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Related Categories: Palestine | International | U.S. | Labor & Workers
Role Of The AFL-CIO Supporting The Histadrut & Its Support For Apartheid
by Carol Lang
The Israeli corporatist Zionist trade union federation Histadrut has played an important role in supporting the apartheid system in Israel. The AFL-CIO leadership with the CIA has collaborated internationally to support US imperialism.
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Role Of The AFL-CIO In Supporting The Histadrut and Its Support For The Oppression of The Palestinians and Its Support For CIA

By Carol Lang

The Histadrut is ostensibly the “union” that represents workers in Israel, but rather than it being a defender of the working class, it is a counterrevolutionary organization which not only supports the State of Israel, and thus supports Zionism and racism against Arabs, but it also works with the American CIA helping to support counterrevolutionary struggles around the world. Israel was born during capitalism’s decline. Important segments of its leadership supported Mussolini, while at the same time using the working class, many of whom believed in socialism, as a battering ram against the Palestinians. This essay will attempt to show the relationship between the thoroughly capitalist trade union, the Histadrut, and the development of capitalism in Israel and the support of counterrevolutionary struggles around the world.

The founder and ideological guru of Zionism was Theodore Herzl. Herzl had a twofold purpose; that is, he wanted to colonize Palestinian land, and at the same time provide a antidote to the growing desire of Jews who were supporting socialism. Providing a Jewish "socialist” state would accomplish both these ends. So given the philosophy of Zionism, that is racism and extreme nationalism, there could be no other outcome than what we are seeing today in occupied Palestine. Herzl argues when given the “choice” of taking a piece of Argentina or going for Palestine that while appreciating Argentina he writes:

The very name of Palestine would attract our people with a force of marvelous potency. If His Majesty the Sultan were to give us Palestine, we could in return undertake to regulate the whole finances of Turkey. We should there form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism. We should as a neutral State remain in contact with all Europe, which would have to guarantee our existence. The sanctuaries of Christendom would be safeguarded by assigning to them an extra-territorial status such as is well-known to the law of nations. We should form a guard of honor about these sanctuaries, answering for the fulfillment of this duty with our existence. This guard of honor would be the great symbol of the solution of the Jewish question after eighteen centuries of Jewish suffering.

Clearly, the founder of Zionism used all the racist vocabulary of other Europeans who settled (conquered) places in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Herzl argues that against the barbarianism of the Asians, we the Europeans will be an outpost of civilization.

On the other hand, the Histadrut reflected the pretend “socialist” character of the new Israeli project and the need to build capitalism at the same time, but unlike traditional western trade unions, the Histadrut is not a labor organization but an arm of the Israeli state and not surprisingly, although not exactly the same, the unions in Italy constituted under Mussolini were also an arm of the Italian state. Neither were independent entities although the Histadrut built its own businesses and built its reputation on organizing workers at the same time. All of the early founders of the Israeli state concur that without the Histadrut, there would likely be no Israeli state. The Histadrut does not have any semblance of independence because it is part of the state apparatus.

In the article: Histadrut: Israel’s racist “trade union” 9 March 2009, an article upon which I will draw throughout the essay, the author points out that Golda Meir explains in 1928:” I was put on the Histadrut exec committee at a time when this big labor union wasn’t just a trade union organization. It was a great colonizing agency.”. Ben -Gurion goes on to argue that: “without Histadrut, “I doubt whether we would have had a state.”

Again, from the same article: The Histradrut initially owned 25% of Israel’s industry. The author also argues that “in 1958, the International Institute for Development, Cooperation and Labor Studies was established as a means of furthering western interests in the Third World. Half of its graduates came from The Asian Institute for Labor Studies and Cooperation funded by the CIA through the AFL-CIO. It operated on behalf of the US in African countries such as Zaire and Kenya.” It thus operated as an arm of the Israeli and US foreign policy.

Moreover, Israel was committed to support the apartheid regime in South Africa. Not seeing this as a morally repugnant nation, Israel armed the white South African regime, modeling its own policies on the suppression of the Palestinian people. “Iskoor steel company , 51 percent owned by Histadrut’s Koor Industries and 49 percent by the South African Steel corporation manufactured steel for south Africa’s armed forces. Partly finished steel was shipped from Israel to South Africa, enabling the apartheid state to escape tariffs.” (Histadrut: Israel’s racist “trade union”

“Other Histadrut companies such as Tadiran and Soltaam were equally complicit in supplying South Africa with weaponry. It also helped build the electronic wall between South Africa/Namibia and neighboring African states. (ibid) It is recognized by the International Confederation of Free Trade Union as the representative of all Israeli workers even though its very nature is to discriminate against Arab workers.

The Histadrut founded Haganah, the Zionist terrorist group in the 1920s and Mapai which became the Israeli LP in the 1930s. “Ben -Gurion was Histadrut’s first secretary general who became in 1935 chairman of the Jewish Agency, the Zionist government in waiting and in 1948 the minister of the State of Israel.”(Ibid) Ben-Gurion made it clear that there was no reason to respect Palestinian rights and that it was also clear that the Palestinians, understandably, would not give up their land without a fight. Ben Gurion stated that “we do not recognize the right of the [Palestinian] Arabs to rule the country, since Palestine is still undeveloped and awaits its builders.” (1924) Moreover, Ben- Gurion argued that Palestinians should not be paid as well as Jewish labor since they were not as intelligent. (David Ben-Gurion-A Brief Biography and Quotes.) From the inception of the Histadrut, it excluded Arab labor.

The Histadrut came in the absence of a Jewish bourgeois class, so it had to play the role of the bourgeoisie itself. Its enterprises included Tnuva (dairy products) Solel Boneh (building and construction) Koor manufacturing) Hamshbir food coorpertive and Bank Hapoalim. It established a holding company Hevrat Ovdim to manage these enterprises which remained 100 percent Jewish controlled. (Histadrut: Israel’s racist ‘trade union’.

In the 1920s as unemployment grew in the Zionist economy in Palestine, the Histadrut launched a campaign to promote Jewish Labor and Jewish produce, boycotting Arab labor and produce. Solel Boneh, argues: (Israel Racist Trade Union pg. 2) “I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we should guard our orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there…to put kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought to …to buy dozens of dunums of land) from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism as a socialist and to name him the benefactor – to do all that was not easy.” (Ibid) The applauding of a Jewish capitalist such as the Rothschilds, attempting to unite workers with their bosses for the greater good, that is building the Israeli state, implies what the founding theorist of fascism, Benito Mussoli argues, that is, class struggle is unnecessary because workers’ grievances “when brought within he orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the state” (Mussolini on Fascism) And while the Israeli state is not a corporatist state in the way Italy was in the 1930s, the joining together of extreme racism and nationalism with the belief that workers’ grievances can be settled outside of class struggle and indeed with the support of the Rothchilds, borders on such a philosophy.

At the mention that Arab workers were working in Jewish establishments, the Histadrut used funds for organizing picket lines against their employment.

Class struggle from the beginning was defined as the struggle against Arab labor. (Histadrut Racist Trade union) Ben -Gurion argued that “the role of the working class was a national one, to construct the Jewish state; “socialism was never an aim in itself, but a tool for the advancement of national objectives.” It was Ben-Gurion who “coined the slogan from class to nation…both perspectives saw the role of Labor as a Nationalist role.” (Ibid)

Regarding equality of pay for Jewish and Arab workers where it was necessary to hire Arabs, the Histadrut campaigned for higher wages for Jewish workers. In fact, in 1924 Although Arab workers joined the Union of Railway, postal and Telegraph Workers an intercommunal trade organization, it made an attempt to isolate those Arab workers into separate organizations, (Ibid) This was similar to how the AFL was organized at that time. On their membership card was printed: “Federation of Jewish Workers’ (Ibid)

In 1936, during a general strike of Arab workers, the Histadrut got to work replacing Arab workers with Jewish workers. With the support of the British authorities, the Jewish Agency and Histadrut established Tel Aviv as an alternative port to Jaffa, which was strike bound. (Ibid)

Between 1948 and 1966, Palestinians living in Israel were subjected to military rule. And yet the Histadrut had a close affiliation to the military administration of the Mapai government. (Ibid)

In 1995, The Histadrut changed its name to the General confederation of Labor in the Land of Israel. This being a euphemism for biblical land of Israel and clear move to usurp more Arab land. (Ibid)

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot join Histadrut unlike the Jewish settlers. Migrant workers from the Philippines and elsewhere also cannot become members of the Histadrut.(Ibid)

Class struggle was an anathema to the Histadrut. In 1951, seamen who were on strike were drafted into the army with Histadrut support. This goes back as far as the 1920s when the Gdud Avodah wokers went on strike and were starved into submission by Ben-Gurion. (Ibid)

In 1969 Ashdod port workers’ strike, (mixed group of strikers, Palestinians and Jews) the Histadrut accused the Jewish strikers of being equivalent to agents of Fatah. In February 1976, thousands of Arab citizens of Galilee demonstrated for their rights to the land and against confiscations. The Arab leadership called for a general strike. The Histadut’s labor council in Haifa actively opposed the strike. 6 Palestinians were killed, March 30 is now commemorated by Palestinians as Land Day. (Ibid)

Only 0.8 percent of employees of government companies are Arabs in 2004 and only 5.5 percent of Israel’s civil servants were Arabs. (Ibid)

According to the National Insurance Institute, 52 percent of Israeli Arab citizens live below the poverty line, as opposed to 16 percent of Jewish Israelis. Almost half of the Arab employed persons work in the low-wage sectors of manufacture, construction, and retail. Histadrut has never supported Arab workers’ fight against racial discrimination, such as the mass layoffs of Arabs that occurred after the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 or during a labor dispute of Arab and Jewish employees with the Dead Sea Hotel Nirvana in 2003 when an Arab manager was fired because he allowed his workers to speak in Arabic in front of tourists. And in a decision made by the Israeli cabinet in October 1970, provided with the help of the Histadrut as a partner, a decision was made that the military administration should supervise Arab employment and their wages would be distributed by the payments department of the National employment Service. National insurance coverage was permitted in only three areas: work accidents, employer bankruptcy and birth of a child in an Israeli hospital. A special equalization fund was set up taking wages of Palestinian workers but was used for the occupation. (Ibid)

In addition, each Palestinian worker had to pay one percent of his or her wages as dues to Histadrut. And yet work permits were used as a means to coerce Palestinian workers to collaborate, or those who refused were placed on a blacklist and their work permits cancelled. The Histarut did nothing (Ibid). This is by no means an exhaustive list of the indignities foisted on the Palestinian people.

So where are we today?

In a manual written by the Jewish Labor Committee for pro-Israel lobby groups in 2008 it blatantly advises:

Please DO NOT discuss with union members, representatives of the press or others, guesstimates of the value of State of Israel Bonds held by unions. “Divest from Israel” activists have used such information in their arguments and have quoted figures found in Jewish newspapers and/or provided by Jewish communal representatives.” Randi Weingarten, the President of the AFT, is a member of this organization.

The US labor movement has continued to invest since the 1950s in Israeli bonds. Unions and their pension funds have been buying up state of Israel bonds. The American labor unions hold millions in Israeli bonds. The AFT alone reported to the DOL that the union has invested $200,000 in state of Israel bonds. Richard Trumpka, the former head of the AFL-CIO absolutely opposed support for BDS. More recently, members of the Connecticut AFL-CIO successfully got the state labor federation to dump its $25,000 in Israeli bonds in 2010. Five years later, the Connecticut federation passed a resolution calling on the national AFL-CIO to support BDS (this vote was annulled by Trumpka)

Today, workers who work for the Clover Israeli bottling factory in South Africa, have been on strike for more than 3 months. They have not only fought against the layoffs, but the Clover bosses want to use a company that has been in existence since the 1980s as a distribution center as opposed to a bottling center and so the workers have taken a firm stand against this attack. They have also opposed the apartheid state in Israel where the company wants to bottle the milk and send it to South Africa to be distributed. It is instructive to see how workers who believe in international solidarity behave as opposed to the AFL-CIO which has millions of dollars in resources and does nothing to help these workers fight against injustice – not only does the AFL have a history of not fighting the bosses, but in this and other circumstance, they have collaborated with the bosses and since the AFL-CIO ‘leaders’ support the Israeli state they will do nothing to undermine it. As long as the AFL-CIO accepts the limits that the capitalists have imposed on workers’ ability to mount a fightback against these attacks, workers will continue to stay in desperate conditions and will be forced to support the dictates of American imperialism.

It is the AFL-CIO that stands firmly behind the state of Israel in both funding and public support for its policies, undermining the democratic rights of the Palestinians to their land that was stolen by the Israeli state and the Histadrut at its inception.

Workers in the US and around the world must reject nationalism and embrace internationalism. The bosses are making fortunes at the expense of the working class, and now at the expense of the entire planet.
Break with the Democrats!
Fight for a Workers’ Party
United Front Committee for a Labor Party
http://www.ufclp.org

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS.

Carol Lang
§Histadrut & US Union Officials Support Purchasing Israeli Bonds
by Carol Lang
israel_dumpisraelbonds_0.jpg
The pro-Zionist AFL-CIO leadership have collaborated with the apartheid regime to use US pension funds for Israeli bonds.
sm_afl-cio_schuler_aft_weingarten_with_israeli_lp_merav_michaeli__.jpeg
The AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and AFT president Randi Weingarten met with the Labor Party leader Merav Michael in the center. The Israeli Labor Party is in the government and their minister in charge of Public Security was in charge of the police forces that were responsible for the murder of Palestinian American Al-Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh.

Israel's Brutal Storm Troopers Should Have Never Been at Abu Akleh's Funeral -- Gideon Levy in Haaretz
If this is a minister for public security and this is his party, the Labor Party, we’re better off having Kahanist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir fill the role.
*https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-s-police-are-storm-troopers-1.10799650
*Haaretz
May
15, 2022Israel's Brutal Storm Troopers Should Have Never Been at Abu


*Clashes erupt between police and mourners during the funeral procession of
Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, on Friday.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/
REUTERS*
*by Gideon Levy*

No Israeli should have slept well on Friday night. Our police are storm troopers. Palestinians have long known this, but Israelis now have to understand this as well: Israel’s police have shed all restraints.

The blue-uniformed policemen and the green-uniformed Border Policemen have become storm troopers in the deepest and most loaded sense of this term; there is no other way of describing them. In a country that has a police
force like this, every citizen should be concerned, even very frightened. It’s long been an issue that is not just for Palestinians to worry about; they have become inured to it and bear scars from it; now Israelis should be filled with anxiety too.
Anyone behaving with such barbarity at the funeral of a popular heroine of this land will behave in the same manner under other circumstances as well.
Two days ago at a Palestinian funeral, tomorrow at demonstrations or polling booths in Israel.
It’s true that what drives police storm troopers is imperiousness, racism and the sense that Arabs are not human beings. But this trot down a slippery slope cannot be stopped. When there are no boundaries or anyone putting a stop to it – and there are none – everything will be breached much faster than one imagines. Ethiopians, the ultra-Orthodox and peace
activists have already tasted some of this; it will soon spread to clubs, concerts and the home of everyone.

The Israel Police have a minister in charge, but all Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev had to say on the weekend was reprimand Joint List MK
Ofer Cassif for an unnecessary blow he delivered to a policeman blocking his way, accompanied by some rude comments as well. If this is a minister for public security and this is his party, the Labor Party, we’re better off having Kahanist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir fill the role. It couldn’t get
much worse, and Ben-Gvir will at least evoke some objections. On Friday night, the so-called government of change, incompetent and indifferent, evoked a yearning for its predecessor.
It couldn’t get much worse than the brutal clubbing of people carrying a coffin in which a revered journalist is lying, in the course of a national event. The fact that policemen did this in view of the world’s cameras only illustrates to what extent this is the only language they know, of which they’re not even ashamed. Forget for a moment these police thugs, who are
heroes when confronting the weak in their hour of mourning. But what about their commanders? After all, senior officers participated in this revolting club-fest as well. No, this was not an “image disaster,” as some sanctimonious people claimed, it was a mega-disaster, a moral and political one. With such a police force in our capital, we don’t have a democracy.
They shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The minister should have instructed them to that effect, and the commissioner should have executed the order. But Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai has returned to being a commander of the Border Police, the sick and violent occupation force, allowing his policemen to strike out as wildly as they saw fit. They came there already with reinforcements, precisely so they could do what they did. Why are reinforcements needed at a funeral? Why have the police there anyway? Bar-Lev should have stopped it in advance, or at least stopped it as it was unfolding. But Bar-Lev is absent and the commissioner opted for this.
Nothing would have happened had the Palestinians been allowed to mourn their heroine in their city, as free people, even if only for a moment. She was someone the IDF had apparently killed, as they’ve killed other journalists in the past. Is there any point in noting that no Israeli journalist was ever killed by Palestinians in the occupied territories?
After this disgraceful funeral, it’s no longer important who shot Shireen. You may have killed her? The least you could do is let her people accompany her on her last journey. But no. As noted by MSNBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, Israel not only doesn’t allow Palestinians to live as Palestinians, it also doesn’t allow them to die as Palestinians. Actually, it doesn’t allow them to die as human beings. It snatches and barters their corpses, and now its policemen knock down coffins from the shoulders of people carrying them. You couldn’t get a more morbid snuff act.
Storm troopers is a derogatory term for cruel occupier forces. This makes Israel’s police force storm troopers. Coming soon to your neighborhood.
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