IJAN Condemns UAW International’s Move to Annul Historic BDS Vote
The International Jewish anti-Zionist Network was very happy to hear that the student-workers in the University of California system endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call through their local union, UAW 2865. This was the first time a major union – in this case, one representing over 14,000 workers – voted to support the BDS call, an inspiring example of grassroots union-based solidarity.

Briefing: The Jewish Labor Committee and Apartheid Israel


The Jewish Labor Committee andApartheid Israel

International JewishAnti-Zionist Network-Labor, and Labor for Palestine(U.S.),April 13, 2010


Israelwas left with no choice but to defend itself and dismantle Hamas's ability tolaunch more missiles. . . . Israelis continuing to supply humanitarian aid of food, water and medicine into Gaza, and to allow relief agencies to supply material tothe suffering people of Gaza.

-"Jewish LaborCommittee Statement on Gaza,"January 9, 2009[i]

TheJLC put together a delegation of Irish-American trade union leaders lastNovember (including one of our honorees tonight) to go to Ireland and to stand up for the State of Israel whenIrish trade unionists were considering positions with which we disagreed.

-"StuartAppelbaum's Remarks at October 2009 JLC Dinner"[ii]

   •Overview.The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) presents itself as a model of progressive,socially conscious trade unionism. But as a U.S.mouthpiece for the Histadrut, this false image has been a smokescreen to disguiseand promote Apartheid Israel,"AFL-CIA" support war and empire, and racism in the labor movement.

   •1940s:The Nakba. The JLC was founded in 1934 to fight fascism and helpJewish refugees from Europe.[iii]But in the late-1940s, the JLC joins with Labor Zionist union officials who helppersuade both Truman and Stalin to support partition and establishment of theZionist state.[iv]

   •1950s:McCarthyism. Under the banner, "Jewish Labor FightsCommunism,"[v] the JLC supports McCarthyite purges of government and labor,[vi] and undermines the campaign to defend the Rosenbergs from execution.[vii]

   The JLC also supports overall U.S. Cold Warforeign policy,[viii] urgesthe U.S. to arm Israel against "Communist and Arab designs,"[ix]and declares that conflict in the Middle East, "is not simply between Egypt and Israel,but between democracy and expansionist dictatorship, between the free world andNasserism backed by Moscow.. . . Events also have demonstrated the basic identity of interest of Israel and thefree world."[x] 

London Forum on Labor Zionism
On April 20, Michael Letwin addressed a London forum cosponsored by IJAN, Laborfor Palestine-U.S. and the British Committee for Universities of Palestine(BRICUP). Topics included the Irish Congress of Trade Unions BDS conference(above), and the role of Labor-Zionism and the Histadrut in spearheading andcamouflaging racism, apartheid, dispossession and ethnic cleansing againstPalestinians.

IJAN-Labor Statement of Purpose

Ashistoric victims of state-sponsored discrimination and violence, Jews have longstood with the oppressed, including the labor, civil rights and anti-apartheidmovements. Many of us in the Labor Movement today are the descendants ofparents and grandparents who considered the struggles of working families theirlife's work as many of us still do.  Inthat spirit, the Labor Network of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network(IJAN) wholeheartedly supports the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment andSanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid.

TheBDS campaign was initiated by Palestinian civil society, including its entirelabor movement. It calls for an end to Israeli military occupation andcolonization of historic Palestine, the right of Palestinian refugees to returnto the land from which they have been ethnically cleansed since the Nakba of1947-1948, and equal rights for all throughout historic Palestine.

Thiscampaign has been endorsed by numerous labor bodies, including the Congress ofSouth African Trade Unions (COSATU), UNISON (UK), Transport and GeneralWorkers' Union (UK), Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of PublicEmployees-Ontario, six Norwegian trade unions, Irish Congress of Trade Unions,Scottish Trades Union Congress, and Intersindical Alternativa de Catallunya(Spain).

The campaign gainedstill greater urgency after the Gaza pogrom launched by Israel on December 27,which left 1,400 dead and 5,000 wounded; nearly all were civilians, hundreds ofthem children. Gaza remains under Israeli siege.

Oneof the Labor Movement's finest hours was its years of campaigning as part of aninternational boycott movement against apartheid in South Africa and insolidarity with South African working families who labored in near slaveconditions.  For those of us who areJewish, fighting against apartheid was a continuation of a long Jewishtradition of fighting against exploitation and oppression. South Africans havesaid that apartheid in Gaza is worse than in South Africa, if only because theaim is clearly extermination, something else with our history we easilyrecognize.

It is notsurprising that the strongest labor solidarity has come from the South AfricanTransport and Allied Workers Union in Durban, which refused to handle Israelicargo. The Western Australia Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia hasjoined them. And most recently, the Trade Union Congress, the governing UnionFederation in Britain has endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctionscampaign.

COSATU,in turn, has "call[ed] on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do allthat is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israeluntil Palestine is free."  They have notforgotten nor should any of us that Israel was apartheid South Africa's

Despiteall of this, U.S. labor officialdom -- often without the knowledge or consentof union members -- remains a leading accomplice of Israeli apartheid.

For more than sixtyyears, it has closely collaborated with the Histadrut, the Zionist laborfederation that has spearheaded - and whitewashed -  apartheid,dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians since the 1920s. Indeedthe Histadrut (as both employer and union) produced weapons for sale to the whiteSouth African government for use against Black working families, while at homeit either refused to allow Arab workers to join or shunted them off into theirown segregated section of the union.

Today, U.S. laborleaders have at least $5 billion of union pension funds and retirement plans investedin State of Israel Bonds.

In April 2002,while Israel butchered Palestinian refugees at Jenin in the West Bank, AFL-CIOPresident John Sweeney was a featured speaker at a belligerent "NationalSolidarity Rally for Israel."  In July2007, Stuart Appelbaum of the Jewish Labor Committee, a Histadrut spokesman,enlisted top officials of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to condemn Britishunion support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

In so doing, U.S. labor bodies support:

* The murderous Israeli war on and siege ofGaza.

* Exploitation of undocumented workers, thevast majority people of color -- something we oppose and call racist at home.

* State-sponsored pogroms againstPalestinians - something we oppose and call racist at home.

* Residential, workplace and trade union segregationof workers by ethnicity and religion - something we oppose and call racist athome.

* The infamous apartheid wall, that separatesPalestinians from each other and from their means of sustenance - something weoppose and call racist at home.

* Wage differentials between Jewish andArab workers - something we oppose and call racist at home.

*A state and an ideology backed by the most right-wing, racist, sexist anti-laborpolitical and military leaders both in "Israel" and at home.

Thistreacherous role echoes U.S. military and financial support, without which theZionist system could not exist.

As with the wars inIraq and Afghanistan, workers in the United States pay a staggering human andfinancial price, including a deepening economic crisis, for U.S.-Israeli warand occupation.

Upholdingour Jewish heritage of fighting oppression, and reaffirming the principle oflabor solidarity, we in IJAN-Labor call on labor bodies everywhere to join us indemanding an immediate and total:

  1. Divest from State of Israel Bonds.
  2. Boycott Israeli goods, and support workers' refusal to handle Israeli cargo.
  3. Break ties with the Histadrut (Israeli Federation of Labor, a founding party of the State of Israel and part of the current Israeli government)

Protesting the Israeli Zim Lines ship

While most IJANers from the Bay Area were at the the 2010 US Assemblyof Jewsin Detroit, some IJANers who stayed in the Bay tookpart in the 5am Sunday historic morning picket, with approximately 800 otherpeople, of the Israeli Zim Lines ship in theport ofOakland. It was a very successful action and prevented the ship from beingunloaded. This is the first time this has happened in the USand also the first time many locallabor groups and unions have taken action in support of Palestinian people and itis a precedent setting action and a big step forward for the BDS movement bothin the Bay and nationally.

Block the Boat: Zim Ship Not Welcome in Ports Across the US & Canada
The Block the Boat actions in Oakland, Los Angeles, Tacoma/Seattle and Vancouver are yet another sign of the growing strength and success of the BDS movement against Israel. Led by Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) with participation from over 60 organizations, including IJAN, 3,000-4,000 marched on the Port of Oakland on August 16. The resulting picket line stopped dock workers from entering the port and unloading the ship. With the support of rank and file members of the local longshoreman union (ILWU Local 10), activists and community members prevented the Zim Piraeus from unloading for a historic four days. This is the longest blockade of an Israeli ship in history. Click here for more details on the picket.

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