#BDS: Open Letter from U.S. Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Boycott Apartheid Israel
Dear Brother Trumka:
As labor and anti-apartheid activists, we strongly disagree with your October 27 speech denouncing the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The BDS campaign was initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society — including its entire labor movement. Inspired by the international boycott that helped topple apartheid South Africa, it demands Palestinian self-determination, including an end to Israeli military occupation, the right of refugees to return to the land from which they have been ethnically cleansed since the Nakba of 1947-1948, and equal rights for all throughout historic Palestine.
Support for BDS has grown rapidly, especially since December 27, 2008, when Israel broke a truce with the democratically-elected Palestinian government and attacked Gaza. In the resulting massacre, Israel killed more than 1400 Palestinians, hundreds of them children; maimed and wounded thousands more; and utterly devastated Gaza’s infrastructure, including the Gaza headquarters of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions.
In the best tradition of labor solidarity, South African and Australian dockworkers responded by refusing to handle Israeli cargo, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) “call[ed] on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free.”