Labor for Palestine comes under attack

The following press release was issued by Labor for Palestine on 21 December 2009:

Labor for Palestine’s 14 December “Open Letter from US Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Boycott Apartheid Israel” has met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

The open letter supports the growing international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel by calling on trade unionists in the United States to divest from State of Israel Bonds, support workers’ refusal to handle Israeli cargo, break ties with the racist Histadrut, and oppose US military and economic aid for Israel.

In just a few short days, the letter has been published by The Electronic Intifada, Dissident Voice, Global BDS Movement, Indymedia, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, MRZine, Palestinian World, Socialist Worker (US), Tehran Times, US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the US Palestinian Community Network. It has also been endorsed by nearly 64 additional US labor signers for a total of 94, and the number continues to grow (view the list of signers).

The letter comes in response to the Palestinian call, adopted around the world and supported by all Palestinian trade unions, for BDS as an essential international action to support Palestinian rights.

It has also become clear that growing support for BDS is seen as a threat by those who would continue US labor officialdom’s support for the apartheid state of Israel, as evidenced by new attacks on Labor for Palestine.

On 17 December, two of the letter’s initial signers, Fred Mason (a co-convener of US Labor Against the War and head of the Maryland AFL-CIO) and Clayola Brown (A. Philip Randolph Institute), issued identical written statements demanding that their names be removed from the letter. The statements assert that they “had never seen such a letter or engaged in discussions about its content,” and that it was “disrespectful that someone would attach my name to a document and circulate such a document without contact with me, or consent from me.”

Brown’s statement has been posted on the website of “Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine” under the heading “Leading Black trade unionist expresses ‘disgust and dismay’ at misuse of her name by pro-BDS campaigners.” As explained in Labor for Palestine’s Open Letter, TULIP was founded to derail the growing international labor support for BDS that has followed Israel’s massacres in Gaza.

Labor for Palestine immediately honored the requests to remove both names. However, the claim that either had been listed without their knowledge of permission is a complete fabrication.

In fact, Fred Mason and Clayola Brown were among 21 people who signed the letter at a USLAW national meeting held in Chicago on 5 December. Their endorsements, written in their own hand (signatures 5 and 6.) can be viewed at: Nonetheless, TULIP has refused to remove Brown’s defamatory statement from its website.

These false assertions come as no surprise. Dishonesty underlies the entire attempt to undermine BDS, and to shore up Israeli apartheid, occupation and oppression.

As the first anniversary of Israel’s massacre in Gaza approaches, Labor for Palestine will escalate this campaign by posting the expanded list of Open Letter signers, activating a new and expanded website, creating a listserv for Labor for Palestine supporters, and organizing future action. We ask you to join Labor for Palestine in supporting the call for BDS, and in standing up against any attempt to silence US workers’ voices in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Workers around the world responding to the Palestinian call to cut ties with apartheid oppression. In the 1980s, workers stood together around the world to combat South African apartheid — and we can do no less today.