Monthly Archives: June 1977

Detroit Arab Workers March on Palestine Day (Workers’ Power)

Workers’ Power, June 6, 1977

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Detroit Arab Workers March on Palestine Day (Workers’ Power)

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The Arab community in the Detroit area recently held a

major demonstration and rally to mark Palestine Week.

Palestine Week is observed each year in many American

cities to help publicize and build supportJor the P(llestinian

struggle. . .

The Paleadalana’laacll were occaplecl by leraellD the 1948

and 1967 MJcldJe Eat wars. They waat the rfaht to retu,n to

their bomee aad lo 11111 tbelr owa eoaaby.

In Detroit, thousands of Arabs work in a number of the

biggest auto plants. Many are members of UA W locals l~e

600 (Ford Rouae), 3 (Dodge Main) and 51 (Lynch and M~d

Road Chrysler). . –

Because of the size of the ~b working class and the

strength of community organiZation, the Palestine Week

action probably mobilizes more workers than any other single

political demonstration iJl Detroit. ·

WOlken’ Pew• latervJewed AWeea Jabara [pbolo

abo\’e), • · lawyer who wu oae of the oraankert for the


Some of the posters called

for unity between Arab and

American working classes.

We had statements of

support from workers in the

UAW. In fact, the president of

UA W Local· 600 issue¥ a very

strong solidarity state’1’f!nt. and

someone from Local J Executive

Board was there although they did

not issue a formal statement.

There has been a very sizeable

recent immigration from lebanon,

along with continuing immigration

from Iraq. Yemen and the

territories occupied by Israel in

June 1967:

The process of organizing this

community· actually began ten

years ago. after the June 1967 war.

That war had a very traumatic

effect on the morale and psycho!.”

. ogy of many individuals in this


It is very significant that many of

the resolutions of support (from

unions and local government

bodies) not only support the human Perhaps the single most import·

rights of Palestinian refugees. but ant event during this time. in

also the political rights of the demonstrating to the community

Palestinian people. the power of united activity with

The Arab-apeaklng community workers, was the November, 1973

ln the Delnlll mell’opohtan area u demonstration at Cobo Hall.

the largest In North America, and [This demonstration was held to

haa-b«n !Pl’•iq by leapa_a.ruL_pxotest an_ .aw.ard ,.to. Leona¢

bou.nda. Woodcock, then-UA President.

...,..!.).‘. . ,.. ., …-G J.Gil

!Above] Palestine Day march In Detroit, demanding political rights lor the

l>alestlnlan people. [Left] Abdeen Jabara, one of the organizers of the


for the union’s support of Israeli

war bonds.l

Betw<‘<‘n two and three thousand

workers. shopkeepers. students.

unemployed, elderly and women

participated from the community.

The participation or Arablespeaking

workers shut down a

whole shift at Dodge Main. We

didnt actually realize this at the


That demonstration had a

profound effect on the union

hierarchy. Woodcock was visibly

shaken by the massiveness of the


Here was a mass demonstration

of Black. white and third world

workers protesting the complicity

of the UA W in supporting a racist

regime in the Middle East-that is,


Emil Mazey charged the whole

demonstration was Communist·

in~pired, which of course revealed

where much or the union leadership

was at. That is, out-and-out

McCarthyism and red-baiting.

Among other things, we buJJt

that «\!:monstratlon by putting _ads

In the Black press and circulating

leaOets ezplalnlng how we,.as Arab

workers and UA W members, feel

about dues money deducted from

our paychecks being spent on

Israeli war bonds.

We regard this just as Black auto

workers would feel if money were

taken from their dues to support

the government of South Africa.

Thc”‘B,rgument’ is always used

wid~~by. -lcadec!> ilf tbe . .uniilnmovement.

that Israel is a

democracy and has a viable union

movement called Histadrut.

But there arc also unions in

South Africa for white workers.

That doesn’t make it a country with

a viable labor-based union move·



In Israel, there is a labor

structure with European (Ashken·

azi) Jews at the top, Oriental

(Sephardic) Jewish worker$ below

t]Jem, Israeli Arabs further down.

and Palestinian workers from the

occupied territories, with no real

protection from the unions, at the

very bottom.

Today Israel, In fact, Is strength·

enlng Its ties with South Africa.

Just last week it was announced

that Israel is cooperating to build a

military security fence around

South Africa.

For a long time they have

cooperated in the area of intelligence

and military information.

Israel is an importer of over half a

billion dollars worth of South

African goods.

The union movement in this

country has also used the Histadrut

to come into third world countries

to establish pro-U.S.-government

unions there.

We have made it clear we intend

to make these facts known. either

by massive demonstrations or by

exposing them, and to show

that these activities are ·

against the wish'”‘ of raDk ==-

and file workers. 0