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US Union Leaders: We Support the Fight for Democracy in Israel

4web Statement on General Strike in Israel March 27 2023.jpg

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and President of the Jewish Labor Committee, and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Secretary of the Jewish Labor Committee, made the following statement today:

“We strongly back the General Strike called by the Israeli trade union movement Histadrut and by the Israeli universities in defense of democracy in Israel. We stand ready to support our trade union allies in Israel in any way we can – and all those who are fighting for democracy there — to ensure an independent judiciary and human and civil rights for all.

“It’s heartening that the Histadrut, an institution that has sustained the Israeli people and the Israeli economy since the country’s founding, made the decision it did. We commend Histadrut President Arnon Bar-David for his statements and his action. All trade unionists know that it is nothing but an illusion that unions can cooperate with an autocratic government while retaining their independent power. This hasn’t happened anywhere in the world.

“Similarly, education and learning can only thrive in a free environment. Israel boasts some of the leading institutions of higher education in the world, but without democracy, these universities will wither. We applaud the leadership shown by the university presidents whose aim is to ensure that the pursuit of knowledge will be shielded by the pursuit of democracy.

“The leaders of the protests against the judicial coup have kept the promise of democracy alive for 12 plus weeks. Hailing from civil society along with individuals who have broken their normal routines to put all their energy into this struggle, their stamina and determination have been something to behold. Their commitment and their leadership are inspirations not only for the Israeli people, but for everyone around the world who cares about –and cherishes—democracy.

“For both of us, this struggle in Israel is also very personal. We have stood by and in Israel during times of war, and with hopes for peace. Now, with Israel in a war for democracy, we are locking arms with the people of Israel once again.”