Monthly Archives: August 2006

2006.08.30: U.S. Government and Labor Aid to Israel (NYCLAW)

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

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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.

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2006.08.12: Video: Rally Against Israel’s War on Lebanon (C-Span)

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 3.01.15 PM

Video: Rally Against Israel’s War on Lebanon
Washington DC, August 12, 2006

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/193835-1
[Michael Letwin speech at 01:44m]

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.)

Members of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) led a coalition rally in Lafayette Park. The participants opposed what they termed the U.S.-Israel war against the people of Lebanon and Palestine. They also said that Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine are without freedom and are illegally occupied.

2006.08.11: Labor and the Middle East War New York City Labor Against the War

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.

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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