Shawn Fain, President of the United Automobile Workers, joins legislators at a press conference for a cease-fire. [Source: aljazeera.com]

“The U.S. Labor Movement Calls for Cease-fire in Israel and Palestine.” That is the name of the resolution that many members of a variety of unions have signed on to, believing that this would bring peace to the Middle East, by having the guns go silent.”

The U.S. labor movement decided it was finally necessary to lend its collective voice to the ever-growing chorus of disgust for the war, although it never refers to the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians. But wait, let’s analyze the resolution and see if all these unions have really put their money where their mouths are.

The resolution states: “We, members of the American labor movement, mourn the loss of life in Israel and Palestine. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege of Gaza. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.”

In issuing this call, U.S. unions are joining the efforts of 13 Members of Congress and others who are calling for an immediate cease-fire.

The basic rights of people must be restored. Water, fuel, food, and other humanitarian aid must be allowed into Gaza, power must be restored, and foreign nationals and Palestinians requiring medical care must be allowed out of Gaza.

While calling for the restoration of water, fuel, food and other humanitarian aid is absolutely required if more Palestinians are not going to die from these atrocities, one must ask who controls the situation in Gaza. Whether Israel decides to allow this to happen, even temporarily, is completely up to Israel because there is no call for Israel to relinquish control of Gaza. Thus, without a permanent cease-fire, and the relinquishing of control over Gaza, this is just an empty call. Putting aside the fact that the entirety of Israel is on occupied Palestinian territory, without calling for the relinquishing of at least the boundaries of Gaza, Israel can at any time, resume its genocidal lockdown. The U.S. labor movement must call for the end not only of the siege but the end of Israel’s control of Gaza, at least as a start, but the resolution does not even mention this as a possibility. Israel, as far as the resolution goes, has the right to retain control.

Palestinian women sit on the rubble of their home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip
[Source: telegraph.co.uk]

The Israeli hostages taken by Hamas must be immediately released. Both Hamas and Israel must adhere to standards of international law and Geneva Convention rules of warfare concerning the welfare and security of civilians.

Here again is a meaningless statement, at least regarding Palestinian rights, since the resolution does not mention all the prisoners that Israel took hostage on trumped-up charges or no charges at all, but over the time that Israel has been bombing Gaza, Israel has taken more than 4,000 hostages, mostly children, in the West Bank and put them into administrative detention, i.e., with no specified charges and for an unlimited duration.

There must be a ceasefire in Gaza. The cycle of violence must stop so that negotiations for an enduring peace proceed.

The U.S. has sent 10,000 tons of military equipment to Israel since the start of the Gaza War. [Source: newarab.com]

The cycle of violence must stop? Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. This war is not a “war” in the conventional sense in that there are two equal sides; this is a genocidal war where a captive people are suffering from bombs being dropped on them daily, where people are dying under the rubble because Israel will not allow any equipment into the territory to dig those people out. It is a “war” where people are being starved and poisoned, because Israel is poisoning the water. It is a war where the heavy weapons are on one side, that is on the side of Israel, and where Israel calls all the shots. Every necessary piece of infrastructure has been bombed including hospitals. This situation does not exist in reverse and so there is no cycle of violence, just brutality on one side. The word war here is a distortion of the English language.

The U.S. must act. We call on President Biden to immediately call for a ceasefire.

The road to justice cannot be paved by bombs and war. The road to peace cannot be found through warfare. We commit ourselves to work in solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples to achieve peace and justice.

Union members come from diverse backgrounds, including Jews, Muslims, and Middle Eastern communities. The rising escalation of war and arms sales doesn’t serve the interests of workers anywhere. In the end, we all want a place to call home and for our children to be safe. Working people around the world want and deserve to live free from the effects of violence, war and militarization.

Thousands of Americans have joined the groundswell of global solidarity demanding a ceasefire now.

It’s the labor movement’s turn to make our voices heard and demand a ceasefire. Together, we can stand for peace, justice, and a better future for working people everywhere.

The authors of the resolution must either be incredibly cynical or incredibly naïve to even believe that “calling” on Biden will stop the flow of weapons to Israel. The U.S. government has, for many years given Israel $3.8 billion annually to buy weapons from the U.S. arms industry and now another $14 billion is likely to be granted to the Israeli war machine. Biden’s constituency is not the workers whose lives are upended by shortages, inflation and low wages, but the arms industry. To them he must answer their call for ever more weapons. According to CounterPunch, November 14, 2023,

“President Biden described the American arms industry in remarkably glowing terms, noting that, ‘just as in World War II, today patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.’”

When Raytheon’s CEO, Gregory Hayes, was questioned by a researcher from Morgan Stanley about the profits which the company will definitely accrue from both the wars in Gaza and Ukraine: “The researcher noted that President Biden’s proposed multi-billion-dollar package of military aid for Israel and Ukraine ‘seems to fit quite nicely with Raytheon’s defense portfolio.’ Hayes responded that ‘across the entire Raytheon portfolio you’re going to see a benefit of this restocking on top of what we think will be an increase in the DoD topline as we continue to replenish these stocks.’ Supplying Ukraine alone, he suggested, would yield billions in revenues over the coming few years with profit margins of 10% to 12%.”

Greg Hayes, chief executive of US defence contractor Raytheon
Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes [Source: ft.com]

The article goes on to say: “In 2021, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, the U.S. armed 31 nations that Freedom House, a non-profit that tracks global trends in democracy, political freedom, and human rights, designated as ‘not free.’”

The Pentagon budget is now approaching $1 trillion. So, the question is how likely, given the enormous power of the arms industry, will it be for Biden to go against their wishes? The call for a cease-fire is as meaningless as expecting a zebra to shed its stripes and become a horse.


What then must be done? I proposed a resolution in my union, the Professional Staff Congress, a local within the AFT, after a long discussion about the cease-fire, about condemning both the AFL-CIO and the American government for helping Israel, by either giving direct aid to the Israeli government to buy weapons or, in the case of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy, by buying Israeli bonds which would allow them to purchase American weapons. The AFT and the AFL-CIO have supplied collectively many millions of dollars to the State of Israel.

After the cease-fire resolution, my resolution condemning the AFL-CIO giving moral and material support to Israel was open for discussion, or so I thought. I introduced it saying that, if we want a real cease-fire, we must shut off the spigot so that Israel can no longer continue to buy arms to murder Palestinians. As soon as I introduced the resolution, a Zionist at the meeting called the question, shutting off all debate. I received 17 votes in support of my resolution, although there were radicals who opposed the genocide, but who refused to support my resolution and, since there was no debate, it was hard to know exactly what the reason was. But whatever the reason, the bombs are continuing to fall.

The crimes against the Palestinian people are incalculable, but inevitable, given the relationship of the union bureaucrats to the American government, that is, the “leadership” will never oppose the American government. Historically, from the inception of the AFL, the leaders supported American imperialism starting with the Spanish-American War.

During the Cold War, U.S. imperialism was omnipresent. The results of these interventions garnered not a peep from the trade unions but, in fact, AIFLD (American Institute for Free Labor Development) was organized by the AFL-CIO to covertly support American interventions around the world.

[Source: cosmonoautmag.com]

So when the labor unions call for us to sign a cease-fire declaration, do they really mean it? The cease-fire declaration, as I said, is at best duplicitous and is not outside the absolute betrayal of the American and world’s working classes.

Please sign this call and add your name to a growing list calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza says the resolution.

While calling for a cease-fire, Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, continues to donate money to Israel while crying crocodile tears for the lack of peace in the region. Historically, she has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of dues money buying Israel bonds without either the consent or the knowledge of the members.

In an article in the Electronic Intifada (March 26, 2015) by Ali Abunimah entitled “Why is the American Federation of Teachers promoting Israeli apartheid?” Abunimah said that Weingarten, while decrying her dislike for Netanyahu because he was a war monger who will only discourage peace, still managed to argue for a two-state solution, although it was clear even then that not only was this never going to materialize, but at a conference with J Street, the liberal Zionists, he wrote: “The J Street program lists the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) as a major donor to the conference.”

“IFT, which represents more than 100,000 educators and public employees in Illinois and is affiliated with the AFT, ignored repeated requests for comment about the amount of the donation and its purpose.”

Abunimah lets us know that IFT president Dan Montgomery, who serves as a vice president of the AFT, “went on [a] junket [to Israel] with Weingarten.” In the meantime, through her crocodile tears about peace with the Palestinians, Weingarten continues to oppose the BDS movement.

A person in a blue jacket

Description automatically generated
Randi Weingarten [Source: realcleareducation.com]

Moreover, from an article in CovertAction Magazine which I wrote about the utter betrayal of the AFL-CIO (June 24, 2022), the Jewish Labor Committee, of which Weingarten is a member, wrote in a manual: “Please DO NOT discuss with union members, representatives of the press or others, guesstimates of the value of State of Israel Bonds held by unions. ‘Divest from Israel’ activists have used such information in their arguments and have quoted figures found in Jewish newspapers and/or provided by Jewish communal representatives.”

Randi Weingarten was certainly not the only union leader who engaged in support of Israel.

The Teamsters, under James Hoffa (son of legendary Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa), not only raised money for the Israelis, but ran guns to them supporting the creation of the Israeli state. The number of interventions by both the Teamsters and other unions is too numerous to list in one short article, but just one example will suffice.

In an article written by Joe Allen called “The Teamster Connection: Apartheid Israel and the IBT,” Allen writes: “The Younger Hoffa raised $2.5 million for the Yitzhak Rabin Center. During his visit, a room at the center will be dedicated to the Teamsters. Hoffa said he had been looking for a way to strengthen his ties to Israel, and began to work for the Rabin Center on the advice of friends. During his time here, he plans to visit the Histadrut-run Alumim Youth Village in Kfar Saba, whose original Jerusalem facility was built by a $300,000 donation from his father.”

A group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generated
Golda Meir with Jimmy Hoffa in 1956. [Source: joeallen-60224.medium.com]

The betrayal by the AFL-CIO cannot be overstated.

It is only the power of the working class that can end this genocidal war, that is, if the workers stop loading war materiel onto ships bound for Israel, the war can end overnight. Already there are workers in a number of countries, such as Belgium, Italy and Local 10 of the Longshore Union in the U.S., who have done this.

Unfortunately, the powerful AFL-CIO, which has traditionally supported American imperialism throughout its dirtiest wars all over the world, through AIFLD initially, and now through the Solidarity Center, continues to support the Israeli state and thus the genocide of Palestinians.

The working class must break from its pro-imperialist leadership and take power into its own hands.

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  1. The Israelites have been slaughtering their neighbors with great ferocity and glee ever since Joshua (King James Ch. 6, 20-24) introduced total annihilation against those whose lands the Israelites coveted.

    Of course, Islam having adopted most of the Israeli religion, the same practice is required of Islam, “fight the unbelievers (kafirs) and keep on fighting them until no one is left alive who is not a Muslim.”

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