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
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.