Category Archives: LFP Statements

New Labor for Palestine Pamphlet

LFP

19-page color, in PDF format: LFP Pamphlet

Key background documents from Labor for Palestine, prepared for 2016 Labor Notes conference.

Contents:

  • Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism (December 2015)
  • Labor for Palestine Founding Statement (December 4, 2004)
  • Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line (January 28, 2016)
  • Stop the War on Gaza: No Arms for Apartheid Israel – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions! (July 28, 2014)
  • Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS): Statement of Principles & Call for International Trade Union Support for BDS (May 4, 2011)
  • Briefing: The Jewish Labor Committee and Apartheid Israel (April 13, 2010)
  • The Histadrut: Its History and Role in Occupation, Colonisation and Apartheid (October 11, 2012)
  • Briefing: Labor Zionism and the Histadrut (September 1, 2011)
  • Palestinian teachers’ strike marks major rift between public and PA (Maan, March 11, 2016)
  • UAW 2865 Letter of Solidarity with Teachers in Palestine (March 14, 2016)

Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line

To join 170+ initial trade union signers, please click here.

JFPROR LFP UAW2865

Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line
Labor for Palestine
January 28, 2016

As workers, trade unionists, and anti-apartheid activists, we call on the United Auto Workers International Executive Board to rescind its undemocratic and arbitrary “nullification” of UAW 2865’s respect for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the 13,000 teaching assistants and student-workers at the University of California in 2014. 

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Unfounded Interference

The IEB concedes that it could “find no evidence that the local union engaged in any improper actions that may have prohibited a fair and democratic vote.”

Nonetheless, it sides with anti-labor corporate lawyers to defend the profits of military contractors who arm apartheid Israel. Enlisting in a well-funded witch-hunt designed to silence those who speak up for Palestinian rights, it falsely calls BDS “anti-Semitic.”

In doing so, the IEB disregards more than a century of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, including Israel’s establishment through the dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), a regime that veteran South African freedom fighters call “worse than apartheid.”

It turns a blind eye to $3.1 billion a year in U.S. military aid, with which Israel massacred 2200 Palestinians (including 500 children) in Gaza in 2014, and inflicted a 10-year high in Palestinian casualties in the West Bank in 2015.

It refuses to acknowledge more than fifty laws that discriminate against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

It is deaf to urgent Palestinian trade union appeals for solidarity in the form of support for BDS.

It omits the stated goals of BDS, which demands an end to Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

It ignores the endorsement of BDS by Black Lives Matter activists, Jewish members of UAW 2865, and trade unions around the world.

It fails to recognize that BDS is entirely consistent with past UAW support for boycotts organized by the Civil Rights Movement, United Farm Workers, and South African anti-apartheid movement.

Lacking any semblance of fairness, the IEB’s decision has been appealed to the UAW’s Public Review Board.

UAW Leaders’ Complicity with Apartheid

In contrast to UAW 2865’s highly-transparent support for BDS, the IEB’s biased ruling reflects UAW top leaders’ longstanding and unaccountable complicity with the racist ideology of Labor Zionism.

In the 1940s, UAW and other top U.S. labor leaders actively supported the Nakba. UAW president Walter Reuther was closely allied with future Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who later infamously pronounced, “[t]here were no such things as Palestinians.”

In the 1950s, UAW conventions passed pro-Israel resolutions and raised funds for the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation. Reuther’s brother, Victor, served as U.S. spokesperson for the Jewish National Fund, which remains at the forefront of seizing Palestinian lands. In subsequent years, “the UAW may have been the largest institutional purchaser of Israel Bonds,” which fund dispossession of the Palestinian people.

In 2007, International UAW leaders signed a statement drafted by the Jewish Labor Committee that attacked unions in the UK for endorsing BDS.

Now they seek to disenfranchise UAW 2865 members, muzzle free speech, and demonize the surging BDS movement.

Rank-and-File Resistance

Rank-and-file UAW members have a history of challenging this pro-apartheid stance.

In January 1969, the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers publicly condemned Israeli colonialism. On October 14, 1973, three thousand Arab autoworkers in Detroit held a wildcat strike to protest UAW Local 600’s purchase—without membership approval—of $300,000 in Israel Bonds. On November 28, 1973, Arab, Black and other autoworkers struck to protest UAW International President Leonard Woodcock’ acceptance of the B’nai B’rith’s “Humanitarian Award.”

UAW 2865’s BDS resolution reclaims and revives this proud tradition of solidarity and social justice. When Palestinian trade unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and Labor for Palestine issued renewed BDS calls in response to Israel’s 2014 Gaza massacre, UAW 2865’s Joint Council openly informed the entire membership:

“We intend to throw our weight behind the BDS movement to add to the international pressure against Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people. As workers, students, and as a labor union, we stand in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination from a settler-colonial power.”

On December 4, 2014, UAW 2865 members adopted this non-binding resolution by a landslide sixty-five percent, thereby becoming the first major U.S. union to endorse BDS.

Growing U.S. Labor Support for BDS

UAW 2865’s courageous vote was paralleled by LFPILWU Local 10 members who refused to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo in 2014, and has been followed by adoption of BDS resolutions by the United Electrical Workers and Connecticut AFL-CIO in 2015.

Attempts to silence this growing solidarity movement are doomed to failure, as reflected in the National Labor Relations Board’s recent dismissal of a challenge to the UE’s BDS resolution.

As the 2865 BDS Caucus explains:

“No letter from the IEB can erase the educational and organizational work we have done over the past year, work we will continue to do, energized no doubt by the IEB’s undemocratic, business­-friendly attempt to nullify this vote. . . .

“We are part of a growing movement for union solidarity with the people of Palestine and for a democratic and visionary U.S. labor movement. As workers, educators, and students, we know together we can prevail over these forms of repression and continue striving for justice for all peoples.”

Sharing that vision, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with UAW 2865 in respecting the BDS picket line.

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Please also sign:
Support Student Workers’ Historic BDS Vote (US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)
Stand with UAW Local 2865 (Jewish Voice for Peace)

INITIAL SIGNERS (List in formation)
(Affiliation shown for identification only // *Labor for Palestine co-conveners)

*Suzanne Adely, Global Workers Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW (NYC)

*Michael Letwin, Former President, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (NYC)

*Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; ILWU L. 10 (retired)(Oakland CA)

*Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union L. 100 (retired)(NYC)

Rabab Abdulhadi, California Faculty Association-San Francisco State University

Judith Ackerman, 1199SEIU, AFT, UFT, AFTRA, SAG (NYC)

Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; People’s Organization for Progress (NJ)

Bina Ahmad, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (NYC)

Sameerah Ahmad, Former Diversity Coordinator, GEO/UAW L. 2322 (Chicago, IL)

Tanya Akel, Regional Director, IBT L. 2010

Greg Albo, YUFA, York University (Toronto, ON)

Tania Aparicio, Organizing Committee, SENS-UAW (NYC)

Noha Arafa, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

B. Ross Ashley, Former Shop Steward and Executive Council member, SEIU L. 204, then L. 1 (Toronto, ON)

Shahar Azoulay, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (NYC)

Lejla Bajrami, 1199SEIU (Brooklyn, NY)

John Becker, IBT L. 814 (Detroit, MI)

Marie Bellavia, NEA/Portland Association of Teachers (OR)

Zarina Bhatia, GMB, TUC (retired) (Birmingham, UK)

Michael Billeaux, Recording Secretary, WITAA-AFT 3220 (Madison, WI)

Walter Birdwell, Retired Shop Steward, NALC Br. 283 (Laguna Vista, TX)

Dana Blanchard, Executive Board, Berkeley Federation of Teachers, AFT L. 1078

Dave Bleakney, 2nd National VP, CUPW (Ottawa, ON)

Donna Blythe-McColgan, Staff Rep., USW (Boston, MA)

Deena Brazy, AFSCME L. 6000 (Madison, WI)

Richard Blum, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Ray Bush, UCU Leeds Branch (UK)

Claudia Carrera, Shop Steward, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Joshua Carrin, Delegate, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Sara Catalinotto, Former Delegate, UFT/AFT L. 2 (NYC)

Joe Catron, NWU/UAW L. 1981 (NYC)

Nora Carroll, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Jan Clausen, President, Goddard College Faculty Union, UAW L. 2322

Frank Couget, NALC Br. 36 (NYC)

CUNY Law School Labor Coalition (NYC)

Amy Cross, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Mike Cushman, Former Secretary, LSE Branch, UCU (London, UK)

Denise D’Anne, SEIU L. 1021 (San Francisco, CA)

Ziad Dallal, Steward, UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Buzz Davis, Executive Board, AFT-W Retiree Council (Stoughton, WI)

Dominic DeSiata, IBEW L. 103 (Boston, MA)

John Dudley, SEIU-CT State Retirees Chapter

Lisa Edwards, Alternate Delegate, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (NYC)

Arla S. Ertz, SEIU L. 1021 (San Francisco, CA)

John Estes, NALC (Birmingham, AL)

Shelley Ettinger, AFT L. 3882 (NYC)

Jessica Feldman, Shop Steward, UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Sarah S. Forth, NWU/UAW L. 1981 (Los Angeles, CA)

Josh Fraidstern, TWU L. 100 (Brooklyn, NY)

Cynthia Franklin, UHPA (Honolulu, HI)

Jeremy Fredericksen, Alternate VP and Delegate, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Carol Gay, President, NJ State Industrial Union Council

Nick Giannone, Trustee, Boilermakers L. 29 (Weymouth, MA)

Steve Gillis, Financial Secretary, USWA L. 8751 (Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union)

Mike Gimbel, Executive Board, AFSCME L. 375 AFSCME (retired)(NYC)

Brian Glennie, IUEC L. 82 (Parkville, BC)

Sherna Gluck, Former VP, CFA/SEIU L. 1983

Sam Grainger, SENS-UAW (NYC)

Martha Grevatt, Civil and Human Rights Committee, UAW L. 869 (Ferndale, MI)

Ira Grupper, Delegate (retired), Greater Louisville (KY) Central Labor Council, BCTGM L. 16T

Gabriel Haaland, Steward, CWA L. 9404 (Vallejo, CA)

Jesse Hagopian, Association Rep., Seattle Education Association/NEA

Frank Hammer, UAW-GM international Rep.; UAW L. 909 (retired)(Detroit, MI)

Denise N. Hammond, Unifor 591g (Toronto, ON)

Lenora Hanson, Member, Executive Board, AFT L. 3220, Teaching Assistants’ Association (Madison, WI)

Abdul-Basit Haqq, Staff Rep., CWA L. 1037 (Piscataway, NJ)

Janet Harmon, Local Trustee, AFSCME DC 37 L. 436 (NYC)

Shafeka Hashash, Steward, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

David Heap, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association

Win Heimer, VP, Greater Hartford Central Labor Council; AFT L. 4200R and CSEA Council 400, L. 2001, SEIU, CTW

Lucy Herschel, Delegate, 1199SEIU (Queens, NY)

Monadel Herzallah, SEIU (San Francisco, CA)

Jack Heyman, ILWU L. 10 (retired); Chair, TWSC; Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (Oakland, CA)

Molly Hogan, ILWU/IBU (retired)(CA)

Jey Iyadurai, Human Rights Rep., CUPW 626 (Toronto, ON)

Ruth Jennison, Departmental Rep., Massachusetts Society of Professors, MTA, NEA

Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers-AFT L. 1493

Daniel J. Kelly, Shop Steward and Albany Labor Council Delegate, CSEA L. 1000 and L. 690

Ed Kinchley, SEIU L. 1021 Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council

John Kirkland, Carpenters L. 1462 (Bucks County, PA)

David Klein, California Faculty Association (Los Angeles, CA)

Jeff Klein, Retired President, NAGE/SEIU L. R1-168 (Boston, MA)

Cindy Klumb, Chief Shop Steward, OPEIU L. 153 (Brooklyn, NY)

Dennis Kortheuer, California Faculty Association

Daniella Korotzer, Former VP and former Health and Safety Officer, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Dennis Kosuth, Steward, NNU (Chicago, IL)

Pooja Kothari, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Rebecca Kurti, 1199SEIU (Queens, NY)

David Laibman, PSC-CUNY/AFT L. 2334 retirees’ chapter (NYC)

Carol Lang, AFSCME DC 37 and PSC-CUNY/AFT L. 2334 (Bronx, NY)

Patrick Langhenry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Queens, NY)

Angaza Laughinghouse, VP, NC Public Service Workers Union-UE L. 150

Raymond Leduc, Boilermakers L. 29 (retired)(Orleans, MA)

David Letwin, AAUP (Brooklyn, NY)

Eli Lichtenstein, Organizing Committee, SENS-UAW (NYC)

Michael Louw, Organizer/Educator, Congress of South African Trade Unions

Eamon McMahon, Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA); UNISON; Secretary, Trade Union Friends of Palestine

Ying-Ying Ma, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Mone Makkawi, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Leah Martin, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer, UAW L. 4121 (Seattle, WA)

Mark S. Mendoza, Cincinnati Worker Center

Kevin Moloney, CUPE 3903 (ON)

Susan Morris, Former Alternate VP, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Roslyn R. Morrison, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Eli Nadeau, Organizing Committee, SENS-UAW (NYC)

Yasaman Naraghi, UAW L. 4121 (Seattle, WI)

Chris Nickell, Shop Steward and Unit Rep., GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Michelle O’Brien, Steward, GSOC/UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Jose A. Ortega, IBEW L. 145 (Rock Island, IL)

Rod Palmquist, UAW L. 4121 (Seattle, WA)

Anne Pasek, Steward, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Joe Piette, NALC Br 157 (retired)(Philadelphia, PA)

Daniel Pines, CSEA L. 0828 (Rochester, NY)

Kristin Plys, GESO/Yale (Göttingen, Germany)

Andrew Pollack, Former Shop Steward, District 65-UAW (Brooklyn, NY)

Stephanie Pope, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Staten Island, NY)

Tom Potter, AFSCME L. 3650, HUCTW; Socialist Alternative (Cambridge, MA)

Minnie Bruce Pratt, NWU/UAW L. 1981 (Syracuse, NY)

Nathaniel Preus, GSOC-UAW L. 2110, (NYC)

James Prothero, IBT L. 155 (Mission, BC)

Linda Ray, Co-chair, Peace & Solidarity Committee, SEIU L. 1021 (San Francisco, CA)

Eric Robson, Steward and Trustee, AFSCME L. 171 (Madison, WI)

Laurence S. Romsted, AAUP-AFT Rutgers University (Highland Park, NJ)

Marco Antonio Rosales, UAW L. 2865 Unit Chair (Davis, CA)

Sandra Rosen, Former Solidarity Committee Co-chair, HUCTW/AFSCME (retired), (Cambridge, MA)

Mimi Rosenberg, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Susan Rosenthal, NWU/UAW L. 1981 (Canada)

Andrew Ross, President, NYU-AAUP (NYC)

Gillian Russom, Area Chair, Board of Directors, UTLA/AFT L. 1021 (Los Angeles, CA)

James W. Ryder, Collective Bargaining Director (retired), CNA/NNU (Oakland, CA)

Carl Sack, Membership Secretary, AFT L. 3220 (UW-Madison Teaching Assistants’ Association)

Rodrigo Santelices, ALAA/UAW 2325 (NYC)

Heike Schotten, Faculty Staff Union at University of Massachusetts Boston; Executive Committee, MTA

Gerry Scoppettuol, Co-founder, Pride at Work, Boston AFL-CIO; past member, District 65/UAW

Mary Scully, Women’s, Safety, and Education committees, IUE-CWA L. 201 (retired), (McAllen, TX)

Richard Seaford, UCU (Exeter, UK)

Kim Scipes, Former Chair, Chicago Chapter, NWU/UAW L. 1981

Snehal Shingavi, TSEU/CWA L. 6186 (Austin, TX)

Tyler Shipley, CUPE 3903 (Toronto, ON)

Sid Shniad, Research Director, Telecommunications Workers Union (retired)(Vancouver, BC)

Alexandra Smith, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Linda Sneed, Campus Rep., AFT 2279 (Sacramento, CA)

Nancy Snyder, Recording Secretary Emeritus, SEIU L. 1021 (Los Angeles, CA)

Edward Stiel, IBEW L. 302 (San Francisco, CA)

Susan Stout, Retirees Secretary, Unifor L. 2002 (N. Vancouver, BC)

Garrett Strain, UAW L. 4121 (Seattle, WA)

Uri Strauss, Steward, UAW L. 2320 (Springfield, MA)

Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707, Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement (Brooklyn, NY)

Cynthia Taylor, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (NYC)

Steve Terry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Will Thomas, NEA (NH)

Miriam Thompson, UAW L. 259 (retired)(Chapel Hill, NC)

Joanne Tien, Steward, UAW L. 2865 (Oakland, CA)

Azalia Torres, ALAA/UAW L. 2325 (Brooklyn, NY)

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (Oakland, CA)

Burnis E. Tuck, AFGE L. 3172 (retired); IWW (Fresno, CA)

Mar Velez, Former President, UAW 2865 (Oakland, CA)

Karen Walker, Postings Officer, CUPE 3903 (ON)

Dr. Peter Waterman, ABVA-KABO, FNV (retired)(The Hague, Netherlands)

Barry Weisleder, OSSTF (Toronto, ON)

Dave Welsh, NALC Br. 214; Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council

Nancy Welch, United Academics, VTAFT/AAUP (Burlington, VT)

Paul Werner, Former member, ACT-UAW L. 7902 (Vienna, Austria)

Edwina White, SEIU L. 1000 (retired)(Sacramento, CA)

Rand Wilson, SEIU L. 888 (Somerville, MA)

Ella Wind, Unit Rep., NYU GSOC-UAW L. 2110; Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

Sherry Wolf, Lead Organizer, Rutgers AAUP-AFT; CWA L. 1032

Marc Wutschke, House of Rep.s, AFT L. 1021 (Los Angeles, CA)

Nantina Vgontzas, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)

Sabina Virgo, Past and Founding President, AFSCME L. 2620 (retired)(Los Angeles, CA)

John Yanno, Delegate, UFT/AFT L. 2 (Brooklyn, NY)

ADDITIONAL SIGNERS

Mark Matthews, CAW (retired)(Vancouver, BC), Canada
Max Rosen-Long, Bldg. rep., PFT L. 3 (Philadelphia, PA), and a building representative
Chris Butters, Chapter Chair, L. 1070, DC 37, AFSCME (retired)(NYC)
Brooks Ballenger, Organizer/Representative, UAW L. 2322 (Amherst, MA)
Larry Hendel, CFA (Berkeley, CA)
Catherine Orozco, NOLSW/UAW (retired)(San Francisco, CA)
George McAnanama, TWU L. 100 (retired)(Bronx, NY)
Russell Weiss-Irwin, SEIU L. 175 (NYC)
Robert Kosuth, MEA (retired)(Duluth, MN)
David Riehle, Chairman Emeritus, UTU L. 650 (St. Paul, MN)
Robert Pfefferman, DC 37, AFSCME retirees (NYC)
Vincent Calvetti, UAW L. 4121 (Seattle, WA)
Mercedes Martinez, President, FMPR (Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico)
Julia Wallace, SEIU L. 721 (Los Angeles, CA)
Aaron Amaral, Esq., DC 37, AFSCME (Jackson Heights, NY)
Michael Haire, 1199SEIU East (Saten Island, NY)
Adrienne Pine Washington, Former Recording Secretary and and statewide bargaining team member, UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
Hannah Roditi, CWA (Bloomfield, CT)
Nathan Pensler, Unit Representative, GSOC-UAW L. 2110 (NYC)
Elisabeth Fiekowsky, former member UAW; Labor rep., IFPTE, ESC L. 20 (Sebastopol, CA)
Frances Agnew Crieff, National Federation of Post Office and British Telecom Pensioners, (UK)
Peter King Churchill, UCU (Oxford, UK)
Blair Bertaccini, AFSCME retirees Chapter 4; AFSCME Council 4 PEOPLE Committee (Waterbury, CT)

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Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism (American Quarterly)

Download full text PDF: Labor for Palestine — Challenging US Labor Zionism

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Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Recent years have seen rapidly growing momentum behind the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), particularly in the wake of repeated Israeli attacks on Gaza since 2008–9 that have left thousands dead, maimed, and homeless. In February 2007, as part of this campaign, Palestinian trade union bodies appealed directly for support, including a request for international labor to cut ties with the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation. Although these calls have received wide-ranging support from trade unionists in South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Norway, and elsewhere, Labor Zionism remains ubiquitous in the United States. This first dates to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and establishment of the Histadrut in 1920. Such US Labor Zionism grew rapidly in the 1940s, as a combined result of the Nazi Holocaust, the Cold War, neocolonialism, and the USSR’s pivotal support for establishment of the Israel state. Even then, however, it has never had significant working-class roots. Since the Nakba of 1947–49, Labor Zionism in the United States has been promoted by the Histadrut’s US mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC). Through such efforts, closely coordinated with Israeli officials, the JLC has organized trade union leaders’ support for Zionism.

Notable challenges to this dominant Labor Zionism began in the late 1960s. These include positions taken by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in 1967 and wildcat strikes against the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership’s support for Israel in 1973. Since September 11, 2001, Israel’s wars and other apartheid policies have been challenged by New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW), Labor for Palestine, ILWU Local 10 dockworkers, UAW Local 2865 graduate students at the University of California, the United Electrical Workers, and others. Increasingly, such efforts have made common cause with racial justice and other movements, and—at the margins—have begun to crack Labor Zionism’s seemingly impregnable hold in the United States. These recent developments run parallel to, and draw inspiration from, the American Studies Association’s own endorsement of BDS on December 13, 2013.

Zionist Roots in US Labor

Through the 1930s Jewish workers in the United States were adamantly anti-Zionist. Jewish Bundists viewed Zionism as a “sinister deviation from the true path … a mirage, compounded of religious romanticism and chauvinism,” and after the Nazis took power in 1933, “many Jews within American labor vehemently opposed Zionist efforts.” For example, the JLC, founded in 1934 to oppose the rise of Nazism, noted that

the great bulk of Jewish labor in the United States are … of the opinion that the Jewish question must be solved in the countries in which Jews live and therefore must be solved as part of the more general question of re-adjusting the economic, political, social and cultural life of our country to the needs of a new day.

In the 1940s, however, US labor leaders enlisted in the Histadrut’s well-orchestrated campaign for a Jewish state in Palestine, and finally won support of the previously anti-Zionist JLC. These efforts helped enable the impending Nakba (Catastrophe). Labor leaders established the National Trade Union Emergency Conference on Labor Palestine, which won over Jewish Bundists; silenced anti-Zionist holdouts; exploited rank-and-file workers’ sympathy for Holocaust victims; and helped convince Truman to support partition and lift the US arms embargo against the Zionist militias.

The Zionism of these labor officials was closely linked to their support for US imperialism, anticommunism, and racism against workers of color in the United States. This was consistent with Israel’s self-proclaimed role as “watchdog” for US imperial interests. Meanwhile, nearly all of the US labor Left mirrored the USSR’s indispensable support for establishment of the Israeli state.

In the subsequent decades, US trade union leaders across the political spectrum supported Israeli wars, charged “anti-Semitism” against those who criticized Israel’s close alliance with apartheid South Africa,” and bought huge quantities of State of Israel Bonds, which paralleled overall US government economic and military support for the Israeli state.

Video: UAW, Time to Stand Against Israeli Apartheid

Labor and Palestine, Part II:
UAW, Time to Stand Against Israeli Apartheid

In this teach-in, we will analyze the role of American organized labor in the struggle for racial and economic justice, specifically looking at the political economy of the Israeli occupation and the ways in which it is analogous to the apartheid regime used in South Africa before 1994. We will discuss how we as members can take action to advocate for justice within our union.

Leila Farsakh is an Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts Boston. She has worked with the OECD and the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute. Her work concerns Palestinian labor flows, the Oslo Process, international migration and regional integration.

Suzanne Adely is a global labor rights activist, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, and co-convener of Labor for Palestine.

Co-sponsored by NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization – NYU Branch, and NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine.

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Labor for Palestine to NYC Council Members: Don’t Tour Apartheid Israel

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Don't Tour Apartheid Israel

NYC Council Members: Don’t Tour Apartheid Israel
Labor for Palestine, February 22, 2015

We condemn the participation of fifteen NYC council members* in an all-expense-paid junket to Israel this month, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. As a coalition of grassroots organizations have pointed out, “this trip is the equivalent of crossing an international picket line,” thereby betraying both the labor and racial justice movements that City Council members claim to support.

Fatin Jarara of Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition explains: “On this trip they would no doubt be shielded from the checkpoints, the settlements, the separation wall, the refugee camps, the destroyed homes and schools, and all of the other elements that make up the apartheid, colonial state that continues to occupy Palestine.”

The Dream Defenders’ 2014 delegation to Palestine says: “We believe this City Council trip would be a dangerous symbolic gesture of normalizing Israeli’s apartheid state. . . . We know Israeli training forces have a long mentoring relationship with NYPD, and if you stand with oppressed people and against police brutality here at home, you must stand with oppressed people and against state violence abroad.”

Indeed, Israel’s systematic violation of human rights parallels, on even larger scale, police brutality against communities of color in this country that claims the lives of one African American every twenty-eight hours.

Thus, while police murdered Eric Garner in Staten Island and Mike Brown in Ferguson last summer, Israel massacred at least 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza (including more than 500 children), while killing many other Palestinians in the West Bank and 1948 PalestineSince 2000 alone, Israel has killed more than 8,896 Palestinians; at least 1,895 have been children.

Just as police violence in the U.S. reflects the ongoing system of racial injustice upon this country was founded, Israel’s crimes are rooted in more than a century of Zionist colonialism, ethnic cleansing and genocide, including Israel’s very establishment through the uprooting and displacement of more than 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba (Catastrophe).

For all these reasons and more, veteran South African freedom fighters report that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid.”

That is why Palestinian trade unions and civil society echo earlier civil rights and anti-apartheid movements by calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel recognizes the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law by:

1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

That is why BDS is championed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and numerous other trade unionists around the world, including West Coast dockworkers who refuse to handle Israeli Zim line cargo, and UAW 2865 at the University of California.

That is why City Council members must end their complicity with all forms of racist violence and get on the right side of history, from New York City to Palestine. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Initial NYC-Based Signers (Affiliations for identification only || *Labor for Palestine Co-Convener)

Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; Co-founder, NYC Labor Against the War; People’s Organization for Progress

*Suzanne Adely, U.S.-MENA Global Labor Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW

Marty Goodman, Former Executive Board member, Transport Workers Union L. 100 (retired)

*Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325; Co-founder, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, NYC Labor Against the War

Chuck Mohan, President, Guyanese American Workers United

Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-founder, NYC Labor Against the War; NE Regional Co-Organizer, Million Worker March Movement

*Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union L. 100 (retired)

——–

*Participating in the apartheid tour are City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Members Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer.

Labor for Palestine Response to Simon Wiesenthal Attack on UAW 2865 (Washington Examiner)

Washington Examiner

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Labor for Palestine, an activist group that has worked with Local 2865, called the center’s charges “defamatory” in an email to the Examiner: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s defamatory charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ against UAW 2865 members — many of them Jewish — who overwhelmingly supported their union’s courageous BDS resolution proves just one thing: supporters of apartheid Israel have no legitimate defense against the growing worldwide movement for justice and equality in Palestine.”

Anti-Semitism rising in academia, group warns

BY SEAN HIGGINS | JANUARY 1, 2015 | 4:24 PM

In its annual year-end survey of global anti-Semitism, the Simon Wiesenthal Center warned that the global effort to “demonize and delegitimize” Israel was gaining a foothold in U.S. academia.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s social action director, told theWashington Examiner that colleges and universities were now part of the “front lines” in the struggle against anti-Semitism. Israel’s critics “are trying to take a page out of the playbook used against South Africa in 1980s,” Cooper said.

As evidence, the center’s study, “2014 Top Ten Worst Global Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Incidents,” pointed to a union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents teaching assistants at the University of California at Berkeley. In December, the local voted to back the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — the first-ever US labor group to do so.

The BDS movement is sharply critical of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and aims to use economic means to force it to change. The Wiesenthal Center warns that its “real impact is to hurt prospects for peace and to mainstream hate against Israel and her supporters.”

“It is not having an impact on the Israeli economy, but it is poisoning the discourse,” Cooper said.

The center reported that in a November forum at UC-Berkeley, hosted by Local 2865, a pro-boycott activist told a pro-Israel student: “As long as you choose to be on that side, I’m going to continue to hate you.” Cooper noted that the calls to join the BDS movement have spread through academia, citing Columbia and New York University as prominent examples.

Cooper said the center would also push UAW’s leadership, which has not backed the BDS movement, to release a strong statement opposing the local’s decision.

A spokesman for Local 2865 could not be reached. The union’s website is down and receiving a “makeover,” according to a statement posted at its web address.

Labor for Palestine, an activist group that has worked with Local 2865, called the center’s charges “defamatory” in an email to the Examiner: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s defamatory charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ against UAW 2865 members — many of them Jewish — who overwhelmingly supported their union’s courageous BDS resolution proves just one thing: supporters of apartheid Israel have no legitimate defense against the growing worldwide movement for justice and equality in Palestine.”

Historic Landslide BDS Vote by Grad Student Union at University of California

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For Immediate Release: December 10, 2014

Historic Landslide BDS Vote by Grad Students’ Union at University of California

First time membership of any major union body in the US has taken a stand in support of boycott of Israel

University of California graduate student-workers have ratified UAW 2865’s resolution to join the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The historic December 4 vote, passed by a landslide 65%-35% margin, is the first time that the membership of any major union body in the United States has taken a stand against more than six decades of complicity by U.S. government, university and top labor officials in Israeli apartheid.

Labor bodies in the United States have — often without knowledge or consent of union members — invested billions of dollars in State of Israel Bonds.

UAW 2865’s resolution answers urgent calls from Palestinian trade unions and Labor for Palestine issued amid last summer’s Israeli war on Gaza — armed and funded by the United States government — that ultimately killed more than 2000 people, including more than 500 children.

It embraces BDS demands for decolonization of all historic Palestine: 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, as affirmed by UN resolution 194.

By respecting the worldwide BDS picket line, UAW 2865 joins the Congress of South African Trade Unions and labor organizations around the world, including ILWU Local 10 dockworkers who refuse to handle Israeli Zim line cargo.

It also reflects a long tradition of labor, civil rights and South African anti-apartheid boycotts, while mirroring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous condemnation of the Vietnam War, and his declaration that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

As Richard Trumka, now head of the AFL-CIO, said in 1987: “Sanctions alone cannot eradicate apartheid; that task is ultimately left to the people of South Africa themselves. But economic pressure and political isolation of the South African government can hasten the day when justice and freedom reign in that troubled land.”

UAW 2865’s BDS resolution also builds on Students for Justice in Palestine’s BDS victories at six of nine UC campuses, and is deeply connected to ongoing battles now being waged by UC students and workers against attacks on public higher education, and protests against institutional racism and state violence.

As the UAW 2865 Joint Council pointed out: “Working people everywhere have a common interest in opposing oppression and exploitation wherever they are found. Working together as a global labor movement to oppose injustice around the world strengthens us all in our individual struggles against anti-labor employers and states and in our collective efforts to build the world that working people deserve. An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.”

“Labor solidarity means speaking truth to power — from Ferguson, to New York City to Palestine,” said Michael Letwin, former president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, and co-founder of Labor for Palestine. “And UAW 2865’s courage will inspire other unions in this country to stand up for justice.”

Contact: Michael Letwin
laborforpalestine.us@gmail.com

-End-

Union Press Release: HISTORIC: UAW 2865, UC STUDENT-WORKER UNION, BECOMES FIRST MAJOR U.S. LABOR UNION TO SUPPORT DIVESTMENT FROM ISRAEL BY MEMBERSHIP VOTE

Labor for Palestine Support for UAW 2865 BDS Resolution

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Labor for Palestine Support for UAW 2865 BDS Resolution

“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

As trade unionists and anti-apartheid activists, we salute 13,000 University of California graduate student-workers who vote this Thursday, December 4 on UAW 2865’s resolution to join the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This historic moment is the first time that the membership of any major union body in the United States will have a chance to vote on more than six decades of complicity by their government, university and top labor officials in Israeli apartheid.

UAW 2865’s Joint Council BDS resolution was adopted on July 29 by a vote of 40-0. It answered urgent calls from Palestinian trade unions and Labor for Palestine issued amid last summer’s Israeli war on Gaza — armed and funded by the United States government — that ultimately murdered more than 2000 people, including more than 500 children.

Recognizing that this massacre reflects not only the brutal ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza, but its entire colonial-settler regime, the Joint Council embraces BDS demands for decolonization of all historic Palestine: 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, as affirmed by UN resolution 194.

Thereby respecting the worldwide BDS picket line, the Joint Council joins the Congress of South African Trade Unions and labor organizations around the world, including ILWU Local 10 dockworkers who refuse to handle Israeli Zim line cargo. As UAW 2865 BDS Caucus members explain:

“The success of Oakland’s Block the Boat makes clear the centrality of organized labor to the global movement for Palestinian freedom. This, and the upcoming UAW 2865 vote on BDS, signal a sea change in US labor’s willingness to be complicit in apartheid and ethnic cleansing. As the larger Palestine solidarity movement picks up steam, we can expect the grassroots labor mobilization for Palestine to bear greater and greater fruits, until Israeli apartheid is no more.”

UAW 2865’s BDS resolution also builds on Students for Justice in Palestine’s BDS victories at six of nine UC campuses, and is deeply connected to ongoing battles now being waged by UC students and workers against institutional racism, state violence and attacks on public higher education.

As UAW 2865 leaders point out, these struggles are inextricably linked: “Working people everywhere have a common interest in opposing oppression and exploitation wherever they are found. Working together as a global labor movement to oppose injustice around the world strengthens us all in our individual struggles against anti-labor employers and states and in our collective efforts to build the world that working people deserve. An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.”

In support of UAW 2865’s resolution, the Arab Resources Organizing Center (AROC) similarly observes: “When workers reclaim their power and take a position on the side of justice, they are honoring the legacy of worker-community solidarity, and reminding the world that workers are part and parcel of popular movements.”

As one UAW 2865 “Vote Yes” poster simply states: “Palestina & Ayotinzapa & Ferguson & Mi barrio & Tu barrio. Yes on BDS – Dec 4

During the past fifty years, the Free Speech Movement of 1964, apartheid South Africa divestment in the 1970s-1980s, and numerous other social justice campaigns at the University of California have spoken truth to power, inspired millions, and helped change the course of history.

Today, standing in this proud tradition, you will do the same.

———–

Issued by Labor for Palestine Co-Conveners:

Suzanne Adely, U.S.-MENA Global Labor Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW

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

Michael Letwin, former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10

Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NYC (retired)

NYC Solidarity With Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship

Labor Radio Interview with Michael Letwin of Labor for Palestine (KBOO Community Radio)

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Labor for Palestine!

Program: Labor Radio
Air date: Mon, 08/11/2014 – 6:00pm – 6:30pm
Short Description: Why and how union members and workers are opposing the occupation of Palestine.

Download: application/octet-stream iconkboo_episode.2.140811.1800.2654.mp3

We interview Michael Letwin from Labor for Palestine and others about the steps union members here and around the world are taking to stop the siege of Gaza and oppose the long term occupation of Palestine.

For more information and background, visit laborforpalestine.net.

Our episode also features music (with permission) from David Rovics, who has a TON of protest songs, especially on the issue of Palestinian freedom.