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.”

Star photo: Nick Brancaccio

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.

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