Several hundred anti apartheid activists protested Trump and Netanyahu’s so called ‘Deal of the Century’ in Toronto on Saturday, February 1, 2020. The protest was well attended with speakers from the Palestinian community, and allies including Socialist Action.
Speech for Palestine solidarity rally, Saturday, February 1, 2020
Greetings sisters, brothers, comrades and friends! My name is Julius Arscott, I am a member of Socialist Action, the NDP Socialist Caucus, The Workers Action Movement and I am alternate Executive Board Member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union representing the Toronto region, and Vice President of OPSEU Local 532.
The recent announcement by Trump and Netanyahu is a sham. The United States and Israel feel that they alone can dictate terms of settlement with no input from the Palestinian people. The rubber stamping of this annexation will fail. But it should become clear to those who perhaps still somehow find themselves on the fence over the Israel / Palestine conflict, that either you are on the side of apartheid, or you are not on the side of apartheid.
The Canadian government and media are completely out of touch with how Canadians feel about this conflict. According to a 2017 Ipsos research poll, far more Canadians have a negative view of the Israeli government than a positive view (48 to 28). Infact a strong majority of Canadian believe that sanctions on Israel are reasonable. 91% of us believe that criticisizing Israel is not necessarily anti-semitic.
The international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has undoubtably been the most successful tool in bringing to light the plight of the Palestinian people. Yet we are still faced with refusal by the leaders of our workers movement both in the NDP and the labour unions, to champion this peaceful campaign! Infact many misleaders maintain that BDS is antisemitic, while some on the left refuse to acknowledge the value of the BDS campaign in pressuring change within Israeli society. These class reductionists put an equal sign between the oppression of the Jewish workers and the Palestinians. Shame on them! Imagine saying the same thing about white settler Afrikaans and the indigenous peoples of South Africa, or Irish workers and they’re British counterparts. Socialist Action stands for a single, democratic secular Palestine and BDS, through mass action solidarity.
Regardless of the inaction and sometimes outright support for the Zionist cause we sometimes witness by the misleaders of our movement, the grassroots, rank and file are on the move. We are very close to seeing a sea change in policy around this issue in the NDP. Support for Palestine is even greater amongst supporters of our labour party, compared to the rest of Canada. The NDP Socialist Caucus has played a leading role in fighting for Palestinian solidarity within the party for years. We along with co-thinkers in the party, narrowly lost a vote on support for BDS a few years ago. If we have another national convention, I am sure we can win strong language for this cause!
The fight must be brought into the labour movement. We need to recognize the labour unions which have stepped up and supported BDS, such as CUPW, CUPE Ontario and others. But we need a labour movement which no longer sits on the fence on this issue! The Canadian labour movement was a strong supporter of the Israeli project from the beginning! We have a huge debt to clear with the Palestinian people! The Workers Action Movement hopes to run a team of candidates for the officer positions of the Canadian Labour Congress at its national convention in May of this year in Vancouver. You can be sure that along with championing the fight against concessions bargaining, for the right to strike, for union democracy, and for mass action to defeat the bosses austerity agenda, we will fight for our movement to champion international rights issues, including the BDS campaign! There will be no more inaction on this question!
Our efforts must move beyond a defence position, reacting publicly only when the oppressor acts ruthlessly. We think that a cross-country campaign of education is what is needed, a national conference of allies should be held which will implement a plan of actions across the Canadian state. We invite Palestine House and others to join us in planning May 16 as a cross country Day of Action. Don’t forget we have the majority on our side! We must also acknowledge the correlation between the Israeli apartheid project and the Canadian governments treatment of indigenous peoples, the most recent example currently taking place between the RCMP and the Wet’suwet’en, especially the RCMP meeting with TC Energy to discuss the killing of Wet’suwet’en protestors. Shame on Horgan for backstabbing these activists who are fighting for sovereignty and the environment.
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
VIVA VIVA PALESTINA!