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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 by comparison.

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 of Palestine.

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 the world.

In solidarity,

Willie Madisha,
President, Congress of South African Trade Unions

 

See also:
CUPE Ontario
A reply to B'nai Brith's "Manifesto Denouncing CUPE-Ontario's Boycott of Israel"

 

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