The oppression of the Palestinian people is one of the most urgent issues facing the world today. Having suffered more than seven decades of displacement and discrimination and over 50 years of military occupation, daily life for people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza is defined by poverty, restrictions, humiliation and murder with impunity. Up to five million Palestinians are considered to be refugees; a stateless people with little access to services, land or adequate housing. Israel continues to annex Palestinian land, building colonial settlements and expanding its Separation Wall – all in contravention of international law.
The Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas on earth, is home to two million Palestinians. Since 2007, a brutal and illegal Israeli blockade continues to restrict the civilian population’s access to food, energy, medicine and the outside world. In 2014 we witnessed in horror as Israel unleashed the full might of its military on the civilian population in Gaza, with over 2,500 Palestinians killed in seven weeks, including 567 children. In the past eleven days, 230 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, including 65 children and 39 women.
I feel it incumbent upon me to remind our members that your Union passed a motion at Biennial Conference in 2018 committing to support the aims of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement:
“Conference condemns the recent slaughter of innocent and unarmed protestors by Israeli military forces in Gaza. Trade unions must not remain silent while people are shot down for simply exercising their basic democratic right to protest against a brutal occupation. In 2005, Palestinian trade unions, along with other civil society organisations, founded the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, to campaign for the following aims:
- Ending Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Apartheid Wall
- Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
- The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes that they were expelled from following the foundation of Israel
With this in mind, and in line with ICTU policy, Conference instructs the incoming National Executive to support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and actively campaign for justice in Palestine.”
In 1984, a group of courageous Irish trade union members in Dunnes Stores went on strike for over two years after refusing to handle fruit from Apartheid South Africa. Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, said: “Young workers who refused to handle the fruits of apartheid 21 years ago in Dublin provided inspiration to millions of South Africans that ordinary people far away from the crucible of apartheid cared for our freedom”.
It is in this proud trade union tradition and principle of internationalism that we are calling on our members to show the same solidarity to the Palestinian people; observe the boycott, write to your political representatives calling for sanctions, join demonstrations when health restrictions make it safe to do so. Each and every small action you take makes a difference.