A Campaign for Justice
Initiated by New York City Labor Against the War, Al-Awda NY and You

Dear Fellow Trade Unionists and Workers:

International solidarity, the right of national self-determination, and social justice are among the most basic trade union principles. These principles have been reflected in labor opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, in labor's demand for divestment from South African apartheid and opposition to U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s, and to U.S. war and occupation in Iraq today.

Trade unionists who have taken these positions have often faced intense criticism. In response, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed his support for the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace, by pointing out that, "[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . . Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."i

In that spirit, we ask you to join us in Labor For Palestine.

The establishment of Israel in 1948 inflicted on the Palestinian people a continuing campaign of displacement, discrimination, exploitation and brutality that has continued to this day. This includes:

These conditions have taken a particular toll on Palestinian workers. Last April, fourteen trade unionists from seven European countries found that:

Like any oppressed people, the Palestinian people have courageously resisted. For example, Palestinian workers have organized unions and labor organizations throughout Palestinian society, some of which have been devastated by the massive unemployment caused by closure and economic entrapment. Palestinian workers have consistently used the general strike as a tool of protest and struggle against occupation and oppression; in fact, the longest general strike in the world was that organized by Palestinian workers in 1936 against British colonialism.

For decades, this wholesale denial of Palestinian rights has been condemned by trade unionists around the world. Seeing the close parallels between Israeli and South African apartheid, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has called upon the trade union movement internationally to mobilize its support behind the people of Palestine.ii

In Britain, trade unionists have joined with Palestinian labor leaders and the Trade Unionists for Palestine to support Palestinian rights.iii Additionally, Irish trade union leaders, including those of SIPTU, a service and professional workers' union, have condemned the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and the oppression of Palestinians.iv

Lastly, the World Federation of Trade Unionsv, an international body representing hundreds of millions of workers, has called for "immediate action to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate right to return and to self-determination and to establish their national and independent state with Jerusalem as capital."

In the U.S., however, government and private institutions - including many labor bodies - have actively contributed to this oppression:

It is clearer now than ever that Israel's war on the Palestinian people reflects imperial domination throughout the Middle East. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between scenes of occupation and resistance in Jenin, Falluja and Baghdad.

We, therefore, have a profound moral obligation to recognize and end the complicity of U.S. government and labor with Israeli apartheid.

For these reasons, the April 2004 convention of Al-Awda NY (the Palestine right to return coalition) unanimously adopted a proposal by New York City Labor Against the War to ask all labor bodies to:

  1. Fully support Palestinian national, democratic and labor rights throughout historic Palestine, including the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and land.
  2. Demand an end to U.S. military and economic support for Israeli Apartheid.
  3. Divest all labor investments in Israeli Apartheid.
  4. Affiliate with Labor For Palestine.


The undersigned (list in formation):

i http://www.aavw.org/special_features/speeches_speech_king03.html
ii http://www.iacenter.org/palest_cuba-sa.htm
iii http://www.palestinecampaign.org/trade_unions.asp
iv http://student.cs.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/db.php?aid=4209
v http://www.wftu.cz
vi For all of the above, see: http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.com/palestine/union.html; http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/cost_of_israel.html; and http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/usaid.html