Labor Action Against Israeli Apartheid!

In response to calls from Palestinian trade unions for international labor solidarity in the wake of the murderous Zionist attack on the Gaza aid flotilla three weeks ago, dock workers in several countries have pledged to "hot cargo" (i.e., refuse to handle) Israeli goods and ships. Norwegian dockers are carrying out a boycott of Israeli cargo between 15 and 29 June, while the Swedish Dock Workers Union has announced a blockade of Israeli ships between 22 and 29 June. (It had earlier planned a boycott from 15 to 24 June.) Dock workers in South Africa and Malaysia have also indicated they will be carrying out similar actions in the coming weeks.

Such tangible solidarity from organized labor points the way forward! Consumer boycotts are at best a secondary tactic, and demands for "divestment" can promote dangerous illusions in the possibility of persuading transnational corporations to "do the right thing." Even worse is the attempt to beg imperialist states — which have consistently backed Israel through its worst crimes — to somehow change their spots and become forces for human progress. International labor action, by contrast, offers a real solution. Workers have the power to make "business as usual" impossible for the racist Israeli ruling class.

On 14 June, the San Francisco Labor Council (SFLC) adopted a resolution condemning the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla and took note of the Swedish and Norwegian dockers' solidarity actions, but stopped short of endorsing similar tactics. The SFLC bureaucrats instead called for "an independent international investigation," to be carried out presumably by the imperialist-dominated United Nations. The resolution was then passed on to Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama, who continue to be the most important backers of the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Zionist state.

Israel's aggression has generated considerable anger among workers in the Bay Area and beyond. The "Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine" is organizing a mass picket in opposition to the scheduled arrival of an Israeli Zim Lines ship beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, 20 June at Berth 57 in the Port of Oakland. Berth 57 is operated by SSA, which has taken control of the privatized Port of Basra in occupied Iraq, and has long been a site of struggle against oppression. In November 2003, Oakland cops, after meeting with representatives from SSA and California Homeland Security, fired wooden dowels and rubber bullets at antiwar demonstrators and longshoremen. More than 20 people were arrested, including ILWU Local 10 Business Agent Jack Heyman, who was attending in response to a call for union representation by longshoremen.

The slogans for the action against the Zim Lines ship are:

Protest Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla!
Boycott Israeli ships and goods!
Lift the blockade Now — Let Gaza Live!
Bring down Israel's apartheid wall!

The International Bolshevik Tendency calls on workers and activists to participate in the mass picket on Sunday, 20 June.

Posted: 18 June 2010