Demonstrators clash downtown
Violence erupted in downtown Windsor Sunday as angry Jewish and Palestinian protesters clashed on Riverside Drive.
Police swooped in to separate the sparring factions as people shoved each other, threw punches and used flagsticks as weapons.
Several people, including children, shouted obscenities and death threats at each other outside the Hilton Windsor, where CUPE Ontario delegates were debating a controversial resolution to boycott some Israeli universities because of the conflict in Gaza.
“When I see the Israeli flag here, they make me angry,” said Palestinian supporter Hussein Dabaja.
“They’re not honest people. They come here to lie to Canadian people, to tell them they are honest.
“They killed people in Gaza and they killed lots of people in Lebanon. This country is a free country. When they talk about politics, they make propaganda.
Police had to step in once when things got physical.
Ryan sparked outcry from Jewish groups for statements in January that Israeli academics shouldn’t be allowed on university campuses unless they condemn Israel’s military action on Gaza.
He said Sunday’s resolution “broadens and deepens” one passed two years ago to support a campaign of economic boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel for its “illegal” occupation of Gaza.
CUPE university workers will be urged to examine the education and research ties of their own institutions with ones in Israel. If members learn their universities collaborate with Israeli universities engaged in weapons research, they are encouraged — but not forced — to mount a boycott campaign.
Ryan said CUPE will also investigate whether its pension plans are investing in companies in Israel developing weapons which could be used against the Palestinians.
He likened CUPE’s boycotts to those of Gandhi.
“It’s following a long tradition and a peaceful tradition of using the pressures of a boycott in a peaceful way to bring pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end this illegal occupation,” said Ryan.
Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the reworked resolution still proves that “anti-Semitism is once again amongst us.” He called it discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
“It’s devious, it’s disingenuous,” he said. “They talk about Israeli universities and partnerships. What makes up a partnership? Israeli academics and Canadian academics make up a partnership. You’re still talking about people, except you’re hiding it. It means you are prepared to boycott your fellow academic and it’s absolutely disgusting.
“I found it profoundly disappointing that people would just sit back and not get it, that they would plunge into this dark hole of anti-Semitism.”
Meir Weinstein, national director of the Jewish Defence League, also said the resolution is thinly veiled anti-Semitism. He called for Ryan to be ousted.
“I don’t believe in a little bit pregnant,” said Weinstein, who had people bused in from Toronto to protest outside the meeting.
“You’re either pregnant or you’re not. And Sid Ryan is a hater of Jews and Israel. We don’t want any of his resolutions dealing with Jews and Israel to make it into the workplace in Ontario. We want the membership of CUPE Ontario to do the right thing and get him out of here.”
He said his organization wasn’t giving up with Sunday’s resolution.
“We know his intentions, to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people,” said Weinstein. “We’re going to be on his trail. This is the start of a campaign and we’re not giving up.”
CONTROVERSIAL: CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan, centre, speaks to the media in The Windsor Star room at the Hilton Windsor during a news conference on Sunday.