Statement of Labor Activists

As anti-Zionist activists — women andmen of many religions and of none, in and around the Labor Movement in Canada, theUnited States and the UK — we are delighted to be represented here in Cairo atthis historic moment.  Like everyone who wants a better world for workersand our families, we acknowledge that when the people of Egypt (Shaab alMasri) in their millions revolt against injustice, it is a defining momentfor workers around the world.  

We send thankful greetings to thepeoples of North Africa and South-WestAsia who have launched a new wave of international revolutionary activity which has had animmediate impact as far afield at least as Madison,Wisconsin (USA).  The occupation ofthe Wisconsin State House has joined the immigrant rights movement and others ingiving new life and energy to working class movements (union and non-union) inthe United States.  It was followed inArizona by students using the same tools as their counterparts here, occupyingthe school board and chainingthemselves in; while in Olympia, Washington State, students and unions occupiedthe state capital also protesting budget cuts. In Wisconsin, directly influenced byTahrir Square, students, young people, seniors, unionists and mothers withchildren, occupied a US State House for the first time in living memory andheld it for weeks, redecorating the building with picket signs, banners,slogans and other symbols of resistance in defiance of the state governor.

We are also mindful of the fact thatone immediate consequence of the revolution in Egypt has been thepartial opening of the Rafah Crossing, beginningto break the brutal and murderous US-Israeli-Mubarak blockade ofGaza.   On the US side of the Atlantic, we must continue to mobilizeto undermine the Zionist agenda by advocating andacting for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).  It is less than ayear since one of our greatest victories, the refusal of the Longshoremen’sUnion to cross a community picket line in Oakland,preventing the unloading of an Israeli ship for the first time in UShistory. In so doing, they were following the callfrom Palestinian and South African unions for BDS, using the same tactic as wasused around the world against South African apartheid.  

In the US we are campaigning againsttrade union investment of billions of dollars of union pension funds in State of Israel Bonds; a similar campaign exists in the UKwhere many trade unions, including the influential TUC (Trades Union Congress),have voted for boycott action; and just thisweek the UCU (University and College Union) voted to dissociate itself from the"working definition of anti-Semitism", thereby refusing the equationanti-Zionism = anti-Semitism. 

The Palestinians, through their refusal to acceptoccupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, have been a continuous thorn in theside of Zionism and its supporters, including all the corrupt Arab governmentswhich are now being confronted by their whole populations.  

In addition, the wave of strikes in Egypthas created new independent trade unions, now emerging fromthe rank and file, unlike the old unions which have been extensions of the corporate/governmentestablishment. This working class activity has deepened andbroadened the rebellion. By their actions,workers and their families have made themovement of the working class in its diversity (with the Egyptian women workersfor example in Mahalla showing the way) so visible that it becomesincreasingly less possible for union leadersin the United States and elsewhere to pretend, by aligningthemselves with the corrupt racism of the Israeli Histadrut, that Arab workersdo not exist and are notdeserving of the active solidarity of tradeunions in every country. 

Weare here in gratitude, solidarity, and to learn.

 

MonadelHerzallah, US Palestinian Community Network – USA

MichaelKalmanowitz,  Payday and IJAN – UK

MichaelLetwin on behalf of Labor for Palestine and IJAN Labor – USA

EamonMcMahon, Irish Congress of Trade Unions* – Northern Ireland

MickNapier, Edinburgh Napier EIS-ULA Branch Secretary * – Scotland

SamWeinstein, IJAN Labor and Utility Workers Union of America* – USA

 

*for identificationpurposes only

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