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By Emma Rosenthal

none of us
without
us all
everyone’s story
under the boot
on the edge of town
at the end of the line
behind closed doors
in cattle cars
hidden in alleyways
cast into the wilderness
and shallow graves
underground passages
black site gulags
penal colonies
olvidadxs
desaparacidxs
perdidxs
erasing us
erases you
we are not
the ones who
cannot count

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Fiesta Shalom, in celebration of Israel’s 61 years of colonialism, will take place on Sunday at the restored Breed Street Shul in East Los Angeles. It promises to be a celebration of Jewish and Latino culture.

This event includes students from LAUSD, involved in LAUSD programs, such as the Roosevelt HS mariachis!!! (With all the insistence that UTLA members exercise “balance” when discussing the issue of Palestinian human rights, one has to ask: what balance is there when school children are encouraged to participate in a propagandistic event as part of a school sanctioned activity!!!!) 

What follows are links for more information.

So far Quetzal has pulled out of the program, citing misinformation when it was first invited. 

here is their letter:

http://www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?tag=fiesta-shalom

But…..

Richard Montoya from Culture Clash (isn’t THAT ironic!) is master of ceremonies.

Self Help Graphics, Arte Calidad and Plaza de la Raza will be providing a workshop!!!!

Danza Floricanto will be performing

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=51208&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=66057788721&aid=-1&id=1686616023&oid=66057788721

Contact info to encourage them to boycott:

::::::::
Arte Calidad Cultural Institute
519 S. Hewett St.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90013
(213) 617-0696
t.dominguez@artecalidad.org

To Contact Danza Floricanto/USA:

Please send email to: 
floricanto@earthlink.net

Plaza de la Raza:
information@plazadelaraza.org

Self Help Graphics:
info@selfhelpgraphics.com

I could not find contact info for Culture Clash. 

My letter:

I am very disappointed that you will be participating in the upcoming event “Fiesta Shalom” which celebrates Israeli “Independence” and is sponsored by the Israeli Consulate. 

Israel is a colonial settler state, with an apartheid system of segregation, with specific privileges granted on the basis of religious/ethnic identity. Israeli brutality against the indigenous Palestinian population has been well documented. 

Currently Palestinian cultural, community, educational and labor groups have called for a cultural boycott of Israel. 

Joining in this celebration gives legitimacy to Israeli brutality and supremacy. 

Already, Quetzal, who was originally scheduled to perform at this event, has pulled out.

http://www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?tag=fiesta-shalom

As they state in the letter, improved relations between Jewish and Latino communities is a wonderful idea, but co-opting the Latino community in complicity with Israeli war crimes has little to do with improved community relations.

As a Jewish human rights activist, I encourage you to follow Quetzal’s example and withdraw from this event.

In solidarity, 
Emma Rosenthal

the event leaflet:

image001

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Please forward this to ALL Students and Teachers, Youth Organizers


Student and Youth meeting! STOP the ICE RAIDS!!  

Wednesday April 29, 2009 4:00PM


Centro Cultural Francisco Villa
2100 Maple Ave. LA, CA 90011
(corner of 21st and Maple in front of Santee Education Complex)


Students from the Southern California Immigration Coalition are calling for a STUDENT/YOUTH ORGANIZING MEETING for the May Day march! ALL STUDENTS/YOUTH ARE WELCOMED!!

Students will be organizing a student contingent for the May 1st March being organized by the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC) and will then continue meeting after May 1st to build the student component of the SCIC! This student movement will work to mobilize students (High School, college…etc) and youth to integrate themselves into the mass based movement being advanced by the SCIC that now has nearly 70 organizations that support the work.

Please make the effort to attend this meeting or send a representative from your school or organization. Please come and pick up free T-shirts for the students/youth in your organizations to get them ready for the march this Friday (May 1st) at 1:00PM at Olympic and Broadway!!  


For more info please contact the SCIC at 323-602-3480
http://www.immigrationcoalition.org

Ron Gochez
Social Justice Educator/Community Organizer

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In reference to my letter to the Jewish Journal:
To: emmarosenthal@earthlink.net
Subject: Thanks from the writer of the Jewish Journal article
Date: Mar 28, 2009 1:57 AM
Emma:
 
Thank you for your astute comments about my article. As you can imagine, I received a lot of mail about it (as did the Jewish Journal), but no one got it quite as clearly as you did.
 
Roberto Loiederman

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 i often hear it stated (especially by neo-liberals such as findley, carter, weir, if americans knew, etc) that us. support for israel is against all u.s. values and is hurting the image of the u.s around the world; as if u.s. policy toward israel were so different than the policy that forged this nation, created bantustans (reservations), committed genocide, and is the belly of the beast of world domination and empire. as if all antipathy towards the u.s. is merely the result of u.s. policy in one small region, since 1967. this argument is racist on so many levels. on the surface it is anti-jewish as it perpetuates the stereotype of jewish power, not within any dialectical analysis, but from some magical source, unconnected to any other base of power, magically forcing the u.s to work against its “own interests.” the argument is also racist because it negates the incredible role the u.s. has played historically, not only within the confines of official expanding territory, but in imperial wars, neo and traditional colonialism, incarceration (the new slavery), free enterprise zones, etc. and how that policy is consistent with u.s. policy towards palestine and palestinians. this event: From la Frontera to Gaza. promises to make some of the connections between the situation in palestine, where a wall and a border has crossed what was an open palestinian homeland, and the situation in the southwest where a wall and a border crosses the territories and homelands of several indigenous populations, as well as the area that was once mexico.

-Emma

From la Frontera to Gaza: Chicano-Palestinian Connections

Monday March 30 2009

12.00-3.30 pm

Taper Hall of the Humanities (THH) 101

Free and open to the public

During the Israeli offensive on Gaza, it was often asked, “What if a terrorist group were lobbing rockets into San Diego out of Tijuana?” The analogy was tendentious and misrepresented both situations and their histories. But are there really connections between the Chicano and the Palestinian situations?

What connections exist between the histories of “Occupied America” and of Occupied Palestine?

–Are there analogies between the wall being constructed along the US border with Mexico and the separation wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank—both being constructed by the same Israeli firm, Elbit Systems? (http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/site/2008/01/23/up-against-the-wall-from-palestine-to-mexico/)

–What is the impact of the security state and the control of movement of people on US Latinos and both Palestinians and Arab Americans?

–Are there comparative dimensions to educational inequalities affecting both Chicanos in the US and Arab Israelis, both of who form substantial minorities that suffer from discrimination against their cultures and languages and significant under-representation in the upper levels of education?

–What lessons can be drawn from the practice of boycott by Cesar Chavez and the UFW for the current movement for the boycott of Israel? How does boycott work, what is its status as an instrument of non-violent struggle, when and why should a boycott be pursued?

These and other questions will be explored by the panel of speakers, which will be followed by three more focused workshops: History of Palestine, Boycott as a Non-Violent Tool, and The Right to Education.

12.00 –1.30 pm, THH 101: panel discussion with Manuel Criollo, Jose Fuste, and Manzar Foroohar

1.30-3.00pm: Focus Workshops in the Von KleinSmid Center

History of Palestine: VKC 105, with Manzar Foroohar

Boycott as a Non-Violent Tool: VKC 108, with Manuel Criollo and David Lloyd

The Right to Education: VKC 151, with Rana Sharif and Jose Fuste

The Panelists:

Manuel Criollo, Bus Riders Union lead organizer, son of immigrants from El Salvador, life-long resident of Pico/Union neighborhood of Los Angeles where he knows “just about everyone.” Manuel received a BA from University of California, Santa Barbara, was elected to the BRU Planning Committee before joining staff. His work focuses on grassroots leadership development and mentoring organizers-in-training and new organizing staff, he is also a co-host of the Voices from the Frontlines radio show, and key staff liaison with regional elected officials including the LA mayor and County Board of Supervisors.

Manzar Foroohar is Professor of History at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her work focuses on Modern Latin America, Modern Middle East, and the Comparative Political Economy of Latin America and the Middle East. She has recently returned from a visit to Palestine.

Jose Fuste is a graduate student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. He runs the blogsite Pensamiento Cimarrón/Maroon Thinking, which has recently focused on Palestine and the invasion of Gaza: http://marooning.blogspot.com/2008/12/gaza-war.html

David Lloyd is Professor of English at USC and a member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and of Teachers against Organization.

Rana Sharif is a Ph.D. student in Women’s Studies, UCLA. Currently, her research focuses on the ruptures and inconsistencies of the everyday, mundane, and habitual in the Occupied West Bank Territory of Palestine. She investigates the ways in which temporal and material consequences to occupation forfeit heteronormalcy and reconstitute subjectivities. Rana is an Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies and a contributor to KPFK’s Radio Intifada.

This event has been sponsored by: the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, Chicano and Latino American Studies, and USC Students for Justice in Palestine.

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http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/chaderton020209p.html  

Matos Roy Chaderton, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States, speaks of numerous members of the Jewish community who have supported the struggles of peoples against imperialism and Zionism, and he rejects any attack against the Jewish people.

Watching television footage of one of the necessary and legitimate protests against the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, I spotted a lone sign with a slogan that left me thunderstruck. The slogan was something like: “We condemn Hitler for not having completed his work of extermination. . . .”

The frightening message, totally alien to the Bolivarian process and the Chavista commitment to liberty, democracy, equality, and social justice, shows that, every now and then in our struggles and protests, “loose cannons” come dog us and that we have to detect them and neutralize them and expel them like any foreign body.

Those hidden anti-Semites are much like other “loose cannons” such as professional anti-clericalists who shout, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” when they encounter a believer, incited by the undeniable fact that a majority of the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy refused to use their potential capacity to become a bridge between Venezuelans in the opposing camps and instead embraced the ultra-right-wing Creoles and the immoral dictatorship of the media. What’s lost on these pseudo-Chavista infiltrators is the deep Christian foundation of our socialist process and the social fact that most Venezuelan Catholics, including nuns and priests at the grassroots, are committed to the Bolivarian revolution.

None shall ever be permitted to use the recurrent crimes against humanity committed by the mediocre and murderous militarist elite of the State of Israel as justification for twisting the just rebellion of the Palestinians and solidarity with them into anti-Semitic aberrations.

No leftist has the right to forget that the Jews — historically persecuted, not by the Muslims who for centuries opened their doors for them, but by first the Christian crusaders, then the inquisitors, and finally the Nazis — have a historical tradition of pioneering solidarity with social rebellions and progressive thought. Never forget such illustrious Jews as Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Bob Dylan. Never forget the participation of Jews, even at the cost of their lives, in civil, labor, social, and anti-war struggles in the United States or struggles against the ultra-Catholic military dictatorships in the Southern Cone. Never overlook the fact that, in the United States, against the organized anti-Chavista campaign supported by the “Israel lobby” in that country, American Jewish intellectuals have spoken up: the most famous intellectual in the world, Noam Chomsky, so often cited by President Chávez, and Joseph Stiglitz, a winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, who has supported us in our struggles against the dictatorship of neoliberalism.

But even if there had been no progressive Jew in history, which isn’t the case, it would still be a mortal sin to silence the Jews or call for their extermination. What we must do is to discuss, openly and face to face, the Zionist deviations and the systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people. The killing of innocents or righteous fighters in Gaza cannot be solved by applying the radicalized lex talionis which is precisely the barbaric adventure undertaken — with the cruelty of criminals and electoral opportunists — by the Israeli battalions.

Repeatedly during the Fourth Republic in Venezuela, crypto-Nazi groups were established, which occasionally vandalized synagogues and other Jewish buildings with anti-Semitic symbols and slogans (e.g., “MSN,” “Tradition, Family, and Property,” etc.). In general, those were ultra-radical Catholics — of whom Hitler was one — of the upper-middle class, who, instead of setting up a vulgar corner bar decorated with a bullfighting theme in their home, opted for a Nazi corner with flags and swastikas, old editions of Mein Kampf, Wehrmacht helmets or Gestapo caps, and sometimes also a fine Luger awaiting an opportunity to kill a Jew. To my surprise, by the way, some compatriots from the Jewish community in Venezuela, whether due to anti-Chavista conviction or sheer lack of awareness, have ended up marching in protest against our Bolivarian government side by side with those crypto-Nazis, inflamed by the poisons spewed by the media’s dictatorship.

In those days, too, the Venezuelan diplomats, at the United Nations and other international forums, supported the vast majority of decisions in favor of the Palestinian cause. We just abstained, as in fact I personally did more than once, from any draft resolution containing untenable ultra-radical propositions. I especially remember that, during my time as a member of the Venezuelan Mission to the UN, I organized a meeting, in 1978 at the Tudor Hotel New York, between a group of Venezuelan diplomats, recent graduates guided by the director of our School of International Studies, Carlos Guerón, a Jewish Venezuelan, and the head of the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Oraganization, Hassan Rahman.

In this international political battle, we, who have a balanced attitude to the problem but are committed to the Palestinian people, come across two manipulative visions that we must not accept. One comes from those who insist on the Holocaust denial as if it were a matter of statistics. One wonders: at what number does the Holocaust begin? Six million? Four million? Two million? One million? Half a million? The controversy would be laughable if it were not tragic. For me there is no doubt that there was a policy of extermination of the Jews in Christian Europe. To trivialize it is to disrespect the memory of its victims and the truth, as it would be to deny the genocide in Armenia, in Rwanda-Burundi, in Hiroshima-Nagasaki, or in Palestine, including the genocide of the indigenous population in Latin America.

The other is the blackmail that gets imposed on us, through the international media dictatorship, which accuses any persons or organizations of being anti-Semites when we raise our voice for the Palestinian cause and denounce the ghettos and concentration camps in Palestine, whose inhabitants are being exterminated by those in search of a final solution, with the First-World “Christian” support, deliberately massacring Arab children in order to eliminate future “terrorists.”

Familiar as I had already been with the suffering of the Jewish people since my childhood, through my conversations with my family and my readings, upon arriving at my first diplomatic assignment in Warsaw, the first thing I noticed was the climate of terror sown, among the already decimated Jewish community in Poland, by the anti-Semitic purges designed by the then Interior Minister Mieczysław Moczar in 1968, which affected even key Jewish leaders of the Polish Communist Party. Familiar as I am since my adolescence, through my personal dialogues and readings, with the suffering of the Arab-Palestinian people who have been forced to pay for the crimes committed by the Nazis, I cannot but recognize what has been done to the Gaza ghetto as a policy of genocide.

There is much more to say about all this, but for now it’s enough that we are filled with spiritual oxygen, and we proclaim the brotherhood of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists, all who believe and pray, and all who don’t believe and don’t pray. Meanwhile, the specters of historical anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, including the Vatican, are stirring again.

Roy Chaderton Matos, born in 1942, is Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States (since 15 April 2008). He began his diplomatic career under the Rafael Caldera government as Secretary of the Venezuelan Embassy in Poland (from 1969 to 1972). Under the Hugo Chávez government, he was Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2004; Ambassador to France from 2004 to 2006; diplomatic advisor to Francisco Arias Cárdenas, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations, in 2006; and Ambassador to Mexico in 2007. The original article “Chavismo: Cristiano, Antinazi, Pro-Musulmán y Pro-Judío” was published by Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, Radio Nacional de Venezuela, TeleSur, and YVKE Mundial on 30 January 2009. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

Fair Use Disclaimer: https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/fair-use-disclaimer/

 

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This image comes from Jewish World Review, along with the article. Had Cafe Intifada published or developed the image, it would be attacked for being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

“Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?”

“As Union rolls here in the United States swell with members of minority communities, anti-Israel forces waste no time forging alliances with those groups. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, self-appointed visionary of a new socialist Latin America and bosom buddy of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, blatantly tries to drive a wedge between working-class Americans and others by offering Citgo heating oil at reduced prices in Boston and the Bronx. When the Latino Congresso — a national umbrella for Latino organizations — met in Los Angeles, Chavez’ representatives were highly visible on the program and in the crowd. We know that part of the declared strategy of anti-Israel groups is to infiltrate labor unions across America in an attempt to target Israeli goods.”

The quotes above, come from the following article, published months after a Zionist victory against union democracy at UTLA.  Cafe Intifada and Emma Rosenthal were specifically targeted during that campaign, resulting in shutting down the web page and the list serve of the Human Rights Committee, erasing the entire archive, and silencing dissent and discourse within the Committee.  Rosenthal had developed both the web page and the list serve, constantly seeking out guidance and input from the Committee, careful to make sure that the public image of the Committee, the public statements of the Committee represented the Committee as a whole, and not her particular point of view.  Even during the contentious period leading up to the decision to destroy anything affiliated with her or moderated with her (the listserve was also moderated by Committee Chair, Steve Seal, and former Chair Andy Griggs,) She was careful to make sure that public comments of hers not be attributed to the group as a whole, clarifying to the press and in her own statements that she spoke only for herself as a committee member, not for the group.

The article that follows is an outstanding example of the dual role that Zionist “human rights” organizations play in promoting Israeli hegemony in historic Palestine, and U.S. empire around the globe.

By manipulating the fears of the Jewish public (exploiting the trauma of the Shoah for the purpose of empire,) groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ADL perpetuate the collective trauma of the Jewish community, and the collective guilt (at the expense of the Palestinian community) of the West.  Doomsday scenarios and constant reminders of what may happen, suggestions that former allies are no longer friends, constant linking critique of Israel, Zionism and U.S. policy to the memory of the shoah mobilize fear and hysteria, not dialogue and discourse.  Case in point was the modest meeting that the Wiesenthal Center, the ADL etc.  effectively shut down, arguing that such a meeting would be biased and unbalanced.  Had they simply ATTENDED the meeting, they would have been free to inject their own bigotry into the discourse.  It was their insistence that the meeting not be held, that the union determine the scope and nature of discourse of union members and their associated organizations.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center constantly baits progressive international leaders, such as Hugo Chavez, with anti-Semitism, and distorts the statements of others.

For example, they  state:   Rosenthal also believes that antisemitism “is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Herzl and Jabotinsky, and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups.”

The statement comes from a response to hate mail in which a Jewish man addresses  Rosenthal as “Jew Bitch.”  The accurate quote is:

…it was in Europe where our people met the greatest persecution; it was in Europe where we were subjected to crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, humiliation, ghettos, discrimination, rape, slave labor and genocide. It was in the United States, an extension of European hegemony, and now, the empirical force in the world, where we were subjected to immigration restrictions, discrimination, witch hunts, red scares, executions, klan violence and false imprisonment. In this country, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were turned back to Germany, to face certain death, while British children, and even British dogs (yes, some British sent their dogs) were given safe harbor to escape the bombings imposed on them during the war. During times of great repression in Europe, many Jews found it safer to escape to the Middle East where we never suffered in the way that we suffered in Europe, where we lived, for the most part in peaceful co-existence with Christians and Moslems. Animosity against the Jews in whole or in part, coming from the Middle East is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Hertzl and Jabotinsky and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups such as the Urgun and the Stern Gang, who made clear their desire, not to simply resettle as immigrants or refugees, but to conquer. Opposition to Zionist hegemony, is not genocidal, it is reasonable. (emphasis, cafe itifada)  (http://emmarosenthal.wordpress.com/category/jew-bitch/)”

So, where she clearly state that animosity to the Jews, in the Middle East is not much more than a century old, they quote her as saying that anti-semitism (anywhere) is not much more than a century old.  Why the need for such brazen dishonesty? If their arguments are just and found, why do they have to resort to distortions and lies to attack her?”

Additionally, they ask the question:  “Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?” Is it their $36 million a year budget, their self appointed role of spokes organization for the shoah, that gives them the hubris to determine who is a legitimate Jewish voice.  They state:

Every Palestinian agitprop presentation trots out a Jewish activist who hates Israel. The message they wish to convey is clear: American Jews are divided about Israel…We must let America know that this is not true. Jewish Israel-haters are entitled to speak, but not for us. We should not let America think that they are anything but a small minority, swimming against the current of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. They must be moved to where they belong — at the margins and fringes of the community, but not within our mainstream.

And here it is!!!  The absolute and total control of the narrative in the hands of those who have wealthy donors and important  connections to the seats of power.  This is the Jewish establishment, not to be confused with  the rest of the Jewish people.  Of course Rosenthal is a legitimate Jewish voice, She’s Jewish. Jews are an astoundingly diverse population, so much so, that they defy definition. No one can claim, including the Wiesenthal Center, to speak for all Jews, or even most Jews.  On the other hand, can the Wiesenthal Center be considered, as they claim, to be a human rights organization, when they attempt to marginalize and silence those with whom they don’t agree, while all the time, demanding “balance” of  those who would criticize Israeli brutality and hegemony?  Israel claims to be a nation for all the Jews of the world.  As such, how can the voice of any Jew, not be legitimate?  These are their definitions, and their contradictions, bound in their privilege and the hegemonies and empires they defend.  While most Jews don’t have the same nuanced understanding of zionism, Rosenthal possesses, most disagree with and are silenced, intimidated and ignored by the Jewish establishment whose real purpose is to support the power elites, either regionally in Israel, or globally in defense of  U.S. empire.

-Cafe Intifada

___________________________

Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2007 / 14 Teves, 5767

Israel’s Next Battle: Labor unions

By Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Life-saving medical equipment, standing in crates in Galveston, undelivered to waiting hospitals, because truckers refuse to handle Israeli cargo. Tons of Jaffa oranges, dumped into the waters off Long Beach, California, as a labor action against the Israeli ‘occupation’ gets out of hand.

 

These events have not occurred yet, but they are not merely part of a speculative doomsday scenario either. There are groups committed to make them happen, as a new front opens up in the war against the Jewish state. The shock troops have already taken their positions, in unions overseas and across America.

Labor unions were once among Israel’s most important allies. In the spring of 1948, President Truman sustained intense pressure to vote against the United Nations partition plan that ultimately created the State of Israel. Having originally voted for partition in November 1947, Truman reversed US policy in March of 1948, after intense lobbying by British and Arab interests, and announced to the UN that it supported a trusteeship instead. On April 14th, fifty thousand garment workers packed Yankee Stadium to rally against the shift. Clark Clifford, Truman’s advisor, produced a list of interest groups whose support was crucial to his presidential campaign. Jews ranked eighth, but labor placed second. Labor’s support for the Jewish state was a force that Truman could not and did not ignore, turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of the Arabists in the State Department.

Labor’s partnership with Israel began much earlier, with the American labor movement purchasing land in Palestine for Jewish workers, building trade schools, and lobbying the British to lift barriers against the emerging Jewish State through its clout with the British Labor Party. Jews at the helm of unions – Max Zaritsky, David Dubinsky, Sidney Hillman – agitated on behalf of the Jewish homeland succeeding in bringing non-Jewish colleagues on board, all the way to the top echelons of the AFL and CIO. In 1944, the CIO convention passed a resolution endorsing “the ultimate establishment of a Palestinian Jewish Commonwealth.” The contribution of Organized Labor continued after the establishment of the State in May 1948, with the construction of housing and cultural centers in Israel funded by the AFL and CIO. United Auto Workers founder Walter Reuther was close with Golda Meir; at one point, the UAW may have been the largest institutional purchaser of Israel Bonds.

Naturally, the face of the Unions changed over the next decades, as the social and economic makeup of the labor force changed. To be sure, there is strong and steady support for Israel in many unions today, and the Jewish Labor Committee works to maintain that support. The makeup of both the rank and file as well as the politics of the unions has shifted, however. Other minorities have taken the places of Jewish laborers. Union political orientations always had progressive and socialist leanings, which today are bolstered by alliances with left-leaning and third world groups around the globe, many of whom regularly demonize Israel and the United States. Indeed, unions played a prominent role in the single largest hate-fest against Israel at the United Nations’ World Conference Against Racism at Durban in August 2001.

The anti-Israel chants hardly stopped with Durban. Recently, the Ontario division of Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, voted overwhelmingly to support an international campaign boycotting Israel. After the Danish General Workers Union (SiD) voted for a boycott of Israeli goods, Norway’s largest labor organization, the Federation of Trade Unions (LO), called for a boycott of all Israeli products, despite the fact that LO has been a long-time supporter of Israel, and has ties with Israel’s Labor Party. Calling Israel an “apartheid state” the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) demanded in July that the South African government drop diplomatic ties with Israel, and participate in a program of boycott and sanctions.

Here in the United States, union leadership has shifted its focus. Where they previously took an internationalist stance – and valued ties with union-friendly countries like Israel – they now often hunker down against the threat of globalism, and worry about basic survival on the local level. Today, individual union members are often disconnected from political posturing of their organizations about non-economic issues, half way around the world. These changes have left room for highly motivated, agendized extremists to fill the vacuum in committee positions, and assume disproportionate prominence. For many years, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party helped keep anti-Israel union extremists in check, but in recent years they have shown an unwillingness or inability to take a stand-up position.

We therefore shouldn’t be surprised or view as an isolated incident when the Human Rights Committee of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) agreed to host the launch of a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions directed against Israel. The goal of this agenda – known as BDS, and the kingpin of the enunciated strategy of dozens of pro-Palestinian groups working in concert – is to cripple Israel’s economy while propagandizing people to treat Israel as a racist, colonialist, apartheid state. The Los Angeles program was sponsored by the Movement for a Democratic Society (where former SDS members go when they are too old to be students any longer) and Caf� Intifada. Only the public outcry from Jewish organizations in Los Angeles forced the union to move the meeting off-site from its headquarters.

As Union rolls here in the United States swell with members of minority communities, anti-Israel forces waste no time forging alliances with those groups. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, self-appointed visionary of a new socialist Latin America and bosom buddy of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, blatantly tries to drive a wedge between working-class Americans and others by offering Citgo heating oil at reduced prices in Boston and the Bronx. When the Latino Congresso — a national umbrella for Latino organizations — met in Los Angeles, Chavez’ representatives were highly visible on the program and in the crowd. We know that part of the declared strategy of anti-Israel groups is to infiltrate labor unions across America in an attempt to target Israeli goods.

All of these developments should serve as a wakeup call for supporters of Israel.

  • First, if you are a member of any union, be informed about its human rights agenda. Find out what positions they take at the bully pulpit that your dues are funding. Don’t allow well-organized extremists to speak in your union’s name. When the UTLA story broke, union members sent a tidal wave of email — overwhelmingly critical of the union hosting an anti-Israel event. Only active participation in the Union can prevent extremists from acting in stealth.
  • Take union leaders to Israel. A well-planned trip to Israel – one in which visitors meet ordinary, dues-paying working Israelis- continues to be the single most effective way to get people to understand Israel’s predicament and value her democracy.
  • Communicate. So many Americans have simply never heard Israel’s take on the events in the news. Nor do they understand the scope and depth of American Jewish commitment to Israel. We can’t expect them to respect Israel’s integrity and interests if we do not let them know how important they are to us.
  • Not in our name. Every Palestinian agitprop presentation trots out a Jewish activist who hates Israel. The message they wish to convey is clear: American Jews are divided about Israel; taking a stance against her will not lead to undesirable consequences from the Jewish community. We must let America know that this is not true. Jewish Israel-haters are entitled to speak, but not for us. We should not let America think that they are anything but a small minority, swimming against the current of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. They must be moved to where they belong — at the margins and fringes of the community, but not within our mainstream.
  • As a case in point, consider Caf� Intifada, one of the sponsors of the event hosted by the UTLA Human Rights Committee. It is headed by Emma Rosenthal who is also a member of that committee. Rosenthal endorses the infamous International Solidarity Movement – which has refused to condemn “armed struggle” against Israel, and has aided terrorists on the group. Rosenthal also believes that antisemitism “is not much more than a century old, in reaction to the imperialist intentions of Zionists such as Herzl and Jabotinsky, and the terrorist activities of Jewish groups.” Should Rosenthal and her ilk be treated as legitimate Jewish voices?


We must never concede that this piece’s opening scenario as inevitable. We need not give up on the historic alliance between Unions and the Middle East’s only democracy. Ultimately, however, which way the Unions go will depend on how well advocates for Israel connect her core values with those of Organized Labors’ card-carrying constituency.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein serves as its Director of Interfaith Affairs.

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