Friday, June 09, 2006

South African union joins boycott of Israel

Workers union representing 1.2 million extols CUPE Ontario’s boycott of Israel, which it calls ‘an apartheid nation.

In additional to the boycott of Israel declared by British academics and public workers in Canada last month, now a large workers’ union in South Africa is shunning the Jewish state in protest of its policies towards the Palestinians.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, representing 1.2 million workers in the African country, published a letter expressing enthusiastic support for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) boycott of Israel. In CUPE’s boycott declaration, the organization calls Israel’s separation fence an “apartheid wall” and condemns its continued construction as in violation of international law. They further called for divestment from Israel and demanded the imposition of sanctions.

In his letter, COSAFU president Willie Madisha hailed the Canadian group’s initiative: “With great pride, I congratulate CUPE Ontario for their historic resolution on May 27th in support of the Palestinian people - those living under occupation and those millions of Palestinian refugees living in the Diaspora. We fully support your resolution.

“As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited Palestine I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, I believe that some of the atrocities committed against the Palestinians pale in comparison to those committed by the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa,” Madisha wrote.

According to the letter, “The latest outrage by the apartheid Israeli regime-the construction of the hideous Apartheid Wall-condemned by the International Court of Justice- extends the occupation of Palestinian lands, disrupts the already precarious economic, social, health and education well being of an entire people.”

Medisha further accuses world powers are turning a blind eye from such injustices because they “are seduced by apartheid Israel's justification of brutality through the pretext of 'security'.” He claims that the West silences any criticism of Israel citing anti-Semitism. “It is time for the global workers movement to stand firm and principled against hypocrisy and double standards. We cannot remain silent any longer. There will be no peace in this region and in the world, without justice,” the letter proclaims.

He recalls how workers around the world support the struggle against South African apartheid through boycotts, divestments and sanctions which “hastened our “In the face of an intransigent, arrogant, racist and brutal Israeli state, this strategy of isolation should be applied to Israel as well. It is a peaceful option,” the letter asserts.

In the letter, Madisha recalls Israel’s support for the South African apartheid regime, noting that his organization calls on Israel to respect international law, the right of return for refugees, and the elected Palestinian government.

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