FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
19 June 2018
GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine
We, the Graduate Employees Organization at UIUC, AFT/IFT 6300 have watched in outrage, sadness, and horror as Israeli snipers have maimed and murdered Palestinian children, young adults, journalists, and medical first responders in Gaza over the past month. Much of this violence was committed simultaneously with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: as a Christian extremist anti-Semitic U.S. pastorgave the prayer for the opening ceremony, as a virulently anti-Black rabbi blessed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as ordinary Israeli citizens cheered and chanted for IDF soldiers to “burn them, shoot them, kill them” in reference to non-violent Palestinian protesters, and as wealthy politicians sipped champagne and celebrated.
How many people in the U.S. labor movement are aware that Palestinian workers held a general strike on May 15, Nakba Day, in protest of incrementally-genocidal Israeli settler colonization? How many U.S. labor leaders have declared solidarity with Palestinian workers? How many U.S. labor unions have followed in the great tradition of transnational anti-colonial labor solidarity by standing with Palestine against a genocidal process currently led by anti-labor extremists such as Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu? How many U.S. labor unions have followed the example of labor unions globally by declaring support for the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement?
We are saddened and disappointed that our own AFT/IFT leadership have a history not only of silence on these matters, but complicity with the racist and genocidal regime that guns down unarmed Palestinians in the open air prison that is Gaza.
We are saddened and disappointed in the hostility that AFT leaders such as Randi Weingarten have expressed to the internationally-respected and non-violent tactic of BDS. Such leaders are out of touch and out of step with the rank and file of our union. We, the GEO, proudly endorsed a Divestment campaign led by Palestinian students on our campus this academic year (2017-2018), and we plan to do likewise next year. We call on AFT/IFT leadership to unequivocally, and in an unqualified manner, condemn Israel’s murderous aggression and blatant human rights abuses against Palestinians, and to act in substantive solidarity with the Palestinian people who are struggling against racism, apartheid, and colonization—struggling for freedom. A labor movement that does not fight for justice against the bullies of the world is no labor movement at all.
Palestine must be free!
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), IFT/AFT local 6300, AFL-CIO, is a member-run labor union and represents Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs and GAs) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
For more information, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found on our website at www.uiucgeo.org.