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Canadian Labour Congress slammed by Jewish groups for passing anti-Israel resolution

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The Ofer Prison in the West Bank. CHRISTOPHER MICHEL/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Jewish groups have denounced a resolution passed by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) that is critical of Israel.

Approved on May 10 at the CLC’s convention in Toronto, the motion calls on Canada to pressure Israel “to stop violating international law by illegally detaining Palestinians and depriving them of their basic human, civil and political rights.”

It noted that more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israel have been on a hunger strike since April 17, to demand family visits, health care, education and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention.”

The CLC supports the right of Palestinians to self-determination “and an end to the illegal Israeli occupation as the basis for a just peace in the region,” the “emergency resolution” stated.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) called the resolution “a mixed bag of false accusations.”

Many of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are responsible for coordinating suicide bombings and terror attacks that have killed civilians, said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of FSWC.

Others have been involved in stabbing attacks and using vehicles to run over civilians, he added.

“We are wondering why the CLC is not speaking out against these atrocities and also expressing compassion for civilians and their families who have been harmed by these very same prisoners they are defending?” Benlolo asked.

The resolution “is filled with inaccuracies and has absolutely no merit,” remarked Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, in a written statement to The CJN.

He too noted that most of the prisoners that are engaged in the hunger strike were found guilty of terrorism and murdering civilians.

“Israel treats prisoners, both Israeli and Palestinian-Arab, fairly and in complete adherence to international law,” Mostyn’s statement continued. “For the CLC to distort facts in a bid to promote an anti-Israel political agenda is not only wrong, but antithetical to Canadian values. It should immediately retract this blatantly false resolution, take the real facts into account and apologize to the Jewish community for issuing this propaganda.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called the resolution “shameful, ineffective and divisive.”

Some of the Palestinian prisoners, said CIJA CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel, are “mass murderers” who “receive their rights under international law, including proper health care, family visits and freedom of religion.”

In 2015, the CLC called on Ottawa “to stop trying to shut down legitimate and nonviolent criticism of human rights abuses by Israel,” noting that the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign “can be effective for raising awareness about and discouraging human rights abuses by governments, and must not be characterized as criminal or as inciting hatred towards a people.”

The year before, the CLC criticized then-prime minister Stephen Harper for “blindly” supporting Israel.