Monthly Archives: July 2011

U.S. Trade Union Statement in Support of Palestinian Call for Full and Immediate Arms Embargo Against Apartheid Israel

July 13, 2011 – Sign on below!

Whereas, on May 4, 2011, the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS) specifically called “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”; and

Whereas, on July 8, 2011, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) urgently called for “immediate international action towards a mandatory comprehensive military embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past”; and

Whereas, since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1947-1948, Israel has used at least $108 billion from the U.S. government to carry out ongoing war, ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid against the Palestinians and many other Arab nations; and

Whereas, in the past ten years alone, the U.S. government — with overwhelming bipartisan support — has given Israel $17 billion in military aid; over the next decade, it will give another $30 billion; and

Whereas, as a result, Palestinian workers continue to be killed and maimed by U.S.-supplied naval vessels, jet fighters, Apache helicopters, white phosphorous and other weapons; and

Whereas, in 2008/2009 alone, Israel used these weapons to enforce the brutal and illegal siege by killing 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; and

Whereas, U.S. supplied-weapons were similarly used in the deadly May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and to kill scores of unarmed Palestinian refugees exercising their right to return in 2011; and

Whereas, in 2006, Israel turned Lebanon into a killing ground, slaughtering and maiming thousands of people, destroying the civilian infrastructure, and turning a quarter of the population into refugees in their own land; and

Whereas, the U.S. and Israel provided similar support to the apartheid South Africa regime, just as they now arm and finance dictatorships to suppress the Arab Spring; and

Whereas, veteran South African freedom fighters have observed that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid”; and

Whereas, amidst spiraling economic crisis, workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for U.S.-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; and

Whereas, 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; and

Whereas, the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel has been endorsed by numerous labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, Italy, Spain and Turkey; and

Whereas, numerous U.S. labor bodies participated in similar divestment campaigns against apartheid South Africa; and

Whereas, 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; and

Whereas, such 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).

Therefore, we join with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the Brazilian CUT, and other labor bodies, in specifically reaffirming support for an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo; and

Whereas, Israel has now sought to repress the growing BDS campaign by banning recognition of the 1948 Nakba or advocacy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions;

Therefore, we call on all labor bodies to divest from Israel Bonds; and

Therefore, we call on workers not to handle weapons and all other military cargo destined for Israel; and

Therefore, that these and other necessary measures be maintained until the Israeli apartheid regime recognizes Palestinian human rights and self-determination by immediately:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.


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; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; 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

Carl Gentile, National Representative, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO

Joe Iosbaker, SEIU Local 73, Executive Board member

Carol Gay, President, NJ State Industrial Union Council, Chairperson, NJ Labor Against War

Andre Powell, Delegate, Baltimore MD Metro AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, AFSCME

Bill Bateman, Coordinator, RI Unemployed Council, Member, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 271

Steve Gillis, Vice-President, USW Local 8751, The Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union, Roslindale, MA

Manzar Foroohar, , Former Chapter President, California Faculty Association (CFA), Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Amy Hines, Labor Relations Representative/Organizer, AEU, Concord, CA

Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, AFT L. 1493; San Mateo, CA

Dennis Kortheuer, California Faculty Association, Long Beach, CA

Joseph Agonito, American Federation of Teachers, Local 1845, Syracuse NY

Nathaniel Miller, Industrial Workers of the World, Philadelphia, PA

Carole Seligman, retired member South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association, CTA, NEA

Mike Gimbel, retired Executive Board member, Local 375, AFSCME

Joe Lombardo, CSEA,Troy Area Labor Council, Co-coordinator United National Antiwar Committee

Stephen Cheng, Brandworkers International/Industrial Workers of the World, New York, NY

Sherna Berger Gluck, former vice-president, California Faculty Assn/SEIU 1983

Mary Scully, IUE-CWA Local 201 (retired)

Walter Birdwell, retired shop steward, National Association of Letter Carriers

John Dudley, SEIU, Branford, CT

Garrett Wright, Member, Industrial Workers of the World, New York City

Anna Potempska, Public Employees Federation, Staten Island, NY

Mark Clinton, Massachusetts Community College Council, Holyoke Community College Chapter

Jerry Silberman, Senior Staff Representative, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, AFL-CIO, Philadelphia, PA

Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY

Anthony Arnove, National Writers Union

Martha Grevatt, member UAW Local 869

David Heap, UWO Faculty Association, London, Ontario

Mike Treen, National Director, Unite the Union, Auckland, NZ

Sabah al-Mukhtar, President, Arab Lawyers Association (UK), London

Theresa Peters, National Union of Teachers, England

National Lawyers Guild International Committee

Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council

Evalyn Segal, California State Employees Association, Walnut Creek, CA

Christine Geovanis, Delegate, UAW Local 1981, National Writers Union, Chicago, IL

Rita Connolly, SEIU, San Francisco, CA

Sarah S. Forth, Steering Committee, Los Angeles Chapter, National Writers Union, UAW 1981, Los Angeles, CA

Michael Billeaux, Teaching Assistants Association – AFT Local 3220, Madison, WI

Powell DeGange, UNITE HERE Local 2, Oakland, CA

Bill Preston, President, AFGE Local 17, Washington, DC

William K. Crum, Industrial Workers of the World, Bronx, NY

Cynthia High, United Teachers Los Angeles, Monrovia, CA

Jerry Gates, Oil, Chemical and Nuclear Workers, former shop steward, West Chester, PA

Paul Alexander, Past local president, secretary, and shop steward, Communications Workers of America, Florida

Izzy Cohen, California Faculty Association

Mikos Fabersunne, Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), retired, Davis, CA

Edward Stiel, IBEW Local 302, San Francisco, CA

Thomas F. Barton, Local 768, DC 37, New York, NY

Stanley Heller, AFT 933 (retired), New Haven, CT

Fred Hirsch, Plumbers and Fitters Local 393 Executive Board Member, Santa Cruz, CA

Peter Kuttner, IATSE, Chicago, IL

Rogers Turrentine, Writers Guild of America, west, Oceanside, CA

Joe Balkis, Elected Steward, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Calumet City, IL

John Gordon, American Institute of Architects, New York, NY

Crystal Robert, BC Teachers Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Carlinus Zainuddin, Jurong Port Labor, Singapore

Brian Latour, Vice President Unit 1, CUPE 3909, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Jey Iyadurai, CUPW, Toronto, ON, Canada

Mike Marqusee, National Union of Journalists – UK, London, UK

Percy Masuku, National Coordinator, International Research Academy for Labour and Education, Manzini, Swaziland

Susan Stout, Canadian Auto Workers (retired), Vancouver, BC, Canada

Laura Jordan, Industrial Workers of the World (IU 620), Manchester, UK

B. Ross Ashley, retired shop steward, former Executive member, SEIU Local 204/Local 1 Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada

Andrew W H Taylor, Canadian Labour Defense League, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

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International Dockworkers Council urges Greek government to unblock Freedom Flotilla


The International Dockworkers Council (IDC), a trade union representing more than 50,000 port workers worldwide, urges the Greek Government to unblock the ban order on the Freedom Flotilla Gaza-bound ships preventing them from sailing out of Greek ports.

In addition, the IDC calls the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the United States, France, Spain and Canada to break their silence and intercede with the Greek government decision, resolve this situation and offer protection to their citizens.

The Freedom Flotilla is a humanitarian aid mission to the Gaza Strip, where the population is living in appalling conditions as a consequence of the illegal blockade that has been on for more than five years now.
The ban on the Flotilla ships only responds to media, political and economic manipulation and pressure, as the top priority is to keep the commercial and institutional ties of Europe and North America with the State of Israel over the needs of the civilian population.

The initiative to carry humanitarian aid to Gaza has been promoted by the Freedom Flotilla and they should be the ones to carry it. The organisation has complied with all legal requirements and there is no legal justification to block the departure of the flotilla or seek other “official” means of transport.

The IDC joins the voice of all international organisations and activists in their protest against the ban of the Greek government with the permission of the European and American governments and urges them to find an immediate solution to reverse this critical and unfair situation.



Irish Congress of Trade Unions Maintains Commitment to BDS and Moves Policy Forward

July 8, 2011 – At its Biennial Delegate Conference this week in Killarney the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, representing the entirety of the Irish trade union movement across the Island, demonstrated its continued commitment to Palestinian solidarity and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

As well as the two agenda motions on Palestine conference also considered an emergency motion condemning the sabotage of the Irish ship MV Saoirse as it prepared to breach the illegal Israeli blockade. All motions were passed without any opposition whatsoever, clearly indicating the strong support for the Palestinian people and for BDS in the Irish trade union movement. Prior to the motions being held Trade Union Friends of Palestine distributed free to all delegates copies of their latest publication, a pamphlet on the Histadrut, as well as copies of the trade union produced Boycott Israeli Goods poster.

The Unison motion, coming from one of the largest affiliate unions in Ireland, and moved by Patricia McKeown a recent President of ICTU, referred to the plight of the Palestinian people remaining one of being subject to occupation, colonialism and apartheid. It committed ICTU to work with Trade Union Friends of Palestine to help mobilise and coordinate a mass civil society BDS campaign in Ireland. The motion also committed ICTU to organise a series of divestment and sanctions seminars, in both jurisdictions in Ireland. This motion as well as the Derry Trades Council motion drew attention to the suffering of the people of Gaza, and declared support for all those involved in the Free Gaza campaign and the attempts made by land and sea to breach the illegal blockade.

The motion from Derry Trades Council also addressed the theme of ICTU taking the lead in mobilising support from all sectors Irish civil society. It called for ICTU to promote an ‘Ireland Declaration for Palestine’ that calls for an end to Israeli human rights abuses, the implementation of UN resolutions and support for BDS. The Derry motion welcomed the ongoing work within ICTU to educate its rank and file about the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. The motion called for information also to be made available, as part of this educational campaign, on the role of key Zionist institutions like the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund. The motion also welcomed the campaign to have the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund withdrawn.

In passing the Derry motion the ICTU conference also recorded its deep concern at the alarming deterioration of Palestinian human rights in East Jerusalem, and noted Richard Falks’ comment that this could only be described as a form of ethnic cleansing. Conference also applauded all those Palestinians, Israelis and international human rights activists who ‘despite being subject to increasing Israeli state surveillance and repression, struggle to uphold the rights of Palestinians’. Conference applauded in particular the heroic activity of the Bil’in Popular Committee in its weekly protest action against the building of the Separation Wall and the seizure of Palestinian land.

The emergency motion condemning the sabotage of the Irish Ship to Gaza, the MV Saoirse, was submitted by seven of the leading trading unions in Ireland, indicating the united response of the Irish trade union movement and their huge anger at the Israeli government. The motion considered the sabotage of the MV Saoirse as a breach of Ireland’s sovereignty as well as a threat to Irish lives. It called on the Irish government to raise this issue at the highest level in the UN and in the European Union, and also to challenge the Israeli Ambassador. It also called for the expulsion of Israel from the OECD and an end to the preferential EU trading agreement with Israel. Conference also drew attention to the comments of the Tánaiste (deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, when he told the Israeli Ambassador that ‘Israel must show all possible restraint and avoid any use of force if attempting to uphold the naval blockade’. Conference reminded the Irish Government ‘that this Israeli blockade of Gaza is itself a breach of international law.’ Conference had earlier been addressed by Tánaiste Gilmore, and witnessed an extensive protest when delegates dispersed throughout the conference hall held up copies of the trade union endorsed Boycott Israeli Apartheid poster as well as banners and placards condemning collusion with Israeli war crimes.

The day before the motions came to the floor, in a packed special meeting on Palestine organised by ICTU (people had to be turned away), delegates heard from Rafeef Ziadah speaking on behalf of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS. ICTU had already established links with the PTUC-BDS and had welcomed its formation in a message of solidarity send to PTUC-BDS’s founding conference.  Ziadah spoke at length about the conditions of Palestinian workers and the daily struggle of the Palestinian people attempting to survive under the harsh conditions of the occupation. She spoke about the rapidly increasing mobilisation of the international trade union movement against Israeli injustice and highlighted some of the major developments that had taken place. She identified as one of these the decision of ICTU in 2007 to adopt a policy of BDS making it the second congress in the world (after Cosatu) to do so. She thanked ICTU for its commitment to BDS, and urged them to move forward with implementing their policy.


Eamon McMahon


Trade Union Friends of Palestine




COSATU Endorses the Palestinian Call to Impose an Immediate, Comprehensive Military Embargo on Israel

8 July 2011

COSATU fully endorses the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls for a mandatory comprehensive arms embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa.

While solidarity with the Arab Spring for freedom, democracy and social justice is spreading around the world, many states and corporations continue their business-as-usual arms trade and military cooperation with Israel, despite its resort to massive violence against and killing of Palestinian and other Arab civilians, including school children and peaceful activists, and in spite of its increasingly brutal colonial policies against the Palestinian people and its persistent flouting of international law.

Many world governments, as well as the UN, are still silent in the face of Israel`s massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, widely regarded by international civil society as among the most serious threats to world peace. In fact, several Western governments were or still are direct accomplices in the creation, development and deployment of Israel`s daunting nuclear threat.

Despite the irrefutable and abundant evidence in UN resolutions and reports by international human rights organizations about Israel`s unlawful use of force and weapons in aggression and the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes — including collective punishment — and grave human rights abuses, foreign governments, multilateral bodies and companies continue their cooperation with Israel’s army and military industry, and are increasing their investments in or support for Israeli military-related research and development, much of which is conducted in partnership with Israeli universities. These governments, multilateral bodies and companies are knowingly profiting from and, therefore, complicit in Israel’s unlawful use of force.

States and inter-state organizations, such as the United Nations, have a legal obligation to ensure that Israel complies with international law, but they have failed to do so. Impunity emboldens Israel while its international military trade relations bankroll and entrench its continued violence, militarism and expansionism.

Boycotts played a vital role in the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa. We wholeheartedly share the sentiment of our comrades in Palestine that boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is the kernel to overthrowing Israeli apartheid.

Israel has a documented track record of breaching international humanitarian and human rights law during its armed conflicts, including military operations, invasions and occupations of Palestinian and other Arab territory through, among others, the excessive and indiscriminate use of force and the deliberate targeting of civilian persons and infrastructure. This has resulted in repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Furthermore, Israel has consistently taken advantage of its armed conflicts and military assaults for “field-testing” its weapons and doctrines of warfare against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, in partnership with its research institutes. Israel thus gives its military industry a comparative advantage on the global market in the pursuit of profits needed to sustain its occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law by:

  • Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands (1967) and dismantling the Wall;
  • Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.


The Congress of South African Trade Union further joins the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations in calling upon all people of conscience, movements and organizations worldwide to support this Palestinian call for a mandatory comprehensive military embargo on Israel and to pressure governments, multilateral bodies and the UN as well as private and public companies and institutions, to:

  • Cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related matériel of all types, including the sale or transfer of weapons and ammunitions, military vehicles and equipment, para-military police equipment, including dual-use equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and also cease the provision of all types of equipment and supplies and grants of licensing arrangements for the manufacture or maintenance of the aforementioned;
  • Stop all military and dual-use imports (equipment, assistance and munitions) from Israel;
  • Stop the transfer of military products to and from Israel through national ports, territory and airspace;
  • Stop cooperation with the Israeli army, military companies, and military-related R&D projects, including joint ventures (whether bilateral or multilateral);
  • Halt all military-related training and consultancies with the Israeli army, military companies and academic research institutions;
  • End all military aid to Israel;
  • Refrain from any cooperation with Israel in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons and mobilize for a nuclear-free Middle East;

Long live Palestine!
Long live international workers solidarity!

Zanele Matebula (Deputy International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets

P.O. Box 1019
Johannesburg 2000
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080 / 6940
Mobile: +27 82 300 8979


Egyptian independent trade unionists endorse BDS

Press release
London 2 July 2011

From Arabawy (Hossam al-Hamalawy’s blog):

Representative of the Egyptian Independent Union Federation: “We call on the global trade union movement to cut links with the Histadrut and to support the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS”.

Kamal Abu Aita, representative of the Egyptian Independent Union Federation (EIUF) which was recently formed in Tahrir Square during the revolution, confirmed yesterday that the EIUF rejects any attempt to ‘normalise’ relations with Israel. In a speech in London to hundreds of activists from the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Abu Aita also welcomed the formation of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) and called on the international trade union movement to join the coalition.

Abu Aita said: “The Egyptian Independent Union Federation has a very clear position and that is one of solidarity with the Palestinian Arab people, support for their right to a state in the whole of their land and support for their right to use all forms of resistance against the Zionist state. The EIUF announces its rejection of all forms of normal relations with the racist, settler Zionist state and we will not co-operate with any of its official or trade union bodies because they are all connected to the Zionist occupation of our land. It is impossible for us to work with this racist regime, and it is vital to build a movement of humanity which aims to get rid of racist regimes against the world, just as we got rid of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Egyptian revolution opened the door wide for our people to express their rejection of the Zionist state. From the beginning, the revolution has worked in the interests of the Palestinians, by stopping the export of Egyptian gas to the Zionists, and opening the border crossings. Egyptian youth besieged the embassy of our enemy and demanded the expulsion of the ambassador.

We reject any relationship with the Histadrut because it is part of this racist regime. We call on all friendly unions to boycott the Histadrut as part of the campaign to get rid of racist regimes all over the world.”

Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said:

“The support of the Egyptian independent unions, represented by their federation, for the Palestinian Boycott Campaign is a source of pride for us, just as we are proud of Egypt’s leadership in the march of freedom from imperialism both old and new. We look forward to the return of the spirit to the all the Arab peoples struggling for freedom and social justice, and to break away of dependency on imperialist domination.”