South African trade union congress
supports CUPE boycott of Israel
June 6, 2006
From: President, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
To: President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario
Date: 6 June 2006
Brother Sid Ryan,
On behalf of over 1.2 million South African workers organized under
the banner of COSATU I greet you in the name of worker internationalism.
It is this solidarity, since the formation of the very first union
and across space and time, often in the face of harsh repression,
that provided vital moral succour and allowed workers to strengthen
their resolve against oppression and exploitation.
In this spirit and with great pride, I congratulate CUPE Ontario
for their historic resolution on May 27th in support of the Palestinian
people - those living under occupation and those millions of Palestinian
refugees living in the Diaspora. We fully support your resolution.
As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited
Palestine I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state.
In fact, I believe that some of Israel's actions against the Palestinians
make the actions of South Africa's apartheid regime appear pale
The latest outrage by the apartheid Israeli regime - the construction
of the hideous Apartheid Wall - condemned by the International Court
of Justice - extends the occupation of Palestinian lands, disrupts
the already precarious economic, social, health and educational
wellbeing of an entire people and entrenches the Bantustanization
When the governments of the world turn a blind eye to these injustices;
when they are seduced by apartheid Israel's justification of brutality
through the pretext of "security"; when they silence criticism
of state terror through the canard of "anti-Semitism"
- then it is time for the global workers movement to stand firm
and principled against hypocrisy and double standards. We cannot
remain silent any longer. It is time to stand in word and in deed
with the peoples of the Middle East and heed their call to support
the struggle against occupation. There will be no peace in this
region and in the world, without justice.
Despite the action of some Western governments and big business,
workers and democrats of the world, including the citizens of Canada,
heeded our call when we struggled against apartheid. Boycotts, disinvestments
and sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa hastened
our march to democracy. Why should it be different for Palestinians?
In the face of an intransigent, arrogant, racist and brutal Israeli
state, this strategy of isolation - particularly since the vast
majority of Palestinians support it - should be applied to Israel
as well. It is a peaceful option.
South African workers will never forget the support given by the
Israeli state to the apartheid South African regime. In the same
way we will never forget the thousands of acts of solidarity of
ordinary citizens around the world who sustained our struggle through
the boycott weapon.
COSATU supports the demand that apartheid Israel must respect and
implement all resolutions passed by the United Nations; that the
right of return of Palestinian refugees must not be compromised;
that Israel respects the democratically-elected government of Palestine;
and that Palestinian taxes collected by Israel must be returned
to the elected representatives of Palestine unconditionally.
Those supporting the ideology of Zionism and the pro-Israeli lobby
will muster their substantial resources against you. Despite these
pressures, we ask you not to doubt for a single moment the correctness
of your just stand. We salute the courage and vision of CUPE Ontario's
leadership and members in unanimously passing resolution 50. Your
unwavering resolve inspires us, we who lived through decades of
apartheid oppression, as it will undoubtedly inspire and endear
you to millions of Palestinian and other freedom-loving people throughout
of South African Trade Unions
reply to B'nai Brith's "Manifesto Denouncing CUPE-Ontario's
Boycott of Israel"
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