Arab Workers Union: Appeal to Labor Unions and Civil Society Organizations

Statement by the Arab Workers Union. It has been circulated by the International Trade Union Committee in support of Palestinian Working Men and Women

Nazareth, 20 July 2014

Stop the terrorist war on Gaza!

Stop the sacking of Arab workers for showing their solidarity with the people of Gaza!

The Arab Workers Union of Nazareth calls on all civil society organisations and all progressive international trade unions throughout the world to openly take a clear position condemning the barbarous terrorist attacks carried out by the Israeli occupying forces against the population of the town of Gaza, the refugee camps, and throughout the Gaza Strip.

This area is the scene of murders on a daily basis, targeting hundreds of children, men and women. The most recent of these took place in the Shuyayia neighbourhood  and the town of Khan Yunis. The trade union calls on the international organisations, as well as on all progressive forces, political parties and trade unions, to demonstrate and strengthen their protests and solidarity with the civilians of Gaza, who are undergoing extermination.

On another level, the Arab Workers Union of the town of Nazareth has urged the progressive forces, trade unions and political parties to condemn every kind of racial discrimination suffered by the Palestinian workers (who have Israeli nationality), especially after several Israeli employers had sacked dozens of Arab workers because of their solidarity with their brothers in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, several Israeli workplaces have banned their employees from speaking Arabic to each other.

It should be noted that for more than a month now, all of the towns and villages of Galilee, the Negev region and Nazareth have witnessed big demonstrations by the people following the murder by burning alive of the child Mohammed Abu Khdair, born in Jerusalem, and also in solidarity with the people of Gaza. These popular demonstrations saw violent clashes between the demonstrators and the army and police forces, which resorted to repression in order to disperse the angry crowds. We should emphasise that the number of people detained in the 1948 zones is now over 150.

We urge all the revolutionary forces, parties and trade unions throughout the world to express their solidarity and demonstrate against the murders being committed by Israel in Gaza.

We invite all trade union comrades and friends to condemn every kind of racial discrimination against Arab workers in Israel and also to condemn the repression carried out by the Israeli police against the Palestinian demonstrators in the 1948 zones.

Nazareth, PO Box 2721, Mikod 16126

Fax: (972) 04 6001369

Mobile: (972) 0507770134

 

Note: The International Trade Union Committee in support of Palestinian working men and women was set up in December 2006 in Algiers, by trade unionists from 23 countries who participated in  an international conference in support of Palestinian Arab workers of Nazareth being  subjected to the Wisconsin Plan.

[PHOTOS] Egyptians Defy Military Regime And Show Solidarity With Gaza

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Despite Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s close collaboration with the Israeli Occupation Forces and siege of Gaza, Egyptians have staged solidarity actions across the country against Israeli aggression.

The actions have mostly been ignored by both the Egyptian and Western media, with some inside Cairo incitinghatred against Palestinians and political figures declaring “Israel is not the enemy.

July 28:  Beni Suef

July 25: Alexandria

July 25: Baltim

July 24: Imbaba

July 22: Port Said

July 19: Kerdasa

July 14: Cairo

July 12: Tanta, Gharbiya

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Israel’s Iron Dome doesn’t cover Bedouins

Dispatches from the Underclass

The Negev (Naqab) desert in the south of present-day Israel is home to 200,000 indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, known as Bedouins, most of whom arecompletely defenseless against falling rockets because the Israeli government refuses to protect their villages and denies them the right to build bomb shelters.

One of two Israeli civilians killed since Israel began its relentless bombing campaign in Gaza was 32-year-old Auda al-Wadj.

He died when a rocket fired from Gaza struck his home in Qasr al-Ser, a Bedouin village near Dimona that lacks sirens, bomb shelters and cover from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system because, according to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, the Iron Dome “does not protect agricultural areas.”  

As life in Gaza grinds to a halt amid death and destruction from Israel’s merciless bombing campaign, Israeli casualties from Palestinian rockets fired in response to Israel’s military…

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As Death Toll Surpasses 500, a Poem for Gaza

Yesterday, June 20th, saw the indiscriminate shelling of the Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh, killing at least 63, including 17 children. Jewish Voice for Peace is estimating that the total death toll in Gaza since Israel began its bombing campaign on July 8 has risen to over 500. Read Electronic Intifada’s coverage of yesterday’s atrocities (including some graphic images) here. Mondoweiss also has an article here

Medics at al-Shifa hospital mourn their colleague who was targeted and killed in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya neighbourhood earlier in the day on 20 July. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

Medics at al-Shifa hospital mourn their colleague who was targeted and killed in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya neighbourhood earlier in the day on 20 July. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

The following poem is by Nisha Bolsey, originally published on Mondoweiss:

Gaza, a Poem

“Most difficult moment for a father: split his children in all corners of the house or all in one corner and die together?” –Mohammed Omer.

I’m walking and a man says, “If the Palestinians would just love their children more than they hate their enemy, the violence would be over.”

Yes.
If only.
If only they would love their children.
If only they had chosen the four corners
(so they would die)
or kept them in the middle
(so they would die).
If only they would have brought four-day old Noura back to life.
If only they would kiss their children’s dead mouths and breathe life into them.
If only they would raise their arms to the sun to block the bombs with the palms of their hands.
If only they would dry the rivers of blood in the streets and pour them back into the hearts of their daughters and sons.
Why don’t they?
Why can’t they just pull out their own lungs and stick them into their slaughtered children’s chests?
Why can’t they just sing, 24 hours a day, louder than thunder, to prevent their ears from hearing the sound of bombs?
If only they would love their children, and carry their bodies up into the air, above the siege, past the blockade, into freedom.
If the Al-Batsh boys’ parents had really loved them,
they wouldn’t have let their insides be wrenched apart by the bomb that fell.
They would use their hands to hold their limbs together so that they could stay in one piece.
If only they would stop the vibrations which create sound,
the sound which crashes and bleeds through their children’s ears.
If only they would stop all light from traveling, so that their children wouldn’t have to see their sisters, cousins, fathers, brothers.
Dead on the floor.
Their house turning to rubble.
Their family turning to dust.
Their family turning to nothing.
Their world disappearing.
And why doesn’t their love sustain their children more than food?
Heal the wounds from the weapons?
They had seconds to leave before the bombing began.
They should have thrown their children out the window,
knowing they would take flight
with the wings their love had created.
If only they loved Mohammed, Ahed, Zakaria and Mohammed
enough
to rise above their soccer game and change
the magnetic forces of the Earth,
to pull away the bomb,
headed for the beach.

Record Number of Children Going Hungry in Orange, Ulster, & Sullivan Counties

by Steve Israel, Times Herald-Record

Monticello summer school student Mark Turner reaches for a lunch at Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School. (JOHN MEORE/Times Herald-Record)

Monticello summer school student Mark Turner reaches for a lunch at Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School.
(JOHN MEORE/Times Herald-Record)

A little boy in kindergarten is so hungry he tries to take an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the school cafeteria and slip it in his backpack — even though he’s already getting one for free.

Another little boy has such a gnawing emptiness in his belly, he can’t wait to eat the fresh tomatoes he just got at the church food pantry — so he sits down on the church steps and chomps away.

Then there’s the child who’s too ashamed to tell the people handing out the food at a free meals program that his family doesn’t have enough at home. So he keeps saying he’s not hungry because he wants to bring the lunch home.

A record number of children in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties are hungry, and these examples are just a few of them. Forty-one thousand public school children in the three counties — nearly half of all students — must rely on our schools to do what many of us take for granted — eat.

This means that nearly one of every two children needs the help of free or reduced-price meals in our schools. That’s an increase of 12 percent, or some 4,400 students, from just five years ago.

Hunger is so common that nurses routinely stock crackers, peanut butter and juices for hungry kids. Backpacks full of food are handed out on weekends because kids just don’t have enough food at home — even in an affluent district like Warwick.

All of which means that for thousands of local kids and their parents, the Great Recession is far from over.

“It means the recession is only over for rich people,” says Eileen Goodman, director of food service for the Middletown School District, where three-quarters of the students receive free or reduced-price meals.

It isn’t only urban districts like Middletown, Monticello or Newburgh that have scores of hungry kids. Suburban districts, like Chester, have seen the amount of needy children rise, from about 20 percent five years ago, to nearly one-third of all kids today. Even tiny, rural Eldred in Sullivan County has had the percentage of its hungry children soar, from about 1 in 4 in 2009 to one-third of all students today.

Nowhere to eat

When summer arrives and schools close, many of these hungry kids have nowhere to eat.

So if they don’t go to summer school, they must rely on the federal Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by local school districts, often in partnership with area nonprofits like the YMCA.

Even as the number of needy kids soars, that summer program doesn’t come close to feeding all of the hungry children. Less than one-quarter of all needy kids in our region who eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year are able to take advantage of the program. This is despite the fact the number of local sites has more than doubled in the past four years, from 22 to 55 — and a district like Monticello serves some 4,000 breakfasts and lunches per day at rural sites in Bethel and Forestburgh and more urban spots in Monticello.

“It still isn’t enough,” says Michelle Golden of the statewide anti-hunger organization Hunger Solutions.

One big reason the Summer Food Service Program doesn’t reach the majority of our hungry kids is that a school district must have at least 50 percent of its students receiving free and reduced-price meals to be eligible.

So, if you’re poor and happen to live in a rural area without a summer food site – and you don’t have transportation to a neighboring district with one – you’re out of luck – and food.

That’s why a program in a sprawling, needy district like Monticello can serve those 4,000 kids. It can bus kids in out-of-the-way district spots to its various sites.

“If it wasn’t for this program, kids wouldn’t be eating,” says Melinda Gwiordowksi, who oversees the Monticello School District/Middletown YMCA summer meals program at the Town of Thompson Park in Sullivan County, which feeds 275 kids, many of whom had never seen vegetables like broccoli or beets before the program.

Getting those kids to eat those vegetables (often chopped up in salads) is another reason the program is so worthwhile, says Monticello Food Service Director Andy Yeomans.

Food stamps cuts hurt

The need is especially acute, say child hunger advocates, since SNAP benefits — or food stamps — were last year reduced by about $10 per person per month for a family of three. Plus, many summer school programs that would normally serve lunch have been cut, thanks to slashed budgets. And those close to the programs, like Chris Brinckerhoff, assistant superintendent of Middletown’s Parks and Recreation Department, say they’re still feeding many children of working families who just don’t make enough money to pay all their bills and have enough to spend on the food that’s provided by schools the rest of the year.

This is why U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are proposing a law that would lower the threshold for summer meals program eligibility from 50 percent of the children receiving free and reduced meals to 40 percent.

It would also increase transportation in rural districts, reduce paperwork for public-private partnerships to offer the meals and provide an evening meal for kids in evening programs.

“Every child that is hungry should have food year-round,” said Gillibrand, who appears at the Town of Thompson Park Monday to promote the bills.

Bill won’t change reality

Still, even if that bill — part of the proposed Child Nutrition Act — does what countless others haven’t and clears a bitterly divided Congress, it still won’t come close to changing a reality that is as hard and unforgiving as the piece of plywood atop a bathtub that one hungry child must call a bed, according to Alexis Eggleton, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Town of Wallkill:

Too many kids are hungry.

Kids like the little boy who comes to Academy Avenue Park in Middletown with a shopping bag so he can get several boxes of Golden Grahams cereal and chocolate milk for him and his family.

Or the toddlers — maybe 3 and 4 years old — whose grandma brings them to the Newburgh pool every summer day, just so they can nibble on a turkey sandwich.

“No child should be hungry in this country,” says Eggleton, whose organization serves 60,000 meals per year to needy kids. “But we notice that more and more of them are.”

sisrael@th-record.com

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How to qualify as a summer food site

The most common way to become eligible is to prove that the location where meals are served is in a high-need area. These are the criteria:

• At least 50 percent of the students in the school district serving the area must qualify for free or reduced price school meals.

• An area or organization in the area may also qualify if it meets certain census data. To see if your area qualifies, go online and search for “Summer Food Target Mapper.”

• If a location doesn’t meet the above criteria, there is still a chance to serve summer food – as long as the organization, such as a camp or summer program, is serving low-income kids and can prove at least 50 percent of those kids qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

To see if you qualify for free or reduced price meals, contact your school district.

To volunteer at a summer program, call the meal site or visit hungersolutionsny.org

Through Lens, 4 Boys Dead by Gaza Shore

by Tyler Hicks, The New York Times

The aftermath of an airstrike on a beach in Gaza City on Wednesday. Four young Palestinian boys, all cousins, were killed. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

The aftermath of an airstrike on a beach in Gaza City on Wednesday. Four young Palestinian boys, all cousins, were killed. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

GAZA CITY — My day here began at 6 a.m. Photographing something as unpredictable as war still has a routine.

It is important to be out the door at first light to document the destruction of the last night’s bombings. By midmorning, I check in at the hospital’s morgue to see if families have come to pick up the dead for burial.

When the routine is broken, it is because things can go horribly wrong in an instant. That is how it happened in Libya in 2011, when three colleagues and I were taken captive by government soldiers and our driver was killed.

On Wednesday, that sudden change of fortune came to four young Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza City.

I had returned to my small seaside hotel around 4 p.m. to file photos to New York when I heard a loud explosion. My driver and I rushed to the window to see what had happened. A small shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke, running toward the adjacent beach.

I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when, about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with three other boys who had been playing there.

By the time I reached the beach, I was winded from running with my heavy armor. I paused; it was too risky to go onto the exposed sand. Imagine what my silhouette, captured by an Israeli drone, might look like as a grainy image on a laptop somewhere in Israel: wearing body armor and a helmet, carrying cameras that could be mistaken for weapons. If children are being killed, what is there to protect me, or anyone else?

I watched as a group of people ran to the children’s aid. I joined them, running with the feeling that I would find safety in numbers, though I understood that feeling could be deceptive: Crowds can make things worse. We arrived at the scene to find lifeless, mangled bodies. The boys were beyond help. They had been killed instantly, and the people who had rushed to them were shocked and distraught.

Earlier in the day, I had photographed the funeral for a man and a 12-year-old boy. They had been killed when a bomb hit the car in which they were riding south of Gaza City, severely injuring an older woman with them.

There is no safe place in Gaza right now. Bombs can land at any time, anywhere.

A small metal shack with no electricity or running water on a jetty in the blazing seaside sun does not seem like the kind of place frequented by Hamas militants, the Israel Defense Forces’ intended targets. Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas fighters, either.

Hudson Valley Lawmakers Greenlight Israel’s War on Gaza as Death Toll Tops 170

As Israel’s assault on Gaza enters its seventh day, with more than 170 dead and over 1,000 injured, the national officeholders representing the Hudson Valley have nearly all chosen to defend Israel and put the onus of the escalating tragedy on the backs of Palestinians. Hudson Valley representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (NY’s 18th district) and Chris Gibson (NY’s 19th district) both sponsored House Resolution 657, which “reaffirms its [the House’s] support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel…” What’s shocking about H.R. 657 is not that it passed—it should no longer come as a surprise that the United States is willing to defend Israel, its imperial partner, at all costs—but that it passed “by unanimous consent, and without debate,” as the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation wrote earlier today.

Hudson Valley lawmakers consider the bombing of Gaza to be an act of "self-defense"

Hudson Valley lawmakers consider the bombing of Gaza to be an act of “self-defense”

Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is currently one of 41 co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 498, which mostly has similar wording as the House document, with one important exception—it goes one step further by openly calling on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas…” This is critical because it is precisely this unity government that Israel has been so fearful of ever since it was formed last month, so fearful in fact that it chose to use the deaths of three Israeli teenagers to target the entire Hamas organization and subsequently begin the bombing campaign that is assaulting Gaza at this very moment. If Israel is using bombs to convince Abbas to break the unity government, the US Senate would be adding to that salvo with this piece of legislation. It’s shameful that it already has 41 co-sponsors, including our very own senator from New York, and it would be even more shameful if it passes.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has a page outlining several actions you could take to voice your opposition to these resolutions, including signing their online petition,making phone calls, writing letters, and arranging a meeting with elected officials during their August recess. We all know that direct action gets the goods too, but given Israel’s reliance on US support in high places, dissent among members of congress could have a tangible positive impact for folks in Palestine.