Pro-Palestinian Group To Push Divestment for AFL-CIO

By E.J. Kessler

Published July 22, 2005, issue of July 22, 2005.
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A far-left pro-Palestinian group is seeking to bring a resolution to the floor of the AFL-CIO convention next week demanding that the labor federation divest from Israel Bonds and from companies doing business in Israel, according to Jewish labor activists who hope to counter the measure.

The group, Labor for Palestine, failed in an earlier attempt to get a local union to pass a similar resolution. At the AFL-CIO convention, any delegate can offer a resolution from the convention floor.

The Jewish labor activists said that the proposed Labor for Palestine resolution is likely to fail on the floor of the convention and be referred to a committee because it conflicts with AFL-CIO policy. The AFL-CIO, which has invested heavily in Israel Bonds, has an established policy of opposing divestment, believing that it should invest in parties seeking peace, including Israel and moderate Palestinian forces.

Labor for Palestine is an affiliate of Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, which describes itself as “a broad-based nonpartisan global democratic association of thousands of grass-roots activists, including students and organizational representatives, concerned for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.” According to its Web site, it has links with leftist Palestinian factions and the Marxist-dominated anti-war coalition International Answer. Messages to Labor for Palestine and Al Awda asking for comment went unreturned.

Leaders of the American labor movement have long maintained close ties with Israel, which was founded by socialists and has one of the world’s most vibrant labor movements, represented by the mammoth General Federation of Labor, or Histadrut.

The director of communications for Israel Bonds, Raphael Rothstein, said of the resolution: “We think it’s misguided and will fizzle out. For American labor, Israel is a country with a union tag.”






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