“[All of Palestinian labor] calls on trade unions around the world to actively show solidarity with the Palestinian people by. . . . divesting from Israel Bonds and all Israeli and international companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid.”Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), May 4, 2011
The undersigned labor, anti-apartheid and human rights activists call on you — Dennis Hughes (President of the New York State AFL-CIO) and Stuart Appelbaum (President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and head of the Jewish Labor Committee) — to respect the above call from Palestinian labor by withdrawing as “Honoree” and “Chair,” respectively, of the “State of Israel Bonds” fundraiser in New York City on June 13, 2011.
For decades, top U.S. labor officials have effectively scabbed on Palestinian workers by investing billions — the exact amount has not been made public — from union members’ pension funds in State of Israel Bonds, a pillar of apartheid that enjoys tax-exempt status from the U.S. government.
Whitewashing this betrayal is the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation, and its “progressive” U.S. mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee.
Obscenely, the Israel Bonds “celebration” on June 13 follows the May 15 Israeli massacre of unarmed Palestinian refugees exercising their right to return, the first anniversary of the deadly May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s arrogant U.S. tour.
Meanwhile, the world is inspired by mass, democratic revolutions in the Middle East that challenge U.S./Israeli-backed neoliberalism, dictatorship and oppression. At the heart of this revolution, Palestinian labor has reiterated its longstanding appeal for unions everywhere to support the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
The BDS campaign demands that Israel acknowledge the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination, and fully complies with international law by:
* Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied since 1967 (including East Jerusalem), as well as dismantling of the illegal wall and colonies;
* Recognizing the fundamental right of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, as well as ending the system of racial discrimination against them; and
* Respecting, protecting and supporting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
BDS has been endorsed by labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which plays a leading role in the BDS movement, hasn’t forgotten Israel was apartheid South Africa’s closest ally. And as veteran South African freedom fighters have observed, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid.”
US workers have particularly strong reasons to support the movement against apartheid Israel. 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.
As a result, Palestinian workers are killed by US-supplied naval vessels, jet fighters, Apache helicopters, white phosphorous and other weapons. In 2008/2009 alone, such weapons killed 1400 people in Gaza, most of them civilians — a massacre condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, including those that are Israeli.
Meanwhile, amidst spiraling economic crisis, workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for US-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Thus, following the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, members of ILWU Local 10 in Oakland courageously followed the South African dockers’ example by refusing to handle Israeli cargo.
Their solidarity 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).
Respecting the BDS call is a matter of basic labor solidarity. Indeed, just as trade unionists fight “replacement” of striking workers, we stand against the dispossession, occupation and inequality inflicted on millions of Palestinian working people and their descendants for more than six decades.
Rather than being used to secretly finance racism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and colonialism, union members’ funds should be transparently invested in justice for all workers.
An essential first step is labor divestment from “State of Israel Bonds.”
Signers (List in formation — ALL UNION BODIES LISTED FOR IDENTIFICATION ONLY.)
Endorse this statement:
Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council, San Francisco, CA
Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; People’s Organization for Progress
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement
Mohammad Jawabreh, Palestinian Progressive Labor Action Front, Ramallah, Palestine
Progressive Labor Action Front – Palestine
Sameer Matar, Union of Agricultural Engineers, Jenin, Palestine
Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Washington DC
Marty Goodman, Transport Workers Union Local 100, former Executive Board member, New York, NY
Stanley Heller, 40 year AFT member West Haven, CT, now AFT 933 Retired; New Haven, CT
Joe Iosbaker, SEIU Local 73, Executive Board Member, Chicago, IL
Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY
Lee Sustar, NWU/UAW L. 1981; Chicago, IL
Steve Zeltzer, Producer, Labor Video Project
Noha Momtaz Tahrir Arafa, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, Brooklyn, NY
Steve Terry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY
Steve Gillis, Vice President, USW Local 8751, The Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union
Sherna Berger Gluck, former vice-president, CFA/SEIU 1983
Roger Dittmann, Ph.D., Former Secretary, United Professors of California, Member, SEIU
Jeff Klein, President (retired), SEIU/NAGE Local R1-168
Joe Lombardo, CSEA and Troy Area Labor Council
Bill Preston, President of American Federation of Government Employees, Local 17, Washington, DC
Bill Bateman, Coordinator, RI Unemployed Council
Burnis E. Tuck, AFL-CIO, AFGE, Local 3172, retired, IWW (International Workers of the World), current member
Mike Gimbel, Retired member of Local 375, AFSCME exective Board
Joe Balkis, Teamsters Local 705
Nathaniel Miller, IWW International Solidarity Commission
Howard B. Lenow, Union Attorney, Wayland, MA
Anthony Arnove, National Writers Union
Frank Couget, Shop Steward, National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO
Martha Grevatt, Former Chair, Civil and Human Rights Committee, UAW Local 122
Carl Gentile, National Representative, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) AFL-CIO
Jim Holstun, UUP Buffalo Center Chapter, NYSUT, AFT
Mary Scully, IUE-CWA Local 201 (retired)
Mark Clinton, Massachusetts Community College Council, Massachusetts Teachers Association, National Education Association
Marvin Cohen, American Federation of Teachers (retired)
Patrick J, Finn, Ph. D., UUP United University Professions SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Mary E. Finn, Ph. D., UUP United University Professions SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Manzar Foroohar, Delegate Assembly, California Faculty Association (CFA), Former Chapter President, CFA, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Former State-wide Membership Committee Chair and member of the state-wide bargaining team, CFA
Mark Richey, retired member, United Teachers of Richmond, California
Leslie Cohen, former SEIU Local 285 member
Dave Slaney, former President, USWA Local 2431 (retired)
Dr. Sue Blackwell, member of National Executive Committee, University and College Union, UK
Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union, Auckland, NZ
Brian Kelly, Belfast Branch Committee UCU (N. Ireland: personal capacity); formerly IUMSWA L 25 (Boston), Carpenters L 33 (Boston)
Andre Powell, Delegate, Baltimore MD Metro AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, AFSCME
Amy Hines, Labor Relations Representative/Organizer, AEU, Concord, CA
John Penetra, Technician, CWA Local 1118, Albany, NY
Dennis Kortheuer, California Faculty Association, Long Beach, CA
Denise Hammond, President, CUPE 1281, Toronto, ON, Canada
Hanspeter Gysin, Unia (Tradeunion Building, Industry, Services), Switzerland
Sid Shniad, Research Director, Telecommunications Workers Union, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Barbara Foley, AAUP, Rutgers University – Newark, NJ
Janice Rothstein, AFSCME 3299, San Francisco, CA
Paul Pryse, Teaching Assistants’ Association, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Steve Leigh, steward, SEIU local 925, Seattle, WA
Glenn Shelton, NPMHU, Detroit, MI
Janet Hudgins, CUPE (retired), Vancouver, BC, Canada
Dennis Laumann, United Campus Workers-Communication Workers Local 3865 of America, Memphis, TN
Edward Stiel, IBEW Local 302, San Francisco, CA
David Laibman, Professional Staff Congress (AFT Local 4331), Brooklyn, NY
Stephen Cheng, Brandworkers International
John Dudley, SEIU, Branford, CT
Richard Krushnic, Steward, Bargaining Committee Member, SEIU 888, Cambridge, MA
Paul Field, Unite the Union, UK
Powell DeGange, organizer, UNITE HERE, San Francisco, CA
Jim Harris, former member, SEIU 535, Richmond, CA
Dr. Russell Dale, PSC CUNY, New York, NY
David Heap, UWO Faculty Association, London, ON, Canada
Bob McCubbin, California Teachers Association, San Diego, CA
Susan Stout, CAW (retired), North Vancouver, BC, Canada
David Klein, California Faculty Association (CFA), Los Angeles, CA
Gregory A. Butler, shop steward, Carpenters Local 157, New York, NY
B. Ross Ashley, former shop steward, former executive council member, local 204, SEIU (retired), Toronto, ON, Canada
Keith Sadler, UAW Local 12, Toledo, OH, USA
Tammy Murphy, AFT and BTEA, Bensalem, PA
Ann Roos, AFT, New York
Evalyn Segal, California State Employees Association, Walnut Creek, CA
Jim Baldridge, former Executive Board member, 1199E/SEIU, Baltimore, MD
Glenn Shelton, NPMHU, Detroit, MI
Erin Breault, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Pittsburgh, PA
Nancy Eberg, AFGE, North Haven, CT
Coraminita Mahr, Vice President, 1199/SEIU, New York, NY
George Gruenthal, Former Chapter Co-Chair, CJF Chapter, Local 107, DC 1707, New York, NY
Michael Martin, Steel Workers Union, Portage, MI
Mark D. Stansbery, CWA 4502, Columbus, OH
Fred Hirsch, Executive Board member, Plumbers and Fitters Local 393, Santa Cruz, CA
Les Bayless, Secretary Treasurer (retired), 1199 SEIU, Baltimore, MD
Roger Keeran, United University Professions (UUP NYSUT), Jersey City, NJ
Michael Scheinberg, AFT/NJ, Collingswood, NJ
Michael P. Kaehler, Local President, American Postal Workers’ Union, AFL-CIO, Saint Cloud, MN
Scott Mahood, ILWU, Portland, OR
Ron Strand, Health Sciences Association, NUPGE, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Laurie and Dave King, Jobs with Justice, Portland, OR
Vincent Ruiz Bouvet, former member, LIUNA; California ALJ’s and State Attorneys Association, Ventura, CA
Will Thomas, NEA-NH, Auburn, NH
Zoe Lawlor, UNITE Union, Ireland
Mike Marqusee, National Union of Journalists, London, UK
B. Emmel, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Moorhead, MN
Tony Cochran, Union Organizer, UNITE HERE, Ashland, OR
Sign on here!
* Fields marked with * are required