Additional NYC Labor Support for Israel Boycott (Chief-Leader)

http://www.thechief-leader.com/news/2007/1026/letters/040.html

The Chief-Leader, NYC Civil Service Newspaper
October 26, 2007

As a Jewish trade unionist who supports the just struggle of the
Palestinian people and the boycott of Israel, I object to the
hypocrisy inherent in the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) President
Stuart Appelbaum’s statements, as quoted in the Sept. 7 issue.
[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2683] JLC
President Appelbaum, in opposition to the boycott of Israel by British
unions, states in the JLC letter that “Trade unionists and their
organizations seeking such a just and fair resolution should be
assisting those working to bring the two sides together.”

Where has the JLC actually done this? The JLC is a partisan supporter
of Zionism! It has always fought strenuously against such a dialogue
within the labor movement! Please tell me what unions in NYC have
allowed representatives of the Palestinian resistance movement to
speak to their members? From my own personal experience, I know that
just bringing up the question of defense of the Palestinians, even in
the most moderate fashion, is enough to bring down on one’s head a
full frontal political attack intended to silence all critics of
Zionism.

Many years ago, I chaired a large meeting of my union chapter where I
invited both sides to speak. Only the Palestinian side showed up
because the Zionists’ side refused to sit at the same table with the
Palestinians! Last month, at a meeting I chaired at DC 37 opposing the
Iraq occupation, I made a plea to the union movement to begin a
dialogue on this critical issue. The JLC letter is quoted as stating:
“We call for increased engagement of trade unions with their
counterparts on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” I
challenge the JLC to make that statement a reality! I’ll gladly help
them set up such a meeting where the rank-and-file union members can
attend and ask questions. Let’s start a real and continuing dialogue!

The issue of the boycott of Israel can’t be allowed to be pushed under
the rug. The issue of Zionism is central to almost every political
conflict in the Middle East. U.S. foreign policy for over a half
century is wedded to the ideology and strategy of Zionism. Trillions
of dollars of our tax money and the blood of the U.S. soldiers, as
well as the blood of millions of Iraqis, Lebanese, Iranians, Afghans,
Palestinians and Jewish civilians are at stake. Washington has no
money for health care, no money for rebuilding our bridges and
infrastructure, no money to rebuild New Orleans while trillions of
dollars are poured into the wars in the Middle East.

Can the AFL-CIO affiliated American Center for International Labor
Solidarity known as the Solidarity Center continue to embrace U.S.
support for the Israel occupation while unions all over the world are
backing the boycott? In order to emphasize the importance of the
issue, I stated at the meeting I chaired at DC 37 last month that
“Today’s Palestinians are yesterday’s Jews” and “Today’s Gaza Strip is
yesterday’s Warsaw Ghetto.” We must support the seven million
Palestinian refugees waiting outside occupied Palestine for decades
because the Zionists refuse their legal right to return, while the
other three million Palestinians live directly under the Zionist boot
heel. This is one of the greatest crimes in human history along with
the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews!

Let’s have a dialogue on the rise of anti-Semitism but most
importantly, engage the labor movement in a dialogue about Palestinian
human rights and the right of return. Let’s not cover up the U.S.
sponsored crimes of Zionism. As a first step in that dialogue, I was
pleased to see that The Chief printed the letter in your Oct. 19th
edition that was written by Larry Adams, Brenda Stokely, Marty Goodman
and Michael Letwin that criticized Comptroller William C. Thompson and
the JLC witch-hunt of the British unions for boycotting Israel. I
contacted them, after seeing their letter in The Chief, in order to
say how much I liked their letter.

Our union members come from all over the world. That includes the
Middle East and it includes Palestinians as well. Shouldn’t we give
them the right to be heard? Shouldn’t we also allow Jewish
anti-Zionists to be heard? Isn’t it about time that our unions set up
forums where both sides can be heard? That’s what I actually did in my
union chapter many years ago. Unity cannot be achieved by silencing
our Palestinian and Middle Eastern members. Let’s follow the old and
true union motto: “In unity there is strength.”

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