Saturday, August 28, 2010

Labor Says Yes to Israel, No to BDS

Earlier this summer, when the anti- Israel forces inexplicably crowed "victory" over preventing a Chinese freighter in Oakland harbor from unloading, they claimed that "Labor" supported BDS against Israel. And, of course, they were wrong. While some labor union members might support some aspects of the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement , many labor members in both the leadership and the rank and file were deeply embarrassed by the claims and actions done in their name.
This letter was sent to the local Consul General of Israel, Akiva Tor, on behalf of state and local labor:

Akiva Tor
Consul General
State of Israel
San Francisco, CA

Dear Mr. Consul General

I am writing you regarding the incident that took place on June 20, 2010, in which a group of anti-Israel demonstrators picketed at the Port of Oakland resulting in members of ILWU Local 10 not unloading a Zim container vessel based on an arbitrator’s determination that the picket line present a “health and safety” risk. The vessel was unloaded the next day.

We want to make it perfectly clear to you and to the people of Israel that our union is fundamentally opposed to efforts to interfere with Israeli ships or cargoes and to the larger “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” effort being directed against Israel. We repudiate such tactics as antithetical to efforts to bring about real peace in the Middle East. We believe that the proper role of the US labor movement is to support efforts to bring about a just settlement that will enable Israel, the national homeland of the Jewish people, and a future Palestinian state to live side-by-side within safe and secure borders, free from war, terrorism, and in mutual respect and recognition.

It is our understanding that anti-Israel resolutions supporting this activity were passed in the Alameda and San Francisco Labor Councils. We wish to assure you that our union was never consulted about these actions and we repudiate them.

Moreover, we are very concerned that events such as occurred June 20 could result in the diversion of freight from the Port of Oakland to the Port of Los Angeles/Lon Beach or other ports along the Pacific Coast. We represent members who provide trucking and rail services for containerized shipping leaving the Port of Oakland and we do not believe that our members’ jobs should be placed in jeopardy because of the efforts of fringe groups to demonize Israel.

We hope what occurred at Oakland will be a one-time event that will never be repeated. We will be urging our brothers and sisters to insure that this is the case.

Marty Frates Secretary-Treasurer

cc: James Hoffa, International President, IBT
Rome Aloise, President, Teamsters Joint Council 7
Randy Cammack, President, Teamsters Joint Council 42
Art Pulaski, Exec. Secretary-Treasurer , CA Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Bob Balgenorth, President, CA State Building and Construction Trades Council
Josie Camacho, Acting Exec. Secretary-Treasurer , Alameda Labor Council
Tim Paulson, Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council
Bob McEllrath, International President, ILWU
Richard Mead, President, ILWU Local 10
Members, Executive Committee, Alameda Labor Council
Members, Executive Committee, San Francisco Labor Council
Omar Benjamin, Executive Director, Port of Oakland

The Lesson:
When they claim "Palestinian Civil Society " supports BDS it means them and a few hundred of their friends
When they claim "Labor" supports BDS it means them and a few hundred of their friends
When they "Jews" or "Israelis" support BDS, it is as meaningless

BDS is a fringe movement organized by doctrinaire haters, desperate for any kind of "victory" in an effort to build "momentum". But with ten years of failure behind them, sometimes this means victories need to be created- literally pulled out of the magicians hat. For the rest of us, its hard to ignore the 80 billion dollar growth in Israel's GNP since the BDS movement began.

The BDs'ers, and the entire movement to deny the Jewish people the right to self determination in their ancient homeland is based the the most fragile of lies, supported by the words of Lenin “To speak the truth is a petit-bourgeois habit. To lie, on the contrary, is often justified by the lie’s aim." Nonetheless, the rest of us will continue to speak truth to power, and we'll continue to fight the good fight.


Anonymous said...

Statement of Opposition to Divestment From or Boycotts of Israel

We view with increasing concern the phenomenon of trade unions in a number of countries, including, most recently, the United Kingdom, issuing resolutions that either directly or indirectly call for divestment from and boycotts of Israel.

With the large number of local, regional and international conflicts, with the diverse range of oppressive regimes around the world about which there is almost universal silence, we have to question the motives of these resolutions that single out one country in one conflict.

We note with increasing concern that virtually all of these resolutions focus solely on objections to actions or policies of the Israeli government, and never on actions or policies of Palestinian or other Arab governments, parties or movements. We notice with increasing concern that characterization of the Palestinians as victims and Israel as victimizer is a staple of such resolutions. That there are victims and victimizers on all sides, and that many if not most of the victims of violence and repression on all sides are civilians, are essential items often not mentioned in these resolutions.

Any just and fair resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be brought about through meaningful negotiations between their elected representatives. We believe strongly in a two-state solution, brought about through meaningful negotiations, with the involvement and encouragement of the world community.

Trade unionists and their organizations seeking such a just and fair resolution should be assisting those working to bring the two sides together in direct talks and then negotiations. In this regard, we call for increased engagement of trade unions with their counterparts on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We support efforts of Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and their organizations to maintain contact and cooperative and mutually supportive activities, even in the midst of tumult and political change within their respective communities and polities.

read more here:

Anonymous said...

As much as the BDS anti-Israel types want you to believe that labor has foresaken Israel, its simply not true:

"An organisation representing trade unions in more than 150 countries and 176 million workers worldwide has rejected calls to boycott Israel and pledged its “universal recognition” of the country’s right to exist.

At its world congress in Vancouver, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) stated its rejection of “the extremist policies of Hamas”.

And in a defiant slap to the boycott movement, the leader of Israel's Histadrut, its umbrella trade union body, Ofer Eini, has been elected as one of ITUC’s vice presidents and given a place on its 25-member executive board."

Read more here: