Since it was first issued on Monday, New York City Labor Against
the War's statement on Gaza has been posted at:
But to break the silence on this issue, we need all the help we can
get -- from trade unionists and others, in the U.S. and around the world.
Therefore, this is a request to you and/or your organization to:
1. Endorse: http://www.petitiononline.com/Gaza/petition.html
2. Post and forward.
3. Otherwise publish.
Please endorse, post and forward
U.S. LABOR AND GAZA
New York City Labor Against the War
March 23, 2008
New York City Labor Against the War joins the Congress of South Africa
Trade Unions in denouncing Israel's recent massacres in Gaza, the
victims of which include at least 130 Palestinians -- half of them
civilians, including dozens of women and children -- since February
WHO ARE THE TERRORISTS?
Israel claims that it is fighting "terrorism" in Gaza. This is the
same hollow excuse with which the U.S. seeks to justify war in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and the erosion of civil liberties and labor
rights at home.
In fact, Israel's attacks are part of a relentless, U.S.-orchestrated
campaign of collective punishment -- with complicity of the corrupt
Palestinian Authority -- to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas
Long before its latest massacres, Israel had turned Gaza into the
world's "largest open air prison," assassinating activists, and
cutting-off essential goods and services to 1.5 million people. Only
as a result did Hamas abandon a unilateral two-year truce.
Even now, Israel seeks to derail Hamas truce offers by escalating
arrests, home demolitions, settlements and murder in the West Bank --
from which no rockets have been fired.
Despite media portrayals, this violence is overwhelmingly one-sided
against Palestinians, who have no aircraft, artillery or tanks.
Thus, while only one Israeli has been killed by rockets launched from
Gaza since May 2007, Israel's modern arsenal killed 60 Palestinians on
March 1 alone.
On February 29, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai,
threatened a bigger "Shoah" -- a reference to the Nazi Holocaust.
As UN official John Dugard has pointed out, Palestinian rockets are
not the cause, but the "inevitable consequence," of Israeli state
terror in Gaza, the slow-motion genocide which human rights
organizations describe as "worse than at any time since the beginning
of the Israeli military occupation in 1967."
Following the latest attacks, a Council on Foreign Relations expert
explained, "You have Palestinians who wouldn't necessarily support the
violence but they are saying, 'Well, what choice do we have?'"
SIXTY YEARS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING AND GENOCIDE
Israel's war on Gaza can only be understood as an attempt to stamp out
all resistance -- including nonviolent protest -- to Israel's ongoing
ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
Indeed, most of Gaza's population are survivors of Zionist expulsions
since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948, when 13,000 Palestinians were
massacred, 531 towns and villages erased, 11 urban neighborhoods
emptied, and more than 750,000 (85 percent) driven from 78 percent of
In 1967, Israel seized the remaining 22 percent of Palestine --
including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza -- which, in
violation of UN resolutions, remains under Israeli military rule.
Today, as a result of these policies, at least 70 percent of the 10
million Palestinians are refugees -- the largest such population in
the world. Despite other UN resolutions, Israel vows that it will
never allow them to return.
Palestinians who managed to remain within the 1948 areas -- today, 1.4
million (or 20 percent of the population in Israel) -- are permanently
separated from their families in exile, subject to more than 20
discriminatory laws, treated as a "demographic threat," and threatened
with mass expulsion.
In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 140 illegal, ever-expanding
Jewish-only settlements and road systems dominate the water resources
and control 40 percent of the land. Palestinians are confined,
separated, denied medical treatment, and degraded by an 8-meter-high
separation wall, pass laws, curfews and 600 military checkpoints.
From 2000-2007, 4,274 Palestinians in these 1967 territories were
killed, compared with 1,024 Israelis. The military has seized 60,000
political prisoners; it still holds and tortures 11,000.
All of these conditions have dramatically worsened since the Annapolis
"peace conference" in November.
Israel's war on Palestine depends completely on U.S. money, weapons
Since 1948, Israel -- the top foreign aid recipient -- has received at
least $108 billion from the U.S. government. In the past ten years
alone, U.S. military aid was $17 billion; over the next decade, it
will be $30 billion.
Israel's recent assault on Gaza was endorsed by a Congressional vote
of 404-1. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates fall over
themselves to offer more of the same.
On March 22, Dick Cheney reassured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
of "America's. . . . commitment to Israel's right to defend itself
always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats," and that
the U.S. and Israel are "friends -- special friends."
This "special friendship" means that, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, it
is U.S. aircraft, cluster bombs and bullets that kill and maim on
behalf of the occupiers. Just one of many targets was the Palestinian
General Federation of Trade Unions headquarters in Gaza City,
destroyed by F-16s on February 28.
Such support bolsters Israel's longstanding role as watchdog and
junior partner for U.S. domination over the oil-rich Middle East --
and beyond. In that capacity, Israel was apartheid South Africa's
After 9/11, it helped intensify the demonization of Arabs and Muslims.
It has 200 nuclear weapons, but helped manufacture "evidence" of Iraqi
WMD. With U.S. weapons and support, it invaded Lebanon in 2006.
Together, these wars and occupations have killed, maimed and displaced
millions of people, thereby creating the world's largest humanitarian
crisis. Now, Israel is the cutting edge of threats against Syria and
In other words, oppression and resistance in Palestine is the
epicenter of U.S.-Israeli war throughout the Middle East. These stakes
are reflected in the ferocity of Israel's attacks against Gaza.
In Palestine, South Africa, Britain, Canada and other countries, labor
has condemned Israeli Apartheid.
Workers in the United States pay a staggering human and financial
price, including deepening economic crisis, for U.S.-Israeli war and
But through a combination of intent, ignorance and/or expediency, much
of labor officialdom in this country -- often without the knowledge or
consent of union members -- is an accomplice of Israeli Apartheid.
Some 1,500 labor bodies have plowed at least $5 billion of union
pension funds and retirement plans into State of Israel Bonds.
In April 2002, while Israel butchered Palestinian refugees at Jenin in
the West Bank, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was a featured speaker
at a belligerent "National Solidarity Rally for Israel." In 2006,
leadership of the American Federation of Teachers embraced Israel's
war on Lebanon.
These same leaders collaborate with attempts by the Jewish Labor
Committee (JLC) to silence Apartheid Israel's opponents -- many of
whom are Jewish.
In July 2007, top officials of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win signed a
JLC statement that condemned British unions for even considering the
nonviolent campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against
Just days ago, the JLC and the leadership of UNITE-HERE bullied a
community organization in Boston into revoking space for a conference
on "Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements."
Even the leadership of U.S. Labor Against the War, which receives
funding from several major unions, remains adamantly silent about U.S.
government, corporate and labor support for Israeli Apartheid.
Labor leaders' complicity parallels infamous "AFL-CIA" support for
U.S. war and dictatorship in Vietnam, Latin America, Gulf War I,
Afghanistan and elsewhere. It strengthens the U.S.-Israel war machine
and labor's corporate enemies, reinforces racism and Islamophobia, and
makes a mockery of international solidarity.
A NECESSARY STAND
More than forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came under
intense public attack for opposing the Vietnam war. Even within the
Civil Rights Movement, some dismissed his position too "divisive" and
In his famous speech at the Riverside Church in April 1967, Dr. King
answered these critics by pointing out that "silence is betrayal," and
that "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today . . . [is]
my own government."
At the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace in November 1967,
he reiterated the most basic principles of labor solidarity:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . .
Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a
molder of consensus."
These principles are no less relevant today.
Yes, the Israel lobby seeks to silence opponents of Israeli Apartheid.
All the more need for trade unionists to break that silence by
speaking out against Israeli military occupation, for the right of
Palestinian refugees to return, and for the elimination of apartheid
throughout historic Palestine.
Therefore, we reaffirm our support for an immediate and total:
1. End to U.S. military and economic support for Israel.
2. Divestment of business and labor investments in Israel.
3. Withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from the Middle East.
Issued by NYCLAW Co-Conveners
(Other affiliations listed for identification only):
Former President, NPMHU Local 300
Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys
Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Chair, Million Worker March
NYCLAW, with Al-Awda-NY The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is a
cofounder of Labor for Palestine .
Previous NYCLAW materials on Palestine include:
Response to Anti-Boycott Attacks (October 19, 2007)
Open Letter to UTLA President A.J. Duffy (October 9, 2006)
U.S. Government and Labor Aid to Israel (September 1, 2006)
Labor and the Middle East War (August 11, 2006)
Conference: Palestine, Labor and the AFL-CIO (July 23, 2005)
From Palestine to the US - Labor Fights Back! (October 7, 2004)
Report on the New York Visit by Representatives from the PGFTU
(December 22, 2002)
An Evening With Palestinian Trade Unionists (December 13, 2002)
Protest Israeli Consul's Speech to AFL-CIO (May 21, 2002)
No Labor Money for Israeli War Crimes! (May 21, 2002)
Monday Israeli Consul Protest Postponed April 26, 2002)
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