A step forward for the American Trade Unions

Yossi Schwartz ISL (RCIT section in  Israel/Occupied Palestine), 17.05.2024

The University of California Trade Union affiliated with the Union of Auto Workers authorized strike in response to treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters on its 10 campuses. The administration called on the police to break the UC Berkeley’s encampment and did nothing to prevent the violent attack by organized pro Zionist goons last month. Police officers attacked pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) on May 15, 2024

The majority vote Wednesday by the UC union, which represents 48,000 academic student employees and researchers. The vote is the first by any labor union over Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian and war.

The war of Israel on Gaza and the genocide and the ethnic cleansing is not new but the continuation of the Nakba from 1948 through the years until this war on Gaza. In 1948 the Zionist state used ethnic cleansing and removed between 700,000 to 900,000 Palestinians from their country, murdered 15,000 Palestinians and destroyed 500 villages. After the war of 1948 Israel’s first ambassador to the U.S announced that taking back Palestinian refugees would mean “suicide” for Israel. This statement   points to a key factor from 1948 that was not addressed openly until this war on Gaza, and is essential to understanding the roots of the genocide committed by the Zionist today. The reality is that without ethnically cleansing the Palestinian population in areas set aside for the establishment of a Jewish state by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan—which gave the majority of the land in Palestine to a minority population of Jews—it would never have been possible to establish a distinctly and ethnically Jewish state. It is also important to realize that the ethnic cleansing has continued before, during and after Zionist wars. Israel has continued to violently expel Palestinians from their homes and steal Palestinian land for the use of Jewish Israelis, both inside Israel’s internationally recognized borders and in the Palestinian territories occupied by the Israeli military since 1967 (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza). This is known to Palestinians as the Ongoing Nakba.

In August 1953, Israeli forces led by Ariel Sharon  attacked al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza and killed at least 50 Palestinians. Also under Sharon’s command, an Israeli unit raided the West Bank town of Qibya in October 1953, killing sixty-nine men, women, and children. In March 1954, Israeli forces attacked the West Bank village of Nahalin , destroying seven houses, including the village mosque, and killing five Palestinian national guardsmen, three members of Transjordanian Arab Legion , and a Palestinian woman. Throughout 1955 and 1956, Israel launched a number of large-scale attacks on the Gaza Strip, the first of which, in February 1955, took the lives of thirty-eight Palestinians. Still, the Palestinians fedayeen continued their resistance, and in 1955 the Egyptian government began to supervise the training of fedayeen operating out of Gaza and the eastern Sinai

On 29 October 1956, in an attempt to preempt the involvement of Palestinian and Jordanian fighters from the West Bank, Israel imposed a curfew over seven villages, including Kafr Qasim , in the border region known as the Triangle, to begin at 5 p.m. Having not received notice of the curfew starting time until they were already at work, many villagers hastily returned to the village but arrived after curfew and were shot on sight by the Israeli Border Police. In total, 48 Palestinian villagers were murdered, including 6 women and 23 children. On 3 November, under the cover of war, Israeli forces killed 275 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. After fighting had ended, Israeli forces killed another 110 Palestinians in Rafah Gaza–Egypt border. During its withdrawal from the Sinai, the Israeli military also destroyed infrastructure in the areas it had occupied. In 1967 Israel expelled 300,000 Palestinians

Thus, all the wars of Israel are the continue of the war of 1948 driven by the Zionist nature of the Israeli society as settler colonialists regardless of the stage of its capitalist development. Israel is the last state of this kind. In the past US, Australia, New Zeeland, Algeria, Canada, Rhodesia and South Africa were od the same type as Israel.

UC Berkeley’s encampment, like several others across the country, dismantled in exchange for administrators agreeing to explore divestment options — an example of recent dealmaking that has been harshly criticized by some Zionist groups for imposing no he Jewish students.

The university also placed on leave less than 24 hours after agreeing to protester demands to boycott and divest from Israeli institutions the president of Sonoma State University — part of the separate California State University.

“The UC system’s chief investments officer placed a dollar amount on what he said would be the cost of the university fully acquiescing to protesters’ divestment demands. The price tag would come to $32 billion of the system’s total $175 billion portfolio, or more than 18% of its total, according to Jagdeep Singh Bachher. The tally reflected student demands to divest from companies like Coca-Cola and Disney alongside disentangling from weapons manufacturers.”[i]

Labor unions, including ones representing educators in California and beyond, have sounded off on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past, and some have called for Israel boycotts. But union advocates celebrated the UC union’s vote as an important step forward in both pro-Palestinian activism and the labor movement. A step in the direction of breaking from the imperialist democratic party. 

Obstinate institutions can resist protests, and call out the police to disperse them, but that resistance is less effective against strikes, for the simple reason that the strikers are also the workers who make the very same institutions run,” the writer Hamilton Nolan noted in the pro-labor publication In These Times this week in advance of the vote. He added, “The universe has teed up a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate the way that organized labor power can be used to accomplish broader political goals.”[ii]


[i] https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/article-801501

[ii] Ibid

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