Across the world grassroots movements struggling in opposition to Israeli apartheid are marking the 60th year of the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”) — 60 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and exile for Palestinians resulting from the creation of the state of Israel.
A grassroots response in opposition to Israeli apartheid is growing throughout the world sparked by an appeal launched by Palestinian civil-society organizations in 2005 for an international campaign directed at the government in Israel, a campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. This critical campaign is modeled on a successful international campaign similar in nature that played a critical role in bringing an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Today students in Quebec are now joining the international boycott campaign in large numbers including L’Association pour une Solidarite Syndicale Etudiante (ASSE), an important Quebec-wide student federation representing over 42,000 students.
ASSE voted to support the international campaign against Israeli apartheid at a Quebec-wide level after several local assemblies at university and Cegep campuses across the province voted at a local level within general student assemblies to support the boycott campaign. ASSE’s boycott resolution marks the first time that a major student union in Quebec or Canada has voted to support the international boycott campaign opposing Israeli apartheid.
Throughout the 2007-2008 school year ASSE in collaboration with Tadamon! Montreal, with support from Federation nationale des enseignantes et enseignants du Quebec — Quebec’s largest college level teachers union — and the Quebec Public Interest Research Group organized multiple workshops throughout Quebec at Cegep and university campuses bringing together hundreds of students for popular education workshops outlining the critical importance for Quebec’s student movement to stand against Israeli apartheid.
ASSE represents the grassroots face of Quebec’s powerful student movement, with tens-of-thousands of members and a strong position against privatization and for free post-secondary education in Quebec.
In 2005 ASSE launched and lead a historic student strike across Quebec, with over one-hundred student unions participating at the height of a strike rooted in a demand for a cancellation on all student debt and free post-secondary education in Quebec.
Utilizing mass protest, creative direct actions and grassroots campus-based organizing ASSE has successfully fought against neo-liberal economic policies fronted by the Liberal government of Jean Charest, who upon taking governmental power moved to make important changes to financial aid program for students in Quebec, including a $103 million cut. After major protests lead by ASSE across Quebec the Liberal government was forced to reverse their cuts to student funding, marking one of the only times in Quebec’s recent history that grassroots social mobilization has successfully reversed unpopular government policy.
ASSE represents a grassroots power base within Quebec’s student movement, one that draws parallels between the struggle for accessible and free education in Quebec to larger movements for social justice in the Americas, the Middle East and internationally.
ASSE has now taken an important and courageous stand to support the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions, as a tangible step in solidarity with struggles against Israeli apartheid in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. This resolution marks the growing momentum behind the international movement against Israeli apartheid and a willingness to take action at a local level within progressive student networks in Quebec to challenge Israeli apartheid.
ASSE’s important stand also marks a critical opportunity for grassroots student and social movements in Quebec to challenge the Quebec and Canadian government complicity towards Israeli apartheid and today the outright support towards Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Canada’s Conservative government.
Today we call on all student and labor unions to join L’Association pour une Solidarite Syndicale Etudiante in creating a strong and effective boycott movement against Israeli apartheid.
Tadamon! (“Solidarity!” in Arabic) is a Montreal-based collective of social-justice organizers & media activists, working to build relationships of solidarity with grassroots political movements for social and economic justice between Beirut and Montreal.