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by Labor for Palestine
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 at 3:19 AM
In the 1980s, as president of the United Mine Workers, you rightly argued that, "economic pressure and political isolation of the South African government can hasten the day when justice and freedom reign in that troubled land." Two decades later, the cause of "justice and freedom" for Palestinians requires no less of you as president of the AFL-CIO.
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Labor for Palestine
Open Letter from U.S. Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
Boycott Apartheid Israel
December 4, 2009
alone cannot eradicate apartheid; that task is ultimately left to the
people of South Africa themselves. But economic pressure and political
isolation of the South African government can hasten the day when
justice and freedom reign in that troubled land." --Richard L. Trumka, June 23, 1987
"We call on other workers and unions to . . . do all that is
necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel
until Palestine is free." --Congress of South African Trade Unions, February 3, 2009
"We urge all international trade unions to heed the call of
Palestinian civil society, including the trade union movement, by
endorsing BDS. We further urge all trade unions and trade union
federations to sever their links with the Histadrut, a Zionist
organization that has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel's
occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination, and that
has justified and applauded Israel's war crimes in Gaza in December
2008 and January 2009." --Palestinian Trade Union Movement Unanimously Confirms Support for BDS, November 25, 2009
Dear Brother Trumka:
As labor and
anti-apartheid activists, we strongly disagree with your October 27
speech denouncing the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) against Israel.
The BDS campaign was initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society
-- including its entire labor movement. Inspired by the international
boycott that helped topple apartheid South Africa, it demands
Palestinian self-determination, including an end to Israeli military
occupation, the right of refugees to return to the land from which they
have been ethnically cleansed since the Nakba of 1947-1948, and equal
rights for all throughout historic Palestine.
Support for BDS has grown rapidly, especially since December 27,
2008, when Israel broke a truce with the democratically-elected
Palestinian government and attacked Gaza. In the resulting massacre,
Israel killed more than 1400 Palestinians, hundreds of them children;
maimed and wounded thousands more; and utterly devastated Gaza's
infrastructure, including the Gaza headquarters of the Palestine
General Federation of Trade Unions.
In the best tradition of labor solidarity, South African and
Australian dockworkers responded by refusing to handle Israeli cargo,
and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) "call[ed] on
other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary
to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until
Palestine is free."
Their action echoes the West Coast dock-workers who refused to
handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) or fascist Italy (1935); those in
Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and
Liverpool (1988), who refused shipping for apartheid South Africa;
those in Oakland who refused to load bombs for the Pinochet
dictatorship in Chile (1978); and those at all twenty-nine West Coast
ports who held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and
Since Gaza, the 2005 BDS call also been endorsed or reaffirmed by
numerous other labor bodies around the world, including the trades
union congresses of Ireland, Scotland and the UK; UNISON (UK);
Transport and General Workers' Union (UK); L'Union syndicale Solidaires
Industrie (France); Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Canadian Union of
Public Employees-Ontario; six Norwegian trade unions; and Intersindical
Alternativa de Catallunya.
It is no accident that South African workers play a leading role in
the BDS movement. They remember that Israel was apartheid South
Africa's closest ally. They agree with Archbishop Desmond Tutu's
observation that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is "worse than
apartheid." They recognize that the Gaza massacre mirrors the infamous
Sharpeville massacre of 1960, which gave birth to an international
boycott against South African apartheid.
This rising tide of labor support for BDS has only been further
vindicated by Israel's rejection of the war crimes indictments issued
against it by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN's
Goldstone Report and numerous other bodies -- many of them Israeli.
The BDS campaign is particularly relevant to workers in the United States.
the past ten years alone, U.S. military aid to Israel was billion;
over the next decade, it will be another billion. As in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. aircraft, white phosphorous and bullets
kill and maim on behalf of the occupiers, while both Democratic and
Republican politicians condone the slaughter. Amidst deepening economic
crisis, workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial
price for U.S.-Israeli war and occupation throughout the region.
Despite all of this, however, many U.S. labor officials -- often
without the knowledge or con-sent of union members -- have ignored
Palestinian appeals for justice. Instead, they continue to collaborate
with the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation that not only
supported Israel's war on Gaza, but which has spearheaded -- and
whitewashed -- racism, apartheid, dispossession and ethnic cleansing
against the Palestinians since the 1920s.
They have invested billions of our union pension funds and
retirement plans in State of Israel Bonds. They have actively
encouraged the U.S. to provide the money and weapons that oppress
Palestinian workers, and to ensure Israel's role as watchdog for U.S.
domination over the oil-rich Middle East.
The Jewish Labor Committee has exploited its carefully groomed
"progressive" image by hurling hurls false accusations of
"anti-Semitism" against those who challenge racism in the U.S. labor
movement, who support affirmative action for workers of color, who
criticize notorious "AFL-CIA" support U.S. war and empire, and -- above
all -- who oppose apartheid Israel.
Thus, it was the JLC that in July 2007 mobilized top AFL-CIO and
Change to Win officials to condemn British union support for BDS. It is
the JLC that seeks to deflect outrage over the Gaza massacres by
launching Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine, whose stated
purpose is to sabotage the BDS campaign, while demanding boycotts
against Iran, which -- unlike Israel -- receives no U.S. aid and has no
"weapons of mass destruction."
In the 1980s, as president of the United Mine Workers, you rightly
argued that, "economic pressure and political isolation of the South
African government can hasten the day when justice and freedom reign in
that troubled land." Two decades later, the cause of "justice and
freedom" for Palestinians requires no less of you as president of the
AFL-CIO. As trade unionists, we must immediately and completely:
1. Divest from State of Israel Bonds.
2. Support workers' refusal to handle Israeli cargo.
3. Break ties with the racist Histadrut.
4. Oppose U.S. military and economic aid for Israel.
(List in formation -- *For identification only)
Monadel Herzallah, President, Arab American Union Members Council, California
Larry Adams, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Former President, NPMHU L. 300*
Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War;
Former President, UAW L. 2325/ALAA*; Al-Awda NY; International Jewish
Brenda Stokely, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War;
Former President, AFSCME DC 1707*; Co-Chair, Million Worker March
Sam Weinstein, Former President, UWUA L. 132*; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network/Labor
Stanley Heller, AFT L. 1547*, Delegate, CT Central Labor Council*
Marty Goodman, Former Executive Board Member, TWU L.100*
Fred Mason, Maryland AFL-CIO*
Clayola Brown, A. Philip Randolph Institute, AFL-CIO*
Frank Rosen, General Vice President (retired), UE*
Steve Zeltzer, Producer, Labor Video Project
Anthony Arnove, National Writers Union/UAW L.1981*
Mike Gimbel, Chair, Labor-Community Unity Committee, AFSCME DC 37 L. 375*; Delegate, NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO*
Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council*
Lee Sustar, Chicago Labor Against the War
Timothy Kaminski, UAW L. 110* (ret.)
Janice Rothstein, AFSCME L. 3299*
Andy Griggs, UTLA*; LA Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, Cafe Intifada
Emma Rosenthal, UTLA*; LA Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, Cafe Intifada
Pete Nowicki, AFSCME L. 145*
Jim Crampton, 1199SEIU/UHWE*
Allan Fisher, AFT L. 2121, SF Community College*
Alan Benjamin, OPEIU L. 3*
Sharon Black, AFT L. 2*; Bailout the People Movement
Bill Balderson, Oakland Education Assn.*
Sarah Ringler, AFT L. 1936, PVFT*
Frank Pinto, UPTE-CWA L. 9119*
Steve Desavouret, TCU/IAM 6608*
Louis LaFortune, AFT L. 1936, PVFT*
Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, UAW Local 2325/ALAA*
Patrick Langhenry, UAW Local 2325/ALAA*
Lucy Herschel, Delegate 1199SEIU/UHWE*
Carol Seligman, South San Francisco California Teachers Association*
Rubina Jamil, Working Women Organization; All Pakistan Trade Union Federation*
Tony Leon, Secretary General, Venezuelan Union of Oil Industry Workers*
To endorse this statement, click here.
To donate to Labor for Palestine, click here.
Boycott Appeals from Palestinian Labor
Palestinian trade unions unanimously support boycott movement
A Statement by the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the Palestinian Trade Union Blocs and Frameworks
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||Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 at 8:49 AM
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 12:52 AM
||Two State Solution?
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 2:11 AM
|"universal human rights"
||debate coaches for Palestine!
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 2:52 AM
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 12:04 PM
|Of course "Human Rights"
||Of course "Human Rights"
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 10:46 PM
|do you have*any* idea...
||how twisted you are, Israel
||Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 at 11:08 PM
||Friday, Dec. 18, 2009 at 6:54 PM
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