[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Internationalist solidarity with Cosatu on Israel BDS
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Feb 12 08:50:15 GMT 2009
COSATU humbled by inspirational messages from all over the world for our
BDS campaign against Israel
12 February 2009
The South African week of action against Israeli barbarism and in
support of Palestinian heroism and resistance has been an unprecedented
COSATU, its affiliates, particularly the South African Transport and
Allied Workers’ Union, (SATAWU) and the rest of Palestinian solidarity
movement in South Africa are humbled by the large number of letters of
support we have received from trade unions, solidarity groups, workers,
activists and people of conscience from all over the world for our
stance in solidarity with the people of Palestine. In particular,
letters congratulated SATAWU dock workers in Durban for their determined
refusal to off-load goods from Israel carried on the Johanna Russ.
Messages of support included those from the Palestinian BDS (boycotts,
divestment and sanctions) National Committee, dock workers in Liverpool,
trade unions in Australia and Canada, and solidarity organisations from
around the world.
We note, in contrast, the vicious, racist and extremely offensive
campaign waged against COSATU by the South African Zionist Federation
(SAZF), the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and Chief
Rabbi Warren Goldstein in several of their fora and publications. We
believe that this reflects the fact that our campaign to support the
struggle for freedom of the Palestinian people and for the isolation of
Apartheid Israel is having the desired impact of putting pressure on
Israel and its apologists in South Africa.
We treat with particular contempt the comment, as reported in the media,
by Goldstein that COSATU is racist and that our actions are immoral.
What is immoral is the insistence by Goldstein, the SAZF and the SAJBD
that they will support Israel’s murderous actions in Gaza, including the
massacres of civilians, the bombing of schools, places of worship,
ambulances, hospitals and UN refugee centres. The real racism is manner
in which Israel treats the Palestinian people – both in the Occupied
Territory as well as its own citizens – as sub-human beings. The members
of COSATU know what racism is; we lived with it and fought against it
for decades while the SAZF and SAJBD supported the Apartheid state in
South Africa, just as they uncritically support Apartheid in Israel.
We will not be cowed by the attempted intimidation of Zionists in South
Africa, as evidenced on Friday when they attempted to provoke protestors
in Raedene, Johannesburg, – one of them even hurling projectiles at us.
We pledge to stand our ground in demanding justice and peace for our
brothers and sisters in Palestine, as we do for oppressed and suffering
people everywhere in the world. Already, other COSATU affiliates are
seriously discussing their own strategies to act on the BDS campaign. We
expect that, over the next few months, more affiliates will outline
their programmes of action in support of the call ‘FREE PALESTINE!
ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL!’
COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, addressing a rally in Cape
Town on Sunday, said: “COSATU calls on workers in the rest of the world
to follow the lead of our members in SATAWU who have vowed not to unload
any Israeli goods, and our members who are planning a campaign not to
handle any Israeli goods in supermarkets, and other stores”.
He added: “Workers of the world united to isolate the Apartheid South
African state in 1970s and 1980s. Workers need to stretch our hands
across the seas and our continents to join together, now, to isolate the
Apartheid Israeli state and to Free Palestine.”
We also note that Histadrut (Israeli trade union Federation) supports
unequivocally the acts of brutality against the people of Palestine,
whilst also seeking to reverse the advances of the global BDS Campaign.
This is not only unfortunate, but also a serious challenge to the unity
of the international trade union movement in struggle for justice.
We note that very heart-warming and humbling messages have been written
by many friends of justice all over the world. We will quote from a few
(see below) to illustrate the growing voices of justice that refuse to
be intimidated by Zionist threats and double standards by the powerful.
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Please accept our deep gratification and appreciation for all efforts
you exerted to secure solidarity to our people against Israeli's
violations and crimes. Please convey our thanks and appreciation to our
comrades in COSATU for their courageous steps and stunning efforts to
support Palestinian people and to condemn Israeli aggression on Gaza and
West Bank. The activities and the actions that have been exerted show
your historical tradition to face the apartheid either in south Africa
or in Palestine . We learn from your experience the belief of facing the
crimes of the occupation .
BDS National Committee (BNC) in Palestine:
[We] warmly salute the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union
(SATAWU), a member of COSATU, for its decision today not to offload an
Israeli ship that is due to arrive in Durban... Coming weeks after the
massive Israeli massacre in Gaza, this distinguished expression by
SATAWU of effective solidarity with the Palestinian people in general,
and with Gaza in particular, sets a historic precedent that reminds us
of the first such action during the apartheid era taken by Danish dock
workers in 1963, when they decided not to offload ships carrying South
African products, triggering a similar boycott in Sweden, England and
Northern Branch of the Independent Workers Union, Ireland
The Northern Branch of the Independent Workers Union, Ireland sends its
greetings and solidarity to the inspiring actions of South African dock
workers and this stance by Cosatu and tireless work of PSC.
The protests that erupted round the world in response to Israel's
onslaught in Gaza showed the anger of ordinary people at the persistent
injustice faced by Palestinians. It is clear that this must be
transformed into more concrete actions to change the conditions for
Palestinians and the way power is abused by the wealthy in today's
world. The actions by the dockers in South Africa, again, show the
spirit of resistance that other trade unions would do well to follow and
we salute the courage and direction marked out by your example.
The Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid – Southern California
The Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid-Southern California
(www.ceia-sc.org) wishes to voice its enthusiastic support of the
members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU)
in Durban for taking the lead in the struggle to defeat apartheid in the
State of Israel by being the first group of workers to refuse to offload
a ship coming from Israel and carrying Israeli goods.
These brave workers lived under, and struggled against, apartheid in
South Africa. As such, they know firsthand the brutalities and
dehumanization of the apartheid system. They also know how important
international solidarity was in the struggle to defeat apartheid in
Freedom Socialist Party sections in both Australia and the United States
I’m writing... to congratulate COSATU on the stance that you have taken
to support the just struggles of the Palestinian people through building
a mass movement to boycott Israeli goods and demand divestment and
South African workers, more than workers anywhere else in the world,
will clearly understand and appreciate the power that an international
mass movement that has the backing of organised labour can have. The
leadership you are providing is inspirational and will boost efforts of
unionists around the globe and help galvanise the power of organised
workers everywhere to support our Palestinian sisters and brothers.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, USA
Congratulations to COSATU, SATAWU, the dockers who stood firm on the
night against all manoeuvres, and everyone involved in this magnificent
and historic action. I know there are other dockworkers around the world
who are watching very closely, and who may be inspired to act themselves.
SAMWU (South African Municipal Workers Union)
[We] salute your members for their wonderful act of solidarity by
refusing to off-load the Johanna Russ with its cargo of Israeli goods.
SATAWU has set the rest of the labour movement an inspiring example of
what can be done.
We have appreciated COSATU’s clear and strong engagement in this issue,
and your information sharing on this. LO-Norway will continue following
the situation and continue our solidarity work with the Palestinian
workers. LO condemns Israel’s bombing and ground invasion of Gaza.
Killing civilians and abusing the population cannot be justified. Israel
must immediately stop its acts of war.
Deb Reich, Israel
Dissidents in Israel! I want to thank you for what you do to help bring
justice here. I have spent most of my adult life trying to help other
Jews in Israel understand that there is a way out of the vast nightmare
of injustices perpetrated here in the name of various noble ideals. The
brainwashing is so thorough here that people become quite incapacitated
-- unable to comprehend the simple idea that, while pluralism can
embrace and make space for endless varieties of particularity, all of
which can thrive in happy proximity -- the reverse is impossible:
particularity and exclusivism cannot make space for a healthy pluralism.
If you want a decent shared prosperity, you have to open up to it!
When a military giant refuses to get the message, international economic
pressure such as you have brought to bear is evidently the only answer
that makes sense. Let us hope the tide will turn soon and minimize the
number of innocents who are forced to pay with their lives for the
blindness, fear, and prejudice of their neighbours.
Permit me to say thanks again for your courageous stand. Its importance
is probably even greater than we realize; one day, looking back, all
will see how significant your action has been.
BDS National Committee in Palestine:
Refusing to fall prey to Zionist intimidation and bullying (which have
very effectively, alas, muzzled mainstream condemnation of Israeli
crimes in the west for many years), the COSATU-led BDS campaign in South
Africa is truly setting new precedents with unique courage, vision and
the best tradition of internationalism and solidarity.
Bongani Masuku, International Relations Officer
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
P.O. Box 1019
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