Labor for Palestine Condemns Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre, Supports Worker Action to Boycott Israel

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June 7, 2010

“Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel’s occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.”–Palestinian Trade Union Movement Calls on International Dockworkers Unions to Block Loading/Offloading Israeli Ships Until Israel Complies Fully with International Law and Ends its Illegal Siege of Gaza, June 7, 2010[1]

As trade unionists in the United States, we join with labor bodies around the world to condemn Israel’s May 31 armed assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

To date, these include the South African Congress of Trade Unions; National Union of Mineworkers (South Africa), Irish Congress Of Trade Unions; Maritime Union of Australia; New Zealand Council of Trade Unions; International Dockworkers Council; Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (Turkey); GSEE (Greek TUC); ADEDY (Greek public sector union federation); Trades Union International of Workers in the Building, Wood, Building Materials and Allied Industries; International Federation of Journalists; World Federation of Trade Unions; International Trade Union Confederation; International Transport Workers’ Federation; Public Services International; Unite (U.K.); Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Canadian Union of Public Employees; Education International; and  US Labor Against the War.

Notwithstanding Israeli propaganda — abetted by the corporate media — the Flotilla Massacre was a premeditated act of state terrorism.

Taking place in international waters under cover of darkness, it targeted 750 unarmed volunteers from 40 countries seeking to relieve the humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s illegal and immoral collective punishment against the 1.5 million people in Gaza. This criminal assault killed and wounded scores of aid workers, while abducting, jailing and deporting hundreds of survivors.

This crime against humanity only symbolizes a regime rooted in more than six decades of piracy, ethnic cleansing, racism, and apartheid against Palestinians and other indigenous people of the region.

Most immediately, it 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.

That Israel’s crimes nonetheless continue unabated is due entirely to support from its international sponsors. 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.

Thus, this attack, like Israel’s entire war on Palestine, was carried out with US-supplied naval vessels, Apache helicopters and other weapons. Once again, through its not-so-silent complicity, the Obama administration is letting Israel get away with murder.

Workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for US-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran.

Yet, top US labor officials — often without the knowledge or consent of union members — collaborate with the Histadrut, the segregated Zionist labor federation that defends every attack on Palestinian rights, including the Flotilla Massacre.[2] These same leaders invest billions from our union pension and retirement funds in State of Israel Bonds.

US labor officials’ policies directly violate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel, initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society — including its entire labor movement.

Inspired by the international boycott that helped topple apartheid South Africa, the campaign demands Palestinian self-determination, including an end to Israeli military occupation, the right of refugees to return, and equal rights for all throughout historic Palestine.

BDS has been endorsed by labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, and Italy.

Just one day before the Gaza Flotilla Massacre, the University and College Union (UK) voted to “sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise.”[3]

South African workers play a leading role in the BDS movement because they remember that Israel was apartheid South Africa’s closest ally, and they agree with the observation of numerous South African freedom fighters that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid.”[4]

In February 2009, South African and Australian dockworkers refused to handle Israeli goods and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU) “call[ed] on other workers and unions to . . . do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free.”[5]

In response to the Gaza Flotilla Massacre, the Swedish Port Workers Union has announced it will blockade Israeli ships and cargo from June 15-24. The South African dockers (SAWATU) have “salute[d] the Swedish dock workers for their blockade of all Israeli ships” and “call[ed] for an escalation of the boycott of Israeli goods and call upon our fellow trade unionists not to handle them.”[6]

Now, the entire Palestinian trade union movement, “calls on dockworkers’ unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.”[7]

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 BDS movement is exploding. Already, it is clear that the Flotilla martyrs did not die in vain.

Just as labor solidarity played a critical role in toppling South African apartheid, it now has the potential to cripple Israeli apartheid. Therefore, we urge trade unionists in the US to call on our unions, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to condemn the Gaza Flotilla Massacre and support the international labor BDS campaign to:

1. End US military and economic aid for, and ties with, Israel.

2. Divest from State of Israel Bonds.

3. Refuse to handle Israeli goods and cargo.

4. Break ties with all Israeli state institutions, including the Histadrut.



[2] [The Jewish Labor Committee, the Histadrut’s U.S. mouthpiece, has also defended the Flotilla Massacre:]







(List in formation — ALL UNION BODIES LISTED FOR IDENTIFICATION ONLY. Endorse this statement:

U.S. Signers (133)
Monadel Herzallah, President, Arab American Union Members Council, California
Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; Co-Convener, NYCLAW
Michael Letwin, Former President, ALAA/UAW L. 2325; Co-Convener, NYCLAW; Al-Awda NY; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network/Labor
Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Convener, NYCLAW; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement
Stanley Heller, AFT L. 1547, Delegate, CT Central Labor Council
Marty Goodman, Former Executive Board Member, TWU L. 100, NYC
Steve Zeltzer, Producer, Labor Video Project
Joe Iosbaker, Executive Board, SEIU L. 73, Chicago
Larry Bradshaw, Third Vice President SEIU L. 1021, San Francisco
Antonia Codling, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Bronx
Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn
Noha Arafa, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn
Keith B. Sadler, UAW L. 12, Toldeo
Andy Griggs, UTLA/AFT L. 1021; Co-Chair, CTA, Peace and Justice Caucus, Los Angeles
Carol Gay, Convenor, NJLAW; EVP, NJ Industrial Union Council
Anthony Arnove, NWU/UAW L. 1981, NYC
Dr. Simona Sharoni, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies, UUP, SUNY, Plattsburgh, NY
Michael Yates, AFT; Adjunct Professor, UMass-Amherst Labor Studies
Manzar Foroohar, Local Board, San Luis Obispo Chapter, CFA
Mary Scully, IUE L. 201, Lynn, MA (ret.)
Dr. Nagesh Rao, TCNJFT, AFT L. 2364
Sherna Berger Gluck, Former VP, CFA-SEIU L. 1983
Dave Welsh, Delegate, SFLC
Dennis Kortheuer, CFA
Howard Lenow, Union attorney; American Jews for a Just Peace
Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, AFT L. 1493, San Mateo (CA) Community College Federation of Teachers
Jerry Silberman, Senior Staff Representative, PASNAP, Philadelphia
Mike Gimbel, Chairperson, Labor-Community Unity Committee, AFSCME DC 37 L. 375, NYC
James Holstun, UB Center Chapter, UUP, NYSUT, AFT
Wren Osborn, Associate Member, USW
Bill Bachmann, APWU L. 10, NYC
Eric Robson, Steward, AFSCME L. 171
Elizabeth Hauser, North Thurston Education Association
Mark S. Clinton, Massachusetts Community College Council, NEA
Donald Dinelli, NEA-CTA-OEA
Sam Weinstein, Former President, UWUA L. 132; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network/Labor
Roland Sheppard, BA, Painters L. 4 (ret.)
Steve Ongerth, IWW Bay Area GMB and EB
Charles Smith, AFSCME L. 444; Delegate, Alameda Central Labor Council
Janice Rothstein, AFSCME L. 3299
Tiffany Yee, Steward, UAW L. 2322
Carole Seligman, SSFCTA
Sameerah Ahmad, GEO/UAW L. 2322, UMass-Amherst
Jen Bills, Region 67, IEA-NEA
Lee Sustar, NWU/UAW L. 1981
Lorrie Beth Slonsky, SFFD Paramedic, SEIU L. 1021 (ret.)
Frank Couget, NALC
Sabina Virgo, Founding and Past President, AFSCME L. 2620
Carl Gentile, National Representative, AFGE
Alex Kantrowitz, IBT L. 700
Blanche Bebb, SEIU L. 250 Executive Board and Vice President SF (ret.)
Robert Price, AFT L. 2121
Steve Terry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325
Moises Montoya, IFPTE L. 21
Nancy Reiko Kato UPTE-CWA 9119, L. 1
Toni Mendicino, CUE L. 3, UC Berkeley
Judy Greenspan, United Teachers of Richmond
Jon Sternberg, CNA
Donna Carter, CNA
Joe Blum, Business Agent, Boilermakers L. 6 (ret.)
Matthew Klein, Bricklayers L. 3
Edith M Hallberg, Berkeley Federation of Teachers (ret.)
Mark Airgood, OEA
Bill Preston, President, AFGE L. 17
Shelley Ettinger, AFT L. 3882; former delegate, NYCCLC
Kate Zaidan, IWW
Don DeBar, WBAI Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee
George dePue, Former organizer, District 65/UAW
Shaun Joseph, GAU/AAUP, Providence RI
Mimi Rosenberg, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn
Gabriel Camacho, UNITE HERE L. 66L, Cambridge MA
Patrick Finn, UUP/SUNY Buffalo
Christine Karatnytsky, Former EB member and Editor of L. 1930 Update, NYPLG, AFSCME L. 1930
Dominic DeSiata, IBEW L. 103, Boston
Rogers Turrentine, WGA, Oceanside CA
Carl Finamore, Delegate, SFLC
Alan Hague, AFSCME Council 94, L. 528, Providence RI
Samantha Levens, Inlandboatmen’s Union/ILWU; SF Pride at Work
Sean Casey, IBEW L. 134, Chicago
Mike Alewitz, Artistic Director, Labor Art & Mural Project; Central CT University AAUP; IATSE L. 829-United Scenic Artists
Charles Andrews, Labor writer, Oakland CA
Bob Rossi, CWA 7901, Salem OR
Dennis Laumann, UCW-CWA, Memphis TN
Ellen Dillinger, NUHW, Sacramento
Robin McCubbin, CTA, San Diego
Helen Scott, United Academics AAUP/AFT L. 4996, Burlington VT
Mary Lou Finley, Secretary, CSEA San Diego Paraeducators L.759
Nancy Snyder, Recording Secretary Emeritus, SEIU L. 1021, San Francisco
Nancy Welch, Chair, Delegates Assembly, UVM United Academics AAUP/AFT L. 4996, Burlington VT
Shelia Cassidy, USW, Riverside CA
Gary Lapon, NWU/UAW L. 1981, Northampton MA
Peter Rachleff, Labor Educator, UALE/CWA, Saint Paul MN
Edard Childs, Chief-Steward, UNITE HERE L. 26, Somerville MA
Kenneth Appelhans, USW L. 1834, Gary IN (ret.)
Goetz Wolff, Delegate LACFL, CLC; AFT L. 1990, Los Angeles
Murray Bernstein, union member, Brooklyn (ret.)
Marcia Bernstein, union member, Brooklyn (ret.)
James Thompson, UAW, Houston
Teri Hart, AFSCME, Redondo Beach CA
Gladys McKenzie, Field Representative, AFSCME Council 5, St. Paul MN
Eric Brooks, Field Organizer, SEIU L. 73, Gary IN
Scott Crass, CFA, Long Beach CA
Andrew Berman, AFGE L. 375 (ret.), Minneapolis
Tibby Brooks, NWU/UAW L. 1981, NYC
Evalyn Segal, CSEA, Walnut Creek
Paul Werner, PhD., UAW L. 7902, NYC
Joe Jamison, TWU L. 100, NYC
Richard Christmas, CWA, Piscataway NJ
Sherry Halbrook, Financial Secretary, USW L. 09265, Ballston Spa NY
Sheila Finan, CSEA, Accord NY
Sarah Hughes, Vice President, GEO/UAW L. 2322, Amherst MA
Joe Lombardo, CSEA L. 694; Troy Area Labor Council, Delmar NY
Pat McDonnell, TNG, Los Angeles
Richard Koritz, NC Executive Board, NALC-AFL-CIO, Greensboro NC
Helene Busby, Delegate, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, NYC
Claire Nicolay, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn
Lucy Herschel, Delegate, 1199SEIU/UHWE, Queens NY
Lewis Lubka, Teachers Union (ret.), Fargo ND
LaSalle Jones, SEIU1199, NYC
Ellen S. Sacks, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn
Shon Meckfessel, UAW L. 4121, Seattle
Janet Forrester, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, NYC
Thomas Riggins, IBT L. 237 (ret.), NYC
Thomas F. Barton, AFSCME DC 37, Local 768, NYC
Patrick Langhenry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, NYC
Robert Brashear, Religion Labor Coalition, NYC
Laurie Dick, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, NYC, Brooklyn
Rosita B. Johnson, PFT (ret.), Philadelphia
Alessandro Tinonga, Staff, UNITE HERE L. 2850, Oakland CA
Robin Horne, UESF, AFT/NEA
Theresa Faelte Lee, AE, NYC
Kathryn Lybarger, Executive Board member, AFSCME L. 3299, Berkeley
Dominic Renda, Chief Shop Steward, CWA, Woodside NY

International Endorsers (27)
Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, New Zealand
Tyler Shipley, Dept. of Political Science, York University, Toronto; CUPE L. 3903
David Heap, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association; Labour For Palestine, Canada
Sally Elabasery, Teaching Assistant; CUPE L. 3903
Brian Kelly, UCU Committee Member, Belfast, Northern Ireland; formerly Int’l Brotherhood of Carpenters L. 33, Boston and IUMSWA L. 25, East Boston
Ross Ashley, SEIU L. 1, Canada
Susan Stout, CAW (ret.), Vancouver
Jooneed Khan, STIP at La Presse, CSN (CNTU) via the SGC, Quebec (ret.)
Theresa Peters, NUT, London
Andrew Taylor, UWFA, Winnipeg
Gaby Forrell, Musicians Union, UK
Catherine Welsh, BCGEU L. 303, Vancouver
Dave Bleakney, National Union Representative, CUPW, Ottowa
Khaled Barakat, Labour for Palestine, Vancouver
Greg Starr, Post-Secondary Educators Association, Port Moody BC
Wayne Knight, NSW Teachers Federation, Sydney NSW, Australia
David Forde, Co-convener Labor 4A Just Palestine, Queensland, Australia
Jean-Louis Favre, TU-BDS France Group Coordinator, French International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Paris
Wendy Turner, Life Member, ASU & LHMU, Australia
Richard Lee Deaton, Ph.D., LL.B., Asst. Director of Research, CUPE (ret), Ottawa
Jasmin Kay, CUPE 3903, Toronto
Giuliana Fumagalli, CUPW-CLC, Montreal
Peter Eglin, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association. Kitchener ON
Susan Murphy, UNISON, Preson UK
George X. Tmaszewski, 1st Vice President, CUPW – Scarborough
Hans-Peter Kohnke, CUPW, Toronto
Susan Rosenthal, NWU/UAW L. 1981, Canada

Labor Glossary
AAUP. American Association of University Professors
AE. Actors’ Equity
AFGE. American Federation of Government Employees
AFM. American Federation of Musicians
AFSCME. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
AFT. American Federation of Teachers
ALAA. Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325
APWU. American Postal Workers Union
BTU. Boston Teachers Union
CFA. California Faculty Association
CNA. California Nurses Association
CSEA. California State Employees Association
CTA. California Teachers Association
CUE. Coalition of University Employees
CWA. Communication Workers of America
GEO. Graduate Employee Organization
GAU. Graduate Assistants United
GSOC. Graduate Student Organizing Committee
IAM. International Association of Machinists
IBEW. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
IBT. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
IEA. Illinois Education Association
IFPTE. International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
IUE. International Union of Electronic Workers
IUPAT. International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
IUMSWA. Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America
IWW. Industrial Workers of the World
LACFL. LA County Federation of Labor
LIUNA. Laborers’ International Union of North America
MTA. Massachusetts Teachers Association
NAGE. National Association of Government Employees
NALC. National Association of Letter Carriers
NEA. National Education Association
NJLAW. New Jersey Labor Against the War
NYCCLC. New York City Central Labor Council
NPMHU. National Postal Mail Handlers Union
NUHW. National Union of Healthcare Workers
NWU. National Writers Union
NYPLG. New York Public Library Guild
NYCLAW. New York City Labor Against the War
NYSUT. New York State United Teachers
OEA. Oakland Education Association
OPEIU. Office and Professional Employees International Union
PASNAP. Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals
PEF. Public Employees Federation
PFT. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
PFVT. Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers
PSC-CUNY. Professional Staff Congress
SAG. Screen Actors Guild
SEIU. Service Employees International Union
SFLC. San Francisco Labor Council
SSFCTA. South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association
TCNJFT. The College of New Jersey Federation of Teachers
TCU. Transportation Communications International Union
TNG. The Newspaper Guild
TWU. Transport Workers Union
UAW. United Auto Workers
UCW. United Campus Workers
UDU. United Domestic Workers Homecare Providers Union, AFSCME
UE. United Electrical Workers
UESF. United Educators of San Francisco
UHWE. United Health Care Workers East
UPTE. University Professional and Technical Employees
USW. United Steel Workers
UTLA. United Teachers of Los Angeles
UUP. United University Professions
UWUA. Utility Workers Union of America
WGA. Writers Guild of America

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