Thursday, March 06, 2008

F-16 Missiles Destroy the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions Headquarters

Two F-16 missiles destroyed "the five-storey headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions," killing one and injuring 37, "mostly women and children" (Mohammed Omer, "Missile Goes Down a Union's Throat," IPS 4 March 2008). Hear the sound of silence from the labor wing of the empire?

Why would top US union officials lift a finger? They are busy investing American workers' pension funds into Israeli bonds.
The AFL-CIO's support for Israel is monetary as well as rhetorical. The federation is the largest non-Jewish holder of Israeli bonds in the world, according to a report by Lenni Brenner in the June/July 1997 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. AFL-CIO affiliates have more than $300 million in Israeli bonds invested in pension funds. In all, the US labor community holds $5 billion worth of Israeli bonds, according to Jerry Goodman, director of the National Committee for Labor Israel. (Lauren Anzaldo, "Labor for Palestine," Left Turn, 1 August 2005)
The only trade unionists in the Middle East whom the labor wing of the empire pretend to really care about are Iranians, for whom they are holding a "Global Day of Action" today (who knew besides me?) -- not that they can mobilize more than a handful of American workers, who are having trouble standing up for their own rights, for that.

What's really funny is that they claim, among other things, that "a mass rally or march" for Iranian workers is planned in "the West Bank" (see the "Worldwide Update" on the International Transport Workers' Federation's Iran campaign page)!

Worldwide Update

Needless to say, there is no "Global Day of Action" organized by the empire's trade union bureaucracy in opposition to the sanctions on Iran, even though the sanctions hurt Iran's working class more than its ruling class and the third round of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council just now is especially dangerous, authorizing cargo inspection that may trigger a military attack on Iran (see Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, "UN Deepens the Iran Nuclear Crisis," Asia Times, 5 March 2008; Siddharth Varadarajan, "The U.N. Is Escalating the Iran Nuclear Crisis," The Hindu, 5 March 2008; and Mohammad Kamaali, "The Politics of Non-Proliferation", MRZine, 6 March 2008).

Far from it, some of the worst US union officials are augmenting the sanctions on Iran by calling for divestment from the country: e.g., "Hoffa Calls on Pension Funds to Divest in Companies Conducting Business in Iran" (, 22 August 2007).

In striking contrast, a who's who of US labor officialdom, including AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney and Change to Win Chair Anna Burger, issued a joint statement opposing boycotts of and divestment from Israel last year, criticizing the few progressive trade unions that had come out in support of Palestinian workers calling for them to end the Israeli occupation: "Statement of Opposition to Divestment from or Boycotts of Israel" (July 2007).

Oppose the boycotts of and divestment from Israel which a majority of Palestinian workers support; support the economic sanctions on Iran which a majority of Iranian workers oppose. That's the logic of labor imperialism.

No comments: