Category Archives: Arab Labor

Israel in Isolation (Socialist Review)

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Israel in isolation

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Israel’s attack on Gaza has rightly caused outrage. But Israel’s murder of Palestinians isn’t the result of a failed peace process or a few bad Israeli leaders – it springs from the very nature of the Israeli state. Estelle Cooch explains how the recent attack fits into the history of apartheid in Palestine

There’s a well known adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein, that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. With that in mind, why did Israel launch yet another attack on Gaza last month – one that seems to have ended with a strengthened Hamas and a more isolated Israel? Did they expect a different result?

The war was the third launched by Israel in six years. Their attack on Lebanon in 2006 was followed by brutal assaults on Gaza in 2008-09 and again in 2012. All three crises have ended with diminishing international support for Israel. Following the most recent ceasefire on 22 November Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared in Cairo, “Free people are not deterred. What has happened is a lesson that the people’s choice is the resistance.” The silence of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has been deafening. In his televised speech to the Israeli public, Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t mention the word victory once.

But Israel’s approach doesn’t stem from insanity; Israel doesn’t in fact expect different results, but longs for the same ones. The dilemma they are confronted with is that while their goal remains the same – the creation of an ever larger Israel – the political terrain has been totally transformed.

In 1997, when Israel was last under the premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Oslo accords had tempered the Palestinian leadership, the First Intifada had long dissipated and Israel had secure borders with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Fifteen years later and all that is up in the air.

The reaction of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi bears witness to these shifting sands. Morsi was at the forefront of pushing for a ceasefire and the Egyptian foreign minister was deployed to Gaza in the midst of Israel’s aerial blitzkrieg. It almost doesn’t merit saying that Mahmoud Abbas did not visit Gaza and played little role in the ceasefire.

Indeed the glaringly obvious success of Hamas will further accelerate the likely collapse of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and expose the limitations of Abbas’s feeble UN statehood plan.

A victory for Hamas?
One fascinating report by the International Crisis Group argues that Hamas has used their position in the recent conflict to test out their relations with Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Tunisia. If developing these relations seems more worthwhile in the long term the growing rift between Hamas and the Syrian regime will become irreparable. One other indication of the pressure that reverberated around the Arab world to support the Palestinians was that Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nassrallah was forced into giving a statement in support of Hamas. This comes after months of in-fighting and angry exchanges between the two organisations as a result of their differences on the Syrian revolution. Clearly one motivation behind Israel’s attack, lay in testing the response of a post-Mubarak Egypt. Morsi’s balancing act seems to have worked for now, but the tension between ordinary Egyptians, who want tougher action on Israel, and supporters of the old regime, who wish to reaffirm the Camp David agreement, will prove increasingly difficult to manage in the long term.

Morsi may well be attempting to carve out a role similar to that of Turkey – a strategic ally of the US, but one with a more independent foreign policy. And while Turkey’s reaction has been contradictory – on the one hand they recently condemned Israel as a “terrorist state”, on the other hand trade between Israel and Turkey has increased in recent years – their motivations should be seen through the prism of a changing region. In other words, Turkey desires relevance in the Middle East far more than it desires relations with Israel.

Nonetheless Egypt’s status as the second biggest recipient of US foreign aid means that carving out this different role will not be straightforward.

If one of Israel’s motivations was to test post-election Egypt, another was to test post-election America.

It is interesting that while the US would not condemn the massacre in Gaza (no change there) Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that behind the scenes Hilary Clinton urged the Israelis to accept the ceasefire – a ceasefire that has rehabilitated Hamas as a legitimate partner in negotiations. The International Crisis Group reported the growing divisions within the Israeli government, notably between defence minister Ehud Barak, who wanted to avoid a ground invasion at all costs, and foreign minister and rabid racist Avigdor Lieberman, were laid bare in the debate over the truce. Netanyahu vacillated between their two positions throughout the conflict, but eventually sided with Barak.

The isolation that the Israeli state now faces along every border, and globally with the rise of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, has fed into a third motivation for the attacks on Gaza – racism. Unable to lash out at Iran or even Lebanon after their defeat in 2006, the caged Palestinians of Gaza provide a convenient target for a brutal show of Israeli power. Attempts to demonise Hamas also help to counter the effect of the Arab Spring in humanising Arabs in the eyes of Westerners.

This racism is in some senses the most crucial strand in understanding Israeli policy as its status as a global pariah is thrown into sharper relief.

This racism is not complicated, nuanced, or just the result of a protracted conflict as Western media outlets would have us believe. The massacres in Gaza, the occupation and the apartheid wall are not anomalies of Israeli policy. They are at the heart of everything Israel is and has always been. As Egyptian revolutionary Gigi Ibrahim put it, “For Israel to exist Palestinians must die.”

In short, Israel wants the maximum amount of Palestinian land with the fewest number of Palestinians as possible.

The nature of Israel
This lies at the heart of the very nature of the Israeli state, from when it was founded in 1948. As Moshe Machover and others put it in their seminal work in 1969, The Class Character of Israeli Society, “Israel is neither a classic capitalist country, nor is it a classic colony”.

It is not a classic capitalist country because internal class conflicts bear very little influence on its external conflict with the Arab world. But nor is it a classic colony. It does not wish to exploit the native labour force (the Palestinians). Furthermore Israel is funded by imperialism, to the tune of $3 billion per year, but is not economically exploited by it.

Many people rightly make the comparison between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa. The United Nations legal definition of “apartheid” supports this comparison; the array of discriminatory laws facing Palestinian Arabs within Israel lends further credence.

Ethnic cleansing
But there is one important difference. In the Zionist movement throughout the 1920s there was an ideological battle over whether a Jewish state should exploit Arab workers or restrict itself to using Jewish labour. The Zionists who argued the new state should only exploit Jewish labour won, and consequently the creation of Israel in 1948 was achieved through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Since then the expansion of Israel and the expulsion of Palestinians has been relentless. Israeli leaders have been unequivocal about this. In April 2012, Netanyahu himself said “I don’t want to govern the Palestinians. I don’t want them as subjects of Israel or as citizens of Israel”.

Unlike in apartheid South Africa, where the labour of the black working class was needed by its white rulers, Israel does not wish to exploit Arab labour. This means that Palestinians cannot rely on mass strikes to bring down the regime, as black workers in South Africa did. Even during the Oslo negotiations, Israel withdrew thousands of jobs from Palestinian workers. The number of Palestinians going to Israel dropped from a peak of 115,600 in 1992 to less than 40,100 in May 2001.

Some have argued, rather naively, that Israel is a society of immigrants that could be won over to opposing Zionism. With patient organising and careful propaganda, the Israeli working class could one day come to play a revolutionary role. But this misses the point.

Israel is not just a society of immigrants – it is a society of settlers. Its working class was forged through colonisation. The Zionist general Moshe Dayan acknowledged in 1956 “we are a settler generation, and without the steel helmet and the cannon we cannot plant a tree or build a house.” Even today 35 percent of Israelis still hold dual nationality with another country, while four million Palestinian refugees remain stateless.

When Karl Marx wrote in 1867 that “a nation that oppresses another cannot itself be free” he was not making a moral judgement. He meant that in a society where one exploited group does not challenge the oppression of another, it comes to believe the illusion that it shares a common interest with its own rulers.

The experience of 70 years of occupation has shown that every aspect of life for the Israeli working class is tied up with the maintenance of the Zionist regime. The main Israeli trade union, the Histadrut, has consistently played a crucial role in propping it up. Formed in 1920, the Histadrut does not allow Palestinian Arabs to join, but actively recruits Israeli settlers into its ranks. In the years before 1948, the Histadrut led “conquest of labour” campaigns that forced Arabs out of work, to be replaced by Jewish settlers.

During the ethnic cleansing of Palestine the Histadrut helped to set up the “kibbutzim” – which have been wrongly portrayed as socialist utopias. In fact they were military camps based on land which Palestinian peasants had been driven from. The Histadrut also oversaw the Haganah, a Jewish terrorist organisation and precursor to the Israeli army.

In the January 2009 massacre of Gaza, the Histadrut praised the “great restraint” of the Israeli army. Even the July 2011 “tent protests” in Israel which railed against economic inequality were remarkably silent about the millions of Palestinians who do not protest in tents, but live in them, in every refugee camp on Israel’s borders. Any “socialist” rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of so called “left-Zionists” is, in the words of Samuel Beckett, a bow tie covering a throat cancer.

As long as Zionism is the only accepted framework in Israeli society, those interested in Palestinian liberation cannot afford to waste their time looking to the Israeli working class for change.

Apartheid
One recent survey asked Israeli workers if the West Bank were to be annexed by Israel, should Palestinians be given the right to vote. A resounding 69 percent voted no. It is hard to find a greater endorsement of apartheid.

If, therefore, Israel is compelled by its very nature to wipe out the Palestinians, why hasn’t it so far? According to the Global Militarisation Index it is the most militarised country in the world. Its air force is considered second only to that of the US. A desire to test its new Iron Dome missile defence system has been suggested as one of the reasons for the recent conflict.

Militarily there is no doubting Israel’s ability to storm across the West Bank and Gaza if it so desired – as it did during the Six Day War in 1967.

And yet if it were to do that its role as the US’s watchdog in the Middle East would be seriously jeopardised. Such action could provoke the Arab working class into revolution – not only in rebellion against their own rulers and those rulers’ complicity with Palestinian oppression, but against the very existence of the Israeli state.
So, since the onset of the Arab revolutions there now seem to be two cycles in the Middle East rapidly hurtling towards each other. The first is a long term one. US economic support reinforces the Israeli occupation which in turn bolsters Israeli militarisation and breeds ever higher levels of racism within Israel.

The forthcoming Israeli elections set for 22 January do not look likely to break this cycle. Ehud Barak has announced plans to retire, robbing Netanyahu of his more moderate ally that limited the influence of far right Avigdor Lieberman. The most recent crisis also brought to the fore the genocidal rhetoric that pervades the Israeli mainstream media. Ariel Sharon’s son called for Gaza to be “flattened”. Interior minister Eli Yeshai declared the goal of the operation as “sending Gaza back to the Middle Ages”. The irony – that the Middle Ages was a period where Jews sought refuge from European anti-Semitism in Arab lands – was no doubt lost on Yeshai.

The second cycle has emerged out of the Arab Spring. Leaders like president Morsi and Jordanian king Abdullah support the Palestinians in rhetoric, but not fully in practice. Israeli aggression will breed more resistance from the Arab working class and Morsi and others will be forced to either suppress their own populations, potentially sparking unknown consequences, or to better support the Palestinians. Even the Qatari government, an erstwhile ally of the US, has pledged to invest $400 million in the rebuilding of Gaza.

These two cycles can continue for some time without coming into contact with each other, but not forever. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring an almighty crash between the two is now inevitable.

Why Egypt Matters: Important Report Back From Egypt’s Revolution

WHAT: U.S. Lawyers & Activists Return from Fact-Finding Mission to Egypt

Join us for An updated analysis on one of the most important people’s movements of our time.

Followed by Strategy Session: Building a Global Solidarity Movement

WHEN: Tuesday July 10th, 7:00pm, 33 West 14th St., Manhattan

WHO: Speakers: Hoda Mitwally, Coalition to Defend the Egyptian Revolution; NLG Egypt Delegation Members Suzanne Adely, Lamis Deek, Michael Letwin; Ali Issa, War Resisters League and OWS Global Justice Working Group

WHY:
U.S. activists, lawyers, and scholars recently took part in a fact-finding mission to Egypt aimed at studying Egypt’s ongoing revolution, investigating the role and responsibility of the U.S. government and corporations in human rights abuses against the Egyptian people, and documenting the ways in which more than thirty years of U.S. military and economic intervention has violated Egypt’s popular sovereignty and locked the country in a web of international debt.

Recent decrees reinforcing the power of the military regime, escalations in violence against protesters, increased arbitrary detentions, military trials, and further restrictions on worker’s rights to organize, all indicate that the Egyptian revolution is under threat. The U.S. government and corporations have played and continue to play a pivotal role in maintaining a repressive regime in Egypt.

Now more than ever, it is vital that we in the United States hold the U.S. government alongside corporations accountable for their complicity in the crimes committed by Egypt’s repressive regime.

In every way, Egypt’s fight is our fight. Egyptians are the 99%, fighting for social, political and economic justice. The same 1% that arms the Egyptian dictatorship commits systematic violence in this country against the Occupy movement; antiwar and solidarity activists; and Arabs, Muslims, and other communities of color.

We ask you to join us in mobilizing to defend our Egyptian brothers and sisters as we build towards a long-term, international campaign to defend their revolution and the global revolution for dignity, freedom and social justice.

SPONSORED BY: NYC Coalition to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
CO-SPONSOR: National Lawyers Guild-International Committee

ENDORSERS: OWS Global Justice Working Group, Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression, DRUM Desis Rising Up and Moving, Labor for Palestine, NYC Labor Against the War, International Socialist Organization, United National Antiwar Coalition-NYC, International Action Center, Socialist Action, Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, TUPOCC-NY Chapter, War Resisters’ League……

For more information or to endorse: www.defendegyptianrevolution.org and defendegyptianrevolution@gmail.com

=====
Remarks of Michael Letwin

To protect apartheid Israel and pursue U.S. dominance of the entire Middle East, the Obama administration provides the brutal Egyptian military with $1.5 billion a year to inflict brutal state repression on the Egyptian revolution. This is than enough to answer the question “Why Egypt Matters,” for as Dr. Martin Luther King put it, “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”

This principle of solidarity is not a matter of charity. Rather, it is rooted in an understanding that — whether we are fighting against US  wars, apartheid Israel, austerity, Islamophobia, state repression, the New Jim Crow or any other injustice — we face a common enemy: a world system of capitalism, imperialism and oppression, dominated by the 1%. Because none of us can successfully resist on our own; the collective fate of the 99% is inextricably linked.

These connections are clear through the Egyptian lens.

Of course, it is widely known that the past year’s mass protests of Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street were inspired by Tahrir Square. But what inspired Tahrir?

According to Hossam al-Hamalawy of the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists: “The Egyptian revolution, rather than coming out of the blue on 25 January 2011, is a result of a process that has been brewing over the previous decade – a chain reaction to the autumn 2000 protests in solidarity with the Palestinian intifada.”

In March 2003, 30,000 people fought the police in downtown Cairo and took over Tahrir Square to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As Hamalawy says, “The scenes aired by al-Jazeera and other satellite networks of the Palestinian revolt or the US-led onslaught on Iraq inspired activists across Egypt to pull down the wall of fear brick by brick.”

These protests, in turn, helped inspire a mass workers movement, later named the “Mahalla Intifada,” to challenge neoliberal privatization and austerity — what Hamalway calls the “dress rehearsal” for the 2011 revolution. In 2010, mass anti-austerity protests in Europe and the Tunisian revolution provided further inspiration.

Tahrir, in turn, has had an incalculable impact around the world.

Due to Egypt’s leading role in the region, it helped inspire an Arab Spring in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and beyond; and a European Summer in Spain, Greece and other countries. For the first time since the Portuguese revolution of 1974, a radical mass workers’ movements is haunting Europe, of which Greece is perhaps the best example.

And it is no exaggeration to say that, without Egypt, there would be no Wisconsin, and no Occupy. The Palestinian Boycott National Committee pulled all this together last fall when it explained:

“The Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts across the US, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are — at least partially — inspired by the Arab Spring for democracy and social justice. Leaders of the Arab popular revolts tell us that they, in turn, were largely inspired by our own, decades-old struggle against Israel’s occupation of our land, its system of discrimination that matches the UN’s definition of apartheid, and its denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.”

In recent days, these interconnections have come full circle, with young people in the West Bank taking heart from Egypt’s revolution to challenge the corrupt and repressive U.S.-Israel-backed Palestinian authority.

For all these reasons and more, the fate of Egypt’s revolution is critical for each and every one of us.

We cannot afford to lose it to lethal teargas, bullets and tanks supplied by our own government.

Sign On: Egyptian Workers Call on U.S. Workers To Stand in Solidarity with the Egyptian People

The statement below was drafted by Egyptian labor activists. They are seeking signatures from US labor activists. Please sign on below or email s_adely@yahoo.com. With a general strike by Egyptian workers, students and allies planned for February 11th, a wide distribution and support for this statement will send a clear signal to the Egyptian military regime that we will not stand for any repression of the strikers and that we support their just demands!

Stop the Import of US “Tear Gas” and all other weapons to Egypt

We are all the 99%

Click here to sign on! or email info@laborforpalestine.net

On November 28, 2011, five workers at the Port of Suez took a stand for justice by officially refusing to allow a U.S. shipment of lethal tear gas into Egypt. According to documents seen by the workers and leaked to the media, the port of origin was Wilmington, Delaware.

Although the Egyptian government later ordered the shipment released, the workers’ courageous action reflects widespread anger over growing repression by the ruling Supreme Council Armed Forces (SCAF) against “25 January Revolution” protesters.

“I haven’t been part of the protests, although I supported it in my heart, but I believe that we could take a stand for justice in workplaces, homes and communities as much as we can in our streets”, said Esmaa, the young woman who led the port workers’ action.

Just a few days earlier, the identical tear gas and other U.S. weapons were used to brutalize scores of peaceful Egyptian protesters. During the last week of November, gas inhalation was responsible for the death of at least three of the 56 protesters killed, while causing many others to suffer unconsciousness and epileptic-like convulsions. In recent weeks, storms of tear gas have been directed at young protestors, as a means to terrorized and deter political participation. Thousands have been injured.

Tear gas cartridges retrieved from the scene of the massacres bore the name of Combined Systems Inc., of Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

A year into the revolution, an unprecedented number of Egyptian workers and youth retuned to Tahrir (Liberation Square) to demand the fulfillment of their revolutionary demands, including: An end to military rule, accountability for deaths and injuries of scores of peaceful protestors, and the end to the criminalization of labor activism and political participation.

These demands are being brought into public spaces throughout Egypt, met with state sponsored violence, as seen in a recent massacre of over 100 Soccer fans in Port Said.

On February 11th a General Strike has been called by workers and students to push forth the demands of the revolution, despite the repression they may face.

Like U.S. wars, sponsorship of Israel, and support for numerous dictatorships throughout the region, shipment of arms to the Egyptian regime has everything to do with protecting the global 1%.

The Egyptian Revolution has its roots in workers’ economic and political struggles, and has inspired many other international social justice movements of the 99%, including Occupy Wall Street. For all those reasons, we ask you to stand with us by:

– Making a statement or holding actions in solidarity with Egyptian workers.

– Blocking shipment of tear gas and all other weapons from the United States to Egypt.

Sign on now!

[gravityform id=”1″ name=”Sign on to the statement! “]

Urgent Appeal to Occupy and All Social Justice Movements: Mobilize to Defend the Egyptian Revolution

December 19, 2011

Endorse the statement here.

In recent days, protesters demanding civilian rule in Egypt have again been murdered, maimed and tortured by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Interior Security Forces (ISF).

The conspiracy, being brutally implemented in Egypt, is part of a global conspiracy to suffocate mass movements for socio-economic justice and is being done with direct assistance of the American government and the private interests which direct that government. We have word from friends in Egypt that SCAF, ISF and their hired thugs — armed by ongoing shipments of $1.3 billion in weapons from the U.S. government — plan to execute one by one all the leaders of the revolution, and as many activists as they can.

Accordingly, we need to ensure that people and organizers in the US and internationally are involved in closely monitoring the events unraveling in Egypt. By keeping track of the atrocities committed by SCAF and ISF, keeping track of those detained, tortured or targeted, and continuously contacting officials in Egypt and the US to demand accountability, cessation of the atrocities and justice, we can add pressure on SCAF, ISF and the forces they represent. In this way we may be able to play a role in helping save the lives of our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Evidence of the conspiracy to execute the leaders and participants of Egyptian freedom movement, includes in very small part the following:

  • Sheikh Emad of Al Azhar was killed by a bullet entering his right side from short range. This was seen at first hand by witnesses known to members of our coalition. Sheikh Emad was one of a small number of Azhar Imams issuing decrees in support of the revolution. His murder was no accident.
  • Sally Tooma, Mona Seif, Ahdaf Soueif, and Sanaa Seif, all female friends and relatives of imprisoned blogger and activist Alaa abd El Fattah, and all known internationally for their political and/or literary work, were detained, and beaten in the Cabinet building.
  • A woman protesting against General Tantawi, head of SCAF, was detained and then tortured by having the letter “T” in English carved into her scalp with knives.
  • Detainees are being tortured while in courtroom holding pens. Two men (Mohammad Muhiy Hussein is one of them) were killed in those pens.These are only a small number of the horror stories we are hearing. And we continue to receive reports from Cairo about a massive army presence in Tahrir Square and the constant sound of gunshots.These are only a small number of the horror stories we are hearing. And we continue to receive reports from Cairo about a massive army presence in Tahrir Square and the constant sound of gunshots.

In every way, Egypt’s fight is our fight. Just like us, Egyptians are the 99%, fighting for social, political and economic justice.

The same 1% that arms the Egyptian dictatorship commits systematic violence in this country against the Occupy movement; antiwar and solidarity activists; and Arabs, Muslims, and other communities of color.

As the US Palestinian Community Network recently observed, “the same US-made tear gas rains down on us in the streets of Oakland, Cairo and Bil`in.”

Because of Egypt’s key strategic location, the fate of its revolution echoes across the world. Its success will bring us all closer to achieving economic and social justice. But its defeat would be a major blow to social justice movements everywhere, including Occupy.

In short, Egypt is key to the continued success of the Arab Revolution, and movements she has inspired.

For all these reasons, we ask Occupy and all U.S. social justice activists to join us in mobilizing to defend our Egyptian brothers and sisters by immediately organizing mass convergences on Egyptian embassies, missions, consulates, and at U.S. government offices, to demand:

  • Cancel all US aid and shipment of military and police materiel to Egypt!
  • Stop the murders, tortures and detentions!
  • Release all detainees and political prisoners!
  • Immediate end to military rule in Egypt!

Issued by (list in formation):

Ad Hoc Coalition to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Egyptian Association for Change- NY
Existence is Resistance
International Socialist Organization
Jan25 Solidarity for Democracy Network
New York City Labor Against the War
Labor for Palestine
Raha Iranian Feminist Collective
Siegebusters Working Group
6 of April Youth Movement America
Socialist Action
United National Antiwar Coalition
US Palestinian Community Network

Please endorse and circulate this appeal widely. Please send statements with these demands to the bodies listed below*

www.defendegyptianrevolution.org and defendegyptianrevolution@gmail.com

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS:

TUESDAY

Call/write-in to Egyptian government.

Ministry of Defense
Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi Soliman
Phone: 01120222916227
Fax: +(20) 2 2 5748 822 (+20) 22 291 6227
E-mail: mod@idsc.gov.eg
Website: 
http://www.mmc.gov.eg

Dr.Kamal El Ganzory, Prime Minister
Phone: +202-2793-5000
Fax: +202-2795-8048
E-mail: pm@cabinet.gov.eg
Website: http://www.cabinet.gov.eg/Cabinet/Prime_Minister.aspx

WEDNESDAY

2:00pm until 7:00pm
Protest against SCAF in NYC
Egyptian consulate, 1110 2nd Ave # 201 New York, NY 10022-2093
https://www.facebook.com/events/260847190641653/

Egyptian independent trade unionists endorse BDS

Press release
London 2 July 2011

From Arabawy (Hossam al-Hamalawy’s blog):

Representative of the Egyptian Independent Union Federation: “We call on the global trade union movement to cut links with the Histadrut and to support the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS”.

Kamal Abu Aita, representative of the Egyptian Independent Union Federation (EIUF) which was recently formed in Tahrir Square during the revolution, confirmed yesterday that the EIUF rejects any attempt to ‘normalise’ relations with Israel. In a speech in London to hundreds of activists from the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Abu Aita also welcomed the formation of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) and called on the international trade union movement to join the coalition.

Abu Aita said: “The Egyptian Independent Union Federation has a very clear position and that is one of solidarity with the Palestinian Arab people, support for their right to a state in the whole of their land and support for their right to use all forms of resistance against the Zionist state. The EIUF announces its rejection of all forms of normal relations with the racist, settler Zionist state and we will not co-operate with any of its official or trade union bodies because they are all connected to the Zionist occupation of our land. It is impossible for us to work with this racist regime, and it is vital to build a movement of humanity which aims to get rid of racist regimes against the world, just as we got rid of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Egyptian revolution opened the door wide for our people to express their rejection of the Zionist state. From the beginning, the revolution has worked in the interests of the Palestinians, by stopping the export of Egyptian gas to the Zionists, and opening the border crossings. Egyptian youth besieged the embassy of our enemy and demanded the expulsion of the ambassador.

We reject any relationship with the Histadrut because it is part of this racist regime. We call on all friendly unions to boycott the Histadrut as part of the campaign to get rid of racist regimes all over the world.”

Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said:

“The support of the Egyptian independent unions, represented by their federation, for the Palestinian Boycott Campaign is a source of pride for us, just as we are proud of Egypt’s leadership in the march of freedom from imperialism both old and new. We look forward to the return of the spirit to the all the Arab peoples struggling for freedom and social justice, and to break away of dependency on imperialist domination.”

Sign on: Labor for Egypt salutes Egyptian revolution

We encourage all labor supporters of the Egyptian revolution to sign the statement below. Sign on here! or email info@laborforpalestine.net

Labor for Egypt Statement

February 23, 2011

As trade unionists, we join our Egyptian sisters and brothers in welcoming the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak. We salute the courage of the Egyptian people who have shed blood and endured many sacrifices in their struggle for democracy, which continues to unfold. The revolution has already inspired people from Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Algeria to Wisconsin to resist the same system of economic injustice and repression.

The roots of this revolution are in a decade of labor revolt against policies that made Mubarak the richest man in the world, while impoverished Egyptian workers earn forty-three cents per day.

These workers toppled Mubarak and have continued to challenge a neoliberal regime of privatization, deregulation and union busting engineered — and brutally enforced throughout the region — by the United States and its allies, taking many actions including striking and forming new independent trade unions.

Moreover, Egyptians want an end their government’s complicity in U.S. wars of conquest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere, and in Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza.

To keep these detested policies in place, Egypt has long been — after Israel — the largest recipient of U.S. military aid. Thus, while mouthing democratic platitudes, the Obama administration backed Mubarak to the very end, even allowing him to draw on the $1.3 billion in U.S. funding that killed more than 300 democracy protesters.

First, the U.S. and Israel sought to replace Mubarak with Vice President, CIA asset and torturer-in-chief, Omar Suleiman. Suleiman, who has helped Israel to strangle Gaza, and openly threatened the revolution with a “coup.” Now, it backs the Army, which already has refused to rescind repressive emergency laws, has evicted democracy protesters from Tahrir Square, and has threatened to ban independent unions and strikes.

While Egyptians are standing firm, they need support to ensure that this revolution is not — like those in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Congo (1961), Chile (1973), and so many others — drowned in a sea of blood by the U.S. and its client regimes.

Therefore, we demand that the U.S. cut off all aid to the Egyptian dictatorship — right now.

We also call on all supporters to immediately converge on Egyptian embassies, missions, consulates, and at U.S. government offices, in response to any further attack on the revolution.

We also join with millions of Egyptians to say:

No Mubarak, No Suleiman, No U.S. Puppet Dictator!
Don’t Leave the Streets!
Support Egyptian Strikers!
Free the Political Prisoners!
Arrest the Killers and Torturers!
No Neoliberal Economic Austerity!
Open the Border to Gaza!
FULL REGIME CHANGE!

——–
Labor for Egypt Resolution

Whereas, as trade unionists, we join our Egyptian sisters and brothers in welcoming the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak;

And whereas, we salute the courage of the Egyptian people who have shed blood and endured many sacrifices in their struggle for democracy, which continues to unfold;

And whereas, the revolution has inspired people from Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Algeria to Wisconsin to resist the same system of economic injustice and repression;

And whereas, the roots of this revolution are in a decade of labor revolt against policies that made Mubarak the richest man in the world, while 40% of the Egyptian population live on under $2 per day;

And whereas, taking many actions including striking and forming new independent trade unions, these workers toppled Mubarak and have continued to challenge a neoliberal regime of privatization, deregulation and union busting engineered — and brutally enforced throughout the region — by the United States and its allies;

And whereas, Egyptians want an end their government’s complicity in U.S. wars of conquest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere, and in Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza;

And whereas, to keep these detested policies in place, Egypt has long been — after Israel — the largest recipient of U.S. military aid;

And whereas, while mouthing democratic platitudes, the Obama administration backed Mubarak to the very end, even allowing him to draw on the $1.3 billion in U.S. funding that killed more than 300 democracy protesters;

And whereas, the U.S. and Israel sought to replace Mubarak with Vice President, CIA asset and torturer-in-chief, Omar Suleiman. Suleiman, who has helped Israel to strangle Gaza, and openly threatened the revolution with a “coup”;

And whereas, the Army regime has refused to rescind repressive emergency laws, has evicted democracy protesters from Tahrir Square, and has threatened to ban independent unions and strikes;

And whereas, while Egyptians are standing firm, they need support to ensure that this revolution is not — like those in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Congo (1961), Chile (1973), and so many others — drowned in blood by repressive regimes backed by the U.S. government;

RESOLVED, that we support our Egyptian brother and sister workers in their struggle against the military government to demand an end to the repressive Mubarak-era emergency laws and full democratic rights;

That we support the continued protests and demonstrations to achieve those basic democratic rights;

That we demand freedom for the political prisoners of the Mubarak dictatorship who remain behind bars;

That we call for the arrest and prosecution of the Mubarak regime’s killers and torturers;

That we stand with Egyptian workers in their resistance to privatization and other pro-corporate policies pushed by the U.S., the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank;

That we support our Egyptian brothers and sisters in their call to open the border to Gaza to end the hunger and suffering created by the U.S.-backed economic blockade of 1.6 million Palestinians;

That we support Egyptian workers in their struggle for independent trade unions and a workers’ party.

Sign on below.

Initial signatories (affiliations for identification only):

Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; People’s Organization for Progress

Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement

Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council, San Francisco, CA

Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Washington DC

Marty Goodman, Transport Workers Union Local 100, former Executive Board member, New York, NY

Stanley Heller, AFT L. 1547, Delegate, CT Central Labor Council; New Haven, CT

Joe Iosbaker, SEIU Local 73, Executive Board Member, Chicago, IL

Carol Gay, Coordinator, NJ Labor Against War and EVP, NJ Industrial Union Council

Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY

Anthony Arnove, NWU/UAW L. 1981; New York, NY

Peter Kuttner, IATSE Local 600, Chicago, IL

Dominic Renda, chief shop steward, CWA Local 1105, New York

Evalyn F. Segal, PhD, California State Employees Association and California Federation of Teachers, Walnut Creek, CA

Dennis Kortheuer, California Faculty Association, Long Beach, CA

David Boehnke, Industrial Workers of the World, Twin Cities, MN

Sherna Berger Gluck, former vice-president, CFA/SEIU 1983, California

Lee Sustar, NWU/UAW L. 1981; Chicago, IL

Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, New Zealand

B. Ross Ashley, former member of the Executive Council of Local 204 SEIU (now Local 1 Canada), Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Carole Seligman, member of California Teachers Association, retired

Ellen S. Sacks, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys

Mark Clinton, Massachusetts Community College Council, NEA, Holyoke, MA

Tanya Akel, United Electrical Workers of America, Los Angeles, CA

Orsan Senalp, Social Network Unionism, the Netherlands

Erin Breault, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Local 400, AFT, AFL-CIO, Pittsburgh, PA

Anna Potempska, Public Employees Federation, Staten Island, NY

Peggy Dobbins, American Federation of Teachers 2165 (retired)

Additional Signatories

James Jordan, National Writers Union – Tucson, Tucson, AZ

Nagesh Rao, American Federation of Teachers Local 2634, Ewing, NJ

Gordon Glick, Industrial Workers of the World Tacoma GMB, former steward International Association of Machinists, Bremerton, WA

Noha Momtaz Tahrir Arafa, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, Brooklyn, NY

Wren Osborn, United Steelworkers associate, El Cajon, CA

Andrew Wasser, Industrial Workers of the World, Somerville, MA

Alan Hague, AFSCME – Council 94, Local 528, Providence, RI

Heather Rasmussen, Wisconsin AFSCME, Local 68, Madison, WI

Keith Rosenthal, AFSCME Local 3650, Somerville, MA

Doug Nesbitt, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 901, Kingston, ON, Canada

John Kirkland, United Brotherhood of Carpenters LU 1462, Bristol, PA

Helen Scott, Delegate, United Academics:AFT-AAUP, Burlington, VT

Glenn Shelton, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, Detroit, MI

Louise Legun, National Nurses United, Blandon, PA

John Estes, National Association of Letter Carriers, Birmingham, AL

Greg King, shop steward, SEIU Local 888, West Roxbury, MA

Polly A. Connelly, UAW International Representative, Tucson, AZ

Ketty Papadima, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Cindy Klumb, Senior Shop Steward, Local 153 OPEIU, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Sheila Dunnachie, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Mayne Island, Canada

David McNally, York University Faculty Association, Toronto, ON, Canada

Genevieve Delmaspatterson, le Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (SPUQ), Montreal, QC, Canada

Stanley Aronowitz, former executive council member, Professional Staff Congress, AFT, New York, NY

Eugene McGuckin, former president, bargaining committee chair, newsletter editor, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 1129, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Rogers Turrentine, Writers Guild of America West, Oceanside, CA

Debra Bergen Koster, Director Contract Administration, PSC/CUNY, Local 2334, NYSUT, AFT, New York, NY

Mike Louw, Organiser, Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cape Town, South Africa

Peter Parks, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8, retired, Portland, OR

Judith Ackerman, Local 1199 SEIU, AFT, UFT, AFTRA, SAG, New York, NY

Sean Petty, RN, New York State Nurses Association, Bronx, NY

Roy Nitzberg, Professional Staff Congress – CUNY, Flushing, NY

Foster Richards, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chicago, IL

Fred Couget, shop steward, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 36, New York, NY

Sign on here!

Arab American Union Members Council: Gascon’s Apology Is Not Enough

As the San Francisco Chief of Police George Gascon rushes from one community group to another offering “apologies and clarifications” of “misunderstandings” for the second week in the diverse city of San Francisco, members of The Arab American Union Members Council continue to be appalled by San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon’s March 24 remarks. Gascon spoke, allegedly in favor of an earthquake-retrofitting bill, alleging that the Hall of Justice is susceptible to “members of the city’s Middle Eastern community parking a van in front of it and blowing it up.” (San Francisco Chronicle, March 26, 2010)

Gascon later attempted to “clarify” his comments by claiming his remarks did not apply to the entire Arab, Muslim and broader Middle Eastern community, but instead to the Yemeni and Afghan communities in San Francisco – blatantly singling out these communities for further targeting, discrimination and injustice.

We are appalled by Chief Gascon’s racist remarks and believe that he is chasing federal “anti-terrorism” funding by putting our communities at risk. This is unacceptable, and we will not stand for members of our community being held up as threats based on national origin in a cheap grab for federal funds.

These statements illustrate an approach toward our community that is discriminatory and dangerous, indicating that we are viewed not as members of the community deserving of respect and protection, but instead subject to criminalization and demonization at the highest levels of the city’s police force.

Such statements by public officials, particularly public officials charged with protecting and serving the people of our city, are absolutely unacceptable. They place members of our community at risk of targeting and discrimination, and make it clear that members of our community are viewed as threats rather than part of the fabric of our city.

Naji Daifullah, the historic labor organizer of Arab American farm workers in California who sacrificed his life with other farm workers from Asia and Latin America to build a union for farm workers with Cesar Chavez as his mentor, was a member of the Yemeni community and the inspiration for today’s Arab American Union Members Council. As union members, workers and members of the Arab community, we cannot and will not tolerate racism from the police force, let alone blatantly expressed racism from the city’s Police Chief.

We are well aware that these comments are part and parcel of the ongoing racism and discrimination that characterize the San Francisco Police Department’s approach to people of color and other oppressed communities. AAUMC stands side by side with all people of color communities and other oppressed groups in San Francisco to say that formal apologies are necessary to assure safety to a targeted community, but continue to be disingenuous and insufficient. Racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement are a constant threat faced by communities of color in our city, and they are unacceptable. It is time that a real commitment is made to ending racial profiling and holding the police accountable when our communities are targeted.

We demand that the San Francisco Police Department  demonstrate real commitment, beyond mere words, toward treating our communities – and all oppressed groups and communities in our city – with respect. Such steps must include disallowing any reconvening of the SFPD intelligence unit, creating a public advisory/accountability forum for the SFPD and a strict policy preventing police referrals to immigration authorities/ICE.

The people united will never be defeated.

Monadel Herzallah
President of Arab American Union Members Council (AAUMC)
Member of Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)
And board member of Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC)

Second ITF Gaza aid plane to fly Tuesday

http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/2956

A plane chartered by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) will take off from Jordan next week, carrying humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza.

The flight, which will leave on Tuesday 20 January, follows an earlier aid flight part-organised and loaded by Jordan’s General Trade Union of Workers in Air Transport and Tourism, and the ITF. It delivered a cargo of medicines and ambulances last week at Al-Areesh Airport, Egypt. The consignment was handed over to the Red Crescent for distribution in Gaza the same day.

This latest flight will follow the same route and will again be on a Royal Jordanian Airlines A310. The airline has actively supported the relief effort. On board will be operating equipment, first aid supplies, burn dressings, medicine and eight tonnes of milk for newborn babies. Donors include Jordanian transport unions (especially the aviation workers’ union), who have supplied half the cargo, and other members of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU), with more contributions on their way from Tunisian and Lebanese transport unions.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented: “There is a crying need for medicine, dressings, water and food. We are doing what we can to address it. There’s an even greater need for an immediate ceasefire, so that this carnage will stop and the medical services and the people of Gaza can begin to pick up the pieces.”

The international trade union movement, including the ITF, the International Trade Union Confederation, the GFJTU and the Palestinian trade union congresses have all backed a call for trade unions to sponsor humanitarian relief aid to Gaza.

To see more photos visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itf/sets/72157612393774470

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

Workers’ Power, June 6, 1977
http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/workerspower/wp210.pdf

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