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Statement of Opposition to Divestment From or Boycotts of Israel

We view with increasing concern the phenomenon of trade unions in a number of countries, including, most recently, the United Kingdom, issuing resolutions that either directly or indirectly call for divestment from and boycotts of Israel.

With the large number of local, regional and international conflicts, with the diverse range of oppressive regimes around the world about which there is almost universal silence, we have to question the motives of these resolutions that single out one country in one conflict.

We note with increasing concern that virtually all of these resolutions focus solely on objections to actions or policies of the Israeli government, and never on actions or policies of Palestinian or other Arab governments, parties or movements. We notice with increasing concern that characterization of the Palestinians as victims and Israel as victimizer is a staple of such resolutions. That there are victims and victimizers on all sides, and that many if not most of the victims of violence and repression on all sides are civilians, are essential items often not mentioned in these resolutions.

Any just and fair resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be brought about through meaningful negotiations between their elected representatives. We believe strongly in a two-state solution, brought about through meaningful negotiations, with the involvement and encouragement of the world community.

Trade unionists and their organizations seeking such a just and fair resolution should be assisting those working to bring the two sides together in direct talks and then negotiations. In this regard, we call for increased engagement of trade unions with their counterparts on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We support efforts of Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and their organizations to maintain contact and cooperative and mutually supportive activities, even in the midst of tumult and political change within their respective communities and polities.

Calls for academic boycotts of Israel are inimical to and counter to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of association, key principles for which academics and educational unions have struggled over many years. Rather than limiting interactions with Israeli educators, academics and educational institutions, we see the importance of maximizing, rather than proscribing, the free flow of ideas and academic interaction between peoples, cultures, religions and countries.

Similarly, calls for journalistic boycotts of Israel are inimical to the free flow of information and journalistic objectivity, and must be opposed.

Rather than divestment from Israel, we believe that investment of time, energy and material aid is the best means to alleviate the ongoing suffering of Palestinians and Israelis. Engagement, rather than disengagement, with the Israeli people and the Palestinian people is needed, so that a just and fair resolution of this conflict may be pursued, and so that meaningful progress towards achieving the legitimate needs of Palestinians and Israelis can be made.

We offer our support to assist trade unionists as well as interested members of the community-at-large who are grappling with these matters, and who share our concern over simplistic and non-constructive approaches, whether in the form of misguided resolutions or other statements on the tragic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Stuart Appelbaum
President, Jewish Labor Committee
President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union / UFCW

Edward J. McElroy
Secretary, Jewish Labor Committee
President, American Federation of Teachers

Morton Bahr
Treasurer, Jewish Labor Committee

John J. Sweeney
President, AFL-CIO

Anna Burger
Chair, Change to Win

Clayola Brown
President, A. Philip Randolph Institute

Timothy A. Brown
International President, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots / ILA

R. Thomas Buffenbarger
International President,
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

William Burrus
President, American Postal Workers Union

James Clark
International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers-Communications Workers of America

Larry Cohen
President, Communications Workers of America

Barbara J. Easterling
Secretary-Treasurer, Communications Workers of America

Patrick D. Finley
General President
Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association of the United States and Canada

John J. Flynn
President, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers

John Gage
President, American Federation of Government Employees

Leo W. Gerard
International President
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union

Ron Gettelfinger
United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union

Michael Goodwin
President, Office and Professional Employees International Union

Larry V. Gregoire
President, International Chemical Workers Union Council / UFCW

James A. Grogan
General President, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers

Don M. Hahs
National President, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / IBT

Joseph T. Hansen
International President, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

Edwin D. Hill
International President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

William P. Hite
General President
United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada

James P. Hoffa
General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Joseph J. Hunt
General President
International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers

Frank Hurt
International President
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union

Louis Lacarbonara
President, Italian-American Labor Council

D. Michael Langford
National President
Utility Workers Union of America

Thomas F. Lee
President, American Federation of Musicians

Jill S. Levy
President, American Federation of School Administrators

James C. Little
International President, Transport Workers Union of America

William Lucy
President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Douglas J. McCarron
General President, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners

Gerald W. McEntee
President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Bruce S. Raynor
General President, UNITE HERE

Cecil E. Roberts
President, United Mine Workers of America

Michael Sacco
President, Seafarers International Union of North America

Robert A. Scardelletti
International President, Transportation Communications Union / IAM

Michael J. Sullivan
General President, Sheet Metal Workers International Association

George Tedeschi
President, Graphic Communications International Union / IBT

Patric M. Verrone
President, Writers Guild of America, West

Reg Weaver
President, National Education Association

James A. Williams
General President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

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