Category Archives: BDS

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

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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), and International Trade Union Confederation (representing 181 million workers in 163 countries).

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!

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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)

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[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]

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E-mail: info@laborforpalestine.net
Web: http://laborforpalestine.net/
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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.

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.

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!

May Day: Palestinian trade unions call for intensifying BDS

April 28, 2017

By Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS)

On May Day, we Palestinian trade unions are proud to stand with the trade union movement internationally as we collectively resist attacks on our working conditions, cuts to public services and job losses. We lend our voices to the mass rallies taking place internationally uniting trade unions, immigrants and refugees, social movements, and environmentalists fighting for a better future and dignified living.

We also remind the world that Palestinian workers continue to endure and resist Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid on a daily basis, including resistance to Israel’s shameful prison system. We salute our political prisoners on hunger strike to protest Israel’s grave and ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights. We will continue to refuse Israel’s vision of a truncated network of Palestinian Bantustans and associated industrial zones, under which we relinquish our rights and become a pool of cheap labour for the Israeli state. That is why in July 2005, when over 170 Palestinian organizations urged the world to adopt a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in the manner of South African Apartheid, this historical call was signed by all the main Palestinian trade union federations. We believe that trade union campaigns targeting corporate and state complicity with Israeli violations of international law are a vital and effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Trade unions today are taking the lead in defending the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination, non-discrimination and equality, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194. BDS principles and tactics have been formally endorsed by national trade union federations in South Africa, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Basque Country, Brazil and other countries across Latin America, in addition to scores of national and local unions. This gives us great hope in the potential of working people to shut down corporate and state support for Israel’s crimes. It also reminds us of the incredibly inspiring international trade union campaigns which helped to expose and confound South Africa’s former apartheid regime. We salute all trade unions implementing effective BDS campaigns and divesting their pension funds from corporate occupation profiteers like G4S and HP, among others.

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 look forward to working alongside trade unions around the world to develop and strengthen our struggles for human rights, social and economic justice. We stand shoulder to shoulder with working people worldwide and thank you for the solidarity you continue to show to the struggle for Palestinian workers’ rights.

General Union of Palestinian Workers

Palestinian New Union

Federation of Independent Trade Union

Postal, IT and Telecommunications Workers Union

LIVESTREAM: From PALESTINE to MEXICO, ALL THE WALLS have got to go!

LIVESTREAM: From PALESTINE to MEXICO, ALL THE WALLS have got to go!
From #BlackLivesMatter to #StandingRock, from #NoBanNoWall to the #InternationalWomensStrike, join us as we discuss a grassroots movements to recognize #Palestinian liberation as a central component of intersectionality, and how as progressives can be the force to tear down every wall, barrier, and oppressive obstacle!
#FromPalestineToMexico

More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/992280510903897/?notif_t=plan_reminder&notif_id=1490228967088533

European Trade Union Initiative for Justice in Palestine

Eddie Whyte is an elected national officer in the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees – Fagforbundet – Norway’s largest trade union and participated in the Brussels meeting.  You can read his blog on Palestine here – https://palestiniansolidarity.wordpress.com/

New Trade Union Network for Palestine

Recently over 100 trade union delegates, representing twenty nine unions and three million members from all over Europe, gathered in a historic first meeting in Brussels to challenge European governments’ complicity with Israel and establish a cross European platform in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Israel’s blatant disregard for international law is well documented. Perhaps less well known, is its co-operation agreement with the European Union providing it with access to trade and allowing more participation in EU programs and projects than any other non-European country.

The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) has recorded that whilst the Israeli government contributed €535 million to the EU’s research programs over a 6 year period, Israeli firms and institutions actually received even more funding in return –  €840 million worth. Israel is expected to benefit similarly from the new Horizon 2020 research funding program unless the repeated appeals from the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement are heeded.

eur1

The very existence of this 16 year old Agreement is all the more remarkable given that Article 2 emphasises that it is based on a “mutual respect for human rights and democratic principles”(!) Not something one immediately associates with a state which continues to illegally occupy Palestinian land in contravention of international law and in defiance of countless statements of condemnation from international governments and organizations, including many from the EU itself.

The two day long trade union gathering heard calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine and the repeal of the much criticized agreement, seen by many as a legitimization of the illegal occupation in contravention of international law and UN Conventions.

The new initiative has been taken by a cross-European group of trade union organisations intent on developing a network strengthening ties between workers organisations in Europe whilst also reaching out to all sections of the Palestinian trade union movement. Indeed the PGFTU, the Arab Workers Union band the New Unions were all active participants in the discussions.

The campaign focus is on raising awareness on their respective governments’ complicity in Israeli human rights abuses and war crimes, and the culpability of corporations that support and benefit economically from the illegal occupation.

eur2

The organising committee’s scathing criticism of the EU accuses it of failing to hold Israel accountable for its grave violations of international law, failing to address the illegality of the occupation of Palestine, failing to tackle the rampant discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and numerous human rights abuses – including the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homelands as adopted by the UN in resolution 194, almost a full seventy years ago.

The formation of this network is a major breakthrough for solidarity work within the European trade union movement, which has been consistent in its call for a just solution for the Palestinian people.

The EU has previously had no hesitation in applying various forms of sanctions against Russia when it annexed Ukrainian territory and has acted similarly towards about forty other states at various times over recent years. The shameful double standards being applied in the Israeli case are unacceptable and are interpreted by many as tacit support for Israel’s continued violations of international law.

Under massive international pressure, the EU ruled in 2015 that products from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, should be clearly labelled as such. This month, almost a full year later, France became the third member state, after the UK and Belgium to enforce the decision.

Ironically, the original ruling led to the Netanyahu government threatening to boycott co-operation with the EU whilst The Independent reported an Israeli minister calling the decision “disguised anti-Semitism” – the usual red herring reserved for censoring open debate on Israel’s brutal occupation policies.

The same news report refers to European diplomats admitting “in private that the strength of the Israeli response made many member states wary of issuing their own specific guidelines.” The Israeli propaganda machines concerted efforts to stamp anything and anyone critical of their government policies as antisemites is clearly bearing fruit in some circles. Indeed, one of the issues raised at the Brussels meeting was the need to effectively challenge the misleading campaign by the Israeli government to redefine antisemitism to suit its own distorted political agenda.

However, the French government has now joined the ranke og major European nations that have broken through that self-imposed barrier and the remaining European governments should immediately follow suit. The European trade union movement will be doing their utmost to ensure that this happens sooner rather than later.

The global BDS movement has been under increasing attack from the Israeli propaganda machine in the last year and yet 2016 has heralded a series of major victories for human rights in Palestine. Prominent multinational companies such as Orange, CRH and G4S have followed Veolia’s lead in withdrawing their business from projects that infringe on Palestinian rights.

Also this year, an increasing number of European municipalities or city councils in countries as diverse as Norway, Spain and Ireland have declared their opposition to the Israeli occupation whilst major churches in the US have been divesting from Israeli banks and international companies who support the occupation.

The BDS Movement is expanding and its round up for 2016 points to major successes for the right to boycott Israel in support of Palestinian rights under international law from the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Netherlands and Ireland, as well as from Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Unionand the International Federation of Human Rights, as well as “hundreds of political parties, trade unions and social movements across the globe”.

Another major victory came in March of this year when the UN Human Rights Council, voted to create a database of Israeli and international corporations that are complicit in and profiting from Israel’s occupation – a development that will expose even further business interests who are complicit in Israel’s numerous and continuous violations of international law.

This latest coordinated trade union mobilisation in Brussels in support of the Palestinian people is certain to exert even more pressure on European governments to fulfil their moral and legal duty to ensure an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and the denial of Palestinian rights.

At the conference in Brussels, an appeal was issued to more trade unions to get involved – if your union is interested in affiliating to the campaign please contact the organizers here.

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The following unions are already affiliated to the network:

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Fagforbundet (Norway), Union Syndicale Solidaires (France), La Centrale Générale-FGTB (Belgium), ACV/CSC Brussels (Belgium), UNISON (UK), The Norwegian Trade Union Federation LO in Trondheim, (Norway) Unison N. Ireland Region (Ireland), Derry Trades Union Council (Ireland), Belfast&District Trades Union Council (Ireland), Workmates – trade union section of Norwegian Palestine Committee (Norway), Trade Union Friends of Palestine (Ireland), Communications Workers Union (Ireland), Confederacion Intersindical Galega (Spain), Mandate Trade Union (Ireland), ELABasque Workers Solidarity (Euskadi), IRW-CGSP (Belgium), LBC-NVK (Belgium), Palestinawerkgroep-FNV (The Netherlands), CNE (Belgium), IAC (Spain), Civil Public and Services Union – CPSU (Ireland), Intersindical Valenciana (Spain), Irish National Teachers’ Organisation – Branches: Derry City, Newry, Dungannon, Armagh, Belfast West (Ireland), The Palestine Committee of Norway, Union section (Union of railway workers), IMPACT (Ireland), CGT France – 66, The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA).

Irish Trade Union Open Letter to German Union in Support of Teacher Christoph Glanz

tufp

TRADE UNION FRIENDS OF PALESTINE
Campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people

Secretary: Eamon McMahon

9.11.16

To our trade union colleagues,

We the undersigned, members of the Irish trade union movement, write to express our solidarity with teacher, GEW (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft) member and activist Mr. Christoph Glanz. We are dismayed by GEW’s decision not to disseminate the “PaedOl” magazine due to it containing an article on Palestine/Israel by Mr. Glanz titled: “Documenting Injustice and Claiming Justice – Impossible in Oldenburg?”

It appears that this censorship came as a result of pressure from the Israeli lobby. We are concerned that giving in to such pressure supports the undermining of basic trade union rights, and that if not challenged it could reinforce the belief of outside bodies and vested interest groups that they can bring about the suppression of our democratic rights. This includes the right to express solidarity with oppressed workers in any state or in any region of the world.

We are further concerned by the public statements made by the GEW suggesting that it may have been “anti-Semitic” or “a mistake” to present information about Israel’s oppressive policies against Palestinians and the BDS movement, and hence it was necessary to block the dissemination of the magazine. Such misrepresentations prevent an informed debate presenting the realities under which the Palestinian people live from taking place.

Individuals, trade unions and civil society groups have the right under international law to organise, the right to protest and the right to free speech. It is a matter of profound concern when any progressive organisation bows to pressure from the lobby groups of those perpetrating the very human rights abuses that people of conscience like Mr. Glanz and many others are campaigning against. In the process, unintentionally or otherwise, this undermines the fundamental rights and principles of the trade union movement and international solidarity.

This incident is one in a long line of anti democratic attacks in Germany and across the world on individuals and groups who speak out for Palestine and more specifically on those who support the legitimate, non violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. The governments of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Federica Mogherini the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, have already explicitly clarified that they consider advocacy for BDS to be part of the right of their citizens to freedom of expression.

We have learned that German unions, including the GEW, welcomed and actively promoted the boycott of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1970s and 1980s. It would seem an opportune moment therefore, acting in the spirit of international solidarity, for the leadership of the GEW in Oldenburg and elsewhere to lead an informed discussion with its members about the aims and merits of the BDS movement.

We ask the GEW to stand by the principles of the labour movement, in defence of freedom of speech and expression, and that it reconsiders the decision not to publish this article. We call upon it to publicly defend its own member, Mr. Glanz, against false allegations of anti-Semitism, This must be undertaken in the first instance to defend Mr Glanz, but also in order to prevent a very dangerous precedent being set and to protect the rights of all GEW members and others who wish to peacefully protest human rights abuses wherever those abuses occur.

We ask that the GEW, and also the school authorities (”Niedersächsische Landesschulbehörde”), their spokespersons, relevant politicians and other decision-makers take all steps necessary to defend these basic democratic rights.

Signed:

Eamon McMahon, Secretary TUFP

Kevin Daly, Ass. Secretary and Teachers’ Representative, TUFP; INTO Northern Committee (PC); Secretary to Newry Trades Council (PC)

Peter Collins, Treasurer TUFP; Academics for Palestine; UCU (PC)

Paddy Mackel, President Belfast Trades Council

Roger Clifford, President Craigavon Trades Council

Susan Neil, UNISON (PC)

Tommy McGlone, INTO Senior Official (PC)

Paul Boyd, Secretary INTO Down Branch (PC)

Jim McLaughlin, INTO (PC)

Mark McTaggart, INTO Assistant Northern Secretary, (PC)

Annmarie Conway, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Aine-Maire Ui-Neill, Secretary Belfast Branch INTO (PC)

Jim Magee, INTO Newry Branch, Honorary Member (PC)

Donna Daly, INTO (PC)

Seamus Hanna, Chair INTO Northern Committee (PC)

David Nolan, Vice Chair Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Gregor Kerr, Dublin North City branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO (PC)

Christine McDonnell, Unite (PC)

John Douglas, General Secretary MANDATE

John Kelly, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Noreen Kelly, Secretary Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Fionnualla Hughes, INTO Newry Branch Committee (PC)

Declan McReynolds, Vice-Chair Armagh Branch INTO (PC)

John O’Brien, INTO (PC); ICTU Global Solidarity Committee (PC)

Paul Woods, Chair of Belfast West branch, INTO (PC)

Caroline McCarthy, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Fiona Maguire, Vice-Chairperson Newry Trades Council (PC); Vice-Chairperson, NIPSA Branch 733 (PC)

Oliver Short, Chair of Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Ruairí Creaney, Organiser Communications Workers’ Union Ireland

Siobhan Mc Laughlin, Secretary of Dungannon Branch INTO (PC)

Elaine Daly, SIPTU member (PC)

Derry City Trades Union Council (DTUC)

Daisy Mules INTO (PC); Treasurer DTUC

Natalie Fleming, Communication Workers’ Union; Secretary DTUC

Liam Gallagher, UNITE; Chair DTUC

Marguerite Faloona, UNISON (PC)

Catherine Hutton, UNISON (PC)

Zoe Lawlor, Unite (PC)

Niall Mc Carroll, UNISON (PC)

Shaun Harkin, UNISON (PC)

Becca Bor, UNISON (PC)

Damien Condren, UNISON (PC)

Gary Mc Clean, UNISON (PC)

Carly Johnston, UNISON (PC)

Ruaidhri Galligan, UNISON (PC)

Emma Devine, UNISON (PC)

Fearghal Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Millar, UNISON (PC)

Caroline Gillespie, UNISON (PC)

Barry Donaghy, UNISON (PC)

Viv Brady, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Hannigan, UNISON (PC)

Peter Robinson, UNISON (PC)

Kathleen Bradley, UNISON (PC)

Pauline Lagan, UNISON (PC)

Anna Roe, UNISON (PC)

Chelsea Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Bernadette Doherty, UNISON (PC)

Conall Ó Dufaigh, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (PC)

Martin O’Quigley, IMPACT (PC)

Kevin Squires, Unite (PC); National Coordinator, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

This letter has also been endorsed formally by:

Academics for Palestine, Ireland

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
(Note: INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Association; PC indicates in a private capacity)

Resolution on the Freedom of Speech and Assembly for All Faculty, Staff and Students at the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY)

View in PDF format: resolution_on_academic_freedom
Adopted by the PSC-CUNY Delegate Assembly on October 13, 2016.

PSC