- Testimonies of the popular rebellion in USA; interview with Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine New York (La Prensa Obrera, Argentina, June 7, 2020) June 11, 2020
- Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign webinar on Uniformed Killers with Shahd Abusalama and Michael Letwin May 29, 2020
- “Between the rock of the occupation, and the hammer of coronavirus” April 24, 2020
- Labor for Palestine Statement at NYC May Day 2019 May 1, 2019
- 30+ NYU Student Groups Pledge Non-cooperation with NYU Tel Aviv (Mondoweiss) October 23, 2018
- Letter to the University of Michigan President Regarding John Cheney-Lippold (AAUP) October 16, 2018
- AAUP, AFT, Rutgers Faculty Union Oppose DOE Investigation October 12, 2018
- UK Labour Party must reject biased antisemitism definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights (Palestinian Unions) August 28, 2018
- Who Built Zion? Palestinian Labor and the Case for Political Rights (New Labor Forum) August 1, 2018
- A Call to Action from Gaza: Cover your city with posters of the Great March of Return heroes June 25, 2018
- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (Vancouver & District Labour Council) June 19, 2018
- GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine June 19, 2018
- Extremist targets two members at Brooklyn (The Clarion, PSC-CUNY) November 1, 2017
- CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS ENDORSES “PEACE IN PALESTINE” CAMPAIGN (CJPME) October 5, 2017
- Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani defeats silencing campaign against her advocacy for Palestinian freedom (Samidoun) September 13, 2017
- The Arab American radicals who paved way for BDS (Electronic Intifada) September 5, 2017
- Stop Fascism & White Supremacy: National Day of Action in Solidarity with Berkeley August 27, 2017
- White Supremacist Rally in San Francisco Canceled at Last Minute by Smorgasbord of Counter-Protests and Anti-Hate Rallies August 25, 2017
- Unifor Canadian Council passes BDS motion at Winnipeg convention August 18, 2017
- Updated: 100 Groups Call on Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act August 9, 2017
- Why the Democratic Socialists of America Vote for BDS Is a Turning Point in American Left Politics (Alternet) August 9, 2017
- DSA BDS Resolution August 6, 2017
- Will Labor Stand for More Limits to Boycott Rights? | Stanley Heller July 31, 2017
- Sally Howell, Southend Struggles: Converging Narratives of an Arab/Muslim American Enclave July 24, 2017
- Israel’s other “demographic threat” (Electronic Intifada) July 18, 2017
- Socialist Zionism Panel at Socialism 2017 Conference July 7, 2017
- Investigate groups with “Jewish-sounding” names, says Nevada lawmaker (Electronic Intifada) June 29, 2017
- Video: Checkpoint 300 (Electronic Intifada) June 8, 2017
- Self-organization in the 2016 Palestinian Teachers Strike (New Politics) June 1, 2017
- Black4Palestine was proud to sign Labor for Palestine’s petition May 29, 2017
- UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism (Free Speech on Israel and BRICUP) May 29, 2017
- Victory! We salute the striking Palestinian prisoners (Labor for Palestine) May 28, 2017
- Palestinian Workers Campaign for Social Justice (MERIP) May 27, 2017
- New Brazilian campaign brings together mass movements, labor organizations to support Palestinian prisoners (Samidoun) May 26, 2017
- An Injury to One is an Injury to All: Workers Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike (Labor for Palestine) May 21, 2017
- Defying leaders, Norway trade unionists endorse Israel boycott (Electronic Intifada) May 18, 2017
- Canadian Labour Congress resolution of support for prisoners’ strike joins growing labor solidarity for Palestinian freedom (Samidoun) May 14, 2017
- Norway’s Largest Trade Union Federation Endorses Full Boycott of Israel to Advance Palestinian Human Rights (BNC) May 12, 2017
- UK teachers’ union now “HP free zone” due to Israel ties (Electronic Intifada) May 10, 2017
- European trade unions statement in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers May 5, 2017
- May Day Speech NYC May 1, 2017
- May Day: Palestinian trade unions call for intensifying BDS April 28, 2017
- The Movements of Immigrants, Black Lives, Refugees and the Indigenous Talk About the Centrality of Palestine March 25, 2017
- LIVESTREAM: From PALESTINE to MEXICO, ALL THE WALLS have got to go! March 22, 2017
- ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION: “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go!” March 22, 2017
- Labor and Women’s Rights Movement Plan Ambitious Mass Protests to Fight Trumpism (Alternet) March 3, 2017
- Labor for Palestine Bulletin: Important Events Thurs., Feb. 2 February 1, 2017
- Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine? (Electronic Intifada) January 19, 2017
- SAN FRANCISCO LABOR COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON HATE FLIERS AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY (SF Labor Council) December 13, 2016
- European Trade Union Initiative for Justice in Palestine December 5, 2016
- Irish Trade Union Open Letter to German Union in Support of Teacher Christoph Glanz November 9, 2016
- Labor for Standing Rock Pamphlet October 26, 2016
- Support Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi From Zionist Attacks October 16, 2016
- Labor for Palestine endorses Oct. 29-30 Labor for Standing Rock mobilization October 14, 2016
- Resolution on the Freedom of Speech and Assembly for All Faculty, Staff and Students at the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) October 13, 2016
- Please sign: We Stand With Palestinian Rights Activist Christoph Glanz Against Zionist Witch-Hunt October 13, 2016
- Urgent Call on the AFL-CIO: Reverse Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline September 17, 2016
- NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel (In These Times) July 27, 2016
- US labor board affirms union’s right to boycott Israel (Electronic Intifada) July 25, 2016
- NLRB Confirms Legality of Union Support for Boycott of Israel; Union Condemns Political Attacks on BDS (UE) July 22, 2016
- Friday in NYC — Imprisoned Resistance: Politics of Incarceration in Palestine & the U.S. July 12, 2016
- 5 WAYS to support Palestinian Liberation within the Bay Area July 8, 2016
- LFP Bulletin: Labor for Palestine Testifies at NY Transit Board Against Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Blacklist — and more July 3, 2016
- Les luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine July 2, 2016
- Labor for Palestine: Against Apartheid, For International Solidarity (Western Mass Labor for Palestine brochure) June 29, 2016
- Emad Khalil’s story as a Gazan worker in Israel (Mondoweiss) June 23, 2016
- Intersecting Picket Lines: Free Speech, Palestine, and the CUNY Contract (Viewpoint Magazine) June 23, 2016
- Labor for Palestine Opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Blacklist, NY MTA Board Meeting June 22, 2016
- 21 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons (Electronic Intifada) June 20, 2016
- About Labor for Palestine June 5, 2016
- UK academic union of over 100,000 members urges freedom for Imad Barghouthi, defense of Palestinians under attack (Samidoun) June 5, 2016
- LFP Bulletin: Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution May 27, 2016
- Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine: Statement from UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification May 26, 2016
- Rank and file challenge US union bosses over BDS (Electronic Intifada) May 26, 2016
- Is BDS Simply a ‘Campus Movement?’ How Deceitful Can Thomas Friedman Actually Be? (Huffington Post) May 25, 2016
- Union officials suppress member support for BDS (Palestine Legal) May 25, 2016
- UW-Madison’s Teaching Assistants’ Association Executive Board Defends Union’s Democratic Process (TAA/AFT Local 3220) May 25, 2016
- Poster: Salute to the UW-Madison graduate student workers of TAA/AFT Local 3220 for respecting the BDS picket line for Palestinian Rights! May 21, 2016
- EXTRA! EXTRA! Madison Grad Students Are First AFT Local to Adopt BDS! — and more from Labor for Palestine May 19, 2016
- 354 European human rights organisations, church groups, trade unions and political parties call on the EU to support their right to boycott (Mondoweiss) May 19, 2016
- Gaza laborers suffer few rights, little pay (Electronic Intifada) May 19, 2016
- UW-Madison Union of Graduate Student Workers (TAA) Endorses BDS Movement (TAA/AFT Local 3220) May 19, 2016
- Resolution: Standing in Solidarity with the Palestinian Civil Society and Joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (TAA/AFT Local 3220) May 18, 2016
- Palestinian labour movement welcomes Fuecys union in Uruguay support for Israel boycott (Palestinian Trade Unions) May 17, 2016
- UK unions urge G4S to end Israel occupation role now (Electronic Intifada) May 17, 2016
- Urgent Action: Sign appeal to the UN about Israel’s war of repression on BDS — and other news from Labor for Palestine May 17, 2016
- May 21, 2016: Labor for Palestine at the NYC Left Forum: Building the BDS Picket Line Against Racism, Zionism, and Injustice May 17, 2016
- FSJP-UMB Supports UMA Union’s Boycott Resolution May 16, 2016
- New Yorkers march for justice and liberation for workers in Palestine and around the world (Samidoun) May 5, 2016
- Response to President Hamilton, NYU (GSOC Members for BDS) May 3, 2016
- UAW 2865 Condemns Horowitz Posters, Climate of Islamophobia and Racism May 2, 2016
- May 1 message by the New Unions (PFNTU) May 1, 2016
- Two Posters Salute graduate employee members of UAW 2110, 2322, and 2865 for respecting the BDS picket line April 30, 2016
- May Day 2016: Work under colonialism and the politics of solidarity in Palestine & USA April 27, 2016
- Letter: Resolution affirms human rights (Daily Collegian) April 27, 2016
- NYU grad workers vote yes on BDS (Socialist Worker) April 26, 2016
- Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS! April 26, 2016
- National Wave of Labor Support for Justice for Palestinians as Unions Vote to Divest from Israeli Apartheid: GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment (GSOC-UAW 2110, GEO-UAW 2322, UAW 2865) April 25, 2016
- Attempts to Stifle BDS Support Within UAW Local Backfires (Shadow Proof) April 24, 2016
- Election and Referendum Results (GSOC-UAW 2110) April 22, 2016
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Category Archives: LFP Delegations
Joint Statement GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment
This past week the NYU Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), both representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. . . . In December 2014, the 14,000 student-worker union at the University of California (UAW Local 2865) system passed a similar resolution supporting BDS with 65% in favor.
Context: America’s Labor Unions Are Increasingly Standing with Palestine (Alternet)
Following a well-attended panel hosted by Western Mass Labor for Palestine at the April 16 Jobs With Justice Conference in Springfield, MA, author Vijay Prashad extensively reviews the rise of Labor for Palestine and U.S. trade union support for BDS. Panelists included Prashad, LFP Co-Conveners Suzanne Adely and Michael Letwin, Carol Lambiase (United Electrical Workers), Bill Shortell (International Association of Machinists), and was moderated by WMLFP members Jordy Rosenberg and Ruth Jennison. Prashad’s article concludes by quoting Adely: “Ultimately, building labor solidarity with Palestine and with all anti-racist struggles is part of the fight to build a stronger, democratic union movement.”
Labor to Palestine: We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “Sumud”: The U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine
On April 16, the nineteen-member March 2016 delegation to Palestine, which included LFP Co-convener Jaime Veve and several other trade unionists, issued a powerful report stating, in part: “We join hands with our comrades in the Palestinian labor movement and salute the struggle of striking teachers, labor organizers and workers demanding economic justice, independence and national self-determination from colonial structures. We further pledge to campaign in the ranks of U.S. labor to divest from Israeli bonds and sever ties between the AFL-CIO and the Histadrut.” To host a local event with delegation members, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Labor in Palestine: Mass Rally Against Approval of New “Social Security” Law (IMEMC)
Thousands of Palestinians, on Tuesday, demonstrated outside of a government building, in the occupied West Bank hub of Ramallah, against the Palestinian Authority’s approval of a new law many believe fails to provide adequate protection for workers. . . . Weeks earlier, a teachers’ strike brought the largest public demonstrations against the PA in years.
Analysis: Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’
In a new article, British BDS activists Peter Waterman discusses the hypocrisy of Zionist anti-BDS spokesperson Eric Lee, owner of the widely-read website, LabourStart.
Download: New Labor for Palestine Pamphlet
Key background documents from Labor for Palestine, prepared for 2016 Labor Notes conference.
On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Anti-Prison, Labor, Academic Delegation Takes Stand against Israeli State Violence, Affirms Solidarity with Palestinian People (Samidoun)
Recently returned from a ten-day trip to the Israeli-colonized Palestine, a US delegation of anti-prison, labor, and scholar-activists has issued the following statement to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day 2016. The delegation included three former US-held political prisoners, and a formerly incarcerated activist, two former Black Panther Party members, university professors, prison abolition organizers, and trade unionists. This was the first US delegation to Palestine to focus specifically on political imprisonment and solidarity between Palestinian and US prisoners. The delegation also paid special attention to the recent labor organizing in the West Bank and the efforts of Palestinian scholars and activists to reclaim the history, political identity and culture of the Palestinian people.
In recognition of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners, the US Anti-Prison, Labor, and Academic Delegation is demanding freedom for the 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently held in Israeli jails and all those fighting for justice everywhere, including political prisoners in U.S. prisons.
Reflecting information, analysis, and testimony gathered from meetings with close to 100 Palestinian activists, advocates, organizers, and former political prisoners from many social justice, human rights, labor, education, and political organizations and institutions, the US delegation’s statement concluded:
We feel an urgent sense of responsibility to pressure the United States to stop funding Israeli crimes against humanity. We express our support for the struggle for a free Palestine as a central struggle in the worldwide movement against U.S. imperialism. We are committed to employing a variety of tactics in solidarity with Palestine, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and we condemn Israeli and Zionist attacks against advocates for justice for/in Palestine in our communities and on our campuses. We connect prisoner and labor movements across the borders; and apply the spirit of sumud to all our struggles for liberation within the United States.
Photo: Delegation Images/Freedom Archives. US Prisoner, Labor and Academic Delegation with colleagues from the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestine, March 29, 2016. To contact the delegation: palestine.prison.delegation16@
Full statement follows:
We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “Sumud”
The U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine
March 24 to April 2, 2016
At a moment of growing resistance to state violence and injustice the world over, a delegation of nineteen anti-prison, labor and scholar-activists from the United States traveled to Palestine in March 2016. Our delegation included former U.S.-held political prisoners and social prisoners, former Black Panther Party members, prison abolitionists, trade unionists and university professors. We are the first U.S. delegation to Palestine to focus specifically on political imprisonment and solidarity between Palestinian and U.S. prisoners. Our delegation also focused on recent labor struggles in Palestine for bread and dignity, and on the struggles of Palestinian intellectuals to assert the rightful claims of Indigenous Palestinians to their land, culture and history.
On this April 17, the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners, we demand freedom for the 7,000 Palestinian political prisonerscurrently held in Israeli jails and all those fighting for justice everywhere, including political prisoners in U.S. prisons.
During our ten-day trip, we heard from diverse groups of Palestinians who daily resist summary executions, mass imprisonment, land confiscation, house demolitions, restrictions to water access and restriction of movement. In the face of Israel’s system of racialized terror, Palestinians uphold their commitment to “sumud.” This Arabic word has historical ties to the Palestinian anti-colonial liberation movement and is defined as “steadfastness,” or standing one’s ground with dignity—a form of resistance. We saw this resistance, and were inspired by it, over and over during our visit.
Having witnessed sumud firsthand, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle and with the liberation of Palestine, including the right to return, the rights of self-determination, justice and peace. We condemn the shocking and continuing human rights violations carried out with impunity by Israel with the full strategic support of the U.S. government. We stand with the growing worldwide movement forBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid. We learned from the Palestinian movement that steadfastness is not only possible but necessary, especially under the most oppressive conditions.
Our travels took us to lands colonized by Israel in 1948 and occupied in 1967: from Jericho and the Jordan Valley to the Naqab, Haifa, Yafa, Jerusalem and Nablus; from Ramallah and Bethlehem to Lydd and Nazareth; and from Dheisheh to Ayn Hawd. We met with dozens of former political prisoners, prisoner support organizations and human rights advocates, professors and public intellectuals, political leaders, members of Bedouin and peasant communities threatened with displacement, women leaders, organizers for gender and sexual justice, cultural workers, and trade unionists struggling for dignified work conditions.
Our hosts insisted that we examine the harrowing conditions of Palestinian life not just in the context of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, but as the consequence of the Zionist invasion and seizure of 1948. The 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe,” displaced 85% of Palestinians from their lands to the West Bank, Gaza and nearby Arab countries of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Subjected to Israeli military rule from 1948 to 1966, Palestinians who remained were internally displaced in their own country, confined to its poorest regions, forbidden from moving freely, stripped of land rights and subjected to a brutal system of racial apartheid.
Palestinian residents in territories colonized by Israel in 1948 continue to live with many of the same forms of state terrorism that are commonly associated with the military occupation of the 1967 Palestinian territories—an Orwellian system of laws and regulations including racialized arrest, segregation, settler violence, land confiscation, forced relocation, home demolitions and civil rights violations of all kinds. We witnessed the wholesale project of Zionist colonization—the greatest threat to the life, security and human rights of the Palestinian people.
The aim of the Zionist project was—and remains—the creation of an exclusively Jewish state through the violent displacement of Palestinians and their replacement by Jewish immigrants. After 1948, Jews who had been a numeric minority became the majority through the calculated process of massacres, forced expulsion, Jewish immigration from Europe and land confiscations by Zionist settlers. For these reasons, Palestinians we spoke to insisted on framing the roots of current-day problems in the historical context of Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime.
Time and again, Palestinians made clear the distinction between Zionism as a racist and colonial movement and Jewish people. They emphasized that a free Palestine will be a land of religious pluralism and respect of diverse spiritualities, according to the Palestinian National Charter of 1969 and the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence. Palestinians also stressed that historically and contemporarily there has not been a homogenous stand of Jews on Israel or Zionism. In fact, the intensification of Israeli violence and racism is leading a growing number of Holocaust survivors as well as younger Jews to invoke “never again for anyone” and “not in my name” to dissociate themselves from the Zionist state and its racist and genocidal policies.
As strongly as we were compelled to examine the shameful and brutal history of Zionist colonialism in Palestine and the harrowing conditions of Palestinian life, we were in turn compelled to learn about the continuous resistance of the Palestinian people. Time and again, people expressed their commitment to ensuring that Palestine will be free.
Israel: A Colonial Carceral State
Aware that Israel is the only country in the world that prosecutes children in military courts, our delegation observed the proceedings of three Israeli military tribunals against Palestinian youth. We witnessed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy tried as an adult and accused of running an Israeli over in a vehicle. The boy faced two life sentences in an Israeli adult prison, and was being tried with evidence presented in the form of a video reenactment, constructed from the prosecution’s theory of the act and with details likely coerced through torture, a routine practice of Israeli military prison administrators. More than 99 percent of all cases tried in the military courts end in conviction.
Legalized since 1987 by the Israeli Supreme Court as “moderate physical pressure,” Israeli torture tactics can include lengthy interrogation sessions, beatings, the tying of prisoners in “stress positions,” sleep deprivation, and psychological abuse such as threats to harm or kill prisoners’ family members. Former prisoners with whom we met recounted mock execution, torture lasting up to three months, subsequent sexual abuse, medical neglect and solitary confinement
The case of child prisoners is particularly harrowing. Human rights lawyers with whom we spoke shared the findings of international reports on the treatment by Israeli courts of Palestinian children, compared to the treatment of Israeli children. Israel’s racist double standard exempts Israeli children from prosecution as adults until the age of 18, while Palestinian children as young as 12 are tried as adults. Often charged with stone throwing, Palestinian children are subjected to lengthy sentences in adult prisons. Legal aid organizations Addameer and Defense for Children International (DCI) informed us that children are often taken from their families in the middle of the night, then handcuffed and blindfolded during their transport to torture sites, where they are denied legal representation or access to their parents for months. A former political prisoner told us that his own experience of torture behind bars was amplified when he heard, in a nearby cell, the voice of a child crying out for his mother.
For Palestinians of any age, the price of resisting the colonial apartheid order is often death. Between October 2015 and March 2016, approximately 200 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been extra-judicially murdered at the hands of Israeli military forces. We met Palestinian parents whose homes were demolished and who were levied heavy fines for their children’s alleged actions. In blatant violation of international law and human decency, the Israeli military has refused to release their children’s bodies, which they continue to hold in a state of suspension—literally frozen—for over 6 months.
A Palestinian adult we met in the old city of Hebron witnessed and video-recorded, in late March, the execution, by an Israeli military officer, of a wounded and incapacitated youth. This witness was subsequently harassed by settlers and investigated by the Israeli military while we were still in Palestine, a chilling reminder of the repeated arrests in the United States of Ramsey Orta after he recorded the 2014 strangulation of Eric Garner at the hands of the police in Staten Island, New York.
Our visit to Palestine made clear that incarceration is a central feature of the ongoing Zionist settler-colonial project. In meetings with former prisoners and legal aid organizations including Adalah, Addameer and the Arab Association for Human Rights, we learned that Palestinians face one of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the world: one in fivePalestinians has been imprisoned at some point in his or her life, including 40 percent of the Palestinian male population. Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned approximately 800,000 Palestinian political prisoners.
As in the United States, incarceration imposes collective punishment on communities. The families of the incarcerated in Palestine are forced to travel long journeys of up to 15 hours to visit their loved ones. At the prisons, visitors are routinely subjected to humiliating, full-body searches and sexual harassment by Israeli prison guards, a humiliation that has led some women to discontinue their visits. Once inside, relatives are allowed only a 30- to 45-minute visit: no contact, separated from the prisoner by Plexiglas walls.
In the face of repression, Palestinian prisoners have successfully employedhunger strikes to improve prison conditions and win the release of prisoners, including those held under administrative detention–prisoners held without charges, trial, or conviction.
Inspired by the Palestinian people’s respect for their political prisoners and fallen martyrs—reflected in images on public walls, in moments of silence, in daily conversations—our delegation is even more committed to making known the existence of dozens of U.S. political prisoners. Many U.S. political prisoners were given draconian sentences for their political activism in the anti-imperialist struggles and liberation movements of racially oppressed groups during the 1960s and 1970s. Dispensing with them as “criminals,” the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge the political nature of their incarceration.
Our delegation builds on the long history of solidarity between anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements in the United States and Palestine, expressed most recently in 2013 when thousands of prisoners in Pelican Bay, Guantanamo and Palestine, all on hunger strike at the time, issued solidarity statements with one another. The presence and the histories of two former Black Panther Party members on our delegation served as a constant reminder of the years of solidarity between the Black liberation movement and Palestine.
Colonial Violence and Indigenous Resistance
Israel, which presents itself to the world as a nation of laws, views civil society organizers who bring attention to its crimes as a threat. We were reminded during our visit to the offices of DCI that one of theorganization’s lead coordinators was shot and killed, execution-style, by an Israeli military sniper, as he observed a Palestinian protest against the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. We witnessed firsthand the escalating Israeli terror against the Palestinian people when we heard on the news—and discussed with the Boycott National Committee—the calls by Israeli Ministers for the “civic” assassination of BDS leaders. This is an escalation of state-sanctioned terror that includes the 2014 assault on Gaza; the burning alive of Palestinian youth Mohammad Abu Khdair at the hands of settlers; the burning alive of the Dawabsheh family in Duma Village by settlers; and the intensification of detentions, land confiscation, displacement and deportations. These conditions have driven Palestinian youth to take matters into their own hands and engage in acts of resistance, which many call a third intifada. Reacting to this resistance, Israel has used the uprisings as pretext for intensifying violence against Palestinian youth.
During our visit, we heard the same message from a cross section of organized forces: that the 1993 Oslo Accords have 1) legitimized continued state violence and re-created a colonial structure—camouflaged as a model of Palestinian autonomy; and 2) weakened the Palestinian anti-colonial liberation movement. Twenty-three years after the failure of Oslo, social, cultural and grassroots organizations, as well as representatives of a wide array of Palestinian political parties, including those of the mass institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization, emphasized the need to end political divisions in order to rebuild the movement to free Palestine.
While we focused primarily on the experiences of those held in official prisons, our visits to cities in lands taken by the Zionists in both 1967 and 1948 made clear that—as in the Gaza Strip, where nearly two million people are currently held under siege—much of post-Nakba Palestine is tantamount to an open-air prison. In cities like Jerusalem (Al-Quds), Lydd and Hebron (Al-Khalil), Palestinians encounter checkpoints, omnipresent surveillance, with watchtowers on virtually every corner, a wall choking off the daily life of Palestinians, racial apartheid and vulnerability to extrajudicial execution on a daily basis. The old city of Al-Khalil is the epitome of an open-air prison. How else can one describe a situation in which children must walk through barbed wire-lined streets with soldiers training machine guns on them from watchtowers—or in which the Indigenous residents of that city have been forced to erect mesh screens over their marketplace to protect themselves from the trash, urine and feces that Zionist settlers throw at them from the windows of their stolen apartments above? We were equally mortified to see that a section of the Israeli apartheid wall has literally cut this historic Palestinian neighborhood in half. Consequently, family members in Al-Khalil are now unable to see one another without going through a military checkpoint. Severe travel restrictions and street closures have turned the formerly vibrant marketplace into a ghost town, as people are unable to travel to the market or even have access to their own homes.
Poverty, Economy and Palestinian Workers’ Rights
Settler colonialism in Palestine aims at the destruction of Palestinian life through a complex colonial network that includes refugee camps, the siege and blockade of Gaza, imprisonment and exile, and the caging of communities on all sides by the “Israeli West Bank barrier”—more realistically, the apartheid wall—that snakes 280 miles through the occupied West Bank and confiscates Palestinian residential and agricultural lands in its path. This attempt at destroying the social and economic fabric of the Indigenous population is the modus operandi of a Zionist state whose goal is to maintain a demographic Jewish majority.
The exploitation of Palestinian labor is part and parcel of the ongoing colonization project. Palestinian trade unionists detailed this exploitation to our delegation historically and contemporarily. They explained that the Histadrut—the Israeli labor federation that enjoys a fraternal relationship with the AFL-CIO—has been an integral part of the Zionist movement and the colonization of Palestine even before the creation of the state of Israel. The Histadrut exploits Palestinian workers in Israel by deducting a portion of their salaries for benefits they never receive.
Palestinian labor leaders also shared the findings of a draft report on the horrifying conditions of Palestinian women workers, including those who are employed in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and are subjected to long work hours, reduced pay, and sexual harassment at checkpoints. None of the Palestinian workers employed by Israeli businesses enjoy the protection of the Israeli labor federation or Israeli labor laws. Palestinian trade unionists called on us to wage a campaign among U.S. trade unionists to divest U.S. workers’ pension funds from Israeli bonds.
Palestinian trade unionists also told us about the devastating socio-economic conditions that have been steadily worsening since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Oslo legislated and legitimized the increasing dependency of the Palestinian colonized economy on the Israeli colonizing power, and has threatened any potential for the emergence of an independent Palestinian economy. The continuing blockade of Gaza and the restrictions placed on Palestinian farmers and small industries have strangled the Palestinian economy and led to the degradation of living conditions, leading to alarming levels of poverty in the 1967 occupied Palestinian areas, as well as among Palestinians in the areas seized by Israel in 1948.
Palestinian labor organizers told us about the crisis in Palestinian refugee camps produced by cuts in the services of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Cuts in UNRWA services in education and health, combined with institutionalized discrimination in healthcare, education and employment, have created shocking disparities. Life expectancy for Palestinians is, on average, 10 years lower than the Israeli rate; infant deaths are 18.8 compared to 3.7 per 1000 births; and the death of Palestinian mothers due to complications of pregnancy or labor is 28 per 100,000 births compared to 7 for Israelis. These conditions have led to widespread strikes by Palestinian employees who demand equitable pay scale and the restoration of health and education services.
Palestinian trade union leaders also expressed grave concerns over the diminishing conditions of public education in Palestinian Authority areas. They echoed the sentiments of Palestinian teachers, administrators and parents who protested the worsening work conditions for Palestinian teachers and insisted on joining local and national marches for a whole month, despite attempts by Palestinian security forces to suppress their rallies.
Trade union leaders also highlighted the apartheid conditions in Israel, where schools are segregated. The ratio of spending on education in these schools is 1:9, and Palestinian students living in Israel are forced to learn a curriculum that denies their own history and exalts the misleading history of the colonizers.
We join hands with our comrades in the Palestinian labor movement and salute the struggle of striking teachers, labor organizers and workers demanding economic justice, independence and national self-determination from colonial structures. We further pledge to campaign in the ranks of U.S. labor to divest from Israeli bonds and sever ties between the AFL-CIO and the Histadrut.
Dispossession and Struggle for Land and Return
A university professor with whom we met explained how the system of Zionist colonization is one of the most intensely territorialized systems of spatial control the world has seen. In 1948, Israel destroyed at least 531 Palestinian towns and villages, and within five years, established 370 new Jewish settlement towns, 95% of which were built on seized Palestinian land. The state of Israel now controls 93% of the land captured in 1948.
Today, eight million Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning to their homeland. Those in the West Bank are subject to the ubiquitous system of checkpoints that severely restrict their ability to travel to work, school, mosques and churches, and to hospitals for medical treatment. Under the Absentee Property Law, Palestinians can lose their rights as homeowners for any number of reasons, including renovating or expanding their homes to accommodate a growing family. The Israeli state rarely grants Palestinians permission to build or expand homes, forcing them into “illegal” construction of houses, which are then subject to demolition orders.
In the village of Ayn Hawd, near Haifa, an elder explained how Israel confiscated the homes of the Palestinians and turned the village into a park and an artists’ colony, replaced the mosque with a restaurant, and protected the settlement of Zionists living in stolen Palestinian homes. We saw how those settlers have repeatedly trashed and destroyed the old Palestinian cemetery. There, as elsewhere, we witnessed the central role of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the ongoing destruction of Palestine.
The sight of bulldozers on top of a hill signaled the looming destruction of the village of Um El Heran in the Al-Naqab desert, a territory colonized in 1948. Um El Heran is one of 46 “unrecognized villages” that do not exist on Israeli official government maps and are therefore denied electricity, water, roads, schools and all essential services extended by the state to nearby “recognized” Israeli towns of Jewish settlers. Throughout Palestine, we observed water tanks and solar panels fastened to rooftops to compensate for Israeli restriction of water and electricity, while the homes of Jewish settlers enjoy full state-sponsored services including swimming pools.
Public Intellectuals and Anti-Colonial Cultures of Resistance
Everywhere we went in Palestine we witnessed signs of a culture of resistance. Youth activists in the Naqab told us about their use of poetry to resist Zionist attempts to uproot them from their lands. In the 1948 urban areas of Yafa, Lydd, Haifa and Nazareth we heard about oral history projects to counter the systematic program of cultural and historical erasure deployed by Israel through the outright destruction of sites and signs of Palestinian life, their replacement with invented maps and road signs, and the elimination of the word “Palestinian” from school textbooks and curricula. We also heard from grassroots organizations and activists about campaigns to defy Israel’s ban on the commemoration of the Nakba, about projects, that bring Palestinian children to the sites of their families’ destroyed villages, and about others that use oral history to pass on the collective memories of a people who refuse to submit to a settler-colonial project aimed at negating their existence on their land.
We visited the Ibdaa Arts Center in the Dheisheh refugee camp and the Popular Arts Center in El Bireh and saw, painted on interior walls, murals that defied the Israeli occupation ban on resistance art on public walls. Palestinian cultural figures told us that Israel continues to shut down theater, dance and music performances that challenge its colonial rule. We learned that, in an attempt to end the wave of protests currently engulfing Palestine, the Israeli Prime Minister demanded that the Palestinian Authority prohibit taxi drivers from playing Palestinian music on their radios.
We participated in two conferences hosted by the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University and the An-Najah National University, both co-sponsored with the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies at San Francisco State University. We shared the platform with Palestinian academics who are engaged in the daily struggles of their people and who insisted on defining the academy as a site of struggle for the dignity of all Palestinians. We compared our respective analysis of the United States and Israel as settler-colonial regimes intent on destroying Indigenous life and the Third World movements that have arisen to challenge colonialism and imperialism.
Solidarity was forged as former political prisoners in Palestine and former US-held political prisoners in our delegation discussed parallel experiences. Palestinian audiences at both conferences were moved by the messages we brought with us in a collection of letters from currently incarcerated U.S. political prisoners—some of whom have already served 40 years and more—to their Palestinian sisters and brothers. Our colleagues at Birzeit University’s Institute for Women’s Studies translated the letters into Arabic. The solidarity was palpable during the final plenary of Birzeit’s conference, when the phone rang and we heard the voice of U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. Mumia was calling from State Correctional Institution Mahanoy in Pennsylvania to express solidarity with and love for the people of Palestine.
We learned that Palestinian universities offer free tuition to former Palestinian prisoners and that every graduation ceremony honors Palestinian students, faculty and staff martyred or imprisoned by Israel during the academic year. In contrast, Israel has banned access to education for Palestinian prisoners, even denying some the possession of a pencil and paper.
Speaking alongside members of both campus communities who were imprisoned by the Israeli colonial state, and witnessing how Palestinian universities honor those who sacrificed their lives for their people heightened our commitment to insist that our own academic institutions resist the neoliberal university, reclaim the mission of public education, and restore the gains for which earlier generations of students—including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Black Student Unions; the Third World Liberation Front at San Francisco State University; Ocean Hill-Brownsville; the Open Admission Strike of 1969 at the City University of New York—fought. This struggle continues today on our campuses and community spaces. We also reject Israel’s and the Zionist movement’s attempts to employ McCarthyite tactics to intimidate, harass and silence advocates for justice in and outside Palestine, and activists and scholars who stand for justice on university campuses, public schools and in public life the world over.
We were asked repeatedly to bring these Palestinian stories of dispossession and steadfast resistance back to the United States. Much of what we saw in Palestine called up images of life in the United States. Like Israel, the United States is a settler colony—built on the genocide and denial of Indigenous peoples’ rights; the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans; the colonization of Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hawaii and Guam; the exclusion of Chinese people; the incarceration of Japanese people in concentration camps; and the rising vilification and criminalization of immigrants from Latin America and of Arabs, Muslims and Mediterranean and South and Central Asian people. Like Israel, the United States suppresses resistance using the cover of law. The United States continues to engage in imperialist wars and interventions in the Third World, while 2.3 million people are incarcerated in U.S. prisons, young Black, Latina/o, and Indigenous people are executed and targeted while educational institutions become increasingly privatized and corporatized. The 99% are getting more impoverished while the 1% is getting richer. Significantly, the United States funds Israel to the tune of $4 billion annually and supports the distorted ideology of Zionism.
We therefore feel an urgent sense of responsibility to pressure the United States to stop funding Israeli crimes against humanity. We express our support for the struggle for a free Palestine as a central struggle in the worldwide movement against U.S. imperialism. We are committed to employing a variety of tactics in solidarity with Palestine, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and we condemn Israeli and Zionist attacks against advocates for justice for/in Palestine in our communities and on our campuses. We connect prisoner and labor movements across the borders; and apply the spirit of sumud to all our struggles for liberation within the United States.
- Support Palestinian people’s just struggle for self-determination, return and sovereignty, and the struggle against settler colonialism in the United States, Israel and elsewhere
- Release Palestinian and all political prisoners, including those in the United States
- End all U.S. military and financial support of Israel
- Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel
- Reject the new Israeli and Zionist McCarthyism that seeks to intimidate, harass and silence advocacy for justice in Palestine
In Joint Struggle,
- Rabab Abdulhadi, author and professor, San Francisco State University*, California
- Diana Block, author and activist, California Coalition for Women Prisoners*, San Francisco, California
- Susan Chen, counselor faculty, member California Faculty Association – SFSU chapter Affirmative Action Rep, San Francisco State University*, California
- Dennis Childs, author and professor, University of California*, San Diego
- Susie Day, writer, Monthly Review Press*, New York City, New York
- Emory Douglas, Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture, Black Panther Party, 1967-1982
- Johanna Fernández, author and professor, City University of New York-Baruch College*; Organizer, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
- Diane Fujino, author and professor, University of California*, Santa Barbara
- Alborz Ghandehari, member of BDS Caucus of UAW 2865, University of California Student-Workers Union*
- Anna Henry, activist and member, California Coalition for Women Prisoners*, San Francisco
- Rachel Herzing, independent scholar and co-founder, Critical Resistance*, Oakland, California
- Hank Jones, activist, former US-Held political prisoner and member, Black Panther Party, Los Angeles, California
- manuel la fontaine, former US-held prisoner and member, All of Us or None*, San Francisco, California
- Claude Marks, Former US-held political prisoner, Freedom Archives*, San Francisco, California
- Nathaniel Moore, archivist, Freedom Archives*, San Francisco, California
- Isaac Ontiveros, member, Critical Resistance*, Oakland, California
- Michael Ritter, counselor faculty; member CSU Academic Senate & CFA Board of Directors, San Francisco State University*, California
- Jaime Veve, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine*, New York City, New York
- Laura Whitehorn, Former US-held political prisoner, New York City, New York
*All institutional and organizational affiliations are for identification purposes only
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
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.defendegyptianrevoluti
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.