dedicated to fighting against Canada’s own settler-colonial violence. We vehemently reject the conflation of Palestinian solidarity with violence, terrorism, or anti-Semitism. This conflation works to obscure and maintain the devastating state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians as well as embolden those who are engaging in Islamophobic attacks. 

Unfortunately, the administration at York University has made it clear that there is no space on campus to organize around these demands, or those fought for by the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Last week, York University’s administration condemned student unions who showed support for Palestine and who called for an end to settler-colonial violence. CUPE 3903 unequivocally condemns this violation of our rights as academics, students and union members. The silencing of discussion on Israeli apartheid by York University administration is nothing new and we must stand together to refuse this silencing and repression. We will continue to support other students, unionists, activists, and scholars who stand against apartheid, genocide, and state-sanctioned violence.

We call upon the York University administration to immediately:

  1. Cease their intimidation of student and worker activists, and protect students and workers from external intimidations.
  2. Commit to no reprisals or disciplinary actions for students and workers showing solidarity with Palestine.
  3. Divest from weapons and arms manufacturing, and end support for Israeli apartheid.

We will not be silenced as Israel escalates its collective punishment of Palestinian civilians.