Monthly Archives: March 2008

Palestinian Appeal to International Civil Society Sixty Years of Dispossession and Ethnic Cleansing Boycott the “Israel at 60” Celebrations!

Palestinian Appeal to International Civil Society

Sixty Years of Dispossession and Ethnic Cleansing
Boycott the “Israel at 60” Celebrations!

March 30, 2008

How can you celebrate? The establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago was a settler-colonial project that systematically and violently uprooted more than 750 thousand Palestinian Arabs from their lands and homes. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias and gangs ransacked Palestinian properties and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages. How can people of conscience celebrate this catastrophe?Israel at 60 is a state that continues to deny Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and receive compensation, simply because they are “non-Jews.” It still illegally occupies Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. It persists in its blatant denial of fundamental Palestinian human rights, in contravention of international humanitarian law and human rights conventions. It still subjects its own Palestinian citizens to a system of institutionalized discrimination, strongly reminiscent of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. And Israel gets away with all this, thanks to the unprecedented immunity granted to it by the unlimited and munificent US and European economic, diplomatic, political, and academic support.

In view of this multi-faceted oppression that is the reality of Israel today, we regard any Arab or international participation, whether individual or institutional, in any activity that contributes, either directly or indirectly, to the “celebrations” of Israel’s establishment, as collusion in the perpetuation of the dispossession and uprooting of refugees, the prolongation of the occupation, and the deepening of Israeli apartheid. Inviting Israel as a “guest of honor” to the Turin and Paris book fairs, for example, is not only a deliberate betrayal of basic principles of human rights, including those enshrined in the laws of the European Union itself, but is also a deliberate attempt to cover up Israel’s crimes against the Arab people, especially its successive war crimes in Lebanon and Palestine, and its acts of slow genocide against a million and a half Palestinians in the besieged and collectively punished Gaza Strip. In short, celebrating “Israel at 60” is tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves.

We urge international civil society in all its components, particularly institutions and individuals working in the arts, academia, sport, trade unions, and communities of faith to boycott the “Israel at 60” celebrations wherever they are held in the world. These celebrations, by definition, insult our history, violate our rights, and deepen our oppression. They also render the path to justice, freedom, equality, and sustainable peace based on international law longer than ever before.

Institutional Endorsers:

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
Department of Refugee Affairs – PLO
Jerusalem-The Arab Cultural Capital Project, Jerusalem
Higher National Committee for the Defense of the Right to Return
The General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, PGFTU
Palestinian Farmers’ Union
Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), Gaza
Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps
Higher National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba, Palestine
Refugee Affairs Department, Mobilization and Organization, Fatah Movement
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Ittijah-Union of the Arab Community Based Organizations, Haifa
Palestinian Lawyers’ Syndicate
Palestinian Journalists’ Association, Jerusalem
Palestinian Engineers’ Syndicate, Jerusalem
Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, UPWC, Ramallah
Stop the Wall-the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Union of Employees at Private Schools-West Bank
Association of Residents of Depopulated Villages and Cities, Ramallah
General Federation of Cultural Centers, Gaza
Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights JCSER, Jerusalem
Federation of Independent Workers Committees, Gaza
League of Palestinian Refugees in Europe
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem
Occupied Palestine Golan heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)
Al-Aswar Organization for Cultural and Social Development, Acre
University Teachers Association, Gaza
Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YMCA-YWCA (JAI), Jerusalem
General Union of Health Service Workers, Gaza
Aida Refugee Camp Social Center, Aida Refugee Camp
A’idoun Group, Syria
Palestinian Community in Scandinavia
Canadian Arab Federation
Palestinian Counseling Center, Jerusalem
Land Research Center, Palestine, Jerusalem
Muwatin the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy
Palestinian Association of Brantford–Canada
Center for the Defense of Freedoms and Civil Rights (Hurriyat)
Wihdah Democratic Action Institute (Wa’ad)–Bethlehem
Federation of Agricultural Action Committees
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Addameer, Ramallah
Ma’an Development Center, Ramallah
Gaza Center for Culture and Arts
Voice of Palestine, Canada
Canadian Palestinian Association, Ontario, Canada
Taghrid Association for Culture, Development and Reconstruction, Gaza
Jabalya-al-Nazaleh Cultural Center, Jabalya Camp, Gaza
Federation of Agricultural Work Committees, Gaza
Turathuna Charitable Society, Gaza
The Popular Committee at al-Burayj Camp, Gaza
El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe, Al-Bireh
Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, New York
General Union of Services and Trade Workers, Gaza Governorates
The National Council of Arab Americans – Metropolitan New York Chapter, NY
The Arab Muslim American Federation
The Palestinian American Congress, New York
Dramatists’ Federation
Society for the Development of Women, al-Burayj Camp, Gaza
Yanbou’ Cultural Forum, al-Reina
Palestinian Human Rights Monitor (Rassid), Gaza
Yabous Productions, Jerusalem
The Arab Student Observatory of Victims of Occupation and Blockade of the General Union of Arab Students (GUAS(
Arab Culture Society
Al-Siwar-Arab Feminist Movement to Support Victims of Sexual Assault, Haifa
Popular Art Centre, Al-Bireh
Federation of Working Women’s Committees
Palestinian Federation of Women’s Action Committees
Al-Najda Association for the Development of Palestinian Women
Teacher Creativity Center, Ramallah
Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art (PACA)
Al-Quds Information Bank, Gaza
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Ramallah
The Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development
Jimzo Charitable Society
Al-Lidd (Lydda) Charitable Society, Ramallah-Al-Bireh Governorate
Al-Lidd (Lydda) Social Association, Beitunia
Lifta Charitable Society, Palestine
Committee of Residents of Greater Masmiyya, Ramallah-Al-Bireh Governorate
Falsteen Al Gaad association – Deheisha refugee camp
Meethaq Center for Development, Alkahder
Women Development Center, Addoha, Bethlehem
Al Feeneeq Center, Duheisheh Refugee Camp
Palestinian Progressive Youth Union, Gaza
Palestinian Women’s Information and Media Center, Gaza
Said Mishal Foundation for Culture and Science, Gaza
Assala Association for Heritage and Development, Gaza
Jerusalem Center for Arabic Music, Jerusalem
International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah
Juthourr Cultural Society, Gaza
Women’s Research and Legal Counseling Center, Gaza
Media Forum for Women Affairs Advocacy, Gaza
Palestinian Cultural Center, Gaza
Refugees Popular Committee, Gaza
Workers Resource Center, Gaza
Progressive Union Work Society, Gaza
Friends of An-Nour Center Society, Gaza
Al-Aqsa Charitable Youth Welfare Society, Gaza
The One Democratic State Group, Gaza
Arab Cultural Forum, Gaza
Palestinian Democratic Union-Fida

Posted on 30-03-2008

U.S. Labor and Gaza (New York City Labor Against the War)

U.S. Labor and Gaza
New York City Labor Against the War
March 23, 2008

New York City Labor Against the War joins the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions in denouncing Israel’s recent massacres in Gaza, the victims of which include at least 130 Palestinians — half of them civilians, including dozens of women and children — since February 27.


Israel claims that it is fighting “terrorism” in Gaza. This is the same hollow excuse with which the U.S. seeks to justify war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the erosion of civil liberties and labor rights at home.

In fact, Israel’s attacks are part of a relentless, U.S.-orchestrated campaign of collective punishment — with complicity of the corrupt Palestinian Authority — to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government.

Long before its latest massacres, Israel had turned Gaza into the world’s “largest open air prison,” assassinating activists, and cutting-off essential goods and services to 1.5 million people. Only as a result did Hamas abandon a unilateral two-year truce.

Even now, Israel seeks to derail Hamas truce offers by escalating arrests, home demolitions, settlements and murder in the West Bank — from which no rockets have been fired.

Despite media portrayals, this violence is overwhelmingly one-sided against Palestinians, who have no aircraft, artillery or tanks.

Thus, while only one Israeli has been killed by rockets launched from Gaza since May 2007, Israel’s modern arsenal killed 60 Palestinians on March 1 alone.

On February 29, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai, threatened a bigger “Shoah” — a reference to the Nazi Holocaust.

As UN official John Dugard has pointed out, Palestinian rockets are not the cause, but the “inevitable consequence,” of Israeli state terror in Gaza, the slow-motion genocide which human rights organizations describe as “worse than at any time since the beginning of the Israeli military occupation in 1967.”

Following the latest attacks, a Council on Foreign Relations expert explained, “You have Palestinians who wouldn’t necessarily support the violence but they are saying, ‘Well, what choice do we have?’”


Israel’s war on Gaza can only be understood as an attempt to stamp out all resistance — including nonviolent protest — to Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Indeed, most of Gaza’s population are survivors of Zionist expulsions since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948, when 13,000 Palestinians were massacred, 531 towns and villages erased, 11 urban neighborhoods emptied, and more than 750,000 (85 percent) driven from 78 percent of their country.

In 1967, Israel seized the remaining 22 percent of Palestine — including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza — which, in violation of UN resolutions, remains under Israeli military rule.

Today, as a result of these policies, at least 70 percent of the 10 million Palestinians are refugees — the largest such population in the world. Despite other UN resolutions, Israel vows that it will never allow them to return.

Palestinians who managed to remain within the 1948 areas — today, 1.4 million (or 20 percent of the population in Israel) — are permanently separated from their families in exile, subject to more than 20 discriminatory laws, treated as a “demographic threat,” and threatened with mass expulsion.

In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 140 illegal, ever-expanding Jewish-only settlements and road systems dominate the water resources and control 40 percent of the land. Palestinians are confined, separated, denied medical treatment, and degraded by an 8-meter-high separation wall, pass laws, curfews and 600 military checkpoints.

From 2000-2007, 4,274 Palestinians in these 1967 territories were killed, compared with 1,024 Israelis. The military has seized 60,000 political prisoners; it still holds and tortures 11,000.

All of these conditions have dramatically worsened since the Annapolis “peace conference” in November.


Israel’s war on Palestine depends completely on U.S. money, weapons and approval.

Since 1948, Israel — the top foreign aid recipient — has received at least $108 billion from the U.S. government. In the past ten years alone, U.S. military aid was $17 billion; over the next decade, it will be $30 billion.

Israel’s recent assault on Gaza was endorsed by a Congressional vote of 404-1. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates fall over themselves to offer more of the same.

On March 22, Dick Cheney reassured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of “America’s. . . . commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats,” and that the U.S. and Israel are “friends — special friends.”

This “special friendship” means that, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is U.S. aircraft, cluster bombs and bullets that kill and maim on behalf of the occupiers. Just one of many targets was the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions headquarters in Gaza City, destroyed by F-16s on February 28.

Such support bolsters Israel’s longstanding role as watchdog and junior partner for U.S. domination over the oil-rich Middle East — and beyond. In that capacity, Israel was apartheid South Africa’s closest ally.

After 9/11, it helped intensify the demonization of Arabs and Muslims. It has 200 nuclear weapons, but helped manufacture “evidence” of Iraqi WMD. With U.S. weapons and support, it invaded Lebanon in 2006.

Together, these wars and occupations have killed, maimed and displaced millions of people, thereby creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Now, Israel is the cutting edge of threats against Syria and Iran.

In other words, oppression and resistance in Palestine is the epicenter of U.S.-Israeli war throughout the Middle East. These stakes are reflected in the ferocity of Israel’s attacks against Gaza.


In Palestine, South Africa, Britain, Canada and other countries, labor has condemned Israeli Apartheid.

Workers in the United States pay a staggering human and financial price, including deepening economic crisis, for U.S.-Israeli war and occupation.

But through a combination of intent, ignorance and/or expediency, much of labor officialdom in this country — often without the knowledge or consent of union members — is an accomplice of Israeli Apartheid.

Some 1,500 labor bodies have plowed at least $5 billion of union pension funds and retirement plans into State of Israel Bonds.

In April 2002, while Israel butchered Palestinian refugees at Jenin in the West Bank, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was a featured speaker at a belligerent “National Solidarity Rally for Israel.” In 2006, leadership of the American Federation of Teachers embraced Israel’s war on Lebanon.

These same leaders collaborate with attempts by the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) to silence Apartheid Israel’s opponents — many of whom are Jewish.

In July 2007, top officials of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win signed a JLC statement that condemned British unions for even considering the nonviolent campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Just days ago, the JLC and the leadership of UNITE-HERE bullied a community organization in Boston into revoking space for a conference on “Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements.”

Even the leadership of U.S. Labor Against the War, which receives funding from several major unions, remains adamantly silent about U.S. government, corporate and labor support for Israeli Apartheid.

Labor leaders’ complicity parallels infamous “AFL-CIA” support for U.S. war and dictatorship in Vietnam, Latin America, Gulf War I, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It strengthens the U.S.-Israel war machine and labor’s corporate enemies, reinforces racism and Islamophobia, and makes a mockery of international solidarity.


More than forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came under intense public attack for opposing the Vietnam war. Even within the Civil Rights Movement, some dismissed his position too “divisive” and “unpopular.”

In his famous speech at the Riverside Church in April 1967, Dr. King answered these critics by pointing out that “silence is betrayal,” and that “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today . . . [is] my own government.”

At the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace in November 1967, he reiterated the most basic principles of labor solidarity: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . . Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

These principles are no less relevant today.

Yes, the Israel lobby seeks to silence opponents of Israeli Apartheid. All the more need for trade unionists to break that silence by speaking out against Israeli military occupation, for the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and for the elimination of apartheid throughout historic Palestine.

Therefore, we reaffirm our support for an immediate and total:

1. End to U.S. military and economic support for Israel.

2. Divestment of business and labor investments in Israel.

3. Withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from the Middle East.

Issued by NYCLAW Co-Conveners
(Other affiliations listed for identification only):

Larry Adams
Former President, NPMHU Local 300

Michael Letwin
Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys

Brenda Stokely
Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Chair, Million Worker March

NYCLAW, with Al-Awda-NY The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is a cofounder of Labor for Palestine.

Previous NYCLAW materials on Palestine include:

Response to Anti-Boycott Attacks (October 19, 2007)

Open Letter to UTLA President A.J. Duffy (October 9, 2006)

U.S. Government and Labor Aid to Israel (September 1, 2006)

Labor and the Middle East War (August 11, 2006)

Conference: Palestine, Labor and the AFL-CIO (July 23, 2005)

From Palestine to the US – Labor Fights Back! (October 7, 2004)

Report on the New York Visit by Representatives from the PGFTU (December 22, 2002)

An Evening With Palestinian Trade Unionists (December 13, 2002)

Protest Israeli Consul’s Speech to AFL-CIO (May 21, 2002)

No Labor Money for Israeli War Crimes! (May 21, 2002)

Monday Israeli Consul Protest Postponed April 26, 2002)
Subscribe to the NYCLAW low-volume listserv:

New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)
PO Box 620166, PACC, New York, NY 10129

Protest greets ‘Butcher of Gaza’

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Protest greets ‘Butcher of Gaza’

By Greg Butterfield
New York

Hundreds of Palestinian people and their supporters gathered outside Manhattan’s luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel March 18 to protest a fundraiser for the Friends of the Israeli Occupation Forces (officially “Israeli Defense Forces” or IDF). Inside, wealthy patrons supped on $1,000-a-plate dinners and toasted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, dubbed the “Butcher of Gaza.”

Though New York Police forced protesters to rally across the broad expanse of Park Avenue, there was no question that the occupation’s backers heard their message loud and clear. Throughout the rally well-heeled guests quick-stepped from their limos and towncars into the hotel lobby, while Barak’s arrival was greeted with jeers and thunderous chants of “Bush, Barak, you will see, Palestine will be free!”

The crowd of women, men and children held signs demanding the right of return for Palestinianrefugees and waved large Palestinian flags in the chilly late-winter air. Besides people of Arab descent, there were African American, Latin, Asian, Native and white supporters, including anti-Zionist Jewish activists.

Protesters cheered when International Action Center co-director Sara Flounders offered her wish to the “Friends” that they “choke on their dinners.” She was echoed by other speakers who said their plates were caked in the blood of dead and suffering Palestinian children in Gaza.

The protest was organized by Al-Awda NY-The Palestine Right of Return Coalition and the General Union of Palestinian Students, among other groups. Speakers at the rally included Samia Halaby of the Defend Palestine Coalition and Al-Awda NY, people’s attorney Lynne Stewart, Larry Holmes of Troops Out Now Coalition, Michael Letwin of New York City Labor Against the War, and Charlotte Kates of New Jersey Solidarity-Activists for the Liberation of Palestine.

On March 11, 13 human rights and anti-war organizations had called on the Waldorf-Astoria management to cancel the event. “The human rights violations committed by the Israeli military over the past 60 years are severe,” said the groups’ statement. “Last week the respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported that, ‘From 27 February to the afternoon of 3 March, 106 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip. Contrary to the [Israeli] Chief of Staff’s contention that ninety percent were armed, at least fifty-four of the dead (twenty-five of them minors) did not take part in the hostilities. In addition, at least forty-six minors were wounded.’

“Furthermore, during last week’s fighting, Israel’s Deputy Defense MinisterMatan Vilnai threatened Gaza’s people with ‘a bigger holocaust.'”

Israel has blockaded Gaza, cutting off electricity, fuel, water, food, and medicines. Hundreds of people have died in vicious Israeli military assaults. Meanwhile, U.S. politicians—Republican and Democrat alike—and the corporate media continue to label heroic Palestinian resistance as “terrorism” and U.S./Israeli state terrorism as “self-defense.”

The Zionist settler state, Washington’s loyal attack dog in the oil-rich Middle East, receives more than $5 billion in U.S. aid annually, almost half going directly to the military. President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget calls for a further 9-percent increase in direct military aid.

Jewish Labor Committee Attempts to Shut Down Boston Conference on Zionism (New England Committee to Defend Palestine)

Jewish Labor Committee Attempts to Shut Down Boston Conference on Zionism

New England Committee to Defend Palestine

March 16, 2008

Zionists walked into a well-known center for left activists in Boston this week and managed, with a single complaint, to take away an already agreed-upon meeting space for an April conference on Palestine organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine. Around March 9, the local branch of a national group called the Jewish Labor Committee told the director of Encuentro 5 and the landlord of the building that houses Encuentro that the New England Committee to Defend Palestine is a “hate group” and demanded that it not be allowed to hold the conference in Encuentro’s meeting space. On March 14, the director of Encuentro informed the conference organizers that he would have to accede to pressure from the Jewish Labor Committee and UNITE-HERE (the Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textile Employees and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union). UNITE-HERE is connected to a trust that owns the multi-story brick industrial building in Boston’s Chinatown. Encuentro’s space is on the 5th floor of this building and is held without a lease, making it vulnerable to landlord threats.

Beneath the facts of the case lie a number of ironies:
* Attacks like this are exactly the subject of the disputed conference. The purpose of the conference, whose title is “Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements,” is to expose attacks on activists as they have been carried out historically by zionist forces. Activists scheduled to speak have been involved in the Native American struggle against European genocide on the North American continent, the Black liberation struggle in the US from slavery onward, the struggle against US imperialism in Central America, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, the struggle against US imperialism and genocide in Iraq, and the struggle against US-Israeli genocide in Palestine.
* Encuentro bills itself as “a space for progressive movement building” in Boston ( ). Massachusetts Global Action — the organization that runs Encuentro–argued the need for a “tactical retreat” and offered us $400 and help finding another venue if we would consent to leave. We told them that this would undermine the meaning of our conference, their own work, and the movement as a whole. Our suggestion to Encuentro was to take this matter to the activist community — to the people who use the space — to tell them what was taking place and invite them to help organize a struggle to defend the integrity of our collective work.

Zionist organizations like the JLC have more material and political power than perhaps at any time in the past. But this power is increasingly hollow, since it must increasingly assert itself by shutting down a discussion about that power–a discussion that is growing and moving into the mainstream. The JLC did not succeed by persuading Encuentro 5, but by threatening them through the building’s owners. These are clearly threats that they have the power to carry out–a fact that proves what critics of zionism are saying.

But this also demonstrates that while they have more material power than ever before, they have less ideological support than ever before. The legitimacy of the zionist project–the passive consent given to US support for “Israel”–is collapsing. That collapse must come before the serious fight over material power–a fight that is coming.

We are disappointed that Encuentro 5 and Mass Global Action decided that it was not strategic for them to challenge this abuse of power now. We know that the repercussions might well have been severe, and recognize that this would affect a great deal of effort and work that has gone into building their organization. We offer the following as a challenge–not so much to them, but to the movement as a whole, since finally the question is not about any of our specific, struggling organizations:

Can we build a movement against imperialism, or against social injustice in the United States, if the limits of our discussion can be set by organizations like the JLC–organizations that are committed to ensuring that billions of dollars in US military and economic support are given yearly to one of the most militarized colonial states in the world?

There is widespread discontent with zionist power. This discontent will not turn itself into a meaningful response until it becomes organized around specific battles. This can only take place if at some point people are willing say “it stops here.”
* “Progressives” are not progressive. The “progressives” are the Jewish Labor Committee, which calls itself “the Jewish voice in the labor movement.” The JLC did not come in from the outside but actually has an office in Encuentro’s own space. The Jewish Labor Committee’s web site ( ) shows its president, Stuart Applebaum, standing proudly with war criminal Shimon Peres in February in Jerusalem. The JLC has put out a statement condemning the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against “Israel.” The JLC statement asserts that Israelis, who have brutally occupied Palestine for 60 years, carrying out a program of genocide ever since, should not be seen as “victimizers.”

The progressives are UNITE-HERE, the brave union for oppressed garment and hotel workers, which acted in this fiasco as a landlord bully threatening to kick out tenants for political speech.

The progressives are leftists who support resistance in Palestine, but not resistance that uses measures of a kind used by its enemy — namely, armed struggle. The leadership of the resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan today is Islamic. Progressives in the US support secular political movements, so they don’t support the people who are actually carrying out the resistance in these countries which the US and “Israel” are busy devastating. Support for resistance by oppressed people should be given without qualification.

* The criminal has accused his victim of the crime. The real hate groups are those who support genocide in Palestine. The Boston Jewish Labor Committee’s accusation that the conference organizers are a “hate group” comes right out of the manual of the Anti-Defamation League which has gone to great pains to define political speech and action as good or bad in terms favorable to the zionist project. The ADL is a “progressive” organization — it seems to be for the right thing, except when it comes to criticism of “Israel.” Criticism of “Israel” is anti-Semitism — that’s hate speech, that’s against the law. The ADL was part of a recent attack on a mosque being built in Boston. It was exposed for lobbying Congress against a bill that condemns the Armenian genocide. During the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, it spied on organizations in the U.S. that supported the struggle against white supremacist apartheid in South Africa. This do-good “no place for hate” organization is actually a front group for a racist foreign power.

The limits of political speech on the left are now being defined by the very organizations who say they’re working for the good. There is no open debate. The idea is to simply prevent political speech. Why is support for a nasty racist state in occupied Palestine driving so much of US and international politics? And the question goes beyond Palestine, since these same organizations have the power to set limits on the discussion of “social justice” and racism here inside the US. This includes a history of demonizing black nationalists like Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and the Black Panthers as “anti-Semites.” In many cases people’s careers have been ruined and their reputations smeared by forces who never came out in the open. Joseph Massad, Tony Martin, Ward Churchill, and most recently Catherine Wilkerson, are examples. Ward Churchill will be among the speakers at the conference.

The New England Committee to Defend Palestine assures all those who have been invited to and registered for the April 12 and 13 conference that we have secured another venue and will be announcing it soon. We couldn’t have provided a better example of zionist interference in anti-imperialist activism than the one that just happened here. We have great speakers coming from many different movements. We hope that supporters of the struggle in Palestine, and all those who recognize the need to build a truly independent opposition to oppression inside the US, will join us for this event.

Teachers to discuss backing Palestinians (Guardian)


Teachers to discuss backing Palestinians

Debbie Andalo
Thursday March 13, 2008

A teachers’ union looks set to reignite the row over the boycott of Israel, which divided university lecturers last year and triggered an international storm.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is due to discuss a motion at its Easter conference that takes a pro-Palestinian stance on the occupation. It calls on its union to buy educational material produced by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for use by students in schools.

The motion, which marks the 60th anniversary of the “unresolved injustice” of the “banishment of 750,000 Palestinians from their homelands”, says that the campaign material “promotes an understanding of the history of this most protracted dispute in the Middle East”.

It also wants the union to fund the publication of curriculum learning materials around peace and militarisation.

The motion goes on to urge members to stop promoting in schools career opportunities in the armed forces and to support any teachers who face “victimisation or other professional difficulties” in implementing the policy.

The motion, which comes from NUT members in Croydon, south London, is due to be debated at the conference in Manchester, which starts next Friday. It could trigger the same divisions in the union that split the University and College Union (UCU) last year.

Last May, the UCU provoked global condemnation after its national conference decided to take steps towards a vote on introducing an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

The ensuing row dragged on for four months and involved academics from across the world – especially in the US and Israel – sparking criticism from Jewish leaders, university vice-chancellors and the government.

In September last year the union cancelled the schedule of regional meetings organised for members to discuss the “moral implications ” of existing links with Israel”, which had included invitations to speakers from Palestinian trade unions living under Israeli occupation who had originally urged the union protest.

The union’s U-turn followed advice from its lawyers that a boycott call ran the risk of infringing discrimination legislation and was also considered to be outside the aims and objects of the union.

Palestinian teachers to strike over pay (Maan)


Palestinian teachers to strike over pay

MARCH 9, 2008 12:06 P.M. (UPDATED: MARCH 9, 2008 12:06 P.M.)

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Teachers Union announced of a series of strikes starting on Wednesday and Thursday because the teachers feel their needs are not being met by the Palestinian Authority.The head of the union, Jamil Shehada told Ma’an that a meeting was held on Sunday during the strike was called. Teachers will also strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week.He added, “There should be a presence of teachers and students in their schools, noy studying but sitting in front of the Council of Ministers in Ramallah.”The head of the Palestinian public employees union, Bassam Zakarneh said that the union remains committed to the suspension of the protests “until the end of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. Teachers and public employees are demanding higher salaries to match the rising price of consumer goods, food, and transportation.

SAMWU condemns the actions of Israel

SAMWU condemns the actions of Israel

Press Statement     7th March 2008     10am

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union has vowed to intensify its campaign to force municipalities in the country not to have any trade dealings with Israel.

SAMWU firmly believes that Israel is an apartheid state that needs to be isolated and the perpetrators of human rights violations, prosecuted. The union utterly condemns Israel’s latest massacre of over 125 people in the Gaza Strip, including babies and toddlers, and Israel’s bombing this week of the offices of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions.

The union is appalled and disgusted that Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a concentration camp, exactly like the ones in Nazi Germany. SAMWU is also appalled and disgusted that the West Bank has been bantustanised by the Apartheid Wall into ten tiny disconnected pieces, exactly as South Africa was under apartheid.

SAMWU also notes that the media has refused to cover COSATU’s earlier statement condemning the Israeli massacres of Palestinians in Gaza.

SAMWU is going to intensify pressure on the ANC led government to place diplomatic and economic sanctions against Israel.

SAMWU further calls for Nuremburg trials for the Israeli masterminds of the latestPalestinian massacres. Furthermore, we support the Palestinians’ right to resist the ghastly Israeli colonisation.

We call on our government, being a member of the UN Security Council, to demand:

*    That the United Nations set up a special tribunal to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations before a court of law;
*    that Israel immediately withdraws all Israeli Occupation Forces from Gaza and ends the occupation of Palestinian land;
*    that Israel abides by international humanitarian and human rights law, and refrains from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian civilians (as per the UN Human Rights Council declaration issued on 6 July 2006);
*    that Israel releases all detained Palestinian ministers and legislators and releases all Palestinian  political prisoners — including hundreds of women and children;
*    that the United Nations implements the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s Apartheid wall;
*    that Israel fulfills its obligations in terms of international law;
*    international protection of Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian Territory


For comment, please call Mthandeki Nhlapo, SAMWU General Secretary on Xolile Nxu, SAMWU First Vice-President on 0767549331

Missile Goes Down a Union’s Throat (IPS)


Missile Goes Down a Union’s Throat

Mohammed Omer

GAZA CITY, Mar 4 [2008] (IPS) – Two F-16 missiles were all it took to bring down the five-storey headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). The Union, established in 1965, is one of the forerunners of the movement calling for an international boycott of Israel, and imposition of sanctions on it until Israel meets its obligations over UN resolutions, borders, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

Following the bombing last Thursday, Union members have resumed their work from a tent, gathering what files and paper they could from under the rubble.

“The occupation doesn’t need any justifications to commit crimes against Palestinians,” Nabil al-Mabhouh, acting head of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza told IPS. But the building had apparently been targeted because “we at PGFTU are supporting the rights of tens of thousands of Palestinianworkers.”

Mabhouh said theirs is not a militant organisation, but a “rights-based organisation open to all people from different political affiliations and locations. We have relations with many international trade unions.” The building, he said, had come up with Norwegian money.

“Targeting a civil organisation shows how barbaric and outrageous the Israeli occupation is,” he said. “We are not launching rockets; targeting a labourers union building is not justified.”

The building, he said, had been used to offer health services to tens of thousands of workers and their families, through a workers union health insurance.

“We strongly condemn this crime which aims to break down the Palestinian labourers, and call for all trade unions in the world to stand by us and protect the Palestinianlabourers from such criminal practices.”

As always with such bombings, neighbouring houses were damaged as well in the attack.

Palestinian officials estimate that Israel used two one-tonne missiles on this densely-populated civilian area, which explains the extensive damage to hundreds of flats around.

The losses are significant: aside from one dead and 37 injured, mostly women and children, some of them in critical condition in Shifa hospital, there has been considerable damage to the structure of surrounding houses. Countless windows and doors were blown off, and the damage to weight-bearing structural walls mean that rebuilding will be necessary — but impossible, due to the Israeli siege and lack of building materials.

If the Israeli aim was to also terrorise the civilian population, it worked.

A young mother said she was asleep when the bombing began; she woke up to find her entire building shaking. Her five children continued to scream all night, begging the parents to hide them somewhere safe.

She said she cannot replace window panes. “We can’t even afford to buy nylon (to cover the windows),” said her husband, adding that he hadn’t worked for the past two years. He can afford nothing but bare food.

The explosion plunged the entire area into darkness, as electricity wires were cut off. It also caused water shortage after water tanks were hit by shrapnel and began to leak. Days later, there is still no running water in homes.

Abu Eidah’s car outside was damaged by falling debris, as was most of their furniture and assets. But at least the family survived the strike to tell the story.

Abu Eidah is now searching desperately for another house. Another air strike in the neighbourhood, and the flats could come down. A relative has offered Abu Eidah an apartment that he and his family may now have to move into.

The number of homeless families has increased throughout Gaza, as has the demand for apartments on rent — tents from aid agencies can hardly protect residents from the cold and rain of Gaza’s winter. Meanwhile, people rendered homeless by the bombing continue to haul in donkey carts to move whatever furniture and belongings survived the shelling. But only a few can leave; hundreds of other families have no option but to stay put, amidst the rubble in the cold of winter. (END/2008)

COSATU Press Statement: COSATU condemns Israeli massacres

South African Municipal Workers’ Union | March 3, 2008

COSATU Press Statement: COSATU condemns Israeli massacres

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is outraged and disgusted at the latest massacres by the Israeli Occupation Forces in Gaza, which have claimed an estimated 100 Palestinian lives in the past five days alone, most of them civilian women and children. The Israelis have even targeted ambulances, trapping the injured people inside.There can be absolutely no justification for such brutality. While United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has rightly condemned the violence as a “disproportionate and excessive use of force”, that is too mild; COSATU sees the Israeli attacks as nothing less than mass murder, an escalation of the ongoing genocidal campaign to crush and destroy the people of Palestine.

COSATU reaffirms its 2006 National Congress resolution which pledged solidarity and support to the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, and demanded that:

Our government should impose sanctions against Israel until the aggression on Palestine and Lebanon is stopped.

We should step up the campaign for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

COSATU members must boycott Israeli goods and demonstrations must be held at the embassies of Israel and the United States in South Africa.

The government must end with immediate affect the diplomatic ties with Israel including recalling the ambassador.

COSATU will support any moves by the South African government to promote peace in the Middle East and advance the struggle of the oppressed people of Palestine for national sovereignty and human rights, and appeals to the workers of the world to take to the streets to show their disgust at these Israel atrocities and demonstrate their solidarity with legitimate fight of the oppressed masses of Palestine.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Braamfontein, 2017

Posted on 04-03-2008