Monthly Archives: August 2006

NYCLAW Statement: U.S. Government and Labor Aid to Israel

U.S. Government and Labor Aid to Israel

Presented by Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys

at the

International Panel to Launch Campaign for Accountability for U.S./Israeli War Crimes, NYC, August 30, 2006

————–

Israel’s crimes are possible only due to the U.S. aid for Israel. Here are the essential facts:

Since 1948, the U.S. government -– with full bipartisan support -– has provided Israel with at least $90 billion – which, if adjusted for inflation and interest, comes to $247 billion.

For more than thirty years, Israel has been the top recipient of U.S. government foreign aid, and in the past ten years alone, the U.S. has given Israel more than $17 billion in military aid.

As a result, U.S. weapons make up the bulk of Israel’s arsenal. These include:

*364 combat aircraft, including F-16s, F-15s and A-4s.

*261 helicopters, including Cobras, Apaches, Black Hawks and Sea Stallions.

*More than 700 M-60 tanks.

*More than 6000 APCs.

*350 155mm artillery pieces.

*An unknown quantity of ordnance, including cluster bombs.

And this does not include the nuclear weapons provided to Israel by the U.S. and Britain.

In addition, Israel receives huge amounts of aid from private sources – including U.S. labor unions.

State employee retirement plans and union pension funds have as much as $5 billion invested in State of Israel Bonds.

So it’s not surprising that in April 2002, while Israel butchered hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Jenin, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney spoke at a “National Solidarity Rally for Israel.”

Or that the American Federation of Teachers has specifically supported Israel’s attack on Lebanon. U.S. Labor Against the War, a major affiliate of United for Peace and Justice, remains silent.

It’s not that the leadership of these labor organizations is unfamiliar with the realities of Zionism. Rather, their support for, and/or silence about, Israeli apartheid reflects their overall alignment with the Democratic Party and U.S. empire.

Fortunately, many labor bodies around the world have responded to Israel’s recent attacks by standing with the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

These include the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the General Union of Oil Employees in Iraq, and major British trade unions. Even before the current escalation, several labor bodies in Britain, Canada and elsewhere called for divestment from Israel.

New York City Labor Against the War, which was founded in the days following 9/11, stands with these international labor bodies.

After top U.S. labor officials vocally supported Israel during the Jenin massacre, NYCLAW endorsed Palestinian self-defense, statehood and the Right of Return throughout historic Palestine; picketed the Israeli consul’s speech at the AFL-CIO Executive Council; and hosted a forum for visiting Palestinian trade unionists.

Together with Al-Awda New York, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, NYCLAW is a cosponsor of Labor for Palestine <http://www.al-awdany.org/lfp/> .

And on August 11, we issued a statement <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2429> arguing the labor and the antiwar movement must see the wars in Lebanon and Palestine as inseparable from U.S. wars of empire throughout the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you are a union member or unorganized worker who wants to support this work, please contact us at: nyclaw@comcast.net .

Campaign to Demand Accountability

http://www.peoplejudgebush.org/Accountability/Aug30Program.shtml

Campaign to Demand Accountability
August 30, 2006, United Nations Church Center

PROGRAM

Welcome and Introductions
Co-Chairs:
LeiLani Dowell, F.I.S.T.;
Fatin Jarara, Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Eyewitness Testimony
Leila Hamidi, Arab Women Active in Arts & Media;
Ahmad Eid, Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Planning and Preparation for War
Dustin Langley, We Won’t Go;
Charlotte Kates, NJ Solidarity—Activists for the Liberation of Palestine;
Alex Majumder, LeftShift.org;
Wael Mousfar, Arab Muslim American Federation

Debunking Media Terminology
Anita Rosenblithe, International Action Center;
Trishala Deb, Audre Lorde Project;
Arturo J. Pérez Saad,
Workers World Newspaper;
Video Presentation — George Galloway Interviewed on Sky News

War Crimes:
Abdeen Jabara, attorney;
Julie Fry, National Lawyers Guild;
Video Presentation—Captured Prisoners
Mia Cruz, F.I.S.T.;
Walter Williams, People Judge Bush;
Michael Kramer, Veterans For Peace;
Video Presentation—The Wall of Hate
Karina Mellos-Schecter, F.I.S.T.;
Noel Winkler, NJ Solidarity—Activists for the Liberation of Palestine;
Emelyn Tapaoan, International Action Center;
Carol Holland, International Action Center;
Imani Henry, International Action Center;
Maria LaHood, Center for Constitutional Rights;

U.S. Culpability:
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General;
Samia Halaby, Defend Palestine Committee;
Michael Letwin, NYCLAW;
Sara Flounders, International Action Center;
Ardeshir Ommani, Stop War on Iran Campaign;
Dean Bardouka, Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition;
Bill Doares, NYCLAW

Cultural Performance:
Remi Kanazi, Poet, New York City

The People’s Resistance:
Joyce Chediac, Workers World Newspaper;
Imani Henry, International Action Center;
Ahmad Eid, Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition

NYCLAW Statement: Labor and the Middle East War

[To endorse the following statement, please send your name, location, affiliation and title (if any) to nyclaw01@gmail.com, or NYCLAW, PO Box 3620166, PACC, New York, NY 10129]

——————

Labor and the Middle East War
New York City Labor Against the War
August 11, 2006

For weeks, Israel has turned Lebanon into a killing ground, slaughtering and maiming thousands of people, destroying the civilian infrastructure, and turning a quarter of the population into refugees in their own land. At the same time, it continues to brutalize Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s crimes are carried out with U.S.-made F-16s, Apache helicopters, and cluster bombs. These high-tech lethal weapons are part of $5 billion that Israel gets each year from the United States, courtesy of the Republican and Democratic parties, with enthusiastic support from Neo-cons and right-wing Christian fundamentalists.

The U.S. does not arm Israel to “promote democracy” or for “self-defense.” Even Zionist historians now admit that Israel’s origins are rooted in dispossession of the Palestinian people — whose labor then built the Israeli economy — through an unrelenting campaign of ethnic cleansing: exile, squalid refugee camps, imprisonment, torture and murder.

Since the 1970s, Israel has also pursued territorial expansion by repeatedly invading and devastating Lebanon, as exemplified by the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatilla in 982. That occupation lasted until 2000, when Hezbollah forced Israel to withdraw.

Since then, Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians, taken thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese political prisoners, and tried to strangle the democratically-elected government of Hamas. When Hamas and Hezbollah responded by capturing a few Israeli soldiers, Israel unleashed a new, bloody, long-planned attack on Lebanon; only then did Hezbollah respond by firing crude rockets at Israel.

Behind its empty platitudes, the U.S. government supports this Israeli racism and state terrorism because, along with dictatorships in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it is a cornerstone of U.S. domination over the world’s most important oil-producing region.

Now, with the Iraq war in shambles, the U.S.-Israel partnership seeks to break Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, while recklessly provoking confrontations with Syria and Iran. The U.N. has done nothing to stop this war of empire — what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sickeningly calls “birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

It is not surprising, therefore, that Hezbollah has won tremendous support in and beyond the Arab world, even amongst those who question some aspects of its ideology or tactics. For this spiraling cycle of oppression and resistance evokes Iraq, Afghanistan, Soweto, Vietnam, Algeria, the Warsaw Ghetto, or David and Goliath.

Horrified by the images from Palestine and Lebanon, international labor has strongly denounced Israel’s attacks.

On July 10, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) urgently called for sanctions and boycotts against the “apartheid Israel state,” which it branded worse than the former racist regime in South Africa.

On July 31, the General Union of Oil Employees in Iraq issued an “appeal to all the honorable and free people of the world to demonstrate and protest about what is happening to Lebanon.”

On August 5, major British trade unions supported a massive London protest against Israel’s attacks. Even before the current escalation, several labor bodies in Britain, Canada and elsewhere called for divestment from Israel.

In the United States, however, nearly all labor bodies either support Israel or say nothing at all.

State employee retirement plans and union pension funds invest hundreds of millions of dollars in State of Israel Bonds. In April 2002, while Israel butchered hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Jenin, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney spoke at a “National Solidarity Rally for Israel.” The American Federation of Teachers has specifically embraced Israel’s new assaults.

In the antiwar movement, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), which consistently segregates the Palestinian cause, has organized no mass response. U.S. Labor Against the War, which promotes union resolutions against the war in Iraq, remains disturbingly silent.

Fortunately, growing protests have been organized by the Arab-Muslim community, people of color, anti-Zionist Jews, and other activists who recognize that Lebanon and Palestine are inseparable from Iraq and Afghanistan.

New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW) is part of this grassroots movement, and with Al-Awda New York, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, a cosponsor of Labor for Palestine <http://www.al-awdany.org/lfp/>.

NYCLAW believes that the labor and antiwar movements in the United States have a special obligation to speak out and demand:

1. End the U.S.-Israel war against the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

2. No aid for Israel.

3. Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

4. End Israeli occupation, and fully implement the Palestinian right of return.

5. Out Now from Iraq and Afghanistan — No timetables, redeployment, advisors, or air-war.

——————–
NYCLAW Co-Conveners (other affiliations listed for identification only):

Larry Adams
Former President, NPMHU Local 300

Michael Letwin
Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys

Brenda Stokely
Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Chair, Million Worker March

http://www.traprockpeace.org/nyclaw_blog/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/

Campus Antiwar Network Stands Up Against War: Protest at the Grassroots (Socialist Worker)

http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-2/597/597_16_CAN.shtml

VIEWS AND VOICES
Campus Antiwar Network stands up against war
Protest at the grassroots

August 11, 2006 | Page 16

CHARLES JENKS, chair of the advisory board of Traprock Peace Center, gave a presentation as part of a panel discussion on the student antiwar movement at the Socialism 2006 conference in New York City. Here, we print excerpts of his presentation.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -
THE CAMPUS Antiwar Network (CAN) has had a very busy year, confronting military recruiters on campuses, and facing down repression and threats by college administrations.

During this academic year, protests followed by repression took place at Holyoke Community College (HCC), George Mason University, Kent State, Harold Washington College, Hampton University (a historically Black university in Virginia), Pace University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the University of Texas-Austin.

In most of these cases, student protesters have been threatened with possible expulsion. At HCC, for example, student Charles Peterson was pepper-sprayed by campus police during a nonviolent protest. It was the police who had become violent, by ripping a sign from a student’s hands and then roughing up students.

At Kent State, recruiters chased and grabbed student Dave Airhart from a climbing wall they had erected on campus. Airhart is a veteran of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, and had unfurled a banner that read “Kent, Ohio, for Peace” at the top of the wall. He was threatened with expulsion by the university.

At Hampton University, students were threatened for passing out “unapproved” literature.

In all these situations, college administrations backed down in the face of massive phone calls, e-mails and, in some cases, media attention.

The situation at SFSU is ongoing, as students have been threatened with discipline after having been kicked off campus for several days with no hearing. Several students were rendered homeless and prevented from going to campus jobs as the university reacted to their loud, but nonviolent, protest of military recruitment at a campus jobs fair.

Police used rough tactics in escorting students from the jobs fair, but as in all the other cases, there was no investigation of the perpetrators of violence–that is, the police or recruiters.

Still, despite the threats, no students have been subjected to serious discipline. Much of the reason for this may lie in the extraordinary support that students have received from activists and organizations from the larger antiwar movement.

Several strategies have been used to bring in support from the broader movement. Traprock Peace Center, CAN national coordinators and CAN chapters at the affected campuses have consulted on the best approaches for each campus. Tactics have included online petitions, letters of support, call-in campaigns and open letters to college administrators.

Traprock took on the role of approaching outside activists and organizations, and asking them to write letters of support for the students. The letters were sent to college administrators, and also posted at the Traprock and CAN Web sites, with links from the Web sites of sympathetic organizations and news services. Upon posting the letters, we sent out e-mail blasts with links to the letters and requests to the movement at large to call and write to administrators.

The letters from activists and organizations have served several functions. The letters have encouraged other people in the antiwar movement to contact the administrations, either by e-mail, letter or phone call; have helped to generate media interest through use in press releases and at press conferences; have been available as exhibits for potential disciplinary hearings; and have forged or strengthened relationships between student and non-student organizers.

In virtually all cases, threatened disciplinary actions were dropped prior to a hearing. At Kent State, NBC’s Dateline called the administration, and a British television crew showed up for the student press conference and hearing. The administration dropped its charges before the press conference could take place. Students held it anyway, as an educational program and as a celebration (audio and photos are available online at http://www.traprockpeace.org.)

A wide array of activists and organizations responded to the calls for help. It was extraordinary that so many people took the time to sit down and write letters. We asked so often, given CAN’s busy year, that we opted for the open letter approach with SFSU. While United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) has not responded, the students got warm international support.

That support has been a two way street. CAN has also supported the initiatives of others. I contrast this cooperative approach with refusals of cooperation by another U.S. national network, namely UFPJ (I note that CAN’s spirit of cooperation has not always been mirrored by other organizations that purport to represent students).

This year, students have received support from U.S. activists including Cindy Sheehan, Camilo Mejía, Sharon Smith, Dahr Jamail, Michael Letwin (New York City Labor Against the War), David Swanson (After Downing Street), Anthony Arnove, Sara Flounders, Howard Zinn, Pablo Paredes, Todd Chretien, Stan Goff, Norman Solomon, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others, including directors of regional coalitions (such as Bonnie Weinstein of BAUAW) and grassroots organizations (such as Tim Baer, with the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition).

European supporters have included Denis Halliday and Hans-Christof von Sponeck, both former United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary Generals, who resigned in protest as UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq; Dirk Adriaensens, coordinator of SOS Iraq and a member of the Executive committee of the Brussells Tribunal; Lindsay German, convener for the Stop the War Coalition (UK); Paola Pisi, professor of religious studies (Italy) and editor of http://www.uruknet.info; and Pav Akhtar, convenor of the National Union of Students’ (UK) Internationalism Campaign.

CAN’s international support has grown out of relationships that it has developed over the years.

The Stop the War Coalition and the National Union of Students have supported CAN since its beginning. Jeremy Corbyn, British Labor MP and a Stop the War steering committee member gave the keynote address at CAN’s founding conference in Washington, D.C., on January 17, 2003. Helen Salmon of NUS also spoke in D.C., and Omar Waraich of British Students Stop the War addressed CAN’s national conference in November 2003 in Chicago.

CAN has responded to international invitations to participate in events in Paris (the 2003 European Social Forum and 2004 protests); Iraq (2004 peace delegation); St. Petersburg (2004 conference); London (delegate to the 2005 London International Peace Conference) and this year at the World Social Forum in Caracas.

In December, CAN supported the international call, led by the Stop the War Coalition, for mass demonstrations in major cities marking the third anniversary of the war.

In contrast, UFPJ pointedly refused to do so at the London conference. Judith LeBlanc, UFPJ’s Co-Director, said that it was instead looking to a mass demo in late April, with an eye toward the 2006 Congressional elections (as we know, after stating that it would refuse to work with ANSWER, UFPJ organized a mass march and festival, without the traditional rally, in New York City on April 29).

CAN has also supported initiatives by non-student organizations in the U.S. In 2006, for example, it has endorsed the ExxonMobil War Boycott; the Walk to Redeem the Soul of America from Dallas to Crawford, Texas; and the “Don’t Attack Iran” petition initiated by Cindy Sheehan.

This followed a major collaboration with Military Out of Our Schools (MOOS-Bay) that brought 650 people to a joint counter-recruitment conference in San Francisco in October 2005. At that conference, CAN endorsed upcoming initiatives in December by other organizations, such as World Can’t Wait (an initiative that UFPJ refused to endorse.)

The big question now is where does the U.S. student movement go from here, after a year of protests against war and military recruitment, and after victories over repression at campuses coast to coast?

The answer to that question is up to students obviously. CAN has a strong record of success, and given that it is the democratic, grassroots national student antiwar network in the U.S., it will have a primary role in determining student priorities in 2006-2007.

Certainly, CAN has much work to do to stimulate and organize student activism at U.S. campuses. Unlike last year, though, we know this: It has proven allies, both in the U.S. and internationally, who will come to its aid when it faces the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.

CAN’s history in photos, with links to blogs that contain letters of support, can be found at http://www.traprockpeace.org/campus_antiwar.html. Visit the Campus Antiwar Network on the Web at http://www.campusantiwar.net.

New York City: Demonstration Against Israeli Aggression Draws Thousands (IndyMedia)

http://beirut.indymedia.org/ar/2006/08/5137.shtml

New York City: Demonstration Against Israeli Aggression Draws Thousands
from Lycophidion, NYC-IMC wire -

To protest Israeli apartheid, a diverse crowd of about 3,000 marched in N.Y.C. on August 5.

On Saturday, August 5, some 3,000 protestors calling for an end to the U.S.-backed Israeli invasions of Gaza and Lebanon, as well as the U.S. occupation of Iraq, rallied and marched from Time Square to the General Electric building on 50th Street and 6th Ave. General Electric manufactures F-16 engines, used against the Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi populations. The rally was sponsored by the International Action Center, Al-Awda, Arab American Muslim Federation, Millions 4 Mumia, NYC Council Member Charles Barron and others.

Arabs, Jews, African Americans , Latinos and Anglos, old and young came out to the largest demonstration held in New York City since the start of the Israeli military aggression in Gaza and Lebanon on June 27. Following a rally at Time Square, the demonstrators marched in the sweltering heat to 50th Street and Sixth Avenue, chanting “Palestine and Lebanon will be free!” “No Justice, No Peace, U.S. Out of the Middle East!” and other demands centering on the current U.S./Israeli-fomented crisis in the Middle East.

Rally speakers included Ramsey Clark, who deplored the murder of hundreds of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military and Washington’s backing for the bloodletting. A Lebanese nurse working in New York City spoke of the killing of Lebanese children paid for by the United States, while children also die at underfunded Harlem Hospital. A leader of New York City’s Bolivarian Circle, a group of Venezuelans supporting the revolutionary process in Venezuela, expressed solidarity with the embattled Lebanese and Palestinian people, noting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had condemned the Israeli agression and recalled Venezuela’s embassador in Israel. A Palestinian speaker called for unity in the face of efforts to split the solidarity movement. Other speakers included Brenda Stokely of the representatives of U.S. Labor Against the War [Correction -- Should read New York City Labor Against the War], The Committee to Free the Cuban Five, as well as representatives of movements in Sudan, Iran and Korea.

Organizers played a taped solidarity message from U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, which stated, “What a joy to join the many voices saying No Justice, No Peace! U.S. Out of the Middle East! It is refreshing to hear some sanity when we discuss this region and the bloodletting we see every day, there. The U.S. has given its green light to Tel-Aviv to let loose the dogs of war, and let loose they have. Not since the illegal, murderous U.S. bombing of Baghdad, have we seen such tonnage unleashed upon a civilian population. What’s really amazing is that so soon after Americans awoke to the long train of lies that led to Iraq, they are again bombarded with lies to justify the disaster being unleashed upon Lebanon. Once again, Americans have to catch up to the rest of the world, who recognize the cynical sham of the U.S., sending so-called “peace envoys” who oppose cease-fires. It is a sign of our degeneration that in 50 years we’ve gone from Ralph Bunche to Condoleeza Rice. Israel is fighting a proxy war on behalf of its U.S. paymasters to intimidate and cow Arab nations. Once again, America is on the wrong side of history. The U.S. isn’t on the side of democracy, but on the side of right-wing theocracies. Simple human justice should put us all on the side of the oppressed, the dispossessed, the wretched of this embattled earth. That means on the side of the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. That means also calling for an end to the occupation of Palestine, Lebanon and, yes, Iraq. I’m proud to endorse the IAC call.”