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international solidarity

Solidarity Forever: Building Movements Amid Today’s Crises

Popular Enforcement of International Law from Vietnam to Gaza

Unions Must Go Beyond Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

By Jeff Schuhrke - Jacobin, February 13, 2024

Four months into Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza that has killed over twenty-eight thousand Palestinians, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) — the US labor federation whose member unions represent 12.5 million workers — issued a statement on February 8 urging a negotiated cease-fire to end the violence.

The move came after over two hundred US unions and labor bodies — including national unions like the United Electrical Workers (UE), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), United Auto Workers (UAW), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), National Nurses United (NNU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Education Association (NEA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — had already made cease-fire calls of their own. Many unions, especially at the local level, have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement.

With the backing of the AFL-CIO and the nation’s two largest unions (NEA and SEIU), support for a cease-fire is now the mainstream position of the American labor movement. Given US labor officialdom’s history of providing substantial political and material aid to the state of Israel — along with its frequent partnering with US empire (which I examine in my forthcoming book, Blue Collar Empire) — this is a remarkable development highlighting the power of rank-and-file organizing to push union leaders on critical issues, and signaling the possibility of building a more internationalist labor movement.

Now, the task for rank-and-file members who successfully organized to get their unions to issue cease-fire statements increasingly is to translate that commitment into concrete action to stop what the International Court of Justice considers Israel’s plausible acts of genocide. Across the US labor movement, networks of pro-Palestine workers are continuing to organize to get their unions to cut economic ties with Israel, put pressure on political candidates and elected officials, and interrupt the flow of union-made weapons and research to the Israeli military.

Deep Organizing Against Genocide: Palestine and Rooted Social Movements

By staff - Black Rose, January 29, 2024

In this article several members of Black Rose / Rosa Negra offer reflections on their efforts to bring the fight for Palestinian liberation into their long term organizing efforts. Throughout, an emphasis is made on the distinction between temporary mobilization and an orientation toward sustained organizing in sites of everyday life—our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods.

Introduction

More than 100 days into Israel’s genocidal assault on the people of Palestine and in turn some of the most vigorous anti-war mobilization in over a decade, so many of us who have been out in the streets have asked: What will it take to actually stop the US war machine? 

Reflecting on the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq, it’s clear it takes more than marching from point A to point Band even more than scattered direct actions like taking over highways, occupying politicians’ offices, or minor vandalism. Coming out into the streets, pouring our energy into actions, escalating to risk arrest, disrupting business as usual, and then feeling exhausted and defeated is a common cycle in the anti-war movement and in every struggle.

Many of us in Black Rose / Rosa Negra (BRRN) first came to the organization because we had grown tired of the cyclical nature of activism. We were reacting to crises just to end back up where we started, only with depleted morale and fewer resources. We wanted to find ways to gather and sustain momentum, retain historical memory, tend to the needs of movement participants, and build leverage to win fights in the here and nowall to the ends of pushing toward a revolutionary rupture. This is one reason why BRRN prioritizes rooted movement-building where we live, work, and study and thus seek to move away from a focus on single-issue campaigns and activist subcultures.

Admittedly, because we are still in the early stages of re-building fighting social movements, it can make mobilizing around emergencies like the genocide in Palestine slower. This is in part because we are organizing with heterogeneous groups of people and trying, for example, to bring our coworkers to actions, rather than to mobilize other radicals or activists. We believe that this approach will ultimately be more effective because we are building lasting organization in rooted sites of everyday struggle that can respond swiftly to future struggles as well. We seek to do the organizing work of bringing new people into social movements and the political work of bringing them toward organized anarchism, so that there will be more prepared militants down the line. We know that organized, rather than simply mobilized, political struggle is far more effective in challenging imperialism in moments of crisis.

Our approach often flies under the radar. For one, it prioritizes acting in broader social movement spaces as co-equal participants, rather than placing an emphasis on ensuring our brand as a political organization is visible on every call for mobilization or protest sign. While we also organize and participate in large marches and other actions, believing that they are necessary component of any social movement struggle, these are not the core of what we focus on. Because of the aforementioned lack of visibility, combined with how important we think this organizing model is for actually building power, we want to highlight some of the less visible work that our membership is engaged in around Palestine solidarity.

This is not to show how to do things “the right way”, but to show how in a variety of different contexts we can all do the basicand often very modest but necessarywork of building the foundations of movements so that we end up with more comrades, power, and solidarity than we started with. At the end of a lot of Palestine solidarity marches, the speakers make calls to go out and keep organizing because marches alone can’t stop Israel’s genocidal attackthis is objectively true, but it’s often unclear what that can look like, particularly for rank-and-file militants outside of the professionalized NGO and union bureaucracy systems. So what could these next steps look like? Here are some examples of what members of Black Rose / Rosa Negra have found success with.

UAW President EXPERTLY DISMANTLES Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Labor unions are making unprecedented calls for a ceasefire in Gaza: Unions are figuring out what comes next after taking a public stand against the apartheid State of Israel’s genocide in Gaza

By Laura Weiss - Prism, January 22, 2024

Before dawn broke on Jan. 14, hundreds of labor organizers and activists convened at the Port of Oakland for a protest to prevent ships carrying weapons bound for Israel from leaving the docks. Activists from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which co-organized the event, kept the momentum going all day. In the afternoon, 200 workers reportedly refused to cross the picket line to help load the ships. 

“The labor movement has the power to disrupt supply chains,” said Zachary Valdez, a union steward with United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110 based in New York. “Workers can shut everything down.”

The action was an impressive show of solidarity between the labor movement and the Palestinian cause, one of a number of actions in the Bay Area and across the country co-organized or supported by unions in recent months, including teach-ins and other civil disobedience efforts.

Since the October attacks on the apartheid State of Israel by Hamas, the political and military organization that governs Gaza, Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians in Gaza, and the Israel Defense Forces has destroyed critical infrastructure, including electricity, hospitals, and the internet, shut off access to water, and purposefully created famine conditions. This has prompted a sea change in public opinion on Israel, with two-thirds of Americans saying they support a ceasefire in Gaza, all while the U.S. government continues to send billions of U.S. military aid to Israel. 

Within the labor movement, hundreds of unions and union locals have responded to a call from Palestinian labor unions and signed resolutions calling for a ceasefire, even those whose leadership has historically supported Israel. On Dec. 1, UAW, one of the largest unions in the country, made history when it released a ceasefire statement. Other influential unions, such as the United Electrical Workers, American Postal Workers Union, and 1199SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East), and countless other smaller unions have also released similar statements. On Jan. 22, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the second-largest public service employees union in the country, also released a call for a ceasefire. 

“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,” reads the petition signed by UAW and hundreds of other union locals.

Labor activists say the increasing number of unions supporting this call is a big deal. 

800+ Organizations Globally Sign On To Letter Supporting South Africa’s Genocide Case Against the State of Israel

By staff - La Via Campesina, January 10, 2024

The newly-formed International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) issued a sign-on letter* on January 3, 2024 that garnered over 800 organizational endorsements from around the world in less than one week. In addition to the initiating organizations noted here, signing organizations represent broad social movements, including World March of Women and the International People’s Assembly, Palestinian-led and Palestinian solidarity movements such as Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Palestinian NGO Network, as well as human rights and legal groups, unions, and religious organizations of all faiths. La Via Campesina is also among the signatories.

“It is important for La Via Campesina to support the South African initiative. What is happening in Palestine is an atrocity. In particular, the use of starvation as a weapon of war is part of a strategy of genocide that we need to denounce. The expulsion of farmers and land grabs in Gaza as well as the West Bank, is also part of a strategy of ethnic cleansing,” said Morgan Ody of the Confédération Paysanne (France) and General Coordinator of La Vía Campesina International. “La Via Campesina calls upon the governments of the world, and in particular progressive governments and those in the Global South, to do everything in their power to stop Israel’s apartheid and colonization. Those governments have the responsibility to coordinate their efforts in order to ensure a future for Palestine and for all Palestinian people, and to make sure that those responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity are held accountable.”

The coalition letter urges all signing organizations to press their “governments to immediately file a Declaration of Intervention in support of the South African case against Israel at the International Court of Justice to stop the killing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” So far, Malaysia and Turkiye, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 member countries on four continents, have publicly supported South Africa’s case. Jordan reports that it intends to take the more legally substantive step of submitting a Declaration of Intervention. Members of ICGSP are working closely with a number of other countries that are in the process of doing the same.

“The South African filing before the ICJ marks a critical juncture which tests the global will to salvage the laws and systems which were designed to safeguard not merely human rights; but to preserve humanity itself,” emphasizes Lamis Deek, co-founder of The Global Legal Alliance for Palestine and the PAL Commission on War Crimes. “Genocide is the highest crime and none has been so publicly documented as the Israeli Genocide in Palestine. The sincerity of states’ commitment to the principles of the Geneva and Genocide Conventions is now under heavy scrutiny. The very least states can do is to submit Declarations of Intervention as a small part of fulfilling their obligations under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention, to assure their people—and humanity—that they have lost neither their moral compass nor abdicated their obligations under international law.

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