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FTQ: Palestine doesn’t want your solidarity!

by Laith Marouf

Banner at a weekly demonstration held by Palestinians and Jews United (PAJU) against Israeli apartheid
Banner at a weekly demonstration held by Palestinians and Jews United (PAJU) against Israeli apartheid
Poster for the BDS panel at the Festival des solidarités
Poster for the BDS panel at the Festival des solidarités

“Let it be known that the Palestinian people do not want, nor need, the solidarity or funding of an ethically bankrupt organization like the FTQ Solidarity Fund...  The FTQ has been at the centre of the mass robbery of public funds in Quebec through corrupt government construction contracts.  They have been usurping Quebecers of their resources and now have acknowledged that they are also responsible for the theft of resources globally and the misery of countless peoples like the Palestinians and Salvadorans.”

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On Saturday June 15th at 12pm, I will have the honor of speaking on a panel launching the Quebec BDS Coalition as part of the “Festival of Solidarity 2013” organized by Alternatives, a prominent NGO in Quebec working on international solidarity.  BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Apartheid state of Israel.  It is the non-violent tactic requested by Palestinian civil society as the true form of solidarity to be used by the international community.

The Festival will also have other panels with representatives from many other communities who are in struggle, like our Native brethren fighting against exploitation of their lands by corporations and colonization, and our students struggling under the weight of privatized education and debts to banks and governments.  Other panels will speak to the effects of the forceful extraction of resources like oil and gold on our local communities; and globally in locations like Africa and South America where Canadian corporations run amok destroying communities and assassinating opponents.

To put it bluntly, the conference was bound to receive attacks from right wing elitist fanatics. It was even more so because the darling of white supremacy and modern western colonialism, the Zionist state, was going to be criticised.  So it was not a surprise when the rabid attack dog of the Christian-Zionist right in Quebec, Eric Duhaime, wrote an article in the Toronto Sun attacking the Festival and calling on one of its funders, the “FTQ Solidarity Fund”, to withdraw its financial support. It should be noted that Sun Media is part of the Quebecor empire of Pierre Péladeau, where Mr. Duhaime is a star attraction and hosts spots on television and radio, and pens columns in French and English.

In his call for cutting the funding to the festival, Mr. Duhaime not only supports the actions of all corporations and states that are to be discussed on the panels, but he resorts to twisted logic to justify why the reader needs to support his rage.  For instance, although the FTQ Solidarity Fund is solely financed by contributions from union members, Mr. Duhaime claims that the readers are paying for this conference through the tax exemptions allotted to unions.  Well, if that logic passes, then we are all paying to fund Mr. Duhaime racist and xenophobic non-profit projects, like Réseau Liberté-Québec (our local Tea-Party), because they also receive tax-exemptions and that must be stopped!

Mr. Duhaime then goes on to claim that Alternatives should be defunded by CIDA and ostracized by the Government of Quebec.  In his propagandist call for rage, he purposefully hides the fact that since his beloved Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, came to power, not only was most of Alternatives’ CIDA funding cut, but funding was also cut to any and all NGOs or projects that were not aligned to Canadian Colonial policies, or that of Israeli Apartheid.  In fact, I suspect that if there was to be an Access to Information request to the Revenue Canada about their policies around who can receive tax-exemption status since Harper came to power, it would show the opposite of the scandal in the US (where the IRS was targeting the charitable status of Tea Party organizations).

In the article, Mr. Duhaime reserves most of his efforts to convincing the FTQ Solidarity Fund to withdrawing their sponsorship by showing how the conference is not in alignment with the organization’s policies and actions.  To prove his point, Duhaime points to the FTQ Solidarity Fund investing in Enbridge Oil and pipelines projects, Goldcorp mines in El Salvador, and Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication.  Mr. Duhaime was right: the “Festival of Solidarity” does not represent the stances of the FTQ Solidarity Fund, and the organization withdrew its support promptly while explaining how it is funding even more destructive projects locally and globally in a statement they published. (You can read the FTQ’s email to Eric Duhaime here: https://www.facebook.com/eduhaime/posts/523131594413643)

Let it be known that the Palestinian people do not want, nor need, the solidarity or funding of an ethically bankrupt organization like the FTQ Solidarity Fund.  In fact, if I knew that the FTQ was funding the conference, I would have refused to speak on the Panel.  The BDS movement in Quebec has gained the support of the majority of civil society here, including the majority of unions like the CSN, CSQ and FNEEQ.  The FTQ has been at the centre of the mass robbery of public funds in Quebec through corrupt government construction contracts.  They have been usurping Quebecers of their resources and now have acknowledged that they are also responsible for the theft of resources globally and the misery of countless peoples like the Palestinians and Salvadorans.  The FTQ and Mr. Duhaime deserve each other’s inhumanity. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.    

Laith Marouf is a Palestinian activist and former Executive Director of CUTV


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