Monthly Archives: April 2002

Protest Israeli Consul’s Speech at Central Labor Council (NYCLAW)

Protest Israeli Consul’s Speech at Central Labor Council
Mon., April 29, 2002, 9:30 a.m.
31 W. 15 St. (btw. 5/6 aves.-–F/N/Q/R/V/4/5/6 to 14 St.)

On Monday morning, Israeli Consul General Alon Pinkas will be a “guest” speaker at the NYC Central Labor Council-—no Palestinian representative is invited.

At this critical time, help send a message that U.S. labor must stand with the Israeli peace movement—and with millions of other people around the world—against Israel’s brutal war on the Palestinians.

Sponsored by:
New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)


From: Michael Letwin
Date: Fri, Apr 26, 2002 at 5:09 PM
Subject: RE: URGENT: Protest Israeli Consul Monday at NYC Central Labor Council

Last night, New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW) called a protest for Monday, April 29, against the Israeli Consul’s speech at the NYC Central Labor Council.

This morning, the Jewish Labor Committee canceled the speech, stating that: “Due to scheduling conflicts, the Briefing on the Middle East Crisis and U.S. Policy, which was to have been held next Monday, April 29th, has been postponed.  A new date for this meeting will be announced in the near



Washington demonstration draws more than 50,000 to protest spiraling Global Militarism!

Washington demonstration draws more than 50,000 to protest spiraling Global Militarism!

Thousands of New Yorkers contribute to a determined, diverse crowd.

Members of the New York Coalition for Peace and Justice woke up early on Saturday, April 20th and piled into busses for Washington D.C. in an early morning scene that was being repeated by concerned people from all over the nation. Our six coalition busses came from both Brooklyn and Manhattan and represented broad participation from individuals, labor, students and local neighborhood groups.  Above all we were people eager to reclaim New York’s name from those who have twisted our tragic loss into an excuse for vengeance and conquest.

When we arrived on the National Mall, it was clear that the voice of thousands of people, tired of having their voices ignored in the national discourse, would be heard today. The crowds stretched as far as the eye could see, with centers at the base of the Washington Monument and on the Ellipse in front of White House. Busses lined the avenues and in each moment discharged more determined participants who added to the breadth and diversity of the crowd. A feeling of freedom not felt since September 11 and the palpable sense of history being created lightened the moment in the hearts of all.

When the march began, the vast processions from each focus began to move, to chant and ultimately to merge into a flowing river of outrage, hope and energy for change. Pennsylvania Avenue was filled from the White House to the Capitol. Arab- Americans, longtime Peace and Justice activists, those seeking an end to U.S. intervention in Latin America, those fighting the structural injustice of corporate globalization and those defending our Constitutional guarantees of freedom walked in unity with many who simply knew in their hearts that the nation must fight back from the managed hysteria of war-psychosis fed to us from above. Hundreds marched with the signs we brought from New York, using their clean and clear lettering to appeal to Washington D.C. and – via news photographers – to the world beyond. As we passed the White House Visitors Center tourists and men in suits gawked as the streets filled with the uproar from those whose agenda was supposed to fade into the background after September 11th.

This most diverse of rallies poured onto the National Mall in front of the Capitol Building and all strained to hear the speakers, who talked of the need to stop the war on the poor around the world, the minorities in our country, and in this most critical moment, the Palestinian people. Among the most powerful messages of the day were from Muslims and Jews seeking a just peace in the Occupied Territories and Israel and decrying the genocidal madness financed by our tax dollars. Other speakers challenged all to maintain the unity of the day, and become aware that our individual struggles were the diverse faces of the same recurring problems of economic justice, global democracy, peace and self-determination for all.

Our brothers and sisters of New York Labor Against the War – one of the co-conveners of the day – spoke at both rallies, representing working people across the nation and New Yorkers in particular. It was important for others in the movement to hear these voices of our city diverging from the shallow script of vengeance written on our behalf. We all have a role to play in educating and enlisting our fellows in other parts of the country and the world. Saturday our presence successfully seized the chance to show world community that a progressive response no longer has to be whispered about in America, but can be shouted out in the seat of power.

Always underlying the speeches was the need to return home to energize our communities into action. This is a message which our Coalition is taking to heart. Through the logistical and organizing experience gained in our effort to bring the real message of New York to Washington, we hope to play a role in building a powerful and inclusive answer to the worldview pushed by the hawks in our government. Our role as a link between many organizations, drawing on the strengths and resourcefulness of each will allow us to focus those people who are already mobilized on this common struggle. Yet, our recent experience has taught us about the success to be had from reaching out to the many who feel the need, but do not yet see the means of resistance. As we pursue both paths we ask you to please join us.

a20 Coalition Statement

Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 14:50:37 -0400
From: a20 Coalition
Subject: REPORT (DC–a/20) a20 Coalition Statement

Huge turnout for rallies and march reflects shift in political environment; the “consensus” has cracked April 20 – 75-100,000 people marched on Washington D.C. to oppose the Bush agenda for an “endless war.”

All in all, at least 15,000 people attended the April 20 Stop the War Mobilization, which was one of four coordinated rallies. The rally was called by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, of which 180/MDE is a member, the theme was “United We March, for Peace and Justice.” The demonstration called for an end to the “war on terrorism” both abroad and at home. 100-plus national organizations that organized for the events agreed on 6 demands:

**A U.S. foreign policy based upon social and economic justice, not military and corporate oppression.

**An end to racial profiling and military recruitment targeting youth of color and working class youth.

**Government funding for programs to benefit the economic victims of the 9-11 attacks and the recession.

**An end to the degrading and secret imprisonment of immigrants.

**Increased funding for non-military-based financial aid for education

**Full disclosure of military contracts with universities.

The rally was addressed by speakers such as Rep. Martin Luther King III, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! Radio, students, youth, people of color, religious groups, union leaders, veterans, and a range of others, all of whom sent a clear signal to the government that: WAR WILL NOT MAKE US SAFE!

After speakers and musicians, the group marched together with three other mobilizations, including Palestinian solidarity marchers and folks protesting the World Bank/IMF’s stranglehold on the Global South. The marches converged and moved toward the US Capitol. Once at the Capitol Mall more speakers and music were heard, including Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Julie Beatty, president of USSA.

Overall, the corporate media coverage focused on the issues of Palestine and Israel. But the peace and democracy presence that United We March brought to the day helped to bring seemingly disparate elements of corporate globalization and the Palestinian solidarity movement together in a way never before seen. The large turnout of the march signaled the end of the perceived consensus, touted by corporate media and pundits, that the Bush administration is practically infallible and has opened the door to dissenting voices so critical to authentic democracy.

The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, the National Coalition for Peace and Justice, the 9/11 Emergency National Network, and NYC Labor Against War constitute the membership of the United We March. The broad coalition continues to call for continued organizing for an end to the “endless war.” April 20th was only a beginning! Member organizations are now holding meetings to determine the course that the coalition will take in the coming months. Keep updated by referring to the United We March website.

The War, Palestinian Workers And The AFL-CIO (Labor On The Job)

“Labor On The Job” Presents
The War, Palestinian Workers And The AFL-CIO

Join Labor On The Job when we interview trade unionists joining the 30,000 strong anti-war demonstration in San Francisco. See segments from John Sweeney’s speech to the pro-Israel rally in Washington, DC and learn about how the US helps funds settlements on the West Bank and the challenge to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi about the billions of dollars of aid that Israel receives.

Thursday April 25, 2002  8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
ATT Cable Channel 29
San Francisco, California

“Labor On The Job” is the longest running labor cable show in the United States. It has been programmed since 1983. It is produced by the Labor Video Project and it is also programmed in Sacramento, California; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania and  Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“Labor On The Job” also produces labor documentaries and is part of the Union Producers and Programmers Network (UPPNET).

Labor Video Project
P.O.Box 425584
San Francisco,CA 94142
Phone (415)282-1908
Fax   (415)695-1369
For more information

Sharon’s best weapon (The Guardian)

The Guardian

Sharon’s best weapon

Anti-semitism sustains Israel’s brutal leader – the fight against it must be reclaimed
Something new happened in Washington DC last weekend. A demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was joined by an anti-war march, as well as a demonstration against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. In the end, all the marches merged into what organisers described as the largest Palestinian solidarity demonstration in US history (75,000 people by police estimates).On Sunday night, I turned on my television in the hope of catching a glimpse of this protest, historic in North America if not in Europe. I saw something else instead: triumphant Jean-Marie Le Pen. Ever since, I’ve been wondering whether the new alliance displayed on the streets can also deal with this latest threat.

As a critic both of the Israeli occupation and of corporate-dictated globalisation, it seems to me that the convergence that took place in Washington last weekend was long overdue. Despite easy labels like “anti-globalisation”, the trade-related protests of the past three years have all been about self-determination: the right of people everywhere to decide how best to organise their societies and economies, whether that means introducing land reform in Brazil, or producing generic Aids drugs in India or, indeed, resisting an occupying force in Palestine.

When hundreds of globalisation activists began flocking to Ramallah to act as “human shields” between Israeli tanks and Palestinians, the theory developing outside trade summits was put into concrete action. Bringing that courageous spirit back to Washington DC, where so much Middle Eastern policy is made, was the next logical step.

But when I saw Le Pen beaming on TV, arms raised in triumph, some of my enthusiasm drained away. There is no connection whatsoever between French fascism and the “free Palestine” marchers in Washington (indeed the only people Le Pen’s supporters seem to dislike more than Jews are Arabs). Yet I couldn’t help thinking about the recent events I’ve been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, Ariel Sharon deservedly blasted, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and community centres. Or about the fact that every time I log on to activist news sites like which practise “open publishing”, I am confronted with a string of Jewish conspiracy theories about September 11 and excerpts from the Protocol of the Elders of Zion.

The globalisation movement isn’t anti-semitic, it just hasn’t fully confronted the implications of diving into the Middle East conflict. Most people on the left are simply choosing sides and in the Middle East, where one side is under illegal occupation and the other has the US military behind it, the choice seems clear. But it is possible to criticise Israel while forcefully condemning the rise of anti-semitism. It is equally possible to be pro-Palestinian independence without adopting a simplistic “pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel” dichotomy, a mirror image of the good-versus-evil equations so beloved of President Bush.

Why bother with such subtleties while bodies are still being pulled out of the wreckage in Jenin? Because anyone interested in fighting Le Pen-style fascism or Sharon-style brutality has to confront the reality of anti-semitism head-on. The hatred of Jews is a potent political tool in the hands of both the right in Europe and in Israel. For Ariel Sharon, it is the fear of anti-semitism, both real and imagined, that is the weapon. Mr Sharon likes to say that he stands up to terrorists to show he is not afraid. In fact, his policies are driven by fear. His great talent is that he fully understands the depths of Jewish fear of another Holocaust. He knows how to draw parallels between Jewish anxieties about anti-semitism and American fears of terrorism, and he is an expert at harnessing all of it for his political ends.

The primary and familiar fear that Sharon draws on, the one that allows him to disguise all aggressive actions as defensive ones, is the fear that Israel’s neighbours want to drive the Jews into the sea. The secondary fear Sharon manipulates is the fear among Jews in the diaspora that they will eventually be driven to seek a safe haven in Israel. This leads millions of Jews around the world, many of them sickened by Israeli aggression, to shut up and send their cheques, a down-payment on future sanctuary.

The equation is simple: the more fearful Jews are, the more powerful Sharon is. Elected on a platform of “peace through security”, Sharon’s administration could barely hide its delight at Le Pen’s ascendancy, immediately calling on French Jews to pack their bags and come to the promised land. For Sharon, Jewish fear is a guarantee that his power will go unchecked, granting him the impunity needed to do the unthinkable: send troops into the Palestinian Authority’s education ministry to steal and destroy records, bury children alive in their homes, block ambulances from getting to the dying, sabotage all international attempts to get at the truth of what happened in Jenin.

Jews outside Israel now find themselves in a tightening vice: the actions of the country that was supposed to ensure their future safety are making them less safe right now. Sharon is deliberately erasing distinctions between the terms “Jew” and “Israeli”, claiming he is fighting not for Israeli territory but for the survival of the Jewish people. When anti-semitism rises at least partly as a result of his actions, it is Sharon who is positioned once again to collect the political dividends.

It works. Most Jews are so frightened that they are now willing to do anything to defend Israeli policies. So at my neighbourhood synagogue, where the humble facade was badly scarred by a suspicious fire recently, the sign on the door doesn’t say, “Thanks for nothing, Sharon.” It says, “Support Israel – now more than ever.”

There is a way out. Nothing is going to erase anti-semitism, but Jews outside and inside Israel might be a little safer if there was a campaign to distinguish between diverse Jewish positions and the actions of the Israeli state. This is where an international movement can play a crucial role. Already, alliances are being made between globalisation activists and Israeli “refuseniks” – soldiers who refuse to serve their mandatory duty in the occupied territories. The most powerful images from Saturday’s protests were rabbis walking alongside Palestinians.

More needs to be done. It’s easy for social justice activists to tell themselves that since Jews already have such powerful defenders in Washington and Jerusalem, anti-semitism is one battle they don’t need to fight. This is a deadly error. It is precisely because anti-semitism is used and abused by the likes of Sharon that the fight against it must be reclaimed.

When anti-semitism is no longer treated as Jewish business, to be taken care of by Israel and the rightwing Zionist lobby, Sharon is robbed of his most effective weapon in the indefensible and increasingly brutal occupation. And as an extra bonus, whenever hatred of Jews diminishes, the likes of Jean-Marie Le Pen shrink right down with it.

The Palestinian March on Washington (Media Monitors Network)

Media Monitors Network
April 23, 2002

The Palestinian March on Washington

by Ahmed Amr

Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Washington, DC to demand that the Bush administration desist from giving blind support to Sharon’s expulsionist government. They came from Florida and New York. They poured in from Philadelphia and Virginia and the Carolinas. They were old, young, mothers with their children, old villagers with walking canes, outraged young students, working class and small business men, recent immigrant and third generation Americans, Christians and Muslims. And they did not show up alone. Thousands of Americans, including a strong contingent of ultra-Orthodox Jews, came to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and chant loudly for Palestinian liberty and freedom.

Not a single Congressman or Senator was there to hear their cry. The President sent no representative to assure the crowd below that he cared about their long suffering people. The speakers were not exactly from the Washington establishment.  Not a single ‘mainstream’ politician came to hear this crowd explain why all decent Americans should stand for liberating the Palestinians from brutal foreign domination. This was in stark contrast to how, just a week earlier, the whores on the hill willingly lined up to do their tricks under the command of ex-Prime Minister Netenyahu. It was a reminder that Congress will rally to the cause of a war criminal and shy away from facing his victims.

Maybe they did not attend out of shame. Although, I suspect that their reasons had something to do with campaign financing and bowing to Sharon’s Yiddish supremacist allies in the mass media.

But the rally went on just the same without the presence of our governors. Palestinian flags, by the thousands, fluttered in the warm breeze with American flags. Slogans called for funding education, not the Israeli occupation. Sharon was denounced by speaker after speaker for his most recent war crimes in the West Bank. The crowd demanded that Sharon answer for his crimes in Jenin, Sabra and Shatila and Qibya. And they were not timid about applauding the heroic Palestinian resistance.

The most amazing thing about this demonstration was that those who participated were not from the ‘old’ established Palestinian-American elite, but from the usually silent working class Palestinians. These where the common immigrant folk, showing up in strength to scream their hearts out for an end to their people’s misery. The mainstream ‘Arab-American’ organizations were visibly absent. Not a single Arab diplomat came to speak to the crowd. Just as well. At last week’s rally, Israeli extremists like Netenyahu and Sharansky were applauded by our Senators. But this was not a suit and tie affair. These were average tax paying common Americans demanding decency and accountability in American foreign policy. Something our Senate is obviously against.

Walking through the crowd was like visiting a gallery of Israeli war crimes.  Hand made posters had photographs of individual Palestinian victims being viciously beaten by Israeli soldiers, young Palestinians with their heads blown off, demolished homes and pictures of the recent atrocities in Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem and Ramallah. There was one picture of an Israeli soldier menacingly aiming his machine gun at a little girl who cowered behind her little sister who was clinging on to their mother’s skirt. It was the one that stuck in my mind. Next to the picture was a one word statement “why?”. These are the pictures the folks at CNN and the New York Times will not publish. If these ordinary Palestinian-Americans from Tampa and Boston can manage to get their hands on these horrific ‘visuals’ documenting Israeli brutality, why can’t the ‘big boys’ get them? Why does one have to attend a peace demonstration in Washington to visit this gallery?

The photographic documentation presented by these ordinary immigrants was a compelling body of evidence that no American government can ignore. It cannot be that our intelligence community has ‘overlooked’ the evidence. There is simply too much evidence to willingly ignore.

It is time that all Americans examined the ample documentation of repeated Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. We must ask all our governors, including all the Senators and Congressmen who were absent from this rally, if they have made every American complicit in Sharon’s crimes.  An independent outside commission should be appointed to document the evidence and investigate why our politicians continue to sanction the crimes of Ariel Sharon.

The Washington Post reported that 75,000 Americans had attended this rally. Which makes you wonder about all the polls from our Yiddish supremacist poll meisters that claim that Americans are hostile to legitimate Palestinian aspirations. Perhaps they were amazed that they had all actually made it to what will go down as the largest protest by their community in American history. After the rally was over, thousands of Palestinian-Americans and their allies lingered on in the shadow of Congress. Many of their supporters also hung out, all exchanging information on the latest news from the Holy Land. And you could see in their faces that, as Americans, and as Palestinians, they were determined not to be silent about the fate of their brothers and sisters in Jenin and Jerusalem and Gaza and Nablus and Ramallah and Bethlehem.  They will not be silent about the institutional bigotry that is inflicted on Israel’s Arab minority. You could see in their faces the determination that has allowed the native people of the Holy Land to endure over five decades of state sponsored terrorism and Israeli repression. I can still hear the echo of their assertive chant “Bush, Cheney, you will see. Palestine will be Free’.  If you had attended the rally, you would have no doubts about that very simple statement

Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).

The Middle East, Palestinian Workers, War & The AFL-CIO (Bay Area Workers Democracy Forum/Discussion)

Bay Area Workers Democracy Forum/Discussion
The Middle East, Palestinian Workers, War & The AFL-CIO

**Mary Ann Ring, UCSF  ASCME 3299, Delegate SF Labor Council
**Charles Minster, LIUA 1144, Delegate SF Labor Council
**Jack Heyman, BA ILWU Local 10, Delegate Alameda Labor Council* (Invited)
**Faisal Tbeilen, Member UESF-AFT*

As a result of the murderous attack on Palestinian workers and the people of Palestine, the San Francisco Labor Council has passed a resolution protesting the illegal, immoral war and supporting an end to the military arming of Israel. We will discuss how this came about.

This important statement however, is virtually alone among the US trade union movement. John Sweeney and the national AFL-CIO have embraced Bush’s “War On Terror”, along with supporting the Patriot Act which harms our democratic right and the massive increases of military spending. At the same
time the leadership of the Teamsters and the Carpenters are running as fast as they can to get on Bush’s bandwagon.

We will discuss why it is important that US workers support the struggle of Palestinian workers and challenging what has been the historic role of the AFL-CIO in relationship to war, the rights of the Palestinians and Israel.

$5.00 Donation Requested/ No one turned away from a lack of funds
*For Information Only

Sunday April 21, 2002 3:00PM
Fellowship Of Humanity Hall   390 27th St./Broadway Oakland

Sponsored by the Bay Area Workers Democracy Network
P.O.Box 40458 San Francisco, CA 94140

NYC Labor Antiwar Endorsers Reaches 1,000 Mark (NYCLAW)

Press Release

For immediate release: April 18, 2002
Contact: 917.282.0139; 

NYC Labor Antiwar Endorsers Reaches 1,000 Mark

As thousands of people gather this Saturday in Washington, D.C. to protest the war, the number of New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW) endorsers has passed the 1,000 mark.

Those endorsers now include 1012 trade union bodies, elected officers and members: 619 from New York City, and 393 from other cities and countries.

This number has continued to grow despite a post-9/11 atmosphere of official intolerance for dissent from U.S. government policy.

Unless otherwise noted, the endorsers’ positions are listed for identification only, and do not necessarily reflect the views of their unions.

The NYCLAW statement (attached) was first issued by an interracial group of union members on September 27, 2001, with the purpose of showing that labor—including many trade unionists at “Ground Zero”—is not united behind George Bush’s “war on terrorism.”

The statement:

  • Condemns the September 11 World Trade Center attack;
  • Opposes U.S. war against any nation or people for the crimes of individuals;
  • Supports an impartial, independent international tribunal in response to September 11;
  • Opposes attacks on people of color, immigrants, and civil liberties in the wake of 9/11;
  • Calls for government aid to the victims’ families and displaced workers; and
  • Opposes exploitation of 911 by the wealthy to plunder the economy, while attacking workers’ living standards, programs and other rights.

In line with the initial statement, the NYCLAW organizing committee dissents from official AFL-CIO support for Israeli policy.

Specifically, the NYCLAW co-conveners call for:

  • An end to the Israeli government’s war on Palestinians—and to the U.S. government’s money, weapons and encouragement that makes it possible;
  • Immediate Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza; and
  • Palestinian self-determination, including the Right of Return.
  • Support for the Israeli peace movement—especially those soldiers who, by refusing to brutalize Palestinians, honor millennia of Jewish resistance to oppression, and pursue an end to violence against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

NYCLAW works closely with the Labor Committees for Peace and Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area, D.C. and Albany; helped organize a March 23 Day of Labor Solidarity with 9/11 Immigrant Detainees in Brooklyn; and is one of the host organizations for this Saturday’s national antiwar protests in D.C.


STATEMENT: ICFTU on Palestinians (Andy Pollack)

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 20:49:53 -0400
From: andypollack@
Subject: STATEMENT: ICFTU on Palestinians

Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the world’s biggest union federation, the International Confederation of Trade Unions, representing hundreds of millions of workers around the world, just returned from Israel/Palestine, and issued the mealy-mouthed statement below. In essence it says stop the violence, and refers — with hedging — to “claims” of IDF abuses, and suggests troop withdrawals and being nice to civilians and journalists.

Ryder admits that he couldn’t meet with Palestinian union leader Shaher Sa’ed “who has been confined to his house with his family for the last 14 days under the 24-hour curfew now in force.” Did it ever occur to Ryder to ask ICFTU affiliates to strike or at least demonstrate to demand Sa’ed’s release? Or the release of the millions of other Palestinian workers and their families under curfew? Whatever happened to labor solidarity, Brother Ryder?

Ryder refers to the common interests of Jewish and Arab workers, the former organized in the Histradut union (sic).  Did it occur to Ryder to point out explicitly to Histadrut members that the unemployment, wage and service cuts, and general insecurity facing them is a direct product of Zionist militarism, which itself is a product of the Israeli regime’s wholesale embrace of neoliberalism?*

Why doesn’t the ICFTU demand an end to the occupation?  Why doesn’t the ICFTU demand that Arab workers inside pre-1967 Israel be granted full civil and social rights?  Why doesn’t the ICFTU demand that the Arab workers expelled in 1948 be allowed to return to their land?

The answer of course is that the ICFTU’s politics is about one degree to the left of the fake socialism of Israel’s founders — a fake socialism which has resulted, not only in Israel but in England, France and any other country ruled by “Labour” parties, in an embrace of the market and the militarism used to enforce it.

Ironically Ryder’s statement comes on the same day that 12 million workers are on strike in Italy and 10 million in India — both against labor “reforms” and privatization imposed by neoliberal regimes.

A real labor movement uniting Jews and Arabs in Palestine (all of it) would unite workers against the equivalent “reforms” and privatizations occuring there.  It would also strike for an end to the occupation, which is only neoliberalism carried on, as per Clausewitz’ saying “by other [military] means.”

Only the building of a real workers’ movement in Palestine (all of it) will bring peace.  This is a matter of life or death not only for those under attack by the IDF, but for Jewish workers around the world: only the building of a united Jewish-Arab workers’ movement can isolate those who rely on barbaric and self-defeating individual terrorism.

Andy Pollack

* As for the impact of neoliberalism on Palestinian workers, a good example is provided this week by Rita Giacaman and Penny Johnson in their report on Jenin:

“Following the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the close proximity of Palestinian communities inside Israel to communities in the Jenin District, as well as social and cultural links, encouraged an increase in commercial activities across the borders. An increasing number of workers, formerly absorbed in local agriculture began working inside Israel and local agricultural activities declined with a consequential serious deterioration in agricultural productivity. More recently, conditions which emerged during the first and particularly the second uprising, the tightening of Israeli restrictions of movement, and the cutting off of relations between the town and even its villages led to serious economic strife. The inability of laborers to travel freely for employment led to very high levels of unemployment there, and a severe drop in family incomes.”

ICFTU ONLINE…  “Stop the carnage now,” demands ICFTU General Secretary on his return from Israel and Palestine. 15/4/2002

Brussels, 15 April (ICFTU OnLine): “My visit revealed the full tragedy of two peoples who want peace, but who are locked into a conflict which is causing untold human suffering, can have no useful outcome, and threatens still greater calamity if it is not stopped immediately. The international community must bring the totality of its influence to bear to stop the terror and violence now. Every hour that passes brings more loss of life and more misery. There can be no sense or justification for what is happening”, said ICFTU General Secretary, Guy Ryder, speaking on his return from a
mission which encompassed the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gaza.

During this mission, Guy Ryder met with the ICFTU’s Israeli affiliate, the Histadrut, and leaders of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) in Gaza and Jerusalem. He also met with the Israeli Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs, and representatives of the Palestinian
authorities in Jerusalem. Due to military operations, Guy Ryder was unable to travel to Nablus to meet PGFTU General Secretary Shaher Sa’ed who has been confined to his house with his family for the last 14 days under the 24-hour curfew now in force.

Ryder reiterated the ICFTU’s call for a meaningful ceasefire and renunciation of all acts of violence from both sides, in line with UN Security Council resolutions. This requires an immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territories and resolute steps to stop the terror bombings against Israeli civilians.

The Israeli authorities informed the ICFTU General Secretary that the measures being taken under operation “Defensive Shield” were the minimum action required to ensure the security of Israelis. But reports from official international sources, including UNRWA and the Red Cross, concerning the situation in the areas of military activity, suggest not only a massive humanitarian emergency, but also actions which
international standards, even under conditions of conflict.
gravely concerned by these as yet unconfirmed reports, which action against civilians that cannot be condoned. Nevertheless, it is vital that civilians not be targeted, that humanitarian and medical assistance, food and water be allowed through to those in need, and that universally
accepted standards in time of conflict be strictly adhered to. Those directing military activity have a clear and pressing responsibility in this regard,” explained Guy Ryder.

Ryder also expressed concern at the severe restrictions placed upon journalists working in the region. According to the IFJ, during the past 15 days, dozens of journalists have been targeted and attacked in the Israeli sweep across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The “reckless war” on the media has been denounced by the IFJ.

The meetings held with Israeli and Palestinian trade unions showed that there is much common ground between working people on both sides. Histadrut and Palestinian trade union leaders expressed real commitment to peace, genuine concern for those suffering on the other side of the conflict, a desire for an end to terror and violence, and the reopening of negotiations aiming to assure the peaceful coexistence of two states within secure and recognized borders.

“There is still room for hope,” commented Ryder, “working people everywhere know that peace and security are preconditions for the realization of their most basic requirements, for themselves, and their families. The ICFTU has been working to promote contact and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists for many years. We will persist in that work because it is the best way we can contribute to the development of understanding and to the construction of peace.”

Middle East War Roils San Francisco Labor Council (Labournet)


Middle East War Roils San Francisco Labor Council

Report by Bob Mattingly
LABOR TUESDAY! – April 16, 2002
Published here: 17/04/02

On March 11, the San Francisco Labor Council narrowly adopted a resolution condemning the Israeli “bombing of civilian and political targets most specifically, but not limited to, the Palestine trade union offices in Nablus, Palestine and remind the U. S. Government that this is both a moral and legal crime…” The resolution also called upon Israeli and Palestinian labor federations “to launch joint action against both sides’ attacks on innocents and civilians and work together to gain control over this horrible situation…”

The labor council represents several hundred local unions with a total of some 75,000 members. The council has taken many controversial positions over the years, including support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. More recently, the council endorsed the National Marches to protest War, Racism and Poverty, scheduled for April 20 in Washington, D. C. and San Francisco. But just a month after the council adopted the resolution that also stated that “the U. S. proves to be the main culprit in this struggle by supplying the Israeli State billions of dollars in arms to suppress the Palestinian struggle for Statehood and ancestral lands” the labor body reversed itself and rescinded the resolution.

Perhaps the March 11 resolution might have been rescinded, even if outside pressures had not been applied to the council. We say that because it barely passed in the first place, and because the council’s executive committee, its central leadership body, seemingly opposed the resolution from the get-go. So chances are the leadership would have attempted to rescind the resolution, if they figured they could muster the necessary two-thirds majority required to rescind a motion by the council.

But the council, or more correctly, the council’s leadership, came under heavy pressure to overturn the March 11 action. That’s not to say that all the pressure that was brought to bear has been made public. It may well be that what is publicly known is no more than the tip of the iceberg. If so, that would be no surprise

What we do know is that the San Francisco Zionist establishment which includes prominent Democratic Party contributors and politicians were terribly upset that the council resolution implicitly called for the end of the 35 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine and pointedly condemned the use of U. S. supplied “Israeli F-16 jets that continue to bomb civilian and Palestinian political targets,” in defiance of the U. S. ‘s un-enforced legal restrictions.

The San Francisco Examiner carried a column by Andrew Heinze, professor of history and director of the Swig Judaic Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. Heinze lambasted the labor council for adopting what he called “one-sided and ill-informed declarations that add nothing but more fuel to the fire…” Heinze seemingly believes that Israeli and Palestinian warfare is rooted in a long-standing anti-Semitic pan-Arab “world view,” utterly opposed to a “Jewish State.” In other words, the professor implicitly defends the decades-long occupation and settlement of pre-1967 Palestine as strictly a matter of morally justifiable self-defense. Heinze called the resolution’s opposition to the Israeli occupation “arbitrary, divisive and unjust.” Heinze says that Israel “should be judged by the same standards we use to judge any nation,” but fails to apply the standards to Israel that have judged and condemned the domination by powerful nations of weak nations, especially during the past two centuries.

The professor’s attack on the labor council’s short-lived resolution revealed little more than his loyalties and insensitivities. Another attack, however, disclosed the close ties between the labor council’s leadership and the region’s organized Zionists. That’s not to say that those relationships were a secret. But they would not have received such notice except for the storm the resolution precipitated. The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Rabbi Doug Kahn, said the Jewish community had a “close and longstanding relationship with the labor movement in San Francisco, and, specifically, the labor council leadership…,”reported the Northern California Jewish Bulletin on March 28. The same bulletin account quoted a colleague of Rabbi Kahn as saying that, “This is not the traditional relationship of labor in San Francisco or the nation to Jews and Israel. The AFL-CIO has been one of the strongest friends of Israel among organized communities in the country.”

“In the weeks to come,” Rabbi Kahn told the Jewish Bulletin, “we will be engaged in extensive discussions with the leaders of the labor council to see what steps we can take to undo [the resolution].” We can’t report on those discussions nor say with certainty that they even if they took place. However, we think it highly probable that the Zionists and their supporters in the Democratic Party who routinely are touted as “friends of labor” did pressure the labor council leadership to withdraw the council’s statement condemning the apparently endless occupation of Palestinian territory and the Israeli domination of the Palestinian inhabitants.

Of course the labor council has the right to adopt any resolution it chooses, and if it chooses to rescind a resolution, that also is its right. But what is wrong is that in the end, the pressures of the Zionists and their supporters outweighed the cries of the wounded and dying Palestinians whose blood was shed upon the land that bore them.

In the wake of the council’s rescinding the Israeli/Palestine resolution, it was announced that the labor council plans to form a committee and write a “broader” resolution. Also these statements were made:

“I think we have a responsibility to make sure we look at the big picture, from all points of view.” (Walter Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, S. F, Labor Council.)

“It was frightening to sit there and listen to so much anti-Zionist rhetoric and hatred of Israel with no understanding of what led up to this.” (Karen Lipney, Assistant Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artist and Screen Actors Guild.)

“When the Democratic Party and big business bosses bark, their labor lieutenants snap to. And that’s what happened on this issue.” (Charles Minister, author of the resolution, Local 1141 Delegate.)

“The political leader of the trade union bureaucracy is not Walter Johnson. It is not any official in the San Francisco trade unions. They are all loyal Democrats. They look to Mayor Willie Brown and State Senator John Burton for day-to-day leadership guidance, but their leader is Walter Shorenstein, a ‘fat cat’ liberal Democrat/Zionist. Senator Diane Feinstein is one of his creations. Shorenstein is one of the wealthiest people in San Francisco, owing a good section of the financial district buildings in the city. When Shorenstein says, ‘jump’- the trade union bureaucrats ask, ‘How high?’” (Roland Sheppard, retired Painters Union official and delegate to the labor council.)