Gush Shalom, An appeal to world labor about the Gaza War


An appeal to labor unions – and anyone
who cares about what happens in Gaza

by Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Movement

The United States has a long-standing policy of providing Israel with massive amounts of military aid (which incidentally provides enormous profits to the American armament industries). This was greatly expanded and intensified since the outbreak of the current war in Gaza.

The constant flow of munitions from the United States – and to a lesser degree, from other Western countries – is completely indispensable for Israel to sustain its war. Israel’s own armament industry could in no way provide for a massive bombing campaign, in which Israel in a few months threw far more bombs on a very narrow and overcrowded strip of land than what the US itself did over years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Supplying arms to Israel has been traditionally justified as “helping Israel defend itself” and anyone objecting to it was castigated as “wanting Israelis to be exposed to danger”‘. However, the war which Israel launched – ostensibly as a response to the deadly Hamas attack on Israeli communities and military outposts on October 7, 2023 – was soon revealed to have not the slightest resemblance to any kind of “self defense,” and it was never meant to be such.

Rather, it is a completely unrestrained rampage, an orgy of killing and wanton destruction. Under a constant barrage of enormous one-ton bombs – of which a constant supply is provided to Israel by the boatload – schools, universities, mosques (and some churches), libraries, public buildings of any kind and most of the private houses in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or greatly damaged. The city of Gaza was left in ruins, as were many smaller towns and villages. Thirty thousand Palestinians were killed, including more than ten thousand children, and the death toll continues to rise. A million and half people were driven out of their homes, to live in horrifying conditions under the open sky.

The International Court in the Hague, the highest tribunal set up to deal with violations of International Law, met to hear South Africa’s charge that Israel’s acts in the Gaza Strip may culminate in actual genocide – the most terrible of all crimes. Sixteen out of eighteen judges – prominent jurists of various countries and backgrounds – were united in taking very seriously the danger of genocide in the Gaza Strip. Specifically, The Interantional Court found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and issued six provisional measures: ordering Israel to take all steps within its power to prevent genocidal acts, including preventing and punishing incitement to genocide, ensuring aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza, and preserving evidence of crimes committed in Gaza.

The response of Israeli civil and military leaders was to make preparations for an all-out assault on the city of Rafah – the very place to which Israel had driven, in earlier stages of the war, a million and half Gazans displaced from their homes. Israeli leaders persist in making preparations for such an assault on Rafah, even though Israel’s own allies warn that this may lead to a terrible carnage and an untold humanitarian disaster. Yet President Biden’s making such dire predictions has not made him stop the constant supply of arms and munitions to Israel.

It was under these terrible circumstances that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) issued an urgent appeal calling on “trade unions in relevant industries” to refuse to build weapons destined for Israel as well as refusing to transport such weapons. Some unions in various countries did respond to that call. For example, five Belgian transport unions issued a joint statement saying they were refusing to load or unload arms shipments heading to the war zone, and the Barcelona dock workers’ union announced that it “would not permit activity, in our port, of ships containing war materiel,” and called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

We Israeli citizens and activists in political organizations who are shocked and horrified by the acts of the Israeli government and armed forces and who want to see a future of brotherhood between Israelis and Palestinians, regard the above acts by Belgian and Catalan trade unions as an appropriate and praiseworthy response to the terrible carnage in Gaza. We call on all other trade unions worldwide to emulate that example, refuse to build weapons intended for Israel and to load or unload such weapons.


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