GEO/UAW2322 Jews support BDS!
As Jewish current and former members of GEO/UAW 2322, we are writing to express our support for the recent Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) resolution, put forth by the Palestine Solidarity Caucus and GEO Steering Committee and will be voted on by our union’s membership.
We believe that a just peace in Israel/Palestine requires challenging and putting an end to Israel’s military occupation, its ongoing settler expansion, and its preferential treatment of Jews vis-à-vis Palestinians in the region. As such, we stand with the Palestine Solidarity Caucus in support of this resolution and urge you to vote yes.
An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere and none of us is free until all of us are free. As Jews, we understand from our own experiences with discrimination and our own history of resistance to oppression that standing on the right side of history necessitates standing in solidarity with Palestinians. For that reason, we are proud to be counted among the growing number of Jews and trade unionists around the the world who refuse to turn a blind eye to this issue. We are speaking out today against our government, employer and national labor union’s complicity in Israel’s actions through military aid and investment in corporations that profit from the occupation. Students and workers participated vigorously in the global campaign to divest from South African apartheid in the 1980s, and we seek to build upon that legacy and its tactics. We thus believe that GEO/UAW2322 and its members must join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, until such time as Israel has complied with international law and respected the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all Palestinian refugees and exiles.
As Jews, we feel an urgent need at the present moment to say “Not in our name” as Israel commits human rights violations with impunity. And as trade unionists, we feel an obligation to express our solidarity with Palestinians living under a system of legal apartheid, as well as our solidarity with Israelis and people around the world who stand in opposition to this system.
We affirm our right and responsibility as Jews to oppose the State of Israel’s actions and policies that we believe to be unjust. Though the State of Israel justifies its policies as defending the safety of Jews in Israel and around the world, we argue that these policies do not actually support these ends. Moreover, we maintain that it is anti-Semitic to stifle Jewish diversity of opinion on Israel, or expect Jews to support Israel’s policies on the sole basis of their Jewishness. We hope that honest critique will lead to positive change.
Therefore, we urge all members to support the call for our employer, UMass Amherst, and our national union, the United Auto Workers, to divest from corporations that benefit from Israeli occupation; for our government to end military aid to Israel; and for us to call on affiliated bodies such as UAW Local 2322, to also join the BDS movement. This renews and furthers the commitment of GEO which overwhelmingly voted in 2003 for divestment from the Israeli occupation. This referendum will be voted upon by the entire GEO membership in April.
Kevin Scott Felton
Eric Hamako, Ed.D.
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