Labor for Palestine Supports Viva Palestina USA

–Please post and forward widely–

To be listed as a signer of the following statement, please send your name, union affiliation and title (if any) to:

Labor for Palestine Supports Viva Palestina USA
June 18, 2009

As labor activists, we urge you to join us in supporting Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian convoy led by British Member of Parliament George Galloway and Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, which leaves New York City on July 4 with $10 million in medical aid for the people of Gaza (see below).

The devastation of Gaza is not a natural disaster, but the calculated result of Israel’s brutal siege, with support from government and labor officialdom in the United States.

In the past ten years alone, U.S. military aid to Israel was $17 billion; over the next decade, it will be another $30 billion. In Gaza, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. aircraft, white phosphorous, bombs and bullets kill and maim on behalf of the occupiers.

Top labor officials in this country — often without the knowledge or consent of union members — have plowed billions of dollars from our pension funds and retirement plans into State of Israel Bonds, have remained silent about the war on Gaza and have sought to undermine growing international trade union opposition to Israeli apartheid.

To show the real meaning of labor solidarity, and to help alleviate the terrible harm done in our name, please join us in supporting Viva Palestina USA.

Initial Signers (*For identification only.)

Michael Letwin
Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys*

Brenda Stokely
Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Former President, AFSCME DC 1707*; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement

Monadel Herzallah
President, Arab American Union Members Council, California

Clarence Thomas
Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement

Sam Weinstein
Former President, UWUA Local 132*

Marty Goodman
Former Executive Board Member, TWU Local 100*

Anthony Arnove
National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981*

Mike Gimbel
Chair, Labor-Community Unity Committee, AFSCME DC 37 Local 375*; Delegate, NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Dave Welsh
Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council*



Palestina USA Email Update — June 3

Dear Friend,

We were all moved to tears of grief and anger when Israel launched its murderous bombardment against the people of Gaza in December and January. Millions of us took to the streets in unprecedented protests around the globe. Each and every one of us has asked ourselves what more we can do to help stop the suffering.

The inspirational anti-war and pro-Palestinian British MP, George Galloway, decided that while it is necessary to speak out — in his case with great force and eloquence — it is actions that speak louder than words.

While the bombs were still showering down on what has been called the largest open-air prison in history, Galloway decided to organize a humanitarian convoy that would start in Britain, drive through France and Spain, and across North Africa to arrive in Gaza with aid, even as all borders to the devastated region were under complete blockade. In just five short weeks, he pulled together 107 vehicles — including ambulances and a fire engine — 255 people and $2 million of aid, which set off from London on February 14. Some 23 days and 5,500 miles later it arrived in Gaza to tumultuous acclaim.

The fact that so many people come from Britain whose government had, along with George W Bush, backed the Israeli aggression had an enormous impact on the besieged people of Gaza.

Now, Galloway is heading a second convoy — this time from the USA. The Vietnam War veteran, Ron Kovic, whose experiences in the war led him to become a life-long advocate of a more just US foreign policy, has readily agreed to be co-leader of the convoy.

The convoy’s aim is to take hundreds of US citizens in 500 vehicles, bearing $10 million in medical aid from Cairo to Gaza. Convoy participants will leave from JFK airport on July 4, bearing the simple yet powerful message that Palestinian independence is as precious as US independence. The group will organize the convoy in Cairo and proceed to Gaza the following weekend, proudly waving US and Palestinian flags, as well as banners declaring thousands of supporting organizations and institutions.

This is set to be the biggest single aid effort for Palestine ever to leave US shores. It will be a source of great strength and hope for the Palestinian people. It will also have a major impact here in the United States, helping to stir US public opinion about the conflict in the Middle East and to bring about a permanent shift in government policy.

The US has a chance right now to step into a more progressive role in the world. But Viva Palestina USA needs your help to make this venture successful and to get this aid through the siege that has been strangling the people of Gaza for three years.

What YOU can do to help:

1) Circulate this email to everyone you know through your listserv/contacts list, Facebook and any other means to which you have access, share the brilliant documentary detailing the UK Convoy with your friends, family and coworkers: Viva Palestina US Media/Resources AND add our donation link to your website, blog, or email: Donate to Viva Palestina Now!

2) Donate towards the $10 million target! Every penny makes a difference! Donations are being handled by Viva Palestina’s not-for-profit fiscal sponsor, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), and are tax deductible. The funds will be used for medical aid and the entire convoy is within the restrictions and guidelines laid out by the US authorities governing such activities.

You can donate on our webpage Viva Palestina US or, to link directly to our donation page, click here: Donate to Viva Palestina Now!

You can also make a check payable to Viva Palestina – IFCO and send it to:

Viva Palestina USA
47 West Polk Street
Suite 100 – 403
Chicago, IL 60605-2085

3) Come as a delegate on the convoy! To register, visit: Viva Palestina US Join the Convoy. You’ll need to raise the funds to cover the costs of your flight to and accommodations in Egypt, and commit to raising aid towards our target goal. See our website Viva Palestina US for further details and answers to any questions you might have.

4) Endorse and/or Sponsor the convoy! Details can be found on our webpage, but generally: sponsorship for national organizations is $1,000; state, $500; local chapters and individuals, $100, and endorsements require you/your organization’s contact information and a written, publishable statement of endorsement.

5) Contact your local and state media to tell them why you support the Viva Palestina USA convoy. If you need help communicating with the media or if you have media contacts who would like to speak with a convoy leader, contact us at:

6) Send us stories, pictures and videos of your efforts to support Viva Palestina USA. We’ve heard amazing stories of creative fundraising efforts and events from around the country and we encourage your unique participation in the movement for justice for Palestine!

Together, we WILL break the siege, we WILL deliver much-needed aid to the people of Gaza, and we WILL help free Palestine! VIVA, VIVA PALESTINA!

In solidarity,
Viva Palestina USA

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