We salute the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in Durban, and Western Australian dock worker members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), for refusing to handle Israeli cargo.
Theirs is a courageous response to Israel's attack on Palestinians in Gaza that, since December 27 alone, have left some 1,400 dead and 5,000 wounded -- nearly all of them civilians.
This action is in the best tradition of dock workers in Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and Liverpool (1988), who refused to handle shipping for apartheid South Africa; Oakland dock workers' refusal to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978); and West Coast dock workers' strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2008).
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) rightly "calls on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free."
COSATU's appeal is particularly relevant for workers in the United States, whose government stands behind Israel's war against the Palestinians, and without which Israeli apartheid cannot continue.
In the past ten years alone, U.S. military aid to Israel was $17 billion; over the next decade, it will be $30 billion. As in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is U.S. aircraft, white phosphorous and bullets that kill and maim on behalf of the occupiers. Both the Democratic and Republican parties condone the slaughter in Gaza.
Such support bolsters Israel's longstanding role as watchdog and junior partner for U.S. domination over the oil-rich Middle East -- and beyond. In that capacity, Israel was apartheid South Africa's closest ally.....For all these reasons, we join COSATU in supporting the growing international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which demands Palestinian self-determination, including an end to Israeli military occupation, the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and elimination of apartheid throughout historic Palestine.
Join us in publicizing the example of South African and Australian dock workers, and working toward the same kind of labor solidarity here at home.
Join us in demanding immediate and total:
1. End to U.S. aid for Israel.
2. Divestment of business and labor investments in Israel.
3. Labor boycott of Israel.
4. Withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from the Middle East.
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