Monthly Archives: June 2010

Al-Awda NY: The Way Forward for Palestine Solidarity

Note: Labor for Palestine and the US Palestinian Community Network are co-endorsers of this statement. To sign on, email

June 23, 2010

In the year and a half since Israel’s massacres in Gaza, the Palestine solidarity movement, for fifteen years weakened by the two-state “Peace Roadmap” of the 1993 Oslo Accords, has gone through what can only be described as a major political recalibration.

After years of meaningless “peace negotiations,” the aim of Oslo — a “Jewish state” on 78 percent of historic Palestine and a rump “Palestinian state” on the remaining 22 percent — is rapidly losing whatever credibility it may have once had among Palestinians. Indeed, outside the Palestinian Authority, created by Oslo to serve Israeli interests, it is hard to find any Palestinian voices advocating for such a solution with conviction.

From the ruins of Oslo have emerged new campaigns with holistic goals. The most significant of these has been the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, initiated and overwhelmingly supported by Palestinian civil society.

This campaign seeks to address the entire spectrum of what BDS leader Omar Barghouti describes as Israel’s “three-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people”: the 1967 occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem; the denial of Palestinian refugees’ right of return; and the systemic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

These BDS demands present a direct challenge to the Zionist regime of Jewish domination over the Palestinian people. The same goals have generated growing support for the principle of a single, democratic state throughout all of historic Palestine. Even longtime two-state supporter Mustafa Barghouti concedes, “I believe the vast majority of Palestinians would accept equal rights and one person, one vote in one state with alacrity. I certainly would were we to reach such a day.”

Outrage over Israel’s atrocities in and against Gaza — including the recent assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla — has dramatically infused these ideas into the international Palestine solidarity movement, thrusting the Palestinian struggle in the world spotlight as perhaps never before. Despite attempts of its opponents to tar it with the brush of anti-Semitism, BDS is increasingly advocated throughout the world, often by Jewish activists.

Zionist organizations have noted these developments with alarm. The Reut Institute, a leading Israeli think tank, recently warned that support for BDS is based on a “set of ideas that are increasingly sophisticated, ripe, lucid, and coherent,” which, if not aggressively countered, could lead to a “paradigm shift from the Two-State Solution to the One-State Solution as the consensual framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Meanwhile, some in the solidarity movement seek to limit or even oppose BDS. They claim that it is “unrealistic,” or even morally undesirable, to advocate BDS goals that challenge the separate “Jewish state” envisioned by the “Two-State Solution.” Although those who argue this include courageous critics of Israeli policy, their position here is deeply flawed.

First, the principle of self-determination means, above all, that decisions about what is or is not “realistic” belongs to those who live under oppression, rather than their sympathizers — however well meaning. “As in the struggle against South African apartheid,” writes Omar Barghouti, “genuine solidarity movements recognize and follow the lead of the oppressed, who are not passive objects but active, rational subjects that are asserting their aspirations and rights as well as their strategy to realize them.”

Second, is there any social justice movement that has not seemed “unrealistic” or even impossible? Yet, circumstances change rapidly and unpredictably; what was fantasy yesterday often comes true tomorrow. It is enough to remember the long decades that preceded the abolition of slavery, the civil rights victories of the 1960s, or the collapse of colonialism and apartheid in southern Africa.

Third, the “Two-State Solution” is itself realistic only as ratification of a fractured, Israeli-controlled Bantustan; a “Two-Prison” solution, as Palestinian activist Haidar Eid bluntly describes it. This has been the Israeli and U.S. goal since the beginning of the “peace process”; indeed, anyone looking to catch glimpse of a future Palestinian “state” need look no further than the systematic strangulation of Gaza and continued “Judaization” of the land on both sides of the 1948 “Green Line.” In that sense, the most dangerous aspect of this solution is precisely that it is possible.

Finally, “pragmatism” at the expense of justice is always an illusion. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously pointed out, true peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice. An apartheid state built on the notion of Jewish supremacy in an Arab land cannot be part of that vision of justice; on the contrary, it promises unending oppression and conflict.

Although it would be naive to expect an imminent collapse of this state, the genie is out of the bottle. If King was right — that the arc of the “moral universe” does indeed bend toward justice — there is reason to be confident about the movement’s long-term prospects.

Now more than ever, it is time for the solidarity movement to align itself with the growing number of Palestinians in the 1967 occupied territories, the refugee communities, and within the 1948 lands calling for a single democratic Palestinian state of all its citizens from the river to the sea.

This cannot happen until all those and their descendants who were driven from their villages and cities in 1948 by terror, force and massacre are able to return and live in freedom and equality in all of historic Palestine. For those interested in true peace, that is the only pragmatic option.


If your organization would like to endorse or co-sign this statement, please email us at

Al Awda New York

Turkish Dock Workers Union Joins Boycott against Israel

The working class movement in Turkey is starting to join the Boycott Against Israel Campaign. While the working class movements around the world has escalated the campaign against Israel by refusing to unload Israeli cargo ships, the Dock Workers Union “Liman-Is” is the latest union in Turkey joining the anti apartheid, anti racist campaign against the state of Israel.

The recent campaign against Israel started by the left and progressive organizations is beginning to get support from the workers’ unions as well. The movement against Israeli apartheid was successful in bringing the entire spectrum of the left against Israel’s racist and imperialist regime. However now, the movement is starting to gain support within the working class organizations as well.

The Boycott Against Israel movement aims to cut all ties, military, economic, diplomacy, academic and cultural, with the state of Israel.

Following the Physicians’ Association of Turkey which had endorsed the campaign from the very beginning, the dock workers’ union Liman-Is is now also calling for a comprehensive boycott against the reactionary state of Israel. The movement had organized a successful symposium for Palestinian rights and against Israel where the representatives from the world had gathered to discuss the the strategy of such a boycott. During the discussions, the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers of Turkey, a participant in the symposium announced it was joining the boycott against Israel.

The statement from Liman-Is union is below:

“Humanity is once again confronted with the bloody face of Israel when it attacked, murdered, and wounded many innocent civilians who were on their way to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“This attack by Israel, which had for years displayed the most brutal and barbaric terror in Palestine, is now aimed towards the third party civilians. This must be taken as an assault against all of humanity.

“The attack that was protested throughout the world and condemned harshly by the UN also brought people out to the streets in Turkey. The government’s announcements indicate that further sanctions against Israel is to be expected.

However, Israel needs to be replied not only through the channels of the government, but through all institutions and organizations that direct societies, most of all, through NGO’s and unions.

“Our union Liman-Is, has decided to boycott the ships from Israel which has become a machine of death and torture. In the framework, no member of our union will give service to Israel in any docs that we are organized at.

“Liman-Is union invites all unions and NGO’s organized in our country and throughout the world to join this boycott and protest campaign.

“Liman-Is Union Central Committee”

Swedish dockworkers boycott Israeli ships

Press release from The Swedish Dockworkers Union, section 4, Gothenburg.


kl. 01.47

The nation-wide blockade of all goods to and from Israel is under way

– Tens of containers were put under blockade tonight.


By midnight at 00:00 on the 23rd June the Swedish Dock-workers union week-long blockade of goods to and from Israel started. The ongoing nation-wide blockade in Swedish harbors, that is based on the request of the united Palestinian union-movement, is The Swedish Dockworkers Union’s attempt to contribute to pressure Israel into:
1. Lifting the blockade on Gaza
2. Allowing an independent, international investigation of what happened at the Israeli boarding of the so called Freedom Flottilla when nine people were shot to death.

In the harbor of Gothenburg the blockade were initiated without any complications. About ten containers, both Israeli imports and exports were immediately identified in the container terminal. All of which have been separated and will stand untouched in the harbor of Gothenburg until the end of the blockade at 24:00 the 29th of June.

– Everything has passed very calmly and I believe it will continue to do so until next Wednesday, says Peter Annerback, chairperson of the Swedish Dockworkers Union section 4 (Hamn4an) and member of the unions executive committee in a late comment.

– Since we are not in a conflict with our employers a “conflict-contained” container that carries any medical equipment will be allowed exemption, continues Annerback.

– We have identified more goods on its way to or from Israel than we had expected. We thought the flow of goods would be much lower considering the blockade has been announced for twenty days, says Hamn4ans trustee Erik Helgeson.

– Our ambition is of course that our action can be one of many grassroots initiatives that will keep the eyes of the world focused on the 800.000 children that lives isolated in Gaza. The Palestinian civilian population must be allowed to rebuild their economy, their infrastructure and freely integrate with the rest of the world. The war on Gaza and Israel’s brutal blockade have made all this impossible for over three years now, Helgeson ends.

The Swedish Dockworkers Union have explained the motives behind the unions blockade of Israeli goods in two articles:


Dagens ETC:

ILWU Local 10 Motion Condemning the Israeli Attack on the Aid Ships to Gaza (Labournet)


ILWU Local 10 Motion Condemning the Israeli Attack on the Aid Ships to Gaza

Published: 23/06/10

this resolution was adopted by the ILWU Local 10 Executive Board on 8 June 2010


Whereas, Israel’s recent killing of unarmed people in international waters on board the ship Mavi Marmara bringing aid to the Palestinian people in Gaza has provoked the anger of trade unions around the world, and

Whereas the Mavi Marmara was the largest of the vessels in a peaceful flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza by bringing medical aid and construction supplies, and

Whereas, the International Dockworkers Council (IDC), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the largest union in Britain UNITE have all condemned the bloody Israeli attack as an unjustifiable escalation of war against the Palestinian people, and

Whereas, in a stunning display of solidarity with the Palestinian people the Swedish Dockworkers Union is refusing to work Israeli ships from June 15-24, and

Whereas, on June 7, 2010 the Palestinian Trade Union Movement issued a call to dockworkers’ unions world wide to take action in opposition to Israel’s massacre of people in the Freedom Flotilla and it’s illegal blockade of Gaza, and

Whereas, the ILWU and especially Local 10 have a long record of defending the right of determination of the Palestinian people and against Zionist repression, and Whereas, most recently the ILWU passed a resolution at the 2009 Convention commending the South African dockworkers union for taking a strike action against an Israeli ship in Durban to protest the massacre of 1400 Palestinians by the Israeli army in Gaza,

Therefore be it resolved that Local 10 joins the chorus of trade unions internationally condemning this Israeli attack, demanding an end to the Israeli blockade and an end to U. S. military aid to Israeli without which the bloody repression of Palestinians would not be possible, and

Furthermore, by Executive Action we call on the ILWU International officers to lend their voice in protest with other unions against this atrocity by issuing a policy statement in line with the ILWU’s past position on the question of Israeli repression of Palestinians and call for unions to protest by any action they choose to take.

EI: Activists prevent Israeli ship from unloading at US port

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 21 June 2010

For the first time in US history, a peaceful protest was able to stop workers from unloading an Israeli cargo ship on Sunday, 20 June, in the San Francisco Bay area. From 5:30am until 7pm, social justice activists and labor union organizers blocked and picketed several entrances at the Port of Oakland, preventing two shifts of longshoremen with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to come to work and unload the Israeli Zim Lines cargo ship.

Approximately 700 protesters and labor organizers launched the action in direct response to the ongoing blockade in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli attacks on humanitarian aid activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last month. Nine persons, including a 19-year-old American citizen, were killed in the attacks, and at least thirty were wounded as activists attempted to sail to the beleaguered Gaza Strip with thousands of tons of humanitarian supplies prevented from normal import by Israel.

The picket at the Port of Oakland comes on the heels of a similar actions around the world in protest of Israeli policies. Dockworkers in Sweden announced on 2 June that no Israeli ships would be unloaded or processed between 15-24 June in protest of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

A coalition of Palestinian trade unions issued a call for the labor-led action, stating that “Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity.” Bay Area members of the Labor for Palestine group, heeding the call, issued a press release saying that the ILWU Local 10 joins with dockworkers in South Africa, western Australia, Sweden and Norway, who have all launched similar actions.

A press release from Labor for Palestine stated: “this action stands in the proud tradition of West Coast dockworkers who refused to handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) and fascist Italy (1935); those in Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and Liverpool (1988), who refused shipping for apartheid South Africa; those in Oakland who refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978); and those at all 29 West Coast ports who held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2008).”

Monadel Herzallah, organizer with Labor for Palestine and the Arab-American Union Members Council, told The Electronic Intifada that the Port of Oakland remains a beacon of global justice activism tradition with the ILWU:

“They have been courageous and have stood in principle to support different issues. Today, the SF Labor Council, the Alameda Central Labor Council, and dozens of other labor councils have responded to the call by Palestinian labor unions to block the ship and make a statement — after the flotilla incident, there’s no way that Israel can conduct business as usual. Having this type of action at this moment in the US, a supporter of the injustice being done by Israel, is quite significant.”

ILWU Local 10 member Clarence Thomas said that the action would raise the stakes and encourage other labor unions to broaden their education around the Palestine issue. “The world is watching,” Thomas told EI. “There hasn’t been any significant labor action responding to Israel’s actions [until now]. Israel’s naked aggression in international waters is very difficult to ignore. With this action today, this is the start [of a broader movement]. This is going to be a very important, a very historic day … This is a teaching moment.”

Thomas told EI that crossing the picket line raises an issue of health and safety for the workers, which was cited as the official reason ILWU shifts were cancelled (with full pay). In 2003, in a similar action against the loading of weapons and military equipment bound for US-occupied Iraq, both protesters and longshore workers were wounded by Oakland police officers who fired wooden dowels, sting balls, tear gas and percussion grenades after the crowd refused to disperse. “We don’t want our workers put in the middle again,” Thomas said.

Labor organizers handed out flyers to truckers, dockworkers and other port workers on their way to work, explaining what happened on 31 May to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and urging workers not to handle Israeli cargo “until the blockade in Gaza is ended.” Workers turned around and went back home, many of them honking their horns in support of the picket.

After the first shift of workers decided not to cross the picket line following arbitration meetings, protest organizers urged activists to stay and block gates for the second shift. By 6:30pm, the second shift decided to honor the picket and refused to come to work. Meanwhile, the Israeli cargo ship arrived at the docks, but no one was there to unload it.

Wael Bheisy, a Palestinian refugee from Kuwait whose parents were expelled from Palestine after 1948, said he was at the protest to send a message of solidarity to his relatives in Gaza. “They live in a big jail … and that this is happening in this day and age is just unbelievable to me. We’re here to take action and make the world listen. No country should continue to have normal relations with the State of Israel, or any government that practices, in everyday policy, such brutal oppression against a people.”

Bheisy said that this action could make a huge impact across the country and the world. “This is historic, this is unprecedented. As we know, in the ’70s and ’80s, the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa was launched. And it’s disappointing that thirty years later, we’re here again. But it’s an action that’s hopefully going to spark similar actions. For the first time, we stopped Israeli goods from unloading in the United States.”

Labor for Palestine Salutes West Coast Dockers for Embargo on Israeli Cargo

June 21, 2010

ILWU President Bob McEllrath

Dear Pres. McEllrath:

Labor for Palestine salutes ILWU Local 10 and its members for refusing to unload the Israeli ship that arrived in Oakland on June 20 (see reports below*).

Their action is in direct response to Israel’s May 31 brutal assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Taking place in international waters under cover of darkness, the Israeli attack targeted 750 unarmed volunteers from 40 countries seeking to relieve the humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s siege of collective punishment against the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Because of Israel’s attack on the Flotilla, scores were killed and wounded, while hundreds of survivors were abducted, jailed and deported. This act of piracy is a direct extension of the 2008/2009 Gaza massacre that killed 1400 people, most of them civilians, which has been condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, including those that are Israeli.

Workers in the United States have particularly good reasons to act. In the past ten years alone, the US government — with overwhelming bipartisan support — has given Israel $17 billion in military aid; over the next decade, it will give another $30 billion.

Top US labor officials — often without the knowledge or consent of union members — collaborate with the Histadrut, the segregated Zionist labor federation, and its mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee, that defend every attack on Palestinian rights, including the Flotilla Massacre.[1] These same leaders invest billions from our union pension and retirement funds in State of Israel Bonds.

Noting that “Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity,” the Palestinian trade union movement has specifically called on dockworkers around the world to refuse to handle Israeli cargo. Local 10 now joins with dockworkers in South Africa, western Australia, Sweden and Norway, who have answered this call.

This action stands in the proud tradition of West Coast dock-workers who refused to handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) and fascist Italy (1935); those in Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and Liverpool (1988), who refused shipping for apartheid South Africa; those in Oakland who refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978); and those at all twenty-nine West Coast ports who held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2008).

Israel deliberately carried out the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre in order to silence opposition to its strangulation of Gaza. But just as the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the 1976 Soweto Massacre spelled the ultimate doom of South African apartheid, Israel’s attack has already had the opposite effect.

New waves of volunteers are coming forward to break the siege, which is already beginning to crack. The movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is spreading. Already, it is clear that the Flotilla martyrs did not die in vain.

And just as labor solidarity played a critical role in toppling South African apartheid, it now has the potential to cripple Israeli apartheid. We urge the entire ILWU and all trade unionists to stand behind and expand on this critical issue of conscience and solidarity, and invite supporters to endorse “Labor for Palestine Condemns Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre, Supports Worker Action to Boycott Israel”:

On behalf of Labor for Palestine,

Monadel Herzallah, President, Arab American Union Members Council, California
Michael Letwin, Former President, ALAA/UAW L. 2325; NYC Labor Against the War; Al-Awda NY; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network/Labor
Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; NYC Labor Against the War; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement



ILWU Secretary-Treasurer William Adams <>
ILWU Local 10 President Richard Mead <>
ILWU Local 10 Secretary-Treasurer Farless Dailey
ILWU Local 10 Executive Board member Jack Heyman <>


Reports on the June 20 Blockade of an Israeli Apartheid Ship in Oakland

Oakland Longshorman’s Union June 20, 2010
Union dock workers refused this morning to cross picket lines to unload an Israeli ship, in support of Palestinians everywhere. If the evening shift does the same, the ship will not be unloaded!!!

Protesters Picket Israeli Cargo Ship
ILWU members refused to cross picketline – citing “health & safety” provisions of their contract. Management demanded “instant arbitration.” The arbitrator took a look at the picketlines at each gate to the SSA Terminal and ruled that ILWU members were justified in refusing to cross. All dockworkers were sent home with FULL PAY.

Morning Picket Shuts Down Israeli Zim Lin Line at the Port of Oakland, 6/20/10: video
The blockade represents the first time in U.S. history that a protest has stopped an Israeli ship from unloading.

Picket to stop unloading of Israeli ship

ILWU Explains Why they’ve refused to unload Israeli ship
The union workers of the ILWU explain their decision to not unload Israeli goods in the Oakland port, citing past decisions to unload the goods of other countries that violate human rights on a massive scale with U.S tax dollars and heeding the call of Palestinian civil society which has called on the world to apply boycott divestment and sanctions akin to the actions that brought down apartheid south Africa until Israel ends it’s brutal military occupation of the Palestinian people, ends the siege on gaza, and grants equal rights and respects the human rights of all people living under Israeli jurisdiction.

Israeli Ship Blockaded at Port of Oakland!

Protesters Block Israeli Ship from Unloading at Oakland Port
“We want to send a clear message that if you commit acts of piracy on the high sea; if you go and attack civilians and kill them in cold blood, execution-style; if you put Gaza under siege; if you build an apartheid wall; we will not honor your Israeli commerce right here in this town.”

Demonstrators Prevent Unloading of Israeli Ship
OAKLAND, Calif. (KCBS) — Hundreds of protesters gathered before dawn at the Port of Oakland to prevent dock workers from unloading a cargo ship from Israel on Sunday.

Tom Vee’s Photos – California Says ‘NO’ to Israeli Cargo Ship

Hundreds in Oakland protest Gaza blockade
Hundreds of demonstrators, gathering at the Port of Oakland before dawn, prevented the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship. The demonstrators, demanding an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, picketed at Berth 58.

Message from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Your action today is a milestone in international solidarity from honest and brave U.S. workers and trade unionists.

Daybreak outpouring of Bay Area picketers stops unloading of Israeli ship
For veteran Bay Area activists, today’s victory echoed a historic milestone in 1984, when ILWU workers in San Francisco refused to unload a ship called the Nedlloyd Kimberley, because its cargo came from South Africa. Just 10 years later, Nelson Mandela was elected president, and apartheid – in its South African form – was dead.

Bay Area Dockworkers Answer Palestinian Call for Solidarity (Labor Notes)

Labor Notes

Bay Area Dockworkers Answer Palestinian Call for Solidarity

Seven hundred demonstrators picketed the Port of Oakland near dawn Sunday morning, protesting Israel’s attack on a flotilla trying to break the blockade on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Longshore Workers Local 10 honored the picket and refused to unload a ship bearing Israeli cargo. Photo: Mike Parker.

Bay Area dockworkers refused to cross a picket line early Sunday, leaving a ship loaded with cargo from Israel floating offshore.

Seven hundred demonstrators had gathered to protest Israel’s May 31 attack on a flotilla attempting to break the blockade on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. The assault on the flotilla, carrying 10,000 tons of aid, killed nine people and injured more than 100.

After members of Local 10 of the Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) chose not to cross the line at the Port of Oakland, citing a contract provision that protects their health and safety, the stevedoring company cancelled the next shift, anticipating another refusal to unload the ship.

The events followed a similar action by dockworkers in Sweden, responding to the call put out by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to turn away Israeli goods. Dockworkers in Norway, Malaysia, and South Africa have also said they will not unload Israeli ships and cargo.

The call for longshore unions to refuse Israeli goods was amplified when Israel dispatched commandos in helicopters three weeks ago to seize small ships that were attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The humanitarian mission was sponsored by Turkish organizations, and hundreds of unarmed activists were on board.

Israel has prohibited food, household goods, and construction materials from reaching Gaza since the 2006 election of the militant Hamas movement to the territory’s government.

Israel, under heavy international pressure since the deadly assault on the flotilla, announced Sunday it will widen the list of goods allowed into Gaza.

Israel’s three-year blockade—and a 2008 military assault on Gaza that killed 1,440 Palestinians and destroyed 4,000 homes along with hospitals and water treatment facilities—has left the tiny territory in ruins, unable to rebuild.

Scores of unions around the world have condemned Israel’s blockade and attack on the flotilla, with the Congress of South African Trade Unions calling it “state-sponsored piracy.”

Along with US Labor Against the War, Labor for Palestine, a small US-based cross-union network, decried the assault on the flotilla. The AFL-CIO declined to comment.


Meanwhile, the South African Municipality Workers, among others, is campaigning to have cities break ties to Israel. Their drive is part of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which activists in many countries are taking up to pressure Israel to change its behavior toward Gaza and its own Palestinian citizens. The campaign is modeled after the international movement that brought down South African apartheid in the 1980s.

Palestinian labor is asking for union solidarity in the campaign to sever ties with Israeli businesses, and to support new flotillas attempting to bring essential goods into Gaza.

Manawell Abdul-Al, a PGFTU executive committee member, responded to ILWU Local 10’s action: “This genuine solidarity is something we have longed for and expected,” he said. “We expected from you nothing less because of your history of defending the oppressed.”

Bay Area dockers refused to unload a South African ship in 1984, and would not load bombs headed for Chile’s military government in 1978.

Australian unions act to isolate Israel

Saturday, June 5, 2010
By Dick Nichols, Green Left Weekly

Photo: CFMEU NSW Secretary Andrew Ferguson at Gaza solidarity march. (Peter Boyle)

The movement for Australian union action against Israel is gaining strength after the apartheid state’s latest murderous attack on the unarmed aid flotilla to Gaza.

The South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) and the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory branches of the Australian Services Union have joined the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union in committing to the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the aggressive Israeli state.

Australian unions and peak bodies have also called on members to attend the many protest actions.

The union campaign demanding an active boycott of Israel began in this country with the January 2009 ban on Israel cargo imposed by the Western Australian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia. The ban came after the Durban branch of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union refused to unload cargo from Israel.

SCLC secretary Arthur Rorris said: “A boycott of Israeli goods produced in the illegal settlements is a good way for the international community to send a strong message to the Israeli leadership that humanity will not turn a blind eye to the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people.”

We must now make the BDS campaign the policy of the entire union movement, just as in the days of the anti-apartheid bans against South Africa.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and state trades and labour councils have so far avoided taking meaningful action against Israeli interests, restricting themselves to calls for restraint.

To make a difference, the Australian union movement should follow the lead recently set by the British University and College Union.

Its 2010 congress last week voted overwhelmingly to “sever all relations with [the Israeli trade union federation] Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise”.

It also proposed to: “Seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union-sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law.

This is the only sort of action the Israeli government understands.

Other Australian unions can make a difference for Palestine by supporting the BDS campaign and demanding that the ACTU do the same.

More Australian trade unions join Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel

In the wake of the murderous Israeli commando attack on an unarmed aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31, more trade unions in Australia are joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. Here Andrew Ferguson, the NSW Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) addresses the Sydney June 5, 2010 Gaza solidarity rally. He is introduced by Pip Hinman of the Stop The War Coalition.

Video: Israel Zim Line Hit With Pickets-ILWU 10 & 34 Workers Stand Against Israeli Apartheid (

Israel Zim Line Hit With Pickets-ILWU 10 & 34 Workers Stand Against Israeli Apartheid

In a historic labor community protest on June 20, 2010, more than eight hundred people joined picket lines in the Port of Oakland SSA terminals to call on ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 members not to cross the picket lines and work the Israeli Zim ship Shenzhen. The protest was organized against the attack by Israel on the aid flotilla going to Gaza and the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza. The union longshore workers refused to cross the picket line and the protesters as a result were successful in stopping the work on the SSA terminal for 24 hours halting the ships departure until the following day. This was the first direct labor action by workers in the United States in solidarity with Palestinian workers and people. It also shows the link and continuity of this action with the 1984 apartheid picket of a ship from South Africa. Zim Line was actively engaged in supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa. ILWU workers and others make comparison of these pickets and also why they consider Israel an apartheid regime. The port boycott picket was also endorsed by the Oakland Education Association OEA and the San Francisco and Alameda Central Labor Councils. Many bay area trade unionists who joined the picket line speak out on this issue and why they have taken a stand.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.23.18 PM

Support Pours in for Zim Lines Picket

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions | Palestinian Boycott National CommitteeUK Palestine Solidarity Committee | Oakland Education Association | Cuban Workers Central CTC

From the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee:

Message from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)

To our respected sisters, brothers and comrades in the trade unions, labor councils and workers’ organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Since the beginning of the workers’ struggles in your country – the United States of America – international solidarity has been a constant part of workers’ organizing and struggle in solidarity with workers and people facing injustice everywhere in the world. We, the workers and the people of Palestine are suffering under oppression of the Israeli occupation of our land and people. This occupation began long ago, the longest-lasting occupation of the modern era.

As people who cherish life and wish to live in freedom, we look to and call upon ourfellow workers of the world, particularly today our friends of truth, democracy and freedom in the San Francisco Bay Area to take a stand of courage alongside Palestinian workers to obtain justice and freedom for the workers and people of Palestine. We call upon you to support our struggle to obtain our liberty, practice our self-determination, and build a sovereign, democratic Palestine, like all other nations on earth.

Dear brothers and sisters, trade unionists, workers, and people of the San Francisco Bay Area, we remember and salute your historic and massive action on the docks in 1984, when you acted to boycott the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We look to you today from the Gaza Strip and all of Palestine, and call upon you to repeat that courageous stand today. This genuine solidarity is something we have longed for and expected. As you are responding to our appeal, we expected from you nothing less because of your history of defending the oppressed, including our people suffering under Israeli occupation, and your stand in opposition to the attack on the unarmed Gaza Freedom Flotilla seeking to deliver humanitarian assistance to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza. Your action today is a milestone ininternational solidarity from honest and brave U.S. workers and trade unionists.

Greetings to you from the trade unionists and workers of Palestine…from the trade unionists and workers trapped in Gaza, seeking freedom…from the entire world who cares for humanity, freedom, justice, progress, and to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

On behalf of your brothers, sisters and comrades in the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions,

Manawell Abdul-Al
Executive Committee Member
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
June 19, 2010

Letter From UK Palestine Solidarity Committee To ILWU President McEllrath

ILWU President Bob McEllrath

17 June 2010

Dear Pres. McEllrath,
I write to congratulate ILWU Local 10 and its membership for their response to the Israeli act of piracy on the high seas and murderous attack on the Freedom Flotilla, immediately condemned by both the International Transportworkers Federation and the International Dockworkers Council.

The Flotilla aimed to break the ongoing siege of Gaza, still under Israeli military control following the invasion of Dec 2008 – Jan 2009 which killed 1400 Palestinians, mainly civilians including 300 children. The International Committee of the Red Cross condemns the siege as “collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”, and states “The only sustainable solution is to lift the closure”.

In Feb 2009 the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and to the ITF, refused to handle the Zim Lines ship “Johanna Russ”, which had sailed from Haifa at the height of the Israeli bombardment.

Next week, the IDC-affiliated Swedish Dockworkers Union and the ITF-affiliated Norwegian Transportworkers Union will begin a joint blockade of trade with Israel. As the Swedish Dockworkers Union states, the action aims to influence the Israeli government to “Lift the illegal and inhuman blockade of Gaza, which has been going on for over three years” and to “Allow an independent, international inquiry into Israel’s boarding of the Freedom Flotilla (of which the Swedish Ship to Gaza was a member) in international waters” [4]

The Scandinavian blockade responds to an appeal last week from the entire Palestinian trade union movement, calling on dockers worldwide to boycott shipping trade with Israel “until Israel complies fully with international law and ends its illegal siege of Gaza”.

As with the battle to end South African apartheid and the military occupation of Namibia, action by trade unionists in solidarity with their Palestinian counterparts will be decisive and can impose a real price on Israel’s continued systematic racist discrimination against the Palestinian people and defiance of international law.

I hope and trust that the ILWU will uphold its very proud record of international solidarity this weekend.

Yours in solidarity

Greg Dropkin
Liverpool Friends of Palestine


ILWU Secretary-Treasurer William Adams
ILWU Local 10 President Richard Mead
ILWU Local 10 Secretary-Treasurer Farless Dailey
ILWU Local 10 Executive Board member Jack Heyman

Oakland Education Association OEA Calls On ILWU Longshore Workers Not To Load and Unload Ships From Israel

June 18, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the ILWU,

At the June 2, 2010 Executive Board meeting of the Oakland Education Association, the following motion was passed:

“Consistent with our position on Gaza adopted in February 2009, the OEA condemns the Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla, calls for the lifting of the blockade, reaffirms the right of both Palestinians and Jews to live in Israel-Palestine, and supports an action by transportation workers nationally and internationally who refuse to handle military-related cargo destined for the Israeli Defense Forces.”

We join with the United Nations and Amnesty International, along with numerous international and national trade union organizations, including the Educational International, in condemning the Israeli commando attack on the Free Gaza Aid Flotilla and call for an impartial and independent international investigation of the attack.

We call on our brothers and sisters of the ILWU not to load or unload the Israeli ship docking at Stevedore Services of America. We recall the action of longshoremen in San Francisco in 1984 when they refused to unload a ship carrying South African cargo, which mobilized the anti-apartheid movement worldwide and was the inspiration for similar actions globally. And we remember May 19, 2007, when Oakland teachers and longshore workers shut down the same war shipping profiteer Stevedore Services of America in the Port of Oakland for a day as teachers demanded that Port revenues be used for the schools and other social services, not for war. We salute the ILWU for your long and proud history of supporting social justice.

In solidarity,

Betty Olson-Jones
President, Oakland Education Association
(510) 763-4020 x15
272 E. 12th Street
Oakland, CA 94606

Cuban Workers Central CTC Backs Labor Boycott Of Israeli Ship In Oakland California On June 20, 2010

Havana, June 18, 2010

To: Tim Paulson, Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council

Robert McEllrath, President
International Longshore and Warehouse Union

William Harvey, President
Alameda Labor Council

The Cuban workers support the just protest of the workers and community of the San Francisco Bay Area that will take place on June 20 against the cruel and inhumane blockade which the Israeli government maintains in the Gaza Strip, depriving thousands of women, children and men of the most basic rights, especially the right to life.

Our people have lived for more than 50 years under an unjust and abominable blockade by the United States government. Therefore, we understand very well how the Palestinian people feel and we will always be in solidarity with their just cause. Today, we send you our most sincere support.

Long Live the Solidarity of the Working Class!
End the Blockade of Gaza!
Respect and Justice for the Palestinian People!

Carmen Godínez
America Coordinator
Department of International Relations
Cuban Workers Central (CTC)

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee applauds the planned Labor and Community Picket of an Israeli Zim Line ship

Occupied Palestine, June 17, 2010 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, whose membership includes the entirety of the Palestinian trade union movement salutes all trade union branches, trade union activists and people of conscience in the San Francisco Bay area who have responded to the Palestinian trade union movement’s appeal issued June 8, 2010, [1] that called for taking effective and concrete measures to block Israel’s maritime trade in response to its massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla. The planned Labor and Community Picket of an Israeli Zim Line ship will be a moral and principled display of solidarity with Palestinian workers and the people of Palestine.

The global trade union movement, especially the dockworkers component of it, has once again demonstrated its courage and commitment to human rights by adopting concrete, ground-breaking labor-led sanctions against oppressive regimes in a show of effective solidarity with oppressed peoples around the world. Inspired by the courage of dockworkers unions around the world that boycotted South African maritime trade during the anti-apartheid struggle, trade unions are once again taking the lead in defending the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, freedom, the application of the right of return for our refugees, and an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee warmly salutes all those that that stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.