Monthly Archives: January 2010

COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini Addresses Gaza Reportback: Isolate Apartheid Israel!

January 28, 2010 – Soweto yesterday, Gaza today. . .
The forces of apartheid demonstrate limitless capacity for barbarism!

Almost a year ago, Gaza was run down by the occupying forces of Israel in a barbaric show of might and in pursuit of their colonial expansionist ambitions. Schools, clinics, UN buildings, social services, water and electrical installations, cultural institutions and businesses literally crumbled under the weight of heavy bombs and artillery. Dangerous and banned warfare chemicals, like white phosphorus were used in an attempt to annihilate the entire population, in which case women and children were the worst victims. That was Israel at its best, doing what it knows best and what it has always done over the years to instil fear and terror amongst the occupied people.

Funded and supported by the US, Israel has no regard, whatsoever, for international law and continues to expand its colonial project to-date. Illegal settlements are all over Palestine and the inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza bears testimony to the savage occupation that some refuse to see, even when evidence is so naked.

Dear Comrades, we are not hear to tell more of the painful, yet real tales of Palestinian suffering. We are here to welcome back our heroes and internationalists who sacrificed their festive joys for the cause of other people. They set about an impossible mission to invade the lion’s den in a bold effort to demonstrate to the Gaza people that no matter how much their pain, the world community of progressive peoples shall never forsake them. You did that on all our behalf dear comrades and for that, we salute you!

As COSATU, we are proud of our contribution and are fully committed to work with all who share our views and commitment that the crisis in Palestine have gone beyond mere calls for Press statements and sympathies or even charity, to demanding concrete and practical action. The luxury of lamenting is for cowards and armchair activists. We all should be in the streets demanding justice and supporting all attempts to isolate apartheid Israel through the courageous efforts of the Global BDS Campaign. It remains the only peaceful method at the disposal of those in search for justice and a lasting solution to the crisis in that region.

We call upon all organisations, individuals and institutions to join our hands and support the efforts, as outlined in the historic Cairo Declaration, for effective co-ordination of all our efforts for maximum impact. In this regard, the many organisations in our country doing work in solidarity with Palestine are called upon to be part of the initiative towards a united front for solidarity with the people of Palestine, starting with all of us here in South Africa.

COSATU has, on several occasions, been asked by opportunists why is it interested in a matter so far away from our land. The answer is simple, solidarity knows no boundaries or even geography, its about living people and their plight.

Our destiny is tied to theirs, our liberation is tied to theirs, our humanity is tied to theirs. Therefore, no worthy human being would tolerate the suffering and pain of others, wherever they are, worst still, those of us who have fought heroic struggles against apartheid, colonialism and occupation immediately feel it however far. We received solidarity from people we have never seen and were far away from Africa, let alone our country. They heard and responded to our cries. They did not ask how far are we from them. They asked what can we do to assist and they assisted, hence we are free.

Finally, dear comrades, we salute the courageous efforts of the Palestine Solidarity movement for organising these bold initiatives and they have our full support. We shall not be intimidated by attempts to silence us or some of our comrades. We shall be inspired to speak out even more louder and anger for the threat to deny us our right to shout loud against savagery.

We are here to affirm the correctness of our legend, Nelson Mandela’s words,“… our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. On our part, we do not promise to do everything, but our most humble, yet effective contribution which we have no doubt shall make a decisive difference. Each one of us must do our part and together we shall conquer.

Amandla intifada!!

Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Braamfontein, 2017
P. O. Box 1019
Johannesburg, 2000
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940
Mobile: +27 79 499 6419

Labor Notes: Growing Labor Support for Palestine Faces Stiff Opposition in the U.S.

Labor Notes, by Paul Abowd | January 22, 2010 – Union members who want to organize U.S. labor support for war-torn Palestine often compare their cause to the battle against apartheid in the 1980s. They point to striking similarities between Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the former South African system: In Israel, Arab citizens face legalized segregation in housing and employment. In the occupied West Bank, separate and unequal conditions are even more overt.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in growing settlements connected by “Israeli-only” roads. Palestinians are left in disconnected towns, stalled at hundreds of military checkpoints, and hemmed in by an Israeli-built wall that grabs more land.

And just as in South Africa, dozens of U.S. companies are involved. Industrial zones allow corporations familiar to U.S. union activists to import low-wage guest workers from Palestine and overseas.

“Palestinians are being exploited by the same entities that are exploiting U.S. workers,” says Sharon Wallace, a teacher from Kentucky who has organized two U.S. tours of Palestinian labor activists and who just returned from a pro-Palestine march in Egypt (see box).

She and a small but growing band of U.S. unionists-some of whom are Jewish-are fighting to educate fellow members and mobilize their unions behind a global call to pressure Israel with a boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

They face substantial barriers to winning union support: Activists say leaders of U.S. unions still seem enamored with the myth that Israel is a pro-labor government. In an October speech at the Jewish Labor Committee, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka opposed international efforts to boycott Israel, suggesting that opposition to Israeli policy was anti-Semitism in disguise.

Those attitudes are reinforced by an organized pro-Israel lobby and a receptive U.S. government that sends Israel billions a year in military and other aid.

But when Israeli warplanes bombarded Gaza in late 2008, killing 1,500 civilians and destroying the country’s infrastructure, union activists joined protests all over the country. Several union councils, including the California Federation of Teachers, called for an end to the bombardment. On the East Coast, SEIU1199 delegates condemned the violence in Gaza and sent $5,000 to bolster medical relief efforts there.

Today in Gaza, Palestinians-45 percent of whom are unemployed-are still digging out from the rubble. Because of Israel’s blockade, they are unable to move in and out of the country or control their airspace, ports, or borders.

“Families aren’t getting paid, and don’t have jobs. So much of their resistance is just about survival,” Wallace said.

Labor activists are trying to expand isolated protests into a full-fledged campaign.

Garnering support from “a larger small group inside labor than before,” says activist Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine recently issued a letter to Trumka calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and applauding South African unions for turning away Israeli ships from their ports during the Gaza war.

The union anti-war group U.S. Labor Against the War plans to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Israel and Palestine at the end of the year. And American unionists were among those attempting to bring solidarity and aid to Palestine in December.

USLAW staffer Michael Eisenscher notes that when the group started agitating against the Iraq war in 2003, “opposition was not a majority opinion.”


U.S. workers are connected to Israel’s occupation of Palestine because, for one thing, they’re paying for it. The U.S. is the largest donor to Israel, giving $26 billion in military aid over the past 10 years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

U.S. labor is in the mix as well: 279 labor bodies, including locals, labor councils, and the AFL-CIO itself, fill their pension portfolios with state of Israel bonds-to the tune of $5 billion. The federation owns no other country’s bonds, says Stan Heller, a longtime high school teacher in Connecticut.

Heller is heading up a labor campaign to “Dump Israel Bonds,” underway in New Haven. The labor council there has called on the state AFL-CIO to sell its $60,000 in bonds. Heller says the national Teachers union (AFT) recently sent him a letter proudly informing him of the union’s large investment in the state of Israel.

But globally, union opinion is openly critical of Israeli policy. The Congress of South African Trade Unions initiated the Cairo Declaration in January, signed by unions around the world, including the United Kingdom’s major union federation, Ireland’s largest public sector union, and labor bodies in France, Canada, Australia, Norway, and Scotland.

The document calls for an international tour of South African and Palestinian trade unionists to emphasize the parallels to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It also echoes the Palestinian labor movement’s call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the Israeli government.


Monadel Herzallah is an activist with the Arab American Union Council; he moved from Palestine to the U.S. in 1978. Alongside patient education of American workers, he feels an urgency to support Palestinians who are resisting occupation amid a humanitarian crisis.

Herzallah’s extended family lives in Gaza. His 20-year-old cousin was killed in Israel’s bombing last December. “The level of crime being done by Israel makes it essential for the labor movement to take courageous steps to break the taboo that exists when it comes to Palestine,” he says.

Organizing from the Bay Area with labor and community activists, Herzallah sent funds to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza, whose headquarters was destroyed by Israeli bombs. His network of Arab American unionists has plans to train, educate, and provide equipment to Palestinian unionists, to develop more than a cosmetic solidarity with them.

Herzallah believes the outrage over conditions in Gaza is opening up space for labor activists to organize against the occupation. And, he points out, the U.S. government’s giant military aid to Israel is part of the lavish war spending that’s draining funds needed in the states and drawing growing criticism from U.S. unionists.

International Labor at Forefront of Freedom March
-Paul Abowd
Marking a year since Israeli bombers shelled the Palestinian territory of Gaza, two solidarity convoys descended on Gaza to break the Israeli (and Egyptian) siege that has kept 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in what activists call the largest open-air prison in the world. One group led by British politician George Galloway faced beatings from Egyptian police before their aid convoy, “Viva Palestina,” trucked through the southern border crossing of Rafah.

Another action featured 1,400 “freedom marchers”-including a strong cohort from international labor unions-converging on Cairo, Egypt, in late December.

A handful of American labor activists were among those who traveled to Egypt intent on physically breaking the siege.

International labor unions were at the forefront of the freedom march. Their aim was both to show solidarity with Palestinians, and coordinate actions with Israeli organizers against the seige.

The Egyptian government harassed protesters, forbade them to enter Gaza, and shut down multiple demonstrations. French delegates set up a tent city outside their country’s embassy in Cairo. Five hundred activists milled about downtown before pulling off a “flash mob” action, which was shut down minutes later by Egyptian police. After negotiations, 100 activists were allowed into Gaza, where a small December 31 march coincided with a solidarity march in Israel against the siege.

Carol Gay, a retired CWA international rep and activist with New Jersey Labor Against the War, was in Egypt. “The two groups of protesters couldn’t see each other, but they could hear each other over the wall Israel’s built around Gaza,” Gay said.

Joint Statement by South African Palestine Solidarity Movement and COSATU

We salute the gallant and heroic actions of over 1,400 people from around the world – especially the South African delegation – who went to Cairo to embark on the historic Gaza Freedom March (GFM). The South African delegation truly represented the revolutionary and humanitarian character of our country even when faced with the harassment and intimidation of the Egyptian police and military. They have helped us recognise that standing firm against the Apartheid state of Israel and its Egyptian collaborators enhances our common purpose of building a more just world.

From 27 December 2008 until 18 January 2009 Israel launched a massive offensive against Gaza, resulting in the massacre of more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. These attacks came after almost a year of a strangling siege of Gaza which continues for more than two years. This blockade denies the people of Gaza access to basic necessities, commodities, medicines, medical equipment, and reconstruction material. Additionally, the movement of people into and out of Gaza is seriously curtailed. This is a flagrant violation of international law, and an attack on basic human rights.

The Gaza Freedom March, set to take place in December 2009 to commemorate the Gaza offensive and to march with the people of Gaza to break the inhuman siege. Given that more than 1,400 civilians were killed in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, 1,400 peace activists from 43 countries, including 16 South Africans, converged to call for the end of the siege.

The delegation was made up of activists from the range of Palestine solidarity groups in South Africa, trade union officials from COSATU and its affiliates, journalists, and was led by Judge Siraj Desai.

On the eve of the Gaza Freedom March the police state of Egypt, with the aid of United States Military Engineers, would construct a steel wall to close the tunnels which remain the only way to bypass the siege and get basic necessities into Gaza. Egypt also declared that the Rafah Border Crossing would be closed for an indefinite period and that marchers would not be allowed to even get to the border town of Al-Arish. In this divisive context we applaud our delegation for keeping the 1,400 delegates focused and united and for rejecting the “concession” by Egypt to allow  only 100 delegates to enter Gaza. The “All or None” stand by the marchers is reminiscent of our own experiences in the liberation struggle. Furthermore, we commend our delegation for standing firm in the call to end the siege on Gaza, despite the constant harassment and police intimidation that followed them throughout Cairo.

The experience of our delegation confirms that Egypt is an undemocratic, military state. We strongly condemn the totalitarian manner in which the Egyptian state operates. We condemn the inhumanity displayed by imprisoning the Palestinian population of Gaza and then refusing vital aid from entering this enclave. We strongly condemn the delaying of and the subsequent police assault on the volunteers of the Viva Palestina Convoy. In light of this repression we call on civil society to consider isolating Egypt which is nothing less than an oppressive surrogate state of the United States and a partner of Israel.

Israel continues to expand its colonisation project in Palestine with new settlement construction, despite international calls for this to be halted. South African Zionists continue calling on Jews to emigrate to Israel and the settlements (all of which are illegal under international law). More than this is the clear evidence presented in the Gaza Docket drafted by the South African solidarity movement that South Africans are serving in the Israeli Defence Forces which continue their genocidal assault on the Palestinian people. We call on the National Directorate of Public Prosecution to seriously investigate these complaints and to use the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act to prosecute South Africans who serve Apartheid Israel and to charge those in the Israeli government and military for the War Crimes and crimes against humanity which they continue to commit with impunity as evidenced in the Goldstone Report.

We endorse the Cairo Declaration as signed by our delegates on Friday, 1 January 2010, whose first signatory is Hedy Epstein, an 86-year old Holocaust survivor. We note that the Cairo Declaration has inspired us to further strengthen and sustain the International Anti-Apartheid Movement against Israel, which was launched at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001, and which we actively support. Included in this is the call for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from Israel and comprehensive sanctions to be imposed on this rogue state.

We commit ourselves to intensifying the struggle against Apartheid Israel by embarking on a series of activities to implement the call in the Cairo Declaration, especially by:

* ensuring that we mobilise global public opinion to recognise Israel as an Apartheid state;
* isolating Apartheid Israel as Apartheid South Africa was isolated;
* strengthening the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in South Africa as called for by Palestinian civil society;
* joining with comrades around the world in a concerted effort to end the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine;
* working tirelessly and using the full might of our law to bring to book those South Africans who join the Israeli Defence Forces and those Israelis who have committed war crimes; and
* engaging the full spectrum of South African civil society to support these actions.

Media contact persons

Bongani Masuku:   079 499 6419

Haroon Wadee:      083 453 8745

Savera Kalideen:    071 227 0939

Breaking the Siege: Interview Of International Secretary Of South African Transport Workers Union

transcript Zico Tamela (at demo in front of UN in Cairo, Monday 28th Jan)

“I always say, remember in South Africa we also fought for the isolation of the racist labour movement from the international labour movement. So what is the difference now? It’s not a question of fighting Jewish workers, no, no, it’s a question of isolating Zionism within the labour movement.”
“As transport workers throughout the world, we need to be at the forefront of the struggle to implement Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, because we are the ones who transport goods to and from Israel throughout the world.”

Z: My name is Zico Tamela, I’m the international secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, I am here as part of the South African delegation, I am one of the 5 comrades from affiliates of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, to pledge solidarity with the people of Palestine, specifically Gaza, to take part in the international solidarity march that will be taking place in Gaza, to break the siege of Israel over Palestine and Gaza specifically.

G: Right, and is this an issue which is important to people in South Africa in general, do the masses of people in South Africa think this is important?

Z: It is very important, historically the liberation movement in South Africa has been working very closely with the liberation movement in Palestine. Even after we achieved liberation in 1994 in South Africa, we have continued to stage demonstrations, to do whatever we can to assist the people of Palestine to be free, and the South Africans recognise that our freedom is inseparable from the freedom of those people who are still suffering and oppressed by colonial powers like Israel throughout the world.

G: During the long struggle for liberation of South Africa and Namibia and the Front Line States, one of the things that people tried to do in the international world was to impose sanctions, and in particular for workers to take action to impose sanctions against South Africa. How do you see that? Do you see that as relevant to the Palestine situation?

Z: It is very relevant. Earlier this year I attended a conference in Palestine, in Ramallah, organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. I attended that conference representing SATAWU. Our federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, has endorsed that campaign called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. My attendance at the conference there early this year was very enlightening for me, I brought back a report to my union which dedicated itself to take even more active participation in the struggle for solidarity with the people of Palestine. One of the things we have already done this year was to make sure that a ship from Israel that docked in the Port of Durban was boycotted by our members. The goods in that ship were not handled, the ship was left stranded, we did, the same thing we did to a ship carrying arms consignment from China to Zimbabwe, in solidarity with the workers of Zimbabwe, and in the instance of the Israeli ship it was in solidarit y with the masses of Palestine.

G: That’s fantastic, in my opinion that is the single best thing that has happened so far, but I hope that there will be more actions like this. Have you made appeals to other dockworkers in other countries to do what you have done? Do you think that they should do what you have done?

Z: We have made that appeal through the statements that our union issued, and through our participation in the International Transportworkers Federation, the ITF. We always raise the issue of Palestine, we raised the issues of the embargo, we do call upon other fellow transport workers not to handle goods from Israel, basically to embark on a campaign of total isolation of Israel, just as it was done with apartheid South Africa. It is our view that if the whole world, particularly the masses were to fight for the isolation of Israel economically, socially, culturally and in terms of the arms embargo, Israel will feel enough pressure and will be able to pull out of Palestine, and be able to grant the people of Palestine their rights. And we know that Israel will not do that willingly, it is through the struggles of the people on the ground that Israel will be forced whether they like it or not to pull out of Palestine, and that only then will a free Palestine be established. ar

G: In South Africa the struggle was for one democratic society with equal rights for all. Do you see that in this situation, or do you see it as a question of two separate states? Just you personally, I know the union might have different views.

Z: Yes, look, for me personally I see the struggle in Palestine as a struggle for one state. When I was there, early this year, I met a range of activists, from the PLO Fatah faction, to left wing, that is Marxist activists, trade unionists, all of them, when they gave the background of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the conflict in so-called Israel – Palestine, it became clear to me that the so-called two state solution is not working, has not worked up to now, in fact Israel is undermining that so-called solution itself, and that only a single state, a single Palestinian democratic state is the solution, in fact for me, when the message was hammered through to me by activists of PLO Fatah, not just the Marxists, but by PLO activists themselves, then it became very much convincing to me that that is the only way to go, especially when they demonstrated to me that even within what they saw as a temporary arrangement, the current two-state, it is not even a two state, it is similar basically to what we had in South Africa, the Bantustans. The Palestinian Occupied Authorities, are not even genuine authorities, run by Palestinians, Israel is still in command in those authorities, they are, it’s a deception, it’s a political deception. But for me, what was important was that I heard it from the horse’s mouth, from activists of the PLO, I heard it from a Member of Parliament in Bethlehem, who took me through the history up to now, and pointed out that this is not a solution, only a single Palestinian state

G: with equal rights

Z: with equal rights for all nationalities, Jewish, Muslim, Arab, that is the only solution.

G: good, what obstacles do you see in trying to achieve an international boycott? You have made big progress in South Africa. Where are the obstacles and how can we overcome them?

Z: Look, this necessitates clarity on the part of the organisations of the oppressed, particularly the trade union movement. Obviously the community organisations, political parties of the working class, and the democratic forces at large. Governments can only come on board if the masses are fighting. Governments naturally have their own limitations in terms of bourgeois democratic diplomacy, but also the power of the materialist forces. So it is the masses that can break that logjam. For example let me make an example with South Africa. With the struggle in South Africa, when it intensified, that the people in the world began to understand what was going on in South Africa. When they visited South African clandestinely, and when South Africans would go out and take their case to the whole world, to the masses in other countries. So that is what must be done, people to people solidarity.

G: which is why we want to get into Gaza

Z: definitely, definitely, in fact in my report I emphasised that what we always know, or hear about Palestine, it becomes something very shallow, once you are there, when you go through the checkpoints, manned by armed military personnel, right in so-called Palestinian territories, then you begin to understand that the situation is far worse than you ever imagined, that an amount of effort must be put together in support of the Palestinians, and it’s the clarity in the minds of the people that pledge solidarity with Palestinians, and that programmes must be developed amongst organisations, and I think that this BDS, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign is one important weapon towards that, and it won’t be implemented by governments, it’s the people who must do that.

G: For sure, the only point I’m trying to get to is that there has been a lot of resistance within the trade union movement, at least in the West, to doing this, there has been a lot of hesitancy, and I just wondered if you had any comment on that. For example, has any other union of dockworkers, longshoremen, of transport workers anywhere else in the world, said “yeah, we agree with the South Africans and that’s what we want to do”, has anybody else said they want to do it?

Z: The Maritime Union of Australia is one such union we can count on, but it’s also upon us who understand this situation to continue articulating, because not all unions are led by progressive leaders, it’s our challenge as democrats, as working class militants who understand the brutality in Palestine, to raise the banner of the freedom of Palestinians, throughout the labour movement. For example one of the urgent requests the Palestinians made to us South Africans, or they raised it with me when I was at that, we must fight for the isolation of the Israeli labour movement from the international labour movement. Now some of the people don’t understand this. I always say, remember in South Africa we also fought for the isolation of the racist labour movement from the international labour movement. So what is the difference now? It’s not a question of fighting Jewish workers, no, no, it’s a question of isolating Zionism within the labour movement. Just like it was not a quest ion of fighting white workers, but of isolating racism, of fighting racism and isolating it within the international progressive trade union movement. So there is resistance to that but I believe that with the necessary explanations and militant action that is taken, that can be done.

G: I agree very strongly with what you have said, and I think that you have an opportunity to take that message to American workers, because in the dockwork unions on the East Coast and the West Coast, there are many many people, many black people, many white people, who took the struggle in South Africa very seriously, and you are in a very strong position to tell them in what way this is the same story. You know, to hear it from you, for them, is very very important, I hope you can do that.

Z: Definitely, as the International Secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union SATAWU, I would like to urge all fellow transport workers throughout the world, to assist in the struggle for the liberation of our brothers and sisters in Palestine. One of the things we must do is to support and actively participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. This means the total isolation of Israel in terms of arms embargo, economically, culturally, socially, and otherwise. Just like you fellow workers did with apartheid South Africa. This also means that the Israeli labour movement, which is Zionist to the core, must be kicked out of the progressive international trade union movement. We must make sure that we put pressure on the structures and the leadership of the International Transportworkers Federation to isolate the Israeli transport unions, and for that matter, to assist our fellow transport unions in Palestine even more, we must strengthen it in terms of capacity, we must strengthen it materially, we must pledge solidarity politically with them through mass actions, embark on demonstrations, pickets, all kinds of political activities we can muster, in order to support them.

As transport workers we need to make sure that we don’t handle goods from Israel, boycott Israel economically. The action we South Africans took in relation to an Israeli ship and a Chinese ship that docked in Durban, when we refused to offload the consignments those ships carried, the Israeli ship carried civilian goods, the Chinese ship carried arms that were meant for Zimbabwe, we didn’t offload those goods carried by the two ships. If all of us transport workers we should make sure that we isolate Israel, because we are the ones that transport goods. In the ports, we are there. In terms of aviation, in airports, we are there. So even airplanes that land in our countries, we need to make sure that those that are carrying goods to and fro m Israel are not touched by our members. As transport workers throughout the world, we need to be at the forefront of the struggle to implement Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, because we are the ones who transport goods to and from Israel throughout the world.

G: Thank you very much Zico, I will make sure that that message reaches every transport worker that I possibly can.

Z: Thank you very much comrade Greg.

Palestinian progressive labor activists call for Histadrut boycott

The Palestinian Progressive Labor Action Front called upon all international and Arab trade unions, labor organizations and workers’ associations, especially the International Labor Organization and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, to boycott the Histadrut. In a statement on January 4, 2009, the PLAF emphasized that the Histadrut is no ordinary trade union and is instead, part and parcel of the racist occupation state and its military machine.

The PLAF emphaszed that Palestinian workers inside the Green line are subjected to policies of capture and pursuit until death, calling for unity in the face of these crimes that have led to the death of 33 Palestinian workers in the past year and the arrest of over 6500 Palestinian workers by Israeli occupation forces. The PLAF statement emphasized that the Histadrut has done next to nothing to protect Palestinian workers inside the Green Line, and called for economic and political sanctions against and isolation of the Histadrut and all other institutions of the Israeli state.

The statement condemned the arrest of sixty Palestinian workers who were locked in a truck in very dangerous conditions in the Bir Saba region, whose sole concern was to get jobs to provide their families and children with a means of living. The PLAF emphasized the magnitude of the tragedy faced by the Palestinian people, including high rates of unemployment, poverty and lack of access to work in local institutions and the weakness and lack of support for any programs or bodies to fight this problem on an official level, that drive workers into unsafe and dangerous situations and the occupation death traps, in pursuit of work.

The PLAF called upon Palestinian trade unions to resolve their internal problems and take action on the issues that concern our workers and demand that all official bodies place a priority on supporting Palestinian workers as part of the national struggle, and for all to work to develop alternative opportunities for Palestinian workers, other than settlement work and the occupation industrial zones built on our stolen land by the occupation and the settlers.

The statement called for a democratic and comprehensive rebuilding of the Palestinian labor union movement in order to play its necessary role in the national struggle to raise the issues and concerns of workers, combat the continuing abuse of workers by occupation forces and settlers.

Gaza Freedom Marchers issue the “Cairo Declaration” to end Israeli Apartheid

The landmark statement below was issued today by Gaza Freedom Marchers, at the initiative of representatives of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Initial signers include both New York City Labor Against the War and Labor for Palestine (signature #s 130 and 132, below). To add your own endorsement, send a message to:

Read below for the Cairo Declaration from the Gaza Freedom March, endorsed by Labor for Palestine. Also, consistent with the demands expressed in the declaration, click here to sign the Labor for Palestine Open Letter to AFL-CIO President Trumka!

(Cairo) Gaza Freedom Marchers approved today a declaration aimed at accelerating the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli Apartheid.

Roughly 1400 activists from 43 countries converged in Cairo on their way to Gaza to join with Palestinians marching to break Israel’s illegal siege. They were prevented from entering Gaza by the Egyptian authorities.

As a result, the Freedom Marchers remained in Cairo. They staged a series of nonviolent actions aimed at pressuring the international community to end the siege as one step in the larger struggle to secure justice for Palestinians throughout historic Palestine.

This declaration arose from those actions:

End Israeli Apartheid
Cairo Declaration
January 1, 2010

We, international delegates meeting in Cairo during the Gaza Freedom March 2009 in collective response to an initiative from the South African delegation, state:

In view of:

o     Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians through the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza;

o     the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the continued construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements;

o     the new Wall under construction by Egypt and the US which will tighten even further the siege of Gaza;

o     the contempt for Palestinian democracy shown by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and others after the Palestinian elections of 2006;

o     the war crimes committed by Israel during the invasion of Gaza one year ago;

o     the continuing discrimination and repression faced by Palestinians within Israel;

o     and the continuing exile of millions of Palestinian refugees;

o     all of which oppressive acts are based ultimately on the Zionist ideology which underpins Israel;

o     in the knowledge that our own governments have given Israel direct economic, financial, military and diplomatic support and allowed it to behave with impunity;

o     and mindful of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007)

We reaffirm our commitment to:

Palestinian Self-Determination

Ending the Occupation

Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine

The full Right of Return for Palestinian refugees

We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the United Palestinian call of July 2005 for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to comply with international law.

To that end, we call for and wish to help initiate a global mass, democratic anti-apartheid movement to work in full consultation with Palestinian civil society to implement the Palestinian call for BDS.

Mindful of the many strong similarities between apartheid Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa, we propose:

1)     An international speaking tour in the first 6 months of 2010 by Palestinian and South African trade unionists and civil society activists, to be joined by trade unionists and activists committed to this programme within the countries toured, to take mass education on BDS directly to the trade union membership and wider public internationally;

2)     Participation in the Israeli Apartheid Week in March 2010;

3)     A systematic unified approach to the boycott of Israeli products, involving consumers, workers and their unions in the retail, warehousing, and transportation sectors;

4)     Developing the Academic, Cultural and Sports boycott;

5)     Campaigns to encourage divestment of trade union and other pension funds from companies directly implicated in the Occupation and/or the Israeli military industries;

6)     Legal actions targeting the external recruitment of soldiers to serve in the Israeli military, and the prosecution of Israeli government war criminals; coordination of Citizen’s Arrest Bureaux to identify, campaign and seek to prosecute Israeli war criminals; support for the Goldstone Report and the implementation of its recommendations;

7)     Campaigns against charitable status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

We appeal to organisations and individuals committed to this declaration to sign it and work with us to make it a reality.

Please e-mail us at

Signed by:

(* Affiliation for identification purposes only.)

1.         Hedy Epstein, Holocaust Survivor/ Women in Black*, USA

2.         Nomthandazo Sikiti, Nehawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa

3.         Zico Tamela, Satawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa

4.         Hlokoza Motau, Numsa, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa

5.         George Mahlangu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Campaigns Coordinator*, South Africa

6.         Crystal Dicks, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Education Secretary*, South Africa

7.         Savera Kalideen, SA Palestinian Solidarity Committee*, South Africa

8.         Suzanne Hotz, SA Palestinian Solidarity Group*, South Africa

9.         Shehnaaz Wadee, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa

10.         Haroon Wadee, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa

11.         Sayeed Dhansey, South Africa

12.         Faiza Desai, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa

13.         Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada*, USA

14.         Hilary Minch, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee*, Ireland

15.         Anthony Loewenstein, Australia

16.         Sam Perlo-Freeman, United Kingdom

17.         Julie Moentk, Pax Christi*, USA

18.         Ulf Fogelström, Sweden

19.         Ann Polivka, Chico Peace and Justice Center*, USA

20.         Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation*, USA

21.         Elfi Padovan, Munich Peace Committee*/Die Linke*, Germany

22.         Elizabeth Barger, Peace Roots Alliance*/Plenty I*, USA

23.         Sarah Roche-Mahdi, CodePink*, USA

24.         Svetlana Gesheva-Anar, Bulgaria

25.         Cristina Ruiz Cortina, Al Quds-Malaga*, Spain

26.         Rachel Wyon, Boston Gaza Freedom March*, USA

27.         Mary Hughes-Thompson, Women in Black*, USA

28.         David Letwin, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, USA

29.         Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery*, USA

30.         Gael Murphy, Gaza Freedom March*/CodePink*, USA

31.         Thomas McAfee, Journalist/PC*, USA

32.         Jean Louis Faure, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, France

33.         Timothy A King, Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East*, USA

34.         Gail Chalbi, Palestine/Israel Justice Project of the Minnesota United Methodist Church*, USA

35.         Ouahib Chalbi, Palestine/Israel Justice Project of the Minnesota United Methodist Church*, USA

36.         Greg Dropkin, Liverpool Friends of Palestine*, England

37.         Felice Gelman, Wespac Peace and Justice New York*/Gaza Freedom March*, USA

38.         Ron Witton, Australian Academic Union*, Australia

39.         Hayley Wallace, Palestine Solidarity Committee*, USA

40.         Norma Turner, Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, England

41.         Paula Abrams-Hourani, Women in Black (Vienna)*/ Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East*, Austria

42.         Mateo Bernal, Industrial Workers of the World*, USA

43.         Mary Mattieu, Collectif Urgence Palestine*, Switzerland

44.         Agneta Zuppinger, Collectif Urgence Palestine*, Switzerland

45.         Ashley Annis, People for Peace*, Canada

46.         Peige Desgarlois, People for Peace*, Canada

47.         Hannah Carter, Canadian Friends of Sabeel*, Canada

48.         Laura Ashfield, Canadian Friends of Sabeel*, Canada

49.         Iman Ghazal, People for Peace*, Canada

50.         Filsam Farah, People for Peace*, Canada

51.         Awa Allin, People for Peace*, Canada

52.         Cleopatra McGovern, USA

53.         Miranda Collet, Spain

54.         Alison Phillips, Scotland

55.         Nicholas Abramson, Middle East Crisis Response Network*/Jews Say No*, USA

56.         Tarak Kauff, Middle East Crisis Response Network*/Veterans for Peace*, USA

57.         Jesse Meisler-Abramson, USA

58.         Hope Mariposa, USA

59.         Ivesa Lübben. Bremer Netzwerk fur Gerechten Frieden in Nahost*, Germany

60.         Sheila Finan, Mid-Hudson Council MERC*, USA

61.         Joanne Lingle, Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME)*, USA

62.         Barbara Lubin, Middle East Children’s Alliance*, USA

63.         Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance*, USA

64.         Anna Keuchen, Germany

65.         Judith Mahoney Pasternak, WRL* and Indypendent*, USA

66.         Ellen Davidson, New York City Indymedia*, WRL*, Indypendent*, USA

67.         Ina Kelleher, USA

68.         Lee Gargagliano, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (Chicago)*, USA

69.         Brad Taylor, OUT-FM*, USA

70.         Helga Mankovitz, SPHR (Queen’s University)*, Canada

71.         Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, Scotland

72.         Agnes Kueng, Paso Basel*, Switzerland

73.         Anne Paxton, Voices of Palestine*, USA

74.         Leila El Abtah, The Netherlands

75.         Richard, Van der Wouden, The Netherlands

76.         Rafiq A. Firis, P.K.R.*/Isra*, The Netherlands

77.         Sandra Tamari, USA

78.         Alice Azzouzi, Way to Jerusalem*, USA

79.         J’Ann Schoonmaker Allen, USA

80.         Ruth F. Hooke, Episcopalian Peace Fellowship*, USA

81.         Jean E. Lee, Holy Land Awareness Action Task Group of United Church of Canada*, Canada

82.         Delphine de Boutray, Association Thèâtre Cine*, France

83.         Sylvia Schwarz, USA

84.         Alexandra Safi, Germany

85.         Abdullah Anar, Green Party – Turkey*, Turkey

86.         Ted Auerbach, USA

87.         Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker*, USA

88.         Louis Ultale, Interfaile Pace e Bene*, USA

89.         Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation*, USA

90.         Emma Grigore, CodePink*, USA

91.         Sammer Abdelela, New York Community of Muslim Progressives*, USA

92.         Sharat G. Lin, San Jose Peace and Justice Center*, USA

93.         Katherine E. Sheetz, Free Gaza*, USA

94.         Steve Greaves, Free Gaza*, USA

95.         Trevor Baumgartner, Free Gaza*, USA

96.         Hanan Tabbara, USA

97.         Marina Barakatt, CodePink*, USA

98.         Keren Bariyov, USA

99.         Ursula Sagmeister, Women in Black – Vienna*, Austria

100.         Ann Cunningham, Australia

101.         Bill Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans for Peace*, USA

102.         Terry Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans for Peace*, USA

103.         Athena Viscusi, USA

104.         Marco Viscusi, USA

105.         Paki Wieland, Northampton Committee*, USA

106.         Manijeh Saba, New York / New Jersey, USA

107.         Ellen Graves, USA

108.         Zoë Lawlor, Ireland – Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, Ireland

109.         Miguel García Grassot, Al Quds – Málaga*, Spain

110.         Ana Mamora Romero, ASPA-Asociacion Andaluza Solidaridad y Paz*, Spain

111.         Ehab Lotayef, CJPP Canada*, Canada

112.         David Heap, London Anti-War*, Canada

113.         Adie Mormech, Free Gaza* / Action Palestine*, England

114.         Aimee Shalan, UK

115.         Liliane Cordova, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, Spain

116.         Priscilla Lynch, USA

117.         Jenna Bitar, USA

118.         Deborah Mardon, USA

119.         Becky Thompson, USA

120.         Diane Hereford, USA

121.         David Heap, People for Peace London*, Canada

122.         Donah Abdulla, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights*, Canada

123.         Wendy Goldsmith, People for Peace London*, Canada

124.         Abdu Mihirig, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-UBC*, Canada

125.         Saldibastami, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-UBC*, Canada

126.         Abdenahmane Bouaffad, CMF*, France

127.         Feroze Mithiborwala, Awami Bharat*, India

128.         John Dear, Pax Christi*, USA

129.         Ziyaad Lunat, Portugal

130.         Michael Letwin, New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)

131.         Labor For Palestine