Monthly Archives: May 2017

Palestinian Workers Campaign for Social Justice (MERIP)

Palestinian Workers Campaign for Social Justice

It is clear for us that the struggle against colonialism cannot be separated from the social injustices within Palestinian society. What does it mean to end my subjugation by Moshe for it to be replaced by Munir? What kind of liberation are we seeking? What kind of a society are we trying to build?

by N. Alva
published in MER281

On the hot afternoon of April 19, 2016, thousands of workers and unemployed took to the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah in protest the labor policies of the Palestinian Authority (PA). As the sun beat down on their shoulders, the marchers remained defiant, shouting “Haramiyya! (Thieves!),” as they reached the rally point in front of the Council of Ministers and Ministry of Interior buildings. Organizers from independent workers’ movements, left political parties and women’s committees took turns addressing the crowd from a makeshift platform on the back of a truck. PA police and security forces were deployed, some in riot gear and armored vehicles, but they did not visibly interfere. The demonstration was the first public, collective manifestation of a campaign against Social Security Law 6, ratified by decree on March 9, 2016 by President Mahmoud ‘Abbas.

The opposition to the social security law is led by newly formed independent workers’ movements and their allies in civil society. Their campaign follows closely upon wildcat strikes by perhaps 30,000 teachers in February and March of 2016. Both efforts are emblematic of Palestinian workers’ growing rejection of the package of neoliberal economic nostrums on offer from the PA in lieu of an end to Israeli settler-colonial rule.

In 1997, after the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) released a report on corruption among PA ministers, President Yasser Arafat infamously quashed judicial action against the accused, telling legislators: “We will worry about our internal problems—the questions of social justice within Palestine—after we fight colonialism, our common enemy.” [1] This injunction is recited still by officials in the PA and its affiliated labor federations, as well as some outside supporters of the Palestinian cause.

But the social and colonial questions in Palestine are co-constituted. To separate the occupation from injustices in Palestinian society is to conceal the complex relations between capital accumulation and class transformation, the PA’s authoritarian practices, and Israel’s colonial project. An understanding of these relations is crucial for those committed to transnational solidarity with Palestine.

Shock Therapy

The campaigners against Social Security Law 6 criticize the measure on several grounds. First, they object to the law’s provision for depositing the retirement savings of private-sector waged employees in a new national fund to be overseen by a council jointly appointed by the PA and business interests. Private banks and companies are to manage these investments in the financial markets. The law’s opponents say that it provides no guarantee from the PA that money will actually be available to workers upon retirement and demand PA accountability in safeguarding these funds. Second, the campaigners oppose the increase in employee contributions into the fund and instead demand an increase in the contributions of employers (business owners). They call for bringing the pensions of private-sector workers into line with the retirement entitlements of workers in the public sector, and for enforcing a minimum retirement wage. [2] Third, the campaigners decry the law’s discrimination against women, families of pensioners, and the old and disabled, among other social groups. Some strands of the independent workers’ campaign call for a national program of social protection covering all workers, farmers and unemployed. [3]

Social Security Law 6 is part of a program of economic shock therapy that began in 2007. The PLC has not formally convened since late 2006, so all of these laws were drafted or amended by presidential decree with limited public disclosure. The new independent unions and workers’ committees see a multi-front attack on labor reflecting the demands of big business.

In 2014, the Investment Promotion Law of 1998 was altered to provide tax relief to large private interests in the name of a more “investment-friendly” business environment. [4] In early February 2015, the PA Ministry of Labor introduced a draft law on unions, which according to independent labor federations will suppress labor organizing by imposing strict conditions under which strikes and meetings can be called. Likewise, the federations express concern that proposed amendments to the existing labor law will ease the procedures for dismissal when workers are already subject to contracts that are increasingly short-term and irregular. In closed-door meetings later that month, the Council of Ministers and big business reached an agreement on further reductions to corporate and individual tax rates. Independent unions, who were not invited to take part in these discussions, note that the tax law is unfavorable to the poor and working classes. President ‘Abbas ratified the agreement as law nonetheless. Most recently, on January 23, 2017, the PA suspended the al-Aqsa intifada health insurance, which provided free access to medical care for the more than 400,000 unemployed Palestinians and their families. (Subsequently, the PA announced that al-Aqsa insurance is to remain available to families approved by a new oversight committee to be established. Labor organizers received the news skeptically, viewing it as a public relations move.)

Read the full article in Middle East Research and Information Project

New Brazilian campaign brings together mass movements, labor organizations to support Palestinian prisoners (Samidoun)

Samidoun

New Brazilian campaign brings together mass movements, labor organizations to support Palestinian prisoners

The following statement was released by a new Brazilian alliance to support the Palestinian prisoners, as 1500 of the 6500 prisoners carry out their hunger strike, the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, in Israeli jails. The statement was released by a broad alliance of Brazilian organizations and Palestinian and Arab community groups in Brazil, including the country’s leading trade union center, CUT; the mass popular movement, MST (Landless Workers’ Movement); and a number of left political parties, Palestine solidarity groups, Palestinian community centers and associations, and international solidarity movements.

The endorsers of the campaign and the statement follow in English and Arabic:

Brazilian endorsers: MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra/Landless Workers Movement), CEBRAPAZ (Brazilian Center for Solidarity of Peoples and Struggle for Peace), PCB (Brazilian Communist Party), PC do B (Communist Party of Brazil), PPL (Free Homeland Party), CUT (Central Unica dos Trabalhadores/Unified Workers’ Central – main Brazilian trade union confederation), Sindicato dos Professores do ABC, Comite de Solidariedade ao Povo Palestino ABCDMRR/SP, Campanha Global pelo Retorno a Palestina (Brazil), Associaxao Cultural Jose Marti (Baixada Santista), Uniao de Juventude Comunista (UJC), Esquerda Marxista

Arab and Palestinian endorsers: Comite Democratico Palestino, Centro Cultural Arabe-Palestino-Brasiliero de SP, Federacao de Entidades Arabes-Palestinas do Brasil (FEPAL), Sociedade Palestina de SP, Campo Progressista Arabe, Initiativa Cultural Palestina Sanaud-Voltaremos

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes these Brazilian organizations, mass movements, labor organizations and Palestinian and Arab community groups for their solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, especially at a time when popular and progressive movements in Brazil are themselves under attack and facing repression, imprisonment and arrests, and when popular marches and demonstrations are confronted with tear gas, rubber bullets and police and military assault. We stand in solidarity with the Brazilian people’s struggle against the violence of the Temer government and its attacks on the people, and look forward to struggling together to defend peoples’ rights.

MANIFEST OF SOLIDARITY TO THE

PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE.

São Paulo, Brazil, May 22,  2017.

Since April 17, around 1580 Palestinian political prisoners have engaged in a hunger strike for a number of demands, including the freedom of the sick prisoners, the elderly, the women prisoners and the more than 300 Palestinian children. They also demand dignified treatment, the right to study and to be visited by their relatives, and the end of administrative detention, inherited from the British Mandate, in which a prisoner can be detained for six months without any charges with the possibility of indefinite renewal of their detention, making any legal defense difficult to impossible.

The Israeli government holds 6500 Palestinian prisoners. They are political prisoners, who have fought against Israeli colonialism and against the aggression and occupation of their lands since May 15, 1948, the day called by the Palestinians “al Nakba”, meaning “The Catastrophe”. On that day, terrorist groups belonging to the zionist movement (a colonialist and racist movement) unified and proclaiming the birth of “The State of Israel”. Until 1918, Palestine was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Between 1918 and 1948 it was occupied by the British troops.

Palestinian prisoners are fighting for freedom, national independence, sovereignty and self-determination, their rights assured by the Charter of the United Nations (UN). They are also struggling for a just peace and for the Palestinian people to live in freedom, dignity and humane conditions of life and labor for all of their people.

The government of Israel is the world champion in disrespecting human rights and UN Resolutions. Israel and its colonialist/expansionist policies never allowed for the existence of the State of Palestine. Israel has occupied Palestinian lands in 1948/1949 and in 1967 expanded their occupation. Over the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s they kept expanding into Palestinian territories. Even after the “Oslo I Accord” (1993/1994), Israel continued violating rights, building illegal settlements in the West Bank, displacing Palestinians and demolishing houses in Jerusalem, and building the wall of segregation on Palestinian land. Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine is occupied by Israeli colonialism since June of 1967. Progressively, the zionist state advances over the Palestinian people, surrounding and isolating their very existence.

The Palestinian political prisoners are the most heroic expression of the aspirations of the Palestinian people, who have never given up on the struggle for a free, just, democratic and independent homeland. The prisoners have always been an example of resistance and national unity against zionism and imperialism, and they know that in order to defeat Israel, the collective and active participation of the people and their legitimate organizations as a whole are needed. They unite the people in a single cry of justice and freedom.

We, Brazilian men and women, members of working class organizations, youth and students, members of political parties, labor unions, popular movements and solidarity committees, unite with the societies of the Arab and Palestinian community to spread and support the just cause of the Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike. Following their example, we unite to create the Brazilian Campaign of Solidarity to the Palestinian Political Prisoners (CBSPPP, in Portuguese), a unitary action already mobilizing on the streets of Brazil.

We demand the zionist entity to respect and implement the prisoners’ just demands. We also demand that it implement the UN Resolutions on the Palestinian cause, such as Resolution 194, which guarantees the right of return for Palestinian refugees. We also demand the immeidate withdrawl of the occupation forces to the borders of June 4, 1967 and that they leave Jerusalem, ending 50 years of military occupation. We demand the fall of the wall of shame and the end of the genocidal, ethnic cleansing and apartheid policies that have characterized all Israeli governments. Israel and its leaders must answer for their decades of crimes against the Palestinian people in international courts.

We must defend the lives of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Israel wants their death! We want them to live in dignity and to conquer freedom bravely. Nothing and nobody can restrain a people’s march towards their liberation! Victory shall come, and together all around the world, we will celebrate the defeat of colonialism, racism and imperialism in Palestine!

AGAINST ISRAELI COLONIALISM! LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLE OF THE PALESTINIANS!

THE BRAZILIAN PEOPLE SUPPORT THE PALESTINIAN PRISONERS’ HUNGER STRIKE!

BRAZILIAN CAMPAIGN OF SOLIDARITY TO THE PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS

بيان للتضامن مع الاسرى السياسين الفلسطينين المضربين عن الطعام

ساوباولو –البرازيل

22/05/2017

” في السابع عشر من أبريل دخل أكثر من 1580 أسير سياسي فلسطيني في الإضراب عن الطعام من أجل تحقيق العديد من المطالب ومنها حل مشكلة الأسرى المرضى، والقدامى، والنساء، ووجود أكثر من 300 طفل فلسطيني في السجون، والمطالبة بالمعاملة الإنسانية، والحق في الدراسة، والسماح لزيارة الأهل والأقارب، إضافة إلى إنهاء الاعتقال الإداري هذه السياسة التي ورثوها من الانتداب البريطاني، والذي يفرض على الأسير الاحتجاز بدون أي تهمة مع إمكانية تجديده مما يصعب الدفاع عنه قانونياً”.

” ما زالت الحكومة الإسرائيلية تعتقل أكثر من 6500 أسير وأسيرة فلسطينية والذين هم أسرى سياسيون ناضلوا ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والقمع واحتلال أراضيهم منذ 15 مايو 1948 ( النكبة)، حيث قامت في هذا اليوم مجموعات إرهابية تنتمي للحركة الصهيونية ( حركة استيطانية عنصرية) بالتوحد وإعلان قيام دولة ” إسرائيل”، ففلسطين كانت محتلة من قبل الإمبراطورية العثمانية حتى عام 1918، وفي الفترة ما بين 1918 و1948 كانت فلسطين تحت الانتداب البريطاني”.

الأسرى الفلسطينيون يناضلون من أجل العودة والحرية والاستقلال وتقرير المصير، هذه الحقوق التي أقرها الميثاق التأسيسي للأمم المتحدة، ويناضلوا من أجل تحقيق السلام العادل، وأن يعيش الشعب الفلسطيني بحرية وكرامة وظروف معيشية إنسانية.

الحكومة الإسرائيلية تحتل المرتبة الأولى عالمياً في انتهاك حقوق الإنسان وقرارات الأمم المتحدة، هذا الكيان وبسياساته الاحتلالية التوسعة لم يسمح أبداً بقيام دولة فلسطين، حيث قامت باحتلال الأراضي الفلسطينية في 1948 وفي عام 1967 واستمرت في قضم الأراضي الفلسطينية في أعوام (90، 80، 70) بالرغم من اتفاقية أوسلو في عام 1993/1994 واصلت “إسرائيل” انتهاك الحقوق وبناء المستوطنات غير الشرعية في الضفة الغربية، وقامت بطرد الفلسطينيين وهدم المنازل في القدس، وبناء الجدار العازل على الأراضي الفلسطينية، وما زالت القدس عاصمة دولة فلسطين محتلة من قبل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

الأسرى السياسيون الفلسطينيون هم التعبير البطولي لطموحات الشعب الفلسطيني الذين لم يتخلوا أبداً عن النضال من أجل وطن حر وعادل ديمقراطي ومستقل، وهم كانوا دوماً مثلاً في المقاومة والوحدة الوطنية ضد الصهيونية والامبريالية، وهم على يقين أن النصر على المحتل يحتاج إلى الالتفاف الجماهيري، والمشاركة الفعالة لكل شرائح الشعب الفلسطيني بمؤسساته وهيئاته الشرعية تحت شعار العدالة والحرية.

نحن البرازيليون أعضاء في منظمات عمالية ونسائية وشبابية وطلابية، وأعضاء في أحزاب سياسية ونقابات وحركات اجتماعية ولجان تضامن نضم صوتنا إلى صوت الجاليات العربية والفلسطينية لنشر ودعم قضية الأسرى الفلسطينيين العادلة في معركة الأمعاء الخاوية التي يخوضونها، من هنا وبالتزامن مع إضراب الأسرى توحدت الجهود للإعلان عن إنشاء الحملة البرازيلية للتضامن مع الأسرى السياسيين الفلسطينيين والتي باشرت في تنظيم فعاليات في الشوارع البرازيلية.

نطالب الكيان الصهيوني أن يلبي مطالب الأسرى العادلة، كما نطالبه بالالتزام بقرارات الأمم المتحدة فيما يتعلق بالقضية الفلسطينية كقرار 194 الذي يضمن حق العودة للاجئين الفلسطينيين، ونطالب أيضاً بانسحاب الاحتلال فوراً إلى حدود الرابع من حزيران 67 والانسحاب من القدس وإنهاء 50 عاماً من الاحتلال العسكري، كذلك نطالب بإزالة جدار الفصل العنصري ووقف سياسة الإبادة الجماعية والتطهير العربي والتمييز العنصري التي تميزت بها الحكومات الإسرائيلية المتعاقبة، ويجب محاسبة حكومة ” إسرائيل” وقادتها في المحاكم الدولية على عقود من الجرائم ارتكبتها بحق الشعب الفلسطيني.

سندافع عن حياة الأسرى المضربين عن الطعام الذي لم تأبه “إسرائيل” بإضرابهم حتى لو كان الموت نهايتهم، نريد لهم العيش بكرامة وأن يحققوا مطالبهم وإطلاق سراحهم فوراً، لا أحد يستطيع وقف نضال شعب يطالب بحريته، فالنصر قادم ونحن والعالم سوف نحتفل بهذا النصر على الامبريالية والصهيونية في الأراضي الفلسطينية.

نحن سنكون دائماً ضد الاحتلال الصهيوني!

عاش نضال الشعب الفلسطيني.

الشعب البرازيلي يساند الأسرى الفلسطينيين في معركة الأمعاء الخاوية!

الحملة البرازيلية للتضامن مع الأسرى السياسيين الفلسطينيين.

 الموقعون على بيان الحملة:

  • مؤسسة جوزيه مارتي الثقافية.
  • الحملة الدولية للعودة الى فلسطين – البرازيل
  • الاطار التقدمي العربي
  • المركز البرازيلي للتضامن مع الشعوب والنضال من أجل السلام.
  • المركز الثقافي العربي الفلسطيني البرازيلي – ساوبولو
  • لجنة التضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني – ساوبولو
  • لجنة فلسطين الديمقراطية.
  • المركز الوحيد للعمال – كوت
  • اليسار الماركسي
  • اتحاد المؤسسات العربية الفلسطينية.
  • المبادرة الثقافية – فلسطين – سنعود.
  • حركة بدون أرض.
  • الحزب الشيوعي البرازيلي.
  • الحزب الشيوعي للبرازيل.
  • حزب الأرض الحرة.
  • نقابة المعلمين سانتوواندريه وضواحيها.
  • الجمعية الفلسطينية ساوبولو.
  •  اتحاد الشبيبة والشيوعية.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All: Workers Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike (Labor for Palestine)

[Please endorse the statement below by clicking here.]

An Injury to One is an Injury to All: Workers Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike (Labor for Palestine)

“We urge all labor organizations and workers’ movements to express their solidarity and support for the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, for the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and for the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.”
Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), April 28, 2017

Labor for Palestine joins workers around the world to stand with 1,500 Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike since April 17 to protest conditions that Amnesty International calls “unlawful and cruel.” After more than a month, their health is failing, but their steadfastness remains unshakable.

From workers’ rights and women’s rights, to anti-racism and anti-colonialism, hunger strikes are a time-honored form of protest against injustice.

But the Israeli government — which receives $3.8 billion per year in U.S. weapons and closely coordinates with the same police agencies that systematically terrorize Black and Brown communities in the United States — threatens to force-feed the strikers, and is gunning down their supporters in the streets of Palestine. Such relentless state violence reflects the continuing Nakba, Israel’s 69-year-old ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinian people.

Undeterred, the prisoners have vowed: “Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.”

They know that, like Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa, Zionist settler colonialism will one day fall to the unstoppable tide of popular mass resistance.

Labor bodies around the world have risen to their defense, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Canadian Labour Congress, 26 European trade unions and labor organizations, World Federation of Trade Unions (representing 92 million workers in 162 countries), International Trade Union Confederation (representing 181 million workers in 163 countries), and the Trabajadores-Confederación Nacional de Trabajadores (PIT-CNT) of Uruguay.

Their outpouring is accompanied by rising international labor respect of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which demands an end to occupation and apartheid, full equality for all, and Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled.

In the U.S., BDS has been embraced by West Coast dockers refusing to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo, the United Electrical Workers, CT State AFL-CIO, UAW 2865, UAW 2322, GSOC-UAW 2110, AFT 3220, and thousands of other union members.

This parallels growing intersectional solidarity with Palestine from the Movement for Black Lives, Standing Rock, #NoBanNoWall, and other U.S. grassroots social justice movements.

Today, we affirm:
*Victory to Palestinian Political Hunger Strikers!
*From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!

=====

Issued May 21, 2017 by Labor for Palestine Co-Conveners:
(Affiliations below for identification only)
*Suzanne Adely, Global Workers Solidarity Network
*Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; Labor for Standing Rock
*Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired)

=====

Endorsing Organizations (list in formation)

Labor for Palestine
Labor for Standing Rock
GSOC-UAW Local 2110
Al-Awda New York, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Black4Palestine
Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100)
CUNY4Palestine
Decolonize This Place
Existence is Resistance
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City
LA4Palestine
NYC Solidarity with Palestine
NYC Students for Justice in Palestine
Palestinian Youth Movement – USA
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
TOLEF: Tree of Life Educational Fund
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Palestinian Community Network

=====

[When signing, please list trade union and/or other affiliation, and location, in the comment box — then amplify your voice by sharing on social media and promoting on Change.org]

=====

E-mail: info@laborforpalestine.net
Web: http://laborforpalestine.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaborForPalestine/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Labor4Palestine
Donate: http://laborforpalestine.net/donate-to-lfp

Defying leaders, Norway trade unionists endorse Israel boycott (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Defying leaders, Norway trade unionists endorse Israel boycott

Actvists carry a banner calling for recognition of Palestine and a boycott of Israel, at the annual May Day march in Oslo, Norway, 1 May. Ryan Rodrick BeilerActiveStills

Norway’s largest and most influential trade union organization has called for a full boycott of Israel.

Last Friday, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) voted to endorse a statement that embraces the entire slate of demands in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The Palestinian BDS National Committee hailed the decision as courageous and urged LO to pressure the Norwegian government to end military ties with Israel.

At its annual congress, LO delegates voted 197 to 117 to demand an “international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel” as a means to end the blockade of Gaza, remove Israel’s wall in the West Bank, respect the right of return for Palestinian refugees and ensure “equal rights for all.”

Full boycott, full explanation

Sara Bell, leader of the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees in the city of Bergen, was a key organizer among those putting the boycott on LO’s agenda.

Bell told The Electronic Intifada that the original language simply stated: “LO supports the international BDS movement, and will work for an international trade boycott of Israel.”

But with several other unions and local branches supporting the boycott, the final wording included clauses on the right of return as well as demanding that the Norwegian government recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 boundaries and takes steps to ensure “a democratic state solution with equal rights for all.”

The declaration states that since international political efforts and dialogue have not produced results, it is now necessary to “work for an international, economic, cultural and academic boycott to achieve these goals.”

Something of a thriller

“The voting process was something of a thriller, but the result was overwhelmingly in favor of boycott,” Bell said. “I’m still pretty euphoric about it.”

“I think the result reflects ordinary Norwegian people’s understanding and rejection of the horrible injustices the Palestinian population has been suffering for far too long,” she added.

The primary debate at the LO congress was not over whether to boycott, but how.

LO president Hans-Christian Gabrielsen had urged only a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

He warned that adopting the full boycott could prevent LO representatives from traveling to visit Palestinian trade unions, due to a new Israeli law that bars entry to BDS supporters.

Nothing to lose

However, that law does not distinguish between boycotts limited to settlements and broader boycotts of Israel.

A boycott of settlement goods had already been adopted at a previous LO congress.

And, LO’s newspaper FriFagbevegelse reported earlier in May that two LO members have already been denied entry by Israel this year because of their Palestine solidarity activism.

Gabrielsen also argued that a full boycott would hurt Palestinian workers and labor unions.

This claim was blunted by the fact that the BDS call has been endorsed by the Palestinian trade unions federation PGFTU.

Its general secretary Shaher Saad also spoke at the LO congress.

“We are a people who need help and solidarity from our friends, and we need it now,” Saad said.

Boycott not the goal

Like many LO leaders, Bell has visited Palestine, most recently traveling to the Gaza Strip in March with a union delegation. Bell told the LO congress about Abd al-Rahman Wahdan, a potato farmer from Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, Wahdan’s house was occupied by Israeli forces for three days, Bell told the congress. Some family members fled to Jabaliya refugee camp, others stayed in Beit Hanoun. Eight were killed by a bomb in Beit Hanoun and four others by airstrikes in Jabaliya.

Today, Wahdan farms potatoes close to the no-go zone enforced by the Israeli military inside Gaza near the boundary with Israel.

Bell said her union helps fund irrigation systems for Wahdan and other growers in the area where farmers are frequently shot at by Israeli forces and have their crops sprayed with poison by Israeli aircraft.

“Boycott in itself isn’t a goal for us,” Bell told The Electronic Intifada. “Our goal is to end the occupation, end the siege and blockade of Gaza, end the illegal settlements, and start working for freedom, democracy and equal rights. We hope many other trade unions will follow us and join this effort.”

Boilerplate backlash

Criticism was swift and predictable. Foreign minister Børge Brende tweeted that Norway’s current right-wing government “strongly” opposed the LO’s decision. “We need more cooperation and dialogue, not boycott,” Brende wrote.

In January, during a visit to Israel, Brende signed an agreement on scientific cooperation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A spokesperson for Norway’s far-right Progress Party called the resolution “shameful.”

Israeli ambassador to Norway Raphael Schutz called the decision “immoral” and claimed it reflected “deeply rooted attitudes of bias, discrimination and double standard towards the Jewish state.”

He added that the measure placed the LO “shoulder to shoulder with the worst enemies of Israel.”

Growing support

But solidarity activists are welcoming the vote as a sign of change.

“Such popular resistance from the grassroots of the Norwegian labor movement shows just how out of sync with the public both Norwegian and international politicians are in allowing Israel impunity against human rights and international law violations,” Tora Systad Tyssen, chair of the Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, told The Electronic Intifada.

Kathrine Jensen, chair of the Palestine Committee of Norway, said the vote demonstrated that Israel had not succeeded in its “war on international solidarity.”

And on 9 May, days before the LO congress vote, the municipality of Lillehammer passed a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement goods.

This made it the third major city in Norway to call for a settlement boycott, following Trondheim and Tromsø.

Canadian Labour Congress resolution of support for prisoners’ strike joins growing labor solidarity for Palestinian freedom (Samidoun)


The Canadian Labour Congress, the national labor federation representing 3 million workers across Canada passed an Emergency Resolution at its 2017 convention in Toronto on 10 May in support of Palestinian prisoners’ #DignityStrike. The text of the resolution follows:

Emergency Resolution

CLC Supports Palestinian Prisoners’ Dignity Strike

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will:

a) Call on the Canadian Government to pressure Israel to stop violating international law by illegally detaining Palestinians and depriving them of their basic human, civil and political rights;
and

b) Work with global union federations, affiliates and civil society organizations in Canada on campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.

BECAUSE More than 1600 Palestinian prisoners have been on a hunger strike since April 17, 2017; and

BECAUSE Key demands of the hunger strike include: end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention”; and

BECAUSE The CLC supports the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and an end to the illegal Israeli occupation as the basis for a just peace in the region.

This important resolution follows on strong, growing international labor movement and trade union support for Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian struggle for justice, self-determination and liberation.

On 12 May, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which represents nearly one million workers in Norway, endorsed a full international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel as a necessary means to support fundamental Palestinian rights.

The Congress of LO unanimously supported some form of boycott of Israel, as 193 delegates voted for a full boycott and 117 voted for a limited boycott of Israeli settlements. The strong majority of the LO congress embraced a full boycott of Israel, emphasizing the importance of meaningful international action in the face of impunity and apartheid.  The LO vote escalated the existing position of the labor confederation in support of the boycott of settlement products.

This important action came as 1500 Palestinian prisoners have been engaged in a hunger strike since 17 April for their basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper medical treatment and health care, the right to pursue distance higher education, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

A number of trade unions and workers’ organizations have been vocal in their support for the Palestinian prisoners. 26 European trade unions and labor organizations endorsed a collective statement in support of the hunger strike:

“We believe that as trade unionists and conscious citizens of this world, we have duty and power to take a stand. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in their demand for fair treatment and justice. We commit to working within our respective unions not to renew contracts with corporations like HP and G4S profiting from the imprisonment of Palestinians. In addition we call on the EU and European member states to end their complicity and hold Israel accountable for its gross violations of human rights,” emphasized the unions, including labor organizations in Belgium, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, Galicia, Basque Country, Valencia, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, Catalonia, and Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers in the UK has joined several other international labor unions in being an HP-free zone.  Kevin Courtney, general secretary with the National Union of Teachers, said in the Electronic Intifada that “the NUT does not buy or use HP products or services as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people.” HP provides services and technologies to the Israeli military as well as the Israel Prison Service, and the boycott of HP is a priority for BDS campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.

These statements followed declarations by the World Federation of Trade Unions, representing 92 million workers in 162 countries, and the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 181 million workers in 163 countries, in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

The WFTU statement “expresses its firm internationalist solidarity with the more than 6700 Palestinians, including 389 children and 56 women, currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces.

We strongly denounce the imprisonment of the Palestinian people by Israel, the inhumane detention conditions and the acts of abuse like the violent beatings against our Palestinian brothers and sisters and we demand the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners and the end of Israel’s arrest campaigns, aggressiveness and occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The WFTU also issued a statement condemning the Pizza Hut Israeli advertisement – later pulled – mocking Palestinian hunger strikers, emphasizing again that “The World Federation of Trade Unions and the international class oriented trade union movement stand on the side of the heroic Palestinian people and prisoners, express their solidarity and support to their fair struggle.”

ITUC also expressed its solidarity with “Palestinian prisoners who have declared an indefinite hunger strike to protest against violations of human rights inside Israeli Prisons. We also support the ‘general strike for freedom and dignity’ held in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners and call for wider international solidarity…

We add our voice to the demands of the hunger striking Palestinian detainees calling for the lifting of restrictions on family visits, improved overall detention conditions and access to medical care, including easing restrictions on access to education materials and food, as well as the installation of telephones to communicate with their relatives. We also recall that under international humanitarian law, detainees from occupied territories must be detained in the occupied territory, not in the territory of the occupying power, as enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In South Africa, among the endorsers of the South African Campaign for Palestinian Political Prisoners is the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) as well as the South African Municipal Workers Union.  Sidubo Dlamini, the President of COSATU, is joining in the broad one-day hunger strike in South Africa in support of Palestinian prisoners, alongside government officials, anti-apartheid struggle veterans and former political prisoners.

This support comes amid a growing campaign in the international labor movement in support of Palestinian rights, including an end to occupation and apartheid, full equality for all and Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled. Unions endorsing BDS include COSATU, CUT in Brazil, CSN in Quebec, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) in the United States. Unions in Scotland, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, the Basque Country, Uruguay and many other countries have also taken a stand in support of Palestinian rights and the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Workers’ struggles and popular movements like the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil have been strong supporters of the Palestinian struggle – including that of the Palestinian prisoners – for many years.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes all of the labor unions taking a stand with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian prisoners. We echo the call of Palestinian trade unions:

“We also take this opportunity to call on trade unions yet to join the BDS movement to: implement boycotts of Israeli and international companies that are complicit with violations of Palestinian rights, divest trade union funds from companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, and apply pressure on governments to cut military and trade relations with Israel. We reiterate our call for a boycott of Histadrut, Israel’s general trade union, for its complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and its refusal to take a clear stand in support of comprehensive human rights for Palestinians.” 

We urge all labor organizations and workers’ movements to express their solidarity and support for the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, for the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and for the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The majority of Palestinian prisoners are Palestinians of the popular classes: workers, from the villages, the refugee camps and the cities. The international workers’ movement is engaged in a battle confronting capitalist exploitation, oppression and austerity around the world. The Palestinian prisoners in their battle for dignity and freedom are on the front lines not only of the struggle for Palestinian freedom, but for social justice and human liberation in the world today.

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Federation Endorses Full Boycott of Israel to Advance Palestinian Human Rights (BNC)

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Federation Endorses Full Boycott of Israel to Advance Palestinian Human Rights (Credit: Ole Palmstrøm)


May 12, 2017
 – Today, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), representing close to one million workers, endorsed a full boycott of Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law. LO is the largest and most influential umbrella organization of labor unions in Norway.

Commenting on this significant BDS victory in Norway, Riya Hassan, the Europe Campaigns Coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) salutes the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) for endorsing a full “international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel” as a necessary means to achieve Palestinian fundamental rights, including the right of return for the refugees and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

By courageously heeding the Palestinian BDS Call, issued by an absolute majority in Palestinian civil society in 2005, LO joins some of the world’s most important trade union federations, including South Africa’s COSATU, Brazil’s CUT, Quebec’s CSN and the Irish ICTU, in calling for meaningful BDS pressure on the corporations and institutions that have enabled decades of Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

The BNC hopes to closely coordinate with Norwegian partners within LO, particularlyFagforbundet, to translate this new policy into effective measures of accountability at the academic, cultural and economic levels to uphold human rights and international law. We also call on LO to apply pressure on the Norwegian government to end all its military ties with Israel’s regime of oppression and to divest its sovereign fund from all companies that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and illegal settlement enterprise.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit www.bdsmovement.net and follow @BDSmovement

UK teachers’ union now “HP free zone” due to Israel ties (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

UK teachers’ union now “HP free zone” due to Israel ties

An Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. HP services computers used by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank.

Shadi HatemAPA images

The UK’s largest union for school teachers has launched a boycott of HP over the technology giant’s role in the Israeli occupation.

More than 21,000 people in the UK have also signed a pledge to boycott the US-headquartered firm.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary with the National Union of Teachers, said “the NUT does not buy or use HP products or services as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

The union has declared its offices “HP free zones,” Courtney added, arguing that the firm is “complicit in the illegal occupation of the West Bank.”

HP has an active and ongoing role supporting the Israeli military. That includes providing support services for the biometric ID system used at Israeli checkpoints all over the West Bank to enforce Israel’s dictatorial pass system on Palestinians.

Prisons, settlements, blockade

HP is also contracted to provide IT services to Israeli prisons and settlements in the West Bank.

And the firm provides services and technologies to the Israeli military, including the navy, which enforces the decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal under international law, as are all Israeli settlements.

Details of HP’s role in the occupation have been cataloged and verified by the group Who Profits.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that the boycott pledge signed by tens of thousands was a “wake up call” for HP. He said that councils, businesses and faith groups should follow the lead taken by the teachers’ union.

“Beyond repair”

“HP should sit up and take notice – being complicit in human rights violations tarnishes your brand beyond repair,” he said.

Jamal said that “technology-enabled racism and reckless profiteering from the oppression of the Palestinian people doesn’t sit well with customers.”

HP became a key target for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement last year. That followed similar – and successful – years-long campaigns against Veolia and Orange, two French corporations that had also sought to profit from the Israeli occupation.

An international campaign launched against HP in late 2016 prompted a California church to vote that all of the firm’s products should be shunned.

An earlier vote in the United Methodist Church that proposed divestment from HP was condemned by Hillary Clinton during her failed campaign to become US president. Clinton is herself a Methodist.

More recently, the student senates at two US colleges voted to divest from HP and other companies involved in the Israeli occupation.

European trade unions statement in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

European trade unions statement in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

On 17 April 2017 around 1500 Palestinian political prisoners announced the beginning of an open hunger strike. Striking prisoners are calling for an end to Israel’s practice of abuse, solitary confinement, torture, medical negligence and denial of rights guaranteed under international law—including the right to a fair trial and visitation by family.

Several Palestinian prisoners leading the hunger strike have been moved to solitary confinement. All striking prisoners are being denied lawyer and family visitation.

There are around 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners, including at least 300 children, incarcerated in Israeli jails, according to Adameer – Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association. Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza are held in prisons inside Israel and are often denied of regular family visits, a decades-long policy described by Amnesty International as “not only cruel but also a blatant violation of international law”.

As European trade unionists we are alarmed that despite this clear injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine, European states, the European Union (EU) and representative institutions have failed to fulfil their duty to hold Israel accountable for its grave violations of international law and human rights. The EU and multinational corporations reap profits by facilitating the continued oppression and imprisonment of Palestinians.

The European Union includes the Israeli National Police in research projects, like LAW TRAIN, funded by the EU taxpayers money, that aims to further develop interrogation techniques.

Corporations like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and G4S profit from the imprisonment of Palestinians: aside from providing services to the Israeli occupation army and biometric technology that enables Israel to control and enforce its system of racial segregation and apartheid against Palestinians, HP is deeply complicit in technologically enabling the torture-laden Israeli prison system. British-Danish security corporation G4S still has contracts in training Israeli police and as such, remains complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

We believe that as trade unionists and conscious citizens of this world, we have duty and power to take a stand. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in their demand for fair treatment and justice. We commit to working within our respective unions not to renew contracts with corporations like HP and G4S profiting from the imprisonment of Palestinians. In addition we call on the EU and European member states to end their complicity and hold Israel accountable for its gross violations of human rights.

LIST OF ENDORSING UNIONS:

La Centrale Générale – FGTB (Belgium)

ACV/CSC Brussels (Belgium)

Union Syndicale Solidaires (France)

CGT France – 66

Trade Union Friends of Palestine (Ireland)

Fagforbundet (Norway)

Fagforbundet Bergen (Norway)

Unison (UK)

Confederación Intersindical Galega (CIG) – (Galicia)

ELA (Basque Workers Solidarity) – (Basque Country)

Intersindical Valenciana – (Valencia)

Dundee Trades Union Council (Scotland)

Derry Trades Union Council (Ireland)

Mandate Trade Union Ireland

Craigavon Trades Council (Ireland)

Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance

Civil Public and Services Union (Ireland)

LO Sandefjord (Norway)

Warsaw’s local section of Workers’ Initiative Trade Union (Poland)

LAB (Basque Country)

LO Bergen (Norway)

Palestinawerkgroep-FNV (The Netherlands)

IAC (Catalonia)

LO i Trondheim (Norway)

UNISON Northern Health Branch (N. Ireland)

FNCTTFEL-Landesverban (Luxembourg)

May Day Speech NYC

May Day Speech
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Labor for Standing Rock; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Union Square NYC, May 1, 2017

*From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!
*Viva, Viva Palestina!

As we gather here today, more than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners are in their 15th day of a hunger strike against conditions that Amnesty International calls “unlawful and cruel.” Their action is part of a long international tradition, including the hunger strike held last fall by prisoners in the United States.

But the Israeli government — which receives $3.8b/year in U.S. weapons, and closely coordinates with the NYPD and other police agencies that systematically target Black and Brown communities in this country — has branded the strikers “terrorists,” just as the South African apartheid regime once labeled Nelson Mandela and thousands of other political prisoners.

Despite all this, unjust and oppressive regimes — no matter how powerful they may appear — always fall: Jim Crow fell, South African apartheid fell, Zionism will fall.

That’s why, like Biblical Davids, the Palestinian prisoners have answered today’s Goliath by saying: “Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.”

I am proud to say that a growing number of workers in the United States are joining them in to stand against the apartheid regime.

Since 2014 alone, West Coast longshore workers have refused to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo; UAW 2865, 2322, and GSOC-2110; the United Electrical Workers, CT State AFL-CIO, and AFT 3220 have endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which demands an end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

These actions are in the highest tradition of solidarity, from Black Lives to Standing Rock, from New York City to Palestine.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, on April 16, 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As trade unionists have always said, “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!”

As we say today:
*Free, Free Palestine
*From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!