SAN FRANCISCO LABOR COUNCIL URGES PARTICIPATION IN ‘FACT-FINDING’ DELEGATION TO ISRAEL & PALESTINE (LABOR COMMITTEE for PEACE & JUSTICE)

Please circulate to union organizations and members.

LABOR COMMITTEE for PEACE & JUSTICE
P.O. Box 14156, Berkeley, CA 94712-5156; E-Mail: <labor-for-peace-and-justice@igc.org>

SAN FRANCISCO LABOR COUNCIL URGES PARTICIPATION INFACTFINDINGDELEGATION TO ISRAEL & PALESTINE

Adopted by Executive Board, San Francisco Labor Council, November 6, 2002

U.S. Labor FactFinding Delegation to Visit Israel and Palestine

Whereas the violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank continues unabated, and

Whereas working people on both sides of the green line continue to bear the brunt of this violence, and

Whereas many workers in the U.S. have a direct financial stake in the region through pension fund investments, and

Whereas the U.S. labor movement can promote understanding and peace by establishing communication and dialogue with workers’ movements in the region, and

Whereas peace in Israel/Palestine would be beneficial to working people and unions in the middle east and in the United States, and

Whereas the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice is organizing a laborfactfinding” delegation to Israel and Palestine to investigate the conditions under which people work, live and struggle, and

Whereas this delegation will meet with representatives of the Histadrut in Israel and the General Federation of Trade Unions in Palestine, and with other labor and human rights groups reflecting a range of views in both areas, and

Whereas the first-hand experience and knowledge gained by the delegation can provide understanding and encourage dialogue within the labor movement to promote peace in the region, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Labor Council supports this delegation and encourages its affiliates to consider sending representatives to participate in the delegation and contribute financially to help assure its success, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the San Francisco Labor Council will organize appropriate events at which members of the delegation will be able to report on their observations and findings upon their return.

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HELP SEND A LABOR FactFinding DELEGATION TO ISRAEL & PALESTINE

A MESSAGE TO TRADE UNIONISTS CONCERNED ABOUT THE CRISIS IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Recently, in response to developments in Israel and Palestine, the Labor Committee for Peace & Justice decided to organize a delegation to the Middle East to witness first-hand the nature and impact of the conflict there. Our objective is not a traditional “solidarity” delegation.

In the US labor movement there has been little open discussion of the crisis there and even less debate.  The top leadership of most unions and the AFL-CIO have uncritically embraced the policies and perspectives of the Israeli and US governments. Yet many union members are deeply troubled by reports of what is going on in both the occupied territories and Israel. They want to know more than what they read in the daily papers or hear from the Bush administration and Israeli government.  The conflict between Israel and Palestinians could embroil the U.S. in a major war.  If it escalates, there is a risk that Israel would use its nuclear capability.  Working people in the U.S. have a clear stake inwhat happens there.

To encourage political discussion and dialogue in the US labor movement about the course of US policy in the Middle East, this delegation will go there to see for themselves and thereby be in a position to report from their own experience the conditions under which people there live and work.

We want to see for ourselves the conditions under which people live, work and struggle – to understand what life is like for working people in Israel who live with daily fear of suicide bombings and Palestinians who live with the terror of Israeli military operations and consequences of occupation. We hope to learn about employment, education, health and welfare, agriculture, security and other conditions of life. To the extent possible, we will arrange to stay some of the time with families so that we can learn firsthand what life is like for them. We want to establish people-to-people and organization-to-organization connections that open ongoing communication and encourage dialogue between workers in the U.S. and working people in the Middle East. We are hopeful that this will be just the first of a series of visits and that at some point it may also be possible for people we meet to visit the U.S. as our guests.

If possible, the delegation will visit some of the occupied areas most significantly affected by Israeli military operations. However, one factor affecting our itinerary will be the degree to which the ongoing conflict impedes travel to some areas.  In the limited time available, it may not be possible to meet with everyone or travel to all the places that we would like to visit.

We expect the delegation will meet with leaders of Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and leaders of other unions and workers’ organizations. It will also meet with representatives of NGOs which work with immigrants, refugees and migrant workers, and human rights and peace advocates in both communities. We expect the delegation will receive detailed briefings from officials or experts who are knowledgeable about social and economic conditions and familiar with the views of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government.

It may not be possible for everyone who wants to participate to do so.  Logistical considerations limit this delegation to just15 people. The trip is currently planned for early in 2003. We want thisdelegation to have credibility. The participants must be prepared to hear contending points of view, to examine the facts with an open mind.  Indeed, we are open to participants who may be uncommitted, undecided, conflicted, or confused about what is going on there and how to respond to it here. Our objective is to send a delegation that is diverse and representative, one that includes rank and file union members, staff, local union leaders, and if possible, national union officials.  We expect thisdelegation to draw participants from across the country, not just the Bay Area.  Those who go will be expected upon their return to speak publicly about what they observed and learned.

We estimate that the trip will cost about $2500 per person. (Obviously, those traveling from the West Coast and Midwest will incur additional airline expenses.) LC4PJ has very limited resources. We will attempt to raise funds, but expect that most participants (or their unions) will pay (or raise) the costs of their own participation. If resources permit, we will invite a documentary film-maker to accompany thedelegation to record its experiences.

Will you help us realize these ambitious but important objectives?

Here is what you can do:

Tell us if you want to be considered for participation in the delegation.  (We’ll send you an application form.)

Inform us of others who should be approached and whether you will help make the introductions.

We will generate an invitation to those who you recommend and for whom you provide contact information.  We want to recruit a number of ranking officers and other officials of their unions, laborcouncils, state federations, national unions and the AFL-CIO to this effort.  Your assistance in this effort will be greatly appreciated.)

Get your union and labor council to endorse and help to organize and send this delegation.

Submit a resolution like that adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council.  Ask for a financial donation to help underwrite the costs.

Help us raise the funds necessary to make the trip possible by making a personal contribution and getting your union and other organizations to do so.

Ask your organization to sponsor a delegation member.

Send us letters of support that can be used with applications for foundation funding.
(Let us know of any funding sources we ought to approach and whether you can help with introductions.)

In these perilous times, with so much suffering and injustice in the world, it is incumbent on each of us to do what we can to make a difference for peace, justice and human rights. Help us make a contribution toward that end by making this delegation possible.

Yours in solidarity for LC4PJ,

Michael Eisenscher, Coordinator
(510) 693-7314 (cell) / (510) 649-8626
<labor-for-peace-and-justice@igc.org>

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