On Thursday, December 1, 2106, Ontario PC MPP Gila Martow introduced Motion 36 in the Ontario Legislature. Condemning the work of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS) as a ‘hate movement, Motion 36 grossly misrepresents the work of grassroots organizers fighting for Palestinian human rights and calling for an end to Israel’s ongoing war crimes and breaches of international law on Palestinian land. This motion was passed by a vote of 49 to 5, with almost half of the members of the legislature being absent for the vote.

Likening the BDS campaign to the Ku Klux Klan, as MPP Martow did on the floor of the legislature, perpetuates the same forms of racism, xenophobia and hostility that Motion 36 claims to address by condemning the work of human rights activists in our communities and across the world. The conflation of a movement grounded in international law and human rights advocacy with that of a violent collective of white supremacists is a deliberate attempt to undermine the work of Palestinian communities and human rights activists. We condemn the characterization of the BDS movement as a hate movement, and MPP Martow’s comparison of the work of human rights activists to the histories of anti-Black racism and the violence of the Ku Klux Klan.

CUPE Ontario joins other civil society organizations, including the Independent Jewish Voices, The Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, and Boycott From Within among others, in condemning Motion 36 and recognizing it as an attempt to silence the work of BDS activists in our communities. Motion 36 is the product of both the Ontario Conservative Party and the Liberal Party reforming the failed Bill 202, which sought to criminalize all forms of BDS organizing and remove funding from institutions supporting the work of these human rights activists.

CUPE Ontario stands against all attempts to silence the work of Palestinian human rights activists and BDS organizers in Ontario. We stand firmly on the side of human rights. Israeli apartheid and its impact on Palestinian communities facing violence and dispossession at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) constitute human rights abuses and violations of international law. The attempt to silence, stigmatize, and even criminalize the work of activists and institutions fighting human rights abuses on occupied Palestinian territories by members of the Ontario Legislature is unethical. We condemn this effort to further silence the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS, and reaffirm CUPE Ontario’s support for the BDS movement.