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Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 17:14:47 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Labor Committee on the Middle East <melblcome@igc.apc.org>
Subject: AFL-CIO Still in Israel's Pocket

AFL-CIO still in Israel's pocket?

By Jeffrey Blankfort, in Middle East Labor Bulletin
18 March 1996

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the AFL-CIO leadership has been an integral part of the pro-Israel lobby, providing funding for pro-Israel Democrats, investing the union's pension funds in Israel Bonds, and blocking international efforts to punish Israel for its exploitation and abuse of Palestinian workers.

Lane Kirkland, the recently retired AFL-CIO president, used to boast that he had attended more Israel Bonds rallies "than any man alive," and no one challenged him.

During Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the Kirkland regime responded to a half-page ad in the NY Times, signed by labor officials condemning Israel's actions, with a full page ad backing the invasion underneath bold headlines, which read "The AFL-CIO is not Neutral, We Support Israel!" The ad was paid for someone with a Park Avenue address, presumably not a blue collar worker.

The new regime of John Sweeney appears to be giving us more of the same. Instead of speaking out against the collective punishment being used by Israeli government against Palestinian workers, prohibiting them from working in Israel or going to their jobs in the West Bank, Sweeney and the AFL-CIO CEO's on the Executive Board bought more than $10 million worth of Israel bonds at a champagne brunch during the AFL-CIO's mid-winter meeting in Bal Harbour, Florida, according to the Jewish weekly Forward, (3/1).

In addition, Sweeny and executive VP, Linda Chavez-Thompson, are both planning trips to Israel, according to the paper.

Several years ago, during the intifada, the executive board of Sweeney's SEIU, was reportedly, believe it or not, about to pass a resolution opposing an Israeli action against Palestinian workers. Seeing the situation getting out of hand, Sweeney, called for a break in the meeting, during which he apparently let those supporting the resolution know that they were treading on dangerous ground.

When the meeting resumed, the resolution was tabled. And that was the end of it.

Jeffrey Blankfort
Middle East Labor Bulletin

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