by Carol Gay, President, New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
Representing the Labor Fightback Network
Good afternoon, Sisters and Brothers:
I am Carol Gay, President of the NJ State Industrial Union Council, representing the Labor Fightback Network where I serve on the National Steering Committee. The Labor Fightback Network is proud to be here today in support of the Palestinian People and Gaza. We’re here to speak up against injustice because, as we all know, silence is complicity. We will never remain silent in the face of these horrendous crimes against humanity, these brutal war crimes. The death toll in Operation Protective Edge has already surpassed the death toll and devastation caused by Operation Cast Lead. Words are insufficient to express our sorrow, our anger at the atrocities being committed against the Palestinians. I’m sure all of you have been crying tears of rage, too. We understand that Israel’s massive assault is not about defense — it is about annihilation of Palestinians, annihilation which has been going on for decades.
As workers, we are here in solidarity with all Palestinians — in Gaza, in the West Bank, and with Palestinian refugees scattered around the world. We are here to loudly denounce the U.S. government’s unquestioning support for Israel. This unthinking, blind support for Israel is immoral and illegal. U.S. support for Israel says to the world that the U.S. has a shocking disregard for human life and for international humanitarian law. How can the U.S. stand by and watch the killing of innocent children on the beach, the shelling of hospitals and UN schools, the bombardment of homes and mosques killing entire families in one fell swoop, the destruction of power plants and water supplies. These indiscriminate attacks are nothing but collective punishment, depriving people of life saving electricity and water, and ultimately, their lives. It is reprehensible, it is unlawful, it is heartbreaking! It is not only collective punishment, but clearly part of a plan for ethnic cleansing. Robbing children of their childhood, and targeting of innocent children and people who have nowhere to go, no way to escape, is unspeakably cruel. It is unconscionable that the U.S. continues to allow the imprisonment of the people of Gaza resulting in extreme poverty and unemployment, lack of healthcare, lack of clean water. Collective punishment is not a path to peace!
We are here to demand that Obama, John Kerry, and Congress force Israel to stop the bombing, end the blockade of Gaza, halt the settlement expansion, and end the occupation now! We also demand that the U.S. exert its power now to compel Israel to stop violating international law, stop violating the Geneva Conventions, stop the illegal demolitions of homes, end large scale arrests and detentions of Palestinians, tear down those obnoxious walls, and end its repressive system of apartheid.
Does the U.S. have the power to do this? Yes, by stopping all aid to Israel. Yes, by stopping the flow of billions of our tax dollars to fund the occupation. We say: Not another nickel, not another dime! We refuse to pay for Israel’s crimes!
I also want to make it clear that we believe that Occupation is the crime, not resistance. Do you hear that Obama? Occupation is the crime, not resistance. People under occupation have the legal right to defend themselves. People under occupation are supposed to be protected, not wiped out.
We also call on the U.S. Labor Movement and all people who love peace and justice to join the BDS Movement, the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions Movement. We must do our part to keep the pressure on. It worked in apartheid South Africa, and it can work in apartheid Israel.
In closing I would just like to say: Obama, hear us now! We demand peace and justice for Palestine! End the Occupation! End the siege of Gaza! Stop funding Israel’s war and occupation! No more death and devastation! Give the Palestinians back their lives! Collective Punishment is not a path to peace. Let Gaza Live!!!