California dockworkers reject meeting with Israeli consul
Two weeks after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in the San Francisco Bay Area joined with activists at the Port of Oakland to block the unloading of an Israeli Zim Lines cargo ship, the union reaffirmed its support of Palestinian rights despite pressure from the Israeli consulate and the Zionist-Israeli organization Stand With Us.
On 6 July, a group representing the Israeli consulate and Stand With Us attempted to pressure the ILWU Local 10 into withdrawing its protest of Israel’s 31 May attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and its condemnation of the Gaza siege and wall in the West Bank. The groups had asked to address the ILWU Local 10’s Executive Board at their regular meeting.
However, the local union members were not easily persuaded, and denied permission for the Israeli delegation to attend their meeting, according to a press release issued by Labor for Palestine (US) (“Oakland dockers stand firm as Israeli Consul seeks an audience,” 7 July 2010).
The local’s rejection of the meeting follows a request sent by the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to the ILWU Local 10 Executive board, praising the union’s historic action at the Port of Oakland on 20 June. The Palestinian trade union leaders also expressed deep concern that the Israeli consulate would command a meeting with the union in an attempt to coerce members out of their political stance on Palestinian human rights.
“Although we do not live in the United States, we find it highly unusual and somewhat uncustomary that a paid foreign representative of a racist and apartheid regime can demand and get a meeting with the executive board of a local union no less than the ILWU,” stated the PGFTU.
“We humbly ask of you to hold steadfast in the face of backlash and revenge against your union. The call for a meeting with your union by a foreign paid emissary is intervening in the domestic affairs of local community grassroots action in the United States. Israel, an apartheid state, maintaining an illegal war against our people, should not be given the platform at your union house. That platform should be reserved for heroes who champion justice and equality for all. Please ask Mr. Tor to end his government’s criminal actions and answer for the 40,000 people Israel killed during the multiple invasions and occupations of Lebanon, the massacres of Deir Yassin, Qibya, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin and Gaza. Like the Turkish nationals [killed on 31 May], the fallen have names, lives and families and worked in the most destitute of conditions. Our mission, like yours, is to bring dignity to our working people.”