The Solidarity and Social Justic Committee (SSJC) at the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) condemns the displacement ordered by the Israeli Courts of those Palestinian families who lived in Sheikh Jarrah. As a union largely made up of settlers on stolen land, we know that our existence here began with the displacement of the Indigenous peoples who were here first. In both cases, this displacement is considered “legal” by the court systems, even though they sanction violence and injustice. Further, we condemn any Islamophobia and antisemitism that has manifested in conversations about this ongoing struggle. As a Union, we know how important it is to respect individuals while criticising power structures that individuals exist within.
SSJC calls on the Canadian government to end its unmitigated support of the State of Israel which, like the Canadan state, is a power based in colonialistic history. We, at SSJC, denounce the expression of colonialist and imperialist influence by the state and military of Israel. TSSU is a union of university teachers and researchers who work on the unceded and occupied territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, and Qayquat, Katzie, Tsawwassen, and Semiahmoo nations in southwestern British Columbia. We support Indigenous sovereignty on these territories, thus likewise supporting Palestinian self-determination. We consider these struggles aligned and support all efforts of Indigenous sovereignty, globally.
Governments, in particular the Canadian government, have to suspend bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel. Through the arms trade the states are being complicit in the ongoing violence. As a union of workers, we also support the efforts of international unions and workers who are working to resist arms trades and who are using their voices and bodies to resist working for the powers at be.
The aforementioned international efforts of workers and unions include, but are not limited to, boycotting the offloading of shipments that support the arms trade and censuring universities who would stifle or silence voices bringing light to human rights abuses in Palestine’s Gaza and West Bank (such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ censure of the University of Toronto in defense of the cancellation of Dr. Valentina Azarova’s hiring). We stand with the various Block the Boat efforts led by the Arab Resource & Organizing Centre and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU Local 10, along with over thirty other organizations) in North American cities including Vancouver from June 2-9 in which dock workers refuse to handle shipments from Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd (ZIM), an Israeli company long linked to imperialist actions against Palestinians. Additionally, we support the actions taken by Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL) and the Italian Labour Union (UIL) in Ravenna, Italy, who refused to offload any war materials by Filt, Fit, and Uiltrasporti which support IDF action in the region.
These actions contribute to resisting the ongoing arms trade to the state of Israel by refusing to offload weapons and war materials. Such efforts are in response to a call on international trade unions from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and seventeen other Palestinian workers’ unions with which we stand firmly in solidarity. SSJC especially stands in solidarity with Palestinian workers, unions, and activists who went held a general strike called on by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, creating unprecedented pressure in the building, cleaning, transportation, pharmaceutical and health sectors on May 18. This strike won a ceasefire on May 21 due to its extraordinary participation and effect.
While this ceasefire has stopped the most immediate violence against the Palestinian people, the ongoing violence of Israeli apartheid remains. Palestinians continue to live under constant threat of brutality from the police and military, and eviction as settlers continue to illegally encroach on Palestinian land. Gaza has almost no access to clean water for drinking and agriculture, to life-saving medical care, to adequate education and other basic necessities because of the restrictions and endless checkpoints the Israeli state has imposed on the Palestinian people. The struggle for Palestinian human rights continues beyond the ceasefire, and in addition to supporting the Palestinian labour movement, the SSJC supports the full right of return for the Palestinian people; the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement (BDS), the global movement called for by Palestinians to boycott Israeli products that benefit from the occupation, divest from these same corporations and from the global arms trade, and call on governments to sanction the State of Israel for breaking international law; and groups that organize for Palestine on the unceded territories on which SFU resides such as the Canada Palestine Association and the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. As a labour union that organizes in a settler colonial state within an institution that provides financial and ideological support in the spread of such violence, we recognize these struggles are linked and must be fought against and won together.