Today the US Palestinian Community Network issued a statement on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, giving a summary of the sacrifices Palestinian workers have made for the national liberation struggle, and describing the violations of Palestinian workers’ rights by Israel. Here’s an excerpt:
Palestinian workers have always been the backbone of the Palestinian national movement. From the strikes in the factories of Haifa in the early resistance to British colonialism, to the labor movements of the 1950s inside Israel, to their continued role as organizers and agitators, Palestinian workers propel the Palestinian struggle. In 1936, as part of the great Palestinian revolt against Zionist settler colonialism, Palestinian workers waged a historic general strike - the longest general strike in the history of the world. Palestinian workers’ organizations also played a key role in resisting occupation - as seen in the first Intifada, when labor organizations, unions, and workers’ popular committees coordinated general strikes, mass closures of stores and factories, and workers’ mobilizations.
USPCN is also calling for a protest of Rawabi real estate investor Bashar Masri’s cooperation with the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, where he is scheduled to give a presentation on May 12 in Chicago:
As Palestinians and Palestinian workers in the U.S., we are particularly appalled by the obvious relations of Palestinian and Palestinian American large capitalists in undermining the Palestinian national movement, and Palestinian labor. We condemn the choice of Bashar Masri, a Palestinian capitalist responsible for the “Rawabi” gated community in the West Bank to speak before the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Chicago on May 12, and to therefore encourage greater trade and economic cooperation between the US and Israel. While the Palestinian people are calling for full boycott of Israel, Masri and his ilk are working to undermine that call, and to support their and the Israeli economy’s profiting from occupation and settler colonialism. We call upon all supporters of Palestinian workers to protest in Chicago on May 12 against Masri’s economic collaboration with Israel at the expense of Palestinian workers and the Palestinian people.
Indeed, as Ali Abunimah wrote for The Electronic Intifada earlier this year, Masri’s luxury real estate project in Rawabi in the occupied West Bank “appears to be actively helping Israel deepen its hold on the Palestinian economy despite his earlier claims that he is trying to help end this relationship.” Abunimah wrote in January:
Masri appears to have made the choice to work closely with the Israeli government and businesses in order to bring even more Israeli companies into the occupied West Bank. This not only makes it harder for Palestinian firms to establish themselves against Israeli businesses which have a built-in advantage since Israel is the occupying power, but is in flagrant violation of the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Bashar Masri’s May 12 appearance at the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce is sponsored by the America Israel Chamber of Commerce, Arab American Business & Professional Association, Government of Israel Economic Mission, Israel America Chamber of Commerce and the Chicago Sister Cities International. The latter has been the target of a boycott campaign more than two years strong, calling on the City of Chicago to drop Petach Tikva, Israel from the Chicago Sister Cities International program. One of the main focuses of the campaign is how Israel’s inclusion in the Chicago Sister Cities International promotes normalization and the strengthening of economic ties between the US and Israel, under the guise of education and culture.