T.O. Weekly 30 – Labor Solidarity: Puerto Rico, Vermont, and Palestine
IN THIS MESSAGE:
• Support the Embattled UTIER Utility Workers in Puerto Rico!
• NYC LCLAA Opposes Privatization, Supports the UTIER Workers
• Statement of Support for the Vermont AFL-CIO State Federation
SPECIAL DOSSIER ON PALESTINE:
• Palestinian Trade Unions Call for Immediate and Urgent Solidarity Action
• Monadel Herzallah Speech to the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Socialist Organizer
• Yoav Haifawi: “More than 2,000 Palestinians Were Detained Last Month”
• Palestinian Youth Message to Federation of Revolutionary Youth in France
• Holocaust Survivors and Descendants Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians
• 949 Israeli Jews Issue Call: “Stop Israel’s Apartheid!”
• For a Democratic and Secular Palestine
• “The Hidden History of Zionism” – A Must Read for Activists
• “From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This Is Apartheid!”
Support the Embattled UTIER Utility Workers in Puerto Rico!
By CORAL WHEELER
As the Puerto Rican Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER) celebrates its 79th year, its union members are waging a fierce battle to save Puerto Rico’s power grid from the devastating effects of privatization.
On June 22, 2020, the public utility Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) entered into a contract with LUMA Energy Corp., a joint U.S.-Canadian private conglomerate, for the operation and maintenance of the electric-power transmission and distribution system. PREPA had been a public service for over 80 years. Massive debt, deteriorating infrastructure, and finally the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 gave the U.S. government and Big Business what they had been seeking for some time — the full privatization of the Puerto Rican power grid and PREPA.
Now, an expected $20 billion in emergency federal funds distributed through FEMA will allow LUMA Corp. to use the Hurricane Maria disaster to enrich its stockholders while doing little to fix the problems that exist with the Puerto Rican power grid.
The contract signed between LUMA and the Puerto Rican government will lead to more of the same issues that have plagued the electrical utility for years. Moreover, it destroys the collective-bargaining agreement between PREPA and its 3,000-plus workers, organized in UTIER, undermines their pensions, and allows the employer to set up a “preferred workers’ representative.”
Written behind closed doors, without the input of elected officials accountable to Puerto Ricans, the contract effectively turns a public utility into a private monopoly. It allows LUMA to unilaterally determine the type of power to inject into the grid and includes no mandates or even any incentives to comply with local and federal renewable energy objectives.
Most egregiously, LUMA has no obligation to remain in Puerto Rico in the case of a future natural disaster. LUMA could abandon its commitments, leaving Puerto Rico without any power company at all.
In a letter to U.S. President Biden, over 100 Puerto Rican organizations demanded that emergency-relief money be used to modernize Puerto Rico’s aging power grid, spreading the use of solar panels and allowing the power users to become its producers, all while moving away from fossil fuels. They challenged the contract with LUMA as detrimental to the future of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid because it moves in the direction of an increased carbon footprint at a crucial time in the fight against climate change.
Instead of allowing Puerto Ricans to be energy-independent, which would allow them to become more politically independent, this agreement continues the dependence of Puerto Rico on the United States and transfers the disaster relief money directly into the hands of private U.S. companies, rather than into the hands of the Puerto Rican people.
UTIER workers have been on strike for months. They have taken to the streets along with other public- and private-sector unions to demand cancellation of the contract with LUMA. They have warned that the agreement with LUMA will increase the cost of electricity and destroy the jobs and livelihood of thousands of workers and their families. They have spearheaded mass mobilizations, national days of protest, and even a nationwide general strike.
At first highly successful, the general strike prevented LUMA from recruiting enough workers to operate effectively. However, in a shocking — though not totally unexpected — development, top officials of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 222 in the United States violated international working-class solidarity. On June 21, IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson announced that the union signed an agreement with LUMA in which IBEW gives up its own right to effective collective bargaining in exchange for the right to engage in major electric transmission and distribution construction projects with LUMA. Included in this sweetheart agreement is a no-strike pledge.
This is a devastating blow to the workers of Puerto Rico. Crossing picket lines and agreeing to non-binding “labor agreements” is also a blow to the IBEW and to the U.S. labor movement.
Anticipating the signing of this IBEW-LUMA agreement, UTIER President Ángel Figueroa-Jaramillo sent a letter on May 31, 2021, to Lonnie Stephenson, urging the IBEW to pull back from this disastrous course for the workers and people of Puerto Rico. He wrote, in part:
“We have received information from former PREPA workers who are working in the United States according to which there have been offers by IBEW locals to go to Puerto Rico to work in our electric system. Specifically, the rumors come from members of your Local 222. … We hope that those are mere rumors and a blatant lie to try to damage your solidarity reputation. We will consider any contractor or employee who consents to work for LUMA, unionized or non-unionized, to be a strikebreaker, and we will denounce these actions nationally and internationally and take all actions allowed by law.”
The New York chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) issued a letter of solidarity with the UTIER workers [see below]. We urge other LCLAA chapters, unions, and working-class organizations across the United States to follow suit. The striking UTIER workers need our support.
– Cancel the privatizing PREPA-LUMA contract now, with all UTIER workers returned to their jobs with back pay and full rights!
– No to scabs and sweetheart agreements; rescind the IBEW-LUMA agreement now and restore the collective-bargaining agreement with UTIER!
The New York City Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Stands in Solidarity with UTIER and in Opposition to the Privatization of PREPA
It is with great pride that we, the New York City chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), stand in solidarity with UTIER, and we stand in solidarity with you in the fight in opposition to the privatization of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).
Let us be clear. Privatization is a tool that the bosses and the politicians in service of the bosses use in union-busting. The workers, the members of UTIER, who have worked for PREPA, have done so with dedication to serve the people of Puerto Rico. You have done so at times risking your lives. You have given your best to guarantee that the people of Puerto Rico have access to a vital and essential service.
We in NYC LCLAA argue that PREPA is a crucial resource of the people and nation of Puerto Rico. The privatization of PREPA will remove democratic accountability – and the purpose to privatize PREPA, or any public service, is rooted in an agenda that seeks to silence the voice of the people and exploit the people of Puerto Rico and the nation’s resources for profit. The record is clear. Across the globe, privatization schemes have never amounted to better, more cost-effective practices that have benefited the people.
There is great concern about the lack of transparency and the determination to push through the privatization of the national energy system of Puerto Rico despite strong opposition.
But what can never be forgotten is your strength, your courage, your determination to fight! Raise your voices, your shouts for justice and democracy, so that they are heard by the entire global labor movement and civil society everywhere. Such a response is what global capital and the politicians in service of global capital fear the most. But it is precisely the response you must have today, tomorrow till victory is yours.
Say no to union-busting! Say no to the privatization of PREPA! No to LUMA! Yes for UTIER! Forever we are with UTIER! You are not alone!
Support the Vermont AFL-CIO State Federation!
Attention Richard Trumka
Dear President Trumka,
As you know, the labor movement in the United States has been under sustained and coordinated attack by employers and the state for more than a generation. Unions represent a historically small segment of the American labor force and are ill-equipped to defend the rights currently enjoyed by our members, let alone to expand our movement to include more workers and improve wages and working conditions for all.
In order to turn things around, our movement must achieve true internal democracy and transparency, and build a robust culture of discussion and debate.
Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that you have attempted to challenge the efforts of the Vermont State AFL-CIO in their efforts to bring about exactly these sorts of changes. At their state convention last November, elected delegates overwhelmingly passed a resolution empowering the Executive Board of the state federation to call a general strike in the event that former President Donald Trump refused to cede power to Joe Biden on January 20. The storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 by armed pro-Trump forces made it frighteningly clear that such preparations were necessary.
While it has been many decades since unions organized work actions in defense of basic democratic rights, the attempted insurrection on January 6 made several things clear:
Unions must break out of the losing “business as usual” model that has predominated for so long, where we rely on Democratic officials, stale pronouncements, paid lobbyists, and backroom deals to stave off the worst attacks from the right.
We are living in dangerously polarized times, and solidarity between working people is necessary to our survival.
Anti-democratic and anti-union forces will use every means available to achieve their ends. Pro-democracy, pro-union forces must be free to debate how to meet this threat.
In short, we need more discussions and actions such as those initiated by the Vermont AFL-CIO, not less. We therefore call on you to cease your investigation and potential censure of the Vermont state federation. I am proud to stand in solidarity with their efforts.
Initial Endorsing Organizations:
Rochester Labor Council
[Note: The Organizer Weekly Newsletter has endorsed this appeal.]
SPECIAL DOSSIER ON PALESTINE:
Palestinian Trade Unions Call for Immediate and Urgent Action from International Trade Unions
May 22, 2021
Call to Action
As Israel’s settler mobs and occupation forces continue a campaign of violence and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, Lydd and Haifa – Palestinian workers bear the brunt of this violence, and we are at the forefront of the struggle for our liberation.
This week, Palestinian activists and trade unions held a General Strike across historic Palestine. This is the first strike in recent history to bring together Palestinians no matter where we are located.
In order to achieve our liberation, however, we require the solidarity of our comrades and friends in the trade union movement internationally. As Israel escalates its attacks and brutality, we need this solidarity more than ever, and we need it urgently in order to restrain Israel’s war machine from continuing its massacres even further.
We call on you to stand with us, to speak out, to take action. As trade unions internationally, we have a proud tradition of standing up against oppression. We have the power to halt support for racist regimes. The global trade union movement has always played a key and inspiring role in its courageous commitment to human rights and adoption of concrete, ground-breaking, labor-led sanctions against oppressive regimes. The trade union boycott of Apartheid South Africa stands out as a bright example of this tradition of effective solidarity.
In the spirit of internationalism and solidarity, we are calling on trade unions to:
1. Issue clear public statements of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and express support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel to bring it in line with its obligations under international law.
2. Participate in future general strikes called by Palestinian popular organizations and trade unions by holding protests and vigils on these dates.
3. Take immediate and concrete steps to ensure that unions themselves are not complicit in supporting and sustaining Israeli oppression, e.g., by divesting pension funds from firms complicit in the Israeli occupation, encouraging workers to refuse to handle Israeli goods and/or supporting members refusing to build Israeli weapons.
§ Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Gaza
§ General Union of Palestinian Women
§ Professional Associations Federation including:
§ Palestine Dental Association
§ Palestinian Bar Association
§ Palestine Doctors Association
§ Palestinian Pharmacists Syndicate
§ Agricultural Engineers Association
§ General Union of Health Service Workers
§ General Union of Agricultural and Food Industries Workers
§ General Union of Service and Private Business Workers
§ General Union of Construction Workers
§ General Union of Textile and Garment Workers
§ Syndicate of Workers in Popular and Civil Organisations
§ Veterinary Association
§ Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions
§ General Federation of Independent Trade Unions
Presentation by Monadel Herzallah to the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Socialist Organizer
[Note: Following are excerpts from the presentation on May 22nd by Monadel Herzallah, member of the Arab American Union Member Council.]
Thank you for inviting me to participate in the 30th Anniversary celebration of Socialist Organizer. I also want to extend the greetings from your sisters and brothers in Palestine, who appreciate your support and the support of all working people around the world who are fighting to protect Palestinians from the recent vicious Israeli attacks against the civilians who live in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and in different parts of the historical land of Palestine.
Presently, we are witnessing increased worldwide support for our struggle for a Free Palestine. Dockworkers in ports the world over have refused to load military cargo to Israel. Tens and tens of thousands have taken to the streets the world over.
At the same time, however, we continue to see the Biden administration protect the attackers of the Palestinian people. Biden is continuing to support the racist, settler-colonialist entity. He is following in the footsteps of the Trump administration, bank-rolling the Israeli killing machine with huge sums of money ($10 million per day) — money that is needed desperately here in the United States to fund jobs, education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more.
The Palestinian people have achieved a victory in recent days with their strikes and mobilizations across the entire historical territory of Palestine. Our people are united, proclaiming; they have stood their ground in the historic general strike on May 18. But the Israeli aggression will not stop unless we in this country deepen the campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against this racist entity. We have to put an end to the protection provided by the United States to Israel over the past 73 years.
We have to stop this ethnic cleansing and the killings. For all too many of us, this is personal: My cousin was killed in 2009 in Gaza. He was 22 years old. He was killed by an F-16 supplied by the U.S. government. It’s the responsibility of the U.S. labor movement, in particular, to wage this battle for BDS.
We Palestinians have marched side by side with you against U.S. intervention in Central America. We have marched with you to end Apartheid in South Africa and to insist that “Black Lives Matter!” But now we must march together in even greater numbers for justice in Palestine. This is THE justice cause of the 21st century.
The entire U.S. labor movement needs to follow the example of the ILWU Bay Area locals. It will take courage. The Zionist lobby, which is powerful, will unleash its wrath. But isn’t it time to stand up and say, “Enough Is Enough?” We think that it is.
Again, I thank you for inviting me to participate in your 30th Anniversary Celebration.
Yoav Haifawi, an Anti-Zionist Activist in Haifa, Speaks Out: “More than 2,000 Palestinians Were Detained Last Month”
[Note: The following interview with Yoav Haifawi, was conducted by Jean Alain on June 16. It is reprinted here from the June 23, 2021, issue of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Independent Democratic Workers Party (POID) of France. Haifawi is an anti-Zionist activist in Haifa Hirak; Haifa is a city within the 1948 Occupied Territories, that is, within the State of Israel. He explained: “Since I joined the Marxist left-wing movement Workers Alliance in 1972, I have not stopped fighting for the return of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a free, secular and democratic Palestinian State on the whole territory of historic Palestine. In 1984, I joined the ranks of Abna al-Balad (“Children of the Land”), the most radical and left-wing Palestinian movement in the territories occupied since 1948.“]
Question: Tell us about the repression in the 1948 territories?
Yoav Haifawi: There were several stages. The first violence took place on May 9, in Haifa, when Israeli police charged a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah. Mounted police charged into the crowd, and others threw stun grenades, injuring many. In the following days, hundreds of spontaneous demonstrations took place, many of them attacked by the police.
Beginning on May 11, armed fascist groups attacked the entire Arab population, especially in the “mixed” cities (Al-Lyd, Ramleh, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre). The fascist groups also hunted Arab motorists and burned Arab homes and businesses. These fascist groups were supported by the police, but this led to a renewed mobilization of the Palestinian population – including non-politicized sectors – causing the police to stop encouraging them, and the fascists soon disappeared.
Then the government brought in the military corps of the “Border Guards” – usually deployed in the West Bank – to terrorize the population. The Shabak [internal secret service] was also put to work, imprisoning the most prominent militants.
After the ceasefire in Gaza, the police launched “Operation Law and Order,” aimed at arresting 500 Palestinians in one week. In fact, more than 2,000 Palestinians from the 1948 territories were detained last month.
Now the police and the Shabak are charging hundreds of detainees who are being interrogated and tortured, and who will spend many years in prison for confessions that have been extorted from them.
At the same time, political leaders such as Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib and Muhammad Kana’aneh were arrested for “provocation.” Administrative detention — an arbitrary method used in the West Bank — is now used inside 1948 Palestine.
Question: Tell us about the struggle against repression?
Yoav Haifawi: In Haifa, mobilizations have taken place in front of the court for the release of detainees. Every day, families and friends of the detainees, from the villages and cities of the north, gather and cheer for the released prisoners. The legal defense of the detainees represents a considerable amount of work.
In addition to the arrests, the local Palestinian economy also has suffered. That is why the Palestinian youth movement, now active in every town and village, organized a “week of support for the Palestinian economy” from June 6 to 12, with outdoor markets, social and cultural activities, and organizational work.
Question: Is there now a segment of the Jewish population that opposes Apartheid?
Yoav Haifawi: The chronic crisis of pseudo-“left-wing Zionism” was taken to a new level when the only pseudo-democratic Zionist party, Meretz, joined the new government headed by Bennett (far right). It is clearer than ever that there is no “peace process” and that the only strategy of all Zionist parties is to continue the occupation and make life intolerable for the Palestinians so that they leave the country or accept Jewish supremacy.
The only alternative for Jews who do not want to be part of a racist regime is to support the Palestinian national liberation struggle, led by the Palestinians themselves, with the goal of a single democratic state in all of Palestine.
The previous generation of “refuseniks” refused to serve in the army in the territories occupied in 1967 (West Bank and Gaza). Today, however, almost all of them understand that there is no difference between Israel and the occupation, and they are refusing to serve anywhere.
Many Jews are making a personal decision to leave Palestine and seek a future elsewhere. But the alternative to Zionism in Jewish society is still a small minority.
Question: Is the prospect of a secular and democratic Palestine still alive?
Yoav Haifawi: During this last uprising, the Palestinian people felt that being united and fighting as one people made them much stronger. The traditional political leadership, which had staked everything on the “Oslo Accords” (in 1993) and the negotiations with Israel under the aegis of the United States, is totally discredited. During the first and second Intifadas, the demand of the movement’s leadership was a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza. But all the slogans of the current uprising pose the prospect of the liberation of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. The voice of the new generation, which has carried the uprising into the streets, must also reshape the Palestinian political map.
* * * * * * * * * *
Message from a Palestinian Youth to the May 31 Founding Meeting of the Federation of Revolutionary Youth in France
My dear brothers and sisters, dear comrades, I salute you. Thank you for standing with us — with Palestine. And thank you for wanting to know more about what we have been going through in these times.
The reality of the Palestinian people is that we have been living under the colonial yoke for more than 100 years, dominated by a Zionist colonial regime, which has deprived us of our homeland, fragmented our people, and sought to eliminate us by brutal force whenever we resisted.
The latest events are only the latest episode in a never-ending Nakba, the “catastrophe” that began with the expulsion of over 800,000 people from their homes and homeland in 1948. It continues today in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Jaffa , the Negev desert and other places in historic Palestine. However, there are many elements that make these events different, expressing a fact that Israel did not see coming: the solid unity of the Palestinian people throughout historic Palestine, in the Diaspora and throughout the world.
In many ways over the past 73 years, Israel has tried to divide us, to separate us, especially those Palestinians who are behind the “green line”  and who have Israeli citizenship. But we are citizens who do not have the rights that others do: We are considered second-, even third-class citizens. This is what we have been reduced to. Israel has tried to “Israelize” us, the Palestinians inside the 1948 territories, trying to make us believe that the problems we face are not the problems of the rest of the Palestinians who are in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza. …
After the Israeli assault in Sheikh Jarrah, al-Aqsa  and Gaza, the mobilization of the new Palestinian generation in the 1948 territories proved that Israel’s policy had completely failed. All Palestinians, wherever they are, revolted — and Israel was caught unprepared and did not know what to do, except to import, inside the “green line,” the brutal military repression methods in force in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It began with the arrival of hordes of settlers from the West Bank, invading our homes, destroying our property and businesses, and lynching any “Arabs” they caught in their path.
In Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Lod, these so-called “mixed” cities, we saw these armed groups of settlers marching through the streets shouting, “Death to the Arabs!” – under the protection of the police, thirsty for blood and violence. The police not only failed to protect us, but in some cases they came to the aid of the settlers. This is why Palestinians have organized local self-defense groups to protect their homes, their neighborhoods, their families, and why we have had to face police repression and mass arrests. …
On May 24, Israel launched a new arrest campaign, named operation “law and order,” with the aim of arresting 500 young Palestinian Israeli citizens who participated in the events – and convicting them and keeping them in prison for a long time. …
Despite all the horrors and the pain, and despite the terror, we feel more united than ever. We are strong and full of hope. This hope is strengthened by the solidarity we have seen around the world: by your solidarity … by your standing with us to the end to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, against the genocide in Gaza, against Apartheid — and for a free Palestine.
— May 27, 2021
Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Survivors and Victims of Nazi Genocide Unequivocally Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza
[The following letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors was published in the August 23, 2014, issue of The New York Times. It was sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. According to the sponsors, the letter was written in response to Elie Wiesel’s advertisement comparing Hamas to Nazis.]
As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.
We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.
Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.
We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”
* * * * * * * * * *
949 Israeli Jews Issue Call: “Stop Israel’s Apartheid!”
We, Jewish Israelis, oppose the actions of the Israeli government and hereby declare our commitment to act against them. We refuse to accept the Jewish-supremacist regime and call upon the international community to immediately intervene in defense of the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Negev, al-Lydd, Yafa, Ramleh, Haifa and throughout historic Palestine.
Jewish supremacy is the cornerstone of the Israeli regime, and its consistent objective is to transfer and obliterate the Palestinian people, their history, and their national identity. This objective manifests in continued acts of ethnic cleansing by means of evictions and home demolitions, brutal military occupation, denial of civil and human rights, and legislation of a series of racist laws culminating in the Nation-State Bill, defining the State as “the Nation State of the Jewish People”, and them only.
All the above effectively form an Apartheid regime creating Bantustan-like and Ghetto-like areas for Palestinian native communities. We believe that Zionism is an unethical principle of governance that inherently leads to a racist Apartheid regime that has been committing war crimes and denying basic human rights from Palestinians for over seven decades.
Such crimes and violations include: the destruction of hundreds of towns and villages and depopulating them of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948, alongside the active prevention of return of refugees; the systematic expropriation of Palestinians’ lands and transferring them to Jewish ownership under the auspices of the state; the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights and the application of a colonizing military regime, ruling over millions of Palestinians; the gradual annexation of the territories occupied in 1967 by violently engineering demographics; the ongoing siege on the Gaza strip and persistent massacres of the Gazan population by the Israeli Air Force; political persecution of Palestinians throughout Palestine and the ongoing incitement against the political leadership and society at large. All of these atrocities take place due to the impunity Israel receives from the international community and especially the United States.
In recent weeks, the Israeli government has up-scaled its attempts to seize Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (especially in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood) and house Jewish settlers in them with the aim of completing the Judaization of the city that began in 1967. During the month of Ramadan, Israeli forces intensified their violent onslaught on the Al Aqsa Mosque compound while giving settlers the green light to vandalize and physically harm Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and throughout the ’48 territories. Mobs of settlers are acting under the auspices, and in coordination with the Israeli police. Israeli media is taking part in the unhinged incitement against Arab citizens of Israel. As a result, the Jewish mobs receive impunity for their violence, while hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel are arrested for protecting their homes and communities, or simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
As we write this statement, Israel is committing yet another massacre in the Gaza ghetto. Israel has declined several third-party offers to negotiate a cease-fire agreement with Hamas officials, and has continued to bomb neighborhoods in Gaza. The inhumane siege on approximately two million people continues.
As individuals who belong to the side of the oppressor, and who have tried for years to shift public opinion in Israel in order to change the foundations of the current regime, we have long come to the conclusion that it is impossible to change the Jewish supremacist regime without external intervention.
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.
— May 21, 2021
For a Democratic and Secular Palestine
By RALPH SCHOENMAN
In May 1948, the settler-colonial state of Israel was established through the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland. Through sustained massacres, the Palestinians were dispersed in the neighboring Arab states, where they were consigned to refugee camps.
Twenty years after the establishment of the Israeli state, the Palestinian resistance movement formulated its demand for self-determination in the call for the replacement of the Israeli state with an independent, unitary Palestine.
In 1969, the leadership wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Fateh, set forth the program for the establishment of a “democratic, secular Palestine.” This slogan called for the dismantling of the Zionist Israeli state and the establishment of a new state in Palestine in which Jews, Christians, and Arabs would live as equals without discrimination.
What was notable about this brave proposal was that (1) it categorically rejected any accommodation with or recognition of the Zionist state; and (2) it rejected the proposal of a Palestinian “mini-state” on the West Bank and Gaza.
PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat described his proposal as follows in a remarkable biography written by journalist Alan Hart:
“We were saying ‘no’ to the Zionist state, but we were saying ‘yes’ to the Jewish people of Palestine. To them we were saying: ‘You are welcome to live in our land, but on one condition. You must be prepared to live among us as equals, not as dominators.’
“‘I myself have always said that there is only one guarantee for the safety and security of the Jewish people in Palestine — and that is the friendship of the Arabs among whom they live’.” (quoted in “Arafat: Terrorist or Peacemaker,” Sidgwick and Jackson, 1985, p. 275)
A document submitted by Arafat’s Fateh organization to the Second World Congress on Palestine in September 1970 spells out the profile of a democratic and secular Palestine even more clearly. The 1970 Fateh document states:
“‘Pre-1948 Palestine — as defined during the British mandate — is the territory to be liberated. … It should be quite obvious at this stage that the new Palestine discussed here is not the occupied West Bank or the Gaza strip or both. These are areas occupied by the Israelis since June 1967. The homeland of the Palestinians usurped and colonized in 1948 is no less dear or important than the part occupied in 1967.
“‘Besides, the very existence of the racist oppressor state of Israel, based on the expulsion and forced exile of part of its citizens, even from one tiny village, is unacceptable to the revolution. Any arrangement accommodating the aggressor settler-state is unacceptable. …
“‘All the Jews, Muslims and Christians living in Palestine or forcibly exiled from it will have the right to Palestinian citizenship. … This means that all Jewish Palestinians — at the present Israelis — have the same rights provided, of course, that they reject Zionist racist chauvinism and fully agree to live as Palestinians in the new Palestine. … It is the belief of the revolution that the majority of the present Israeli Jews will change their attitudes and will subscribe to the new Palestine, especially after the oligarchic state machinery, economy and military establishment are destroyed.”
The realization of such an objective, one based on democracy and the rights of people to self-determination, can only be the work of the masses themselves. Such an objective, moreover, is incompatible with the preservation of imperialist domination throughout the Middle East.
This is the content of the democratic and revolutionary slogan of a Palestinian Constituent Assembly, which is inextricably linked to the right of return of all the Palestinian people dispersed in the Diaspora and forced into exile. The only “realistic” solution is the creation, on the basis of equal rights for all citizens — be they Jews, Muslims, Christians, or other — of a democratic and secular unitary state on all the historic territory of Palestine.
* * * * * * * * * *
“The Hidden History of Zionism” – A Must Read for Activists
By FRANCOIS FORGUE
In “The Hidden History of Zionism” Ralph Schoenman reviews in great detail the conditions under which the massive expulsion of the Palestinian people took place in the aftermath of the 1947 Partition of Palestine. Schoenman documents how their land was stolen from them, and how the relatively small fraction of Palestinians who remained within the boundaries of the new state were reduced to second-class citizens within their own territory. Schoenman demonstrates, moreover, how the entire institutional system of the new state was founded upon religious and ethnic criteria.
The Israeli state from its very inception was a colonial and colonizing power, an oppressor power in the strictest sense of the term. It is an artificial creation of the big imperialist powers, primarily the United States, without whose continued financial and military support the Israeli state could not exist.
But from the very beginning, the entire imperialist scheme for the Middle East did not rest solely on the state of Israel; it also rested on the bourgeois-comprador Arab regimes and feudal potentates of the region linked to imperialism. Under these conditions, therefore, the struggle of the Palestinian people for their national rights was pitted against all the forces in the region aimed at maintaining the imperialist order.
The central axis of the struggle of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East is the struggle of the Palestinian people. For them, solidarity with the Palestinian cause is synonymous with the struggle to break with imperialist domination, for national independence, for the expropriation of the large holdings of the feudal-capitalist owners.
[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 Newspaper at <email@example.com>.]
“From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This Is Apartheid!”
(excerpt from the May 14 OCRFI Statement on the Palestinian Uprising)
Despite the betrayals and tragedies that have marked their struggle since 1948, the Palestinian people have never renounced their national rights. From Gaza under blockade, to the West Bank divided by settlements, from refugee camps to Jerusalem, through the uprising of the Palestinians of the “1948 territories” in Haifa, Umm Al-Fahm, Lod, and beyond, the Palestinian people are once again demonstrating their unity and their historic struggle to fulfill their national and democratic aspirations.
Because their aspirations are confronted by an Apartheid State, as well as by global imperialism and the corrupt regimes that are subservient to it, the Palestinian people can only find allies in the international working class and the oppressed peoples, who are also confronted with the barbarism generated by the survival of the regime based on the private ownership of the means of production. This is why it is the responsibility of workers’ organizations around the world to stand unconditionally with the Palestinian people.
In the recent period, voices – albeit a minority – from the Israeli Jewish population have been raised forcefully against the latest massacre of the Palestinian people. One example is the renowned association for the defense of human rights, B’tselem, which states: “The regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid!”
Another example: the 60 young Israeli Jewish high- school students who, refusing to serve in the Israeli army, proclaimed: “We are ordered to put on a bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and occupation. Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.”
More than ever, the only possible democratic solution, the one that the Palestinian national movement formulated at its founding congress – only later to abandon it, declaring it “null and void” in the wake of the so-called “peace agreements” – is the establishment of a single secular and democratic Palestinian State on the entire historic territory of Palestine, guaranteeing equal rights to all its citizens, regardless of their faith or origin.
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