Tuesday, 6 January 2009

CUPE is out of its mind

And Sid Ryan has to go. Honestly, what the hell?

The Ontario arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees announced yesterday it would propose, in a meeting next month, "a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities," if they do not explicitly condemn Israeli action in Gaza.

If this isn't an overtly racist policy, its damn close.

Suppressing Israeli academics for the action of the Israeli government is without any logic whatsoever. It associates individuals with an action based entirely on nationality. Imagine being denied a job in another country because the Canadian government abandoned the Kyoto protocol.

This boycott is based on many false or unprovable assumptions:

1) That the academics have influence over the Israeli government.
2) That the academics endorse the position of the Israeli government by not speaking out.
3) That the actions of the Israeli government are wrong. (I have an opinion, a belief about this, but it is not FACT.)
4) That paying CUPE members universally endorse this position.
5) And most importantly, that CUPE (a labour negotiation organization) has the authority, the right to interfere in international affairs and to dictate the actions of unaffiliated individuals. It is this last item that dictates that Sid Ryan must resign. CUPE is overreaching its mandate, is embarrassing its membership and Canadians, and is acting in a bigoted if not racist manner.


ADHR said...

I think you're stretching the definition of "racist" here, and thus taking Sid Ryan far too seriously. I have seen no indication that any of the CUPE locals representing academic workers think this is a good move.

He's got a point when he says Israeli academics need to be doing more to stick with their Palestinian counterparts (including denouncing the damage done by the Israelis to the university in Gaza), but beyond that, he seems to be posturing. You'd think, though, given the failure of the much more serious similar motion entertained by the British national faculty union (the UCU - University and College Union), he'd know this probably isn't going to take. Individual academics, like anyone else, might be in favour of particular boycotts, but it's difficult to get a majority of academics to agree on shutting out an entire segment of the academic community.

Catelli said...

Yeah I know. But he is targeting a specific demographic based entirely on nationality. We're lacking a word to identify misinformed racism as opposed to ignorance/hatred racism.

Its the closet that fits at the moment. Bigoted, Anti-Israeli chauvenist maybe?

ADHR said...

Do we need a word for it? Sometimes it's justified, after all. (Think, for example, of blaming Americans for Bush or us for Harper: we own our leaders, and should thus own up to their faults.)

It's also conceivably possible that there could be good reason to support a boycott of all Israeli academics. If they were in lockstep with the government position, and aggressively censoring dissent among their own ranks, then a case could be made that they are no longer welcome in the broader academic community. Of course, this is not what's actually happening, hence why it's inappropriate.

Maybe something like that is the best judgement. Ryan's suggestion is inappropriate, unjustified, disproportionate, something like that.