© Samir Ben

Translation of CSN’s open letter: Israel must end its military offensive in Gaza

Seeing too few non-cowardly statements from political parties and labour groups on the present crisis in Gaza, I thought it may be wise to translate the open letter penned by the Conféderation des Syndicats Nationaux dated July 24th, 2014, so that English speakers outside Québec may observe what political conviction looks like.

With the assistance of Patricia Bouschel of Translating the Printemps Érable.

Original french text: Israël doit mettre fin à son offensive militaire à Gaza.

Letter to the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Israel must end its military offensive in Gaza

Mr. Minister,

The Conféderation des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN), a labour organization composed of nearly 2,000 unions and uniting more than 325 000 workers, adds its voice to that of a growing number of Canadians asking you to do all in your power to ensure Israel ceases its military offensive in Gaza.

We’d like to note that we do not support the present actions of Hamas. However, we firmly condemn the intervention of the Israeli army, one of the most powerful military forces in the world, which has led to more than 650 deaths to date**, the majority of which are civilians, including women and children. The power balance between both parties could not be more skewed. What will be left of Gaza and its population if the Israeli offensive continues to progress at its present pace? How many more casualties and how many more new refugees will emerge before the international community commits to finding a permanent solution to the drama that has been unfolding in Palestine for more than 65 years?

We demand that Canada adopt the demands formulated by the UN during the press statement on July 12th, that of the “de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire” as well as the respect of international humanitarian law and, notably, the protection of civilians.

We also demand that Canada take the necessary steps to support the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Remembering that any solution will need to consider Israel’s obligations by virtue of international law, including :

  • the right of return or a compensation for Palestinian refugees having been chased from their lands upon the creation of Israel in 1958 (Resolution 194 of the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted in December 1948);
  • An end to the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel, ongoing since 1967 (Resolution 242 of the Security Council of the United Nations adopted in November 1967);
  • An end to ever intensifying colonization (Article 49 of the IVth Geneva Convention);
  • An end to the Gaza blockade (Universal declaration of human rights, Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights);
  • The dismantling of the Wall (advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, July 9th 2004); and
  • An end to the policies and practices of apartheid (the International Convention on the Supression and Punishment of the crime of Apartheid, adopted in 1973).

Last March, the CSN participated in a international labour mission to Palestine. We witnessed the daily humiliations and inconveniences placed upon the Palestinian people via the countless security controls as well as the roads reserved for Israeli settlers. We saw the fatigue in the eyes of the workers of Qalqilya for whom, since the construction of the Wall, must arrive at passage points at 2AM in order to arrive to their worksite that is but a few kilometres away. Before the construction of the Wall that circles the city, the principle activity of residents was agriculture. How can they continue now that the land and water is on the other side of the Wall? We observed colonies and security zones that illegally consume, while increasing daily, a Palestinian territory already severely fragmented.

Unfortunately, we were unable to reach Gaza, the territory which is described as an open air prison, in order to observe the situation with our own eyes and to offer our solidarity to its residents. The Palestinian people have suffered far too long from dispossession, colonization, oppression and apartheid. Canada can and must refuse to be complicit in the continued degradation of this situation. Canada must also play an important role in ending the conflict.

We thank you for your attention to this letter and we are available at your convenience to discuss this matter further.

Jacques Létourneau
President, CSN

** More than 1,400 deaths reported as of July 31st, 2014.