TO Weekly 29 – PALESTINE: Who Can Stand Silently By?

IN THIS SPECIAL PALESTINE ISSUE:

• Who Can Stand Silently By? – by Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman

• A New Prime Minister “More Right-Wing Than Netanyahu” – by Dominique Ferré

• Palestine: Two-State Solution? – by Alan Benjamin

OPEN FORUM: U.S. LABOR AND PALESTINE

 • Northern California District Council of the ILWU Slams Israel for Flagrant Violations of Human Rights

 • UESF Resolution in Solidarity with the Palestinian People

 • Open Letter from Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)

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Who Can Stand Silently By?

By MYA SHONE and RALPH SCHOENMAN

It didn’t take long after May 21 for the Israeli state to resume its attacks on the Palestinian people, or should we say more appropriately that the assaults had never stopped. Let us examine three recent incidents among many: on Monday, June 7 in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem; on Wednesday, June 9, in Ramallah — the seat of the Palestine Authority — in the West Bank; and, lastly, Friday, June 11, in the village of Beita, south of Nablus, also on the West Bank.

On Monday, June 7, Jerusalem Municipality inspectors accompanied by Israeli forces delivered notices to 13 Palestinian families that their homes will be demolished within 21 days. These 13 are only the first of 120 Palestinian families — some 1,500 people living in more than 100 buildings — whose homes in the al-Bustan region of Silwan will be destroyed; their lives uprooted. This isn’t the first time for many. They are the descendants of the 780,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes during the Zionist massacres between Nov. 29, 1947, when the United Nations partitioned Palestine, and May 15, 1948, when the State of Israel was formally proclaimed.

The purpose, in keeping with the Judaization of the land,* is to build a theme park where the Israelis claim King David had a garden in biblical times. Gam Hamelech (King’s Garden) Park will be constructed adjacent to the City of David, a Jewish settlement created in the midst of the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in the Palestinian village of Silwan further destroying the integrity of Silwan itself. (Al Jazeera, June 11)

Two days later, Wednesday, June 9, Israeli army forces raided the Palestinian Union of Health Workers Committee (UHWC) headquarters in Ramallah, “breaking down the door, confiscating computers and memory drives, and issuing a military order forcing the office to close for six months” (Al Jazeera, June 10). Amnesty International sent out an alert that shutting down this key provider of health services will have “catastrophic consequences.” The UHWC, which has been targeted repeatedly by the Israeli forces with its staff harassed and arrested, runs hospitals, health clinics, essential services for women’s health, and has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in the West Bank.

Then on Friday, June 11, Israeli troops fired live rounds, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel pellets at dozens of Palestinians in Beita who were protesting the further seizure of land by Israeli settlers who had built an outpost on the village’s Mount Sabih to expand their already illegal settlement. Nine Palestinians were wounded by the soldiers and Mohammed Said Hamayel, 15 years old, was killed. Mohammed was not the first child to die in the Beita protests; he was the third child murdered by Israeli troops this year. (Al Jazeera, June 11)

Who can stand silently by as the Israeli state continues to oppress the Palestinian people and dispossess them of their land?

Not the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 and 34 members and port truckers who on June 4 refused to cross community picket lines set up by the Arab Resource Organizing Committee (AROC) and the #Block the Boat Coalition, with the result that the Volans— a ship operated by the ZIM Corp., Israeli’s largest and oldest shipping company — sailed from the Port of Oakland with the ship unworked.

Not South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) dockworkers who refused to offload the Zim Shanghai in Durban harbor on May 19.

Not port workers in the Italian city of Livorno members of the Union Sindicale di Base (USB) who called a strike on May 14 as the Asiatic Island, another Zim ship, headed into port loaded with high-precision rockets destined for the Israeli Defense Forces. “Halt weapons for killing Palestinians!” was the call to action broadcast by the union on its Twitter feed.

Nor labor union locals and federations worldwide who have joined the mobilization of hundreds of thousands around the world and heeded the call of the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions, including the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, Gaza, the General Union of Palestinian Women, as well as the Professional Associations Federation including unions and associations representing many professions in the West Bank and Gaza to “stand with us, to speak out, to take action.”

Union support internationally and now across the United States is creating a groundswell. The CUT in Brazil, COSATU in South Africa, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Belgian federation ABVV/FGTB, the CNT and CGT Educ’Action in France, the LO federation in Norway, the Canadian Postal Workers Union, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Jordan (FITU-J), the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, and the Moroccan Workers Union (UMT) are but a few who have taken the lead.

Here in the United States the recent 11-day genocidal bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli state brought forth resolutions from the NewsGuild-CWA, UNITE HERE Local 23 in New York, UPTE-CWA 9119, the Assembly of United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), the Roofers Local 36 in Los Angeles among others.

Acknowledgement of and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination has crossed a threshold from which there is no going back. One would have to wear thick blinders today not to see the apartheid foundation of the Israeli state, the Zionist drive to eliminate the presence of the Palestinian people, and the critical role of U.S. imperialism.

“The recent Israel-state sanctioned violence,” stated the Northern California District Council of the ILWU on May 25, “follows decades of systemic discrimination and violation of human rights of all Palestinians, including militarily enforced restrictions of movement for over 4.7 million Palestinians; a brutal blockade on Gaza; confiscation of land; economic exploitation; and suspension of basic civil liberties. These actions and more are deplorable and are flagrant and inhumane and a violation of all basic human rights.”

This “conflict would not be possible without the United States’ weapons and support,” noted UPTE-CWA 9119 in its June 2 resolution in which it noted that the U.S. has pledged $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years, or $3.8 billion each year.

That is why in the United States, in particular, the demand to End All Aid to Israel is as fundamental a demand as the Right of Palestinians to Return and for the realization of a democratic and secular Palestine where elementary rights, such as we demand for ourselves, are accorded to all.

* * *

“We Shall Expand to the Whole of Palestine”

David Ben Gurion, who had been the head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, then executive head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946, becoming the first Prime Minister once the state of Israel was created, expressed the Zionist strategy clearly in his 1938 speech to the World Council of Poale Zion in Tel Aviv. “After we become a strong force as the result of the creation of the state,” Ben Gurion declaimed, “we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine. … The state will have to preserve order — not by preaching but with machine guns.”

To learn more about the Zionist plans for Palestine and the Middle East, see The Hidden History of Zionism by Ralph Schoenman at http://www.takingaimnow.com/hhz/index.htm and available in book form from The Organizer.

(Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman are on the editorial board of The Organizer. Long active in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, they were the coordinators of the international Palestine Campaign: End All Aid to Apartheid Israel, For a Democratic Secular Palestine initiated in March 1988.

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Naftali Bennett (left) with Benjamin Netanyahu

A New Prime Minister “More Right-Wing Than Netanyahu”

By DOMINIQUE FERRE

[Following are major excerpts from an article published in the June 16 issue of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune.]

On June 13, by 60 votes to 59, the Knesset [Israeli parliament)] put an end to Netanyahu’s 12-year reign, giving its support to a coalition government that includes two far-right Zionist parties; a “centrist” Zionist party; two “left” Zionist parties; as well as Ra’am, an Islamist party claiming to represent the Bedouin populations of the Negev desert [1].

The new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, a millionaire in the high-tech sector, is no political novice. He is the leader of the ultra-nationalist Yamina party.

In 1996, as a commando officer in the Israeli army during the offensive in southern Lebanon, Bennett bombed the village of Qana [2]: 102 civilians, all refugees in a United Nations building, were massacred. Nineteen years later, he returned to this episode in the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, stating: “I have killed many Arabs in my life. And there is nothing wrong with that.” (July 29, 2013)

In 2006-2008, he campaigned alongside Netanyahu as a leader of a settler defense organization. In September 2010, during a televised debate, he replied to a Palestinian opponent: “When Palestinians were still climbing trees [3] like apes we already had a Jewish State.” He added, “Palestinians are not worthy of a State.” [4]

From 2015 to 2019, he was a minister in Netanyahu’s government, serving at one point as his Minister of Defense (2019-2020). He stated at the time, something he has often repeated, that “he is more right-wing than Netanyahu” (Aljazeera, June 14, 2021). As Netanyahu’s Minister of National Education, he went after Israeli NGOs that were even slightly critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. He banned the use of the term Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe” — a reference to the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians from their land in May 1948. 

He has said that the creation of a Palestine state would be “suicide” for Israel. He has also called for the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank. (AljazeeraIbid.)

He supported the 2018 “Law on the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” which codifies the distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish Israeli citizens. It’s a law that led the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem to rightly characterize as “Apartheid” the institutions in place between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. 

An hour after Bennett’s inauguration, U.S. President Joseph Biden, an advocate of the “two-state solution,” called Bennett to congratulate him, stating that the U.S. administration was “fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability and peace for Israelis, Palestinians and people throughout the region.”

Though they may try to contain the powerful uprising of the Palestinians expressed in the May 18 general strike, which united all components of the Palestinian people, neither Bennett nor his coalition partners will be able to compel the Palestinian people to give up their legitimate aspirations for land and nationhood, for the right of return for all refugees. 

 Endnote

[1] Mostly not politicized since 1948, these populations are nevertheless confronted with the destruction of their villages by the State of Israel. In May 2021, many young Bedouins waved the Palestinian flag and joined the demonstrations, asserting their Palestinian identity.

[2] “Bennett defends actions during 1996 Lebanon operation,” Times of Israel, Jan. 5, 2015

https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-defends-actions-during-1996-lebanon-operation/

[3] “Palestinians were climbing trees, we already had a Jewish state,” +972 Magazine, Jan. 1, 2013

https://www.972mag.com/right-wing-leader-bennett-when-palestinians-were-climbing-trees-we-already-had-a-jewish-state/

[4] Channel 2, Israel uploaded to youtube April 8, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov2aku7bl_0

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Palestine: Two-State Solution?

By ALAN BENJAMIN

On June 7, the Alameda Labor Council delegates adopted unanimously a Resolution on Palestine that “calls upon the U.S. government to immediately suspend the sale of weapons and all military aid to Israel.” For a labor council in the United States to take such a stand unanimously is of extreme significance.

The Alameda resolution misses the mark on one important question, however. The resolution restricts its call for Palestinian self-determination, when it asserts that, “The Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem have the right to self-determination.” This leaves out the Palestinians living inside the 1948 Occupied Territories, the refugee camps of neighboring countries, and in the Diaspora.

All Palestinians, wherever they may live, have the right to self-determination.

On March 18, the historic general strike forged the unity of all the Palestinian people, especially in the 1948 Occupied Territories (the State of Israel). Mass protests in Haifa saw hundreds of Israeli Jews join with the Palestinians — who have refused to be called “Israeli Arabs” — to protest the killings and unbridled violence perpetrated by the Israeli State against the Palestinian people.

Restricting the call for self-determination in this manner is consistent with the “two-State solution” to the conflict in Palestine. But this is no solution. There will never be a Palestinian State, or anything even resembling a Palestinian State, existing side by side with the Zionist State.

The Zionist regime over the past 73 years has made this clear. The founding Zionist doctrine called for the expulsion of all Palestinians living in the historic territory of Palestine. The various Israeli governments during this period – whether from the “left” or the “right” – have proceeded to implement the Zionist doctrine ever since, with U.S. funding.

The “two-State solution” promised in the 1995 Oslo Accords has not produced even a semblance of a Palestinian State. What resulted are 165 powerless, mini-prison camps — all administered and policed by the Israeli State, with the complicity of a powerless Palestinian Authority. The call issued by 745 Israeli Jews to “Stop Israel’s Apartheid” stated that “the Apartheid regime created Bantustan-like and Ghetto-like areas for Palestinian native communities.”

The British financial magazine, The Economist, which is no friend of the Palestinian people, nonetheless captured this reality quite accurately in an editorial dated May titled “Two States or One.” It stated, in part:

“The Palestinian territory in the West Bank is an archipelago drowned in a sea of expanding Israeli settlements, illegal under international law. Gaza is an island cut off from the world by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. The Palestinian Authority was supposed to be an embryonic government.

“Young Palestinians now see it as an agent of Israeli occupation, even as they praise Hamas … for resisting Israel. Instead of the stalled two-State process, the new Palestinian vision demands individual rights in a single State. … Even Israeli Arabs complain about inequality and have risen up during the fighting in Gaza. … Many critics of Israeli policy, including some Jews, now compare the treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid.”

A Palestinian activist told The Organizer:

“This ‘two-State solution’ provided the illusion, the cover, of peace negotiations between Israel and its collaborators while the Occupation forces kept building illegal settlement in clear violation of international law and continued to ethnically cleanse residents of places like Sheikh Jarrah – just like they did to 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, including my grand-parents.”

The “Call by 745 Israeli Jews to Stop Apartheid,” concluded, aptly:

“We call upon the international community to intervene immediately in order to stop Israel’s current aggressions, to adopt the demands of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; to work towards the actualization of the Palestinian Right of Return and to bring about historic justice; to reach a just and democratic solution for all, based on the decolonization of the region and founding a State of all its citizens.”

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Picketing the ZIM operated ship at the Port of Oakland

OPEN FORUM: U.S. LABOR AND PALESTINE

Northern California District Council of the ILWU Slams Israel for Flagrant Violations of Human Rights

On May 25, the Northern California District Council of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) issued a statement, signed by ILWU District Council President Melvin Mackay, Council Vice President Christopher Christensen, and other top union officials, that reads in part:

“Over the past few weeks, the world has witnessed the forced removal of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem as well as attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, during the sacred month of Ramadan. The Israeli military continues its attacks and airstrikes on civilians in Gaza, while racist mobs attack Palestinian homes and businesses in many Israeli cities like Bat Yam, and Haifa.

“The recent Israel-state sanctioned violence follows decades of systemic discrimination and violation of human rights of all Palestinians, including militarily enforced restrictions of movement for over 4.7 million Palestinians; a brutal blockade on Gaza; confiscation of land; economic exploitation; and suspension of basic civil liberties. These actions and more are deplorable and are flagrant and inhumane and a violation of all basic human rights.”

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UESF Resolution in Solidarity with the Palestinian People

(adopted on May 19 by the Assembly of United Educators of San Francisco / UESF)

Whereas, over 1,500 Palestinians from neighborhoods in Jerusalem are facing the threat of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli authorities, and children make up a large percentage of the families threatened with homelessness.

Whereas, this pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements has been found to be illegal under international law.

Whereas, many reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’tselem have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices.

Whereas, in response to Palestinian demonstrations against these illegal practices and the forcible displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police attacked demonstrations in many instances, injuring hundreds including a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of worship.

Whereas, since May 10 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has begun an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza. At the time of writing nearly 200 people, more than a quarter of them children have been killed. Over 1,300 have been wounded, and 40,000 Gazans have lost their homes.

Whereas, as public-school educators in the United States of America, we have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the $3.8 billion annually that the U.S. government gives to Israel, thus directly using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war crimes.

Whereas, since 2005 over 170 Palestinian organizations of civil society including educator unions have­ — modeled on the movement to end South African apartheid — asked the international community to join the campaign to boycott, divest, and call for sanctions against Israel. Since then, many educators’ unions, including the largest educators union in Europe (the National Union of Teachers) and many national trade union federations throughout the world have endorsed that call.

Therefore, be it resolved, that United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) expresses our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah.

Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop aid to Israel.

Therefore, be it further resolved, that UESF endorses the international campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in Israel.

  • Submitted to the May 19th Meeting of the United Educators of San Francisco

Co-signed by Alex Schmaus, Francisco MS, Anna M Grossi, John O’Connell HS, Dante Popalisky, George Washington HS, Ericca Chavez, Leonard Flynn ES, Greg McGarry, Mission HS, Jenn Bowman, George Washington HS, José Montenegro, June Jordan HS, Max Raynard, Clarendon ES, Shendi Xu, Francisco MS, V Sandoval, June Jordan HS

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Picketing of Zim-operated ship at the Port of Oakland (Photo: Millie Phillips)

Open Letter from Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)

June 11, 2021


Dear United Educators of San Francisco and members of the San Francisco labor movement,

I am writing on behalf of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC). The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is a grassroots organization, based in San Francisco, working to empower and organize the poor, and working class Arab and Muslim communities towards justice and self-determination for all. We are a social justice organization that alongside other Black, Indigenous and people of color partner organizations, oppose all forms of oppression, including, but not limited to, racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and patriarchy. In addition to our legal and other social services, we run a youth program in San Francisco Unified School District, and lead education equity campaigns including the implementation of the Arabic Language Pathway Program in SFUSD, and the campaign to defend Ethnic Studies in California.

We wanted to recognize the courage, and principled solidarity that United Educators of San Francisco demonstrated through your resolution passed on May 19th, 2021. With your resolution, you became the first teachers’ union in the United States to support the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction the state of Israel. You have also become one of the first in the U.S. to heed the call from the General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza, and other labor unions in Palestine asking for labor in the U.S. to support them in the struggle against Apartheid by issuing public statements, engaging in strikes, and boycotting Israel. We know that by taking such positions you have now become subjected to an orchestrated right-wing attack including vilification and intimidation tactics. By passing your resolution and remaining resolute in your position despite the backlash you have faced, you have honored the long legacy of this international worker solidarity, and San Francisco’s own history as being at the forefront of social justice movements nationwide.

Whether defending Black lives, standing against anti-Asian violence, or fighting for migrant justice at the US border and beyond, SF labor unions have always risen to resist all forms of racism. We are in an incredible moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle where social justice movements have stood with us to affirm Palestine as one of the central racial justice fights of our time. With the most recent and ongoing Israeli assault on the indigenous Palestinian people in Jerusalem, bombing of Gaza, and targeting of activists including and not limited to union members across all of Palestine, the international community has intensified its condemnation of Apartheid Israel. Human Rights Watch, one of the most significant human rights institutions, recently published a report outlining the Apartheid character of Israel. Congresspeople are calling on stopping aid to Israel so long as it continues to violate international and human rights law. All the while, our U.S. government continues to support Israel politically, economically and militarily with over $3.8 billion in aid each year. As history has shown us, labor has a significant role to play in advancing struggles for justice and holding governments accountable.

Most recently, AROC led the #BlocktheBoat campaign, resulting in the blockade of the Israeli ZIM shipping company. ILWU Local 10 honored our community pickets. And as a result, we interrupted international commerce, and sent a clear message that worker and community solidarity can shape the course of history. The ZIM Shipping line has now been unable to dock in Oakland for 7 years and counting.

San Francisco labor itself is a powerful force for justice and change. We understand Palestine as a struggle of working people, as tied inextricably with the fate of organized labor. We call on organized labor across San Francisco to follow the example of UESF, the ILWU Local 10, and the SEIU 1021 and continue to support Palestine, to amplify the voices of Palestinians seeking freedom and dignity, and to stand with us as we fight for liberation, from here to our homelands.

Sincerely,

Lara Kiswani

Executive Director

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

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