Australian unionists back `boycott apartheid Israel' call

Geelong Advertiser -- January 9, 2009 -- Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden has backed calls for the Rudd Government to cut ties with Israel over the current crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter headed Trade Unionists for Palestine, Mr Gooden and other prominent unionists have called on the Rudd Government to denounce ``the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza''.

The signatories include the state president of the Tertiary Education Union, Dr James Doughney, AMWU state secretary Steve Dargeval, the assistant secretary of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union Burt Blackburne.

The group called on the ACTU and regional trades and labour councils to:

DEMAND the Rudd Government sever all ties with Israel; and

GIVE full support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression.

The letter makes no mention of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.

Asked about this, Mr Gooden said he did not condone the rocket attacks, but said the Israeli response was out of proportion.

``If people in Geelong were firing rockets into Melbourne I would hardly expect them to wipe out half of Geelong trying to find them,'' Mr Gooden said.

``I know it goes back 50 years and there's a lot more to it ... but they've just created a whole heap of new suicide bombers after killing all those children.

``No one condones what Hamas does, and there are plenty of Muslims that are opposed to fundamentalism, the same as there are a lot of Israelis that are against the war as well.''

While Mr Gooden said there were promising signs of a truce, there was also a need to solve the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza which had been under lock-down for two years.''

  • Download a copy of the petition here.Send completed petitions to Tim Gooden at Geelong Trades Hall Council (127 Myers Street, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 3220; Fax 03 5223 1115) and Ema Corro (at 0406 402 401)

  • See calls by Palestinain trade unionists for sanctions, boycott's and divestment from apartheid Israel HERE.

Petition: Stop Israel’s aggression against Gaza!

We, the undersigned trade unionists, call on the Rudd government to denounce the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza, and to cut all economic, diplomatic, cultural and political ties with the Israeli state until this aggression and the Israeli siege of Gaza ends [see below for fact sheet].

We also call on the Australian Council of Trade Unions and State, Territory and regional trades and labour councils to:

1.Demand that the Rudd government adopt this approach towards the Israeli attack on Gaza;
2.Give full organisational and financial support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression.

LEAD SIGNATORIES (Positions for identification purposes only)

Dr James Doughney, Victorian State President, National Tertiary Education Union
Tim Gooden, Secretary, Geelong Trades Hall Council
Steve Dargeval, Victorian State Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Burt Blackburne, National Assistant Secretary, Communications Division, Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union
Col Cooper, former National President, Communications Division, Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union
John Parker, Secretary, Gippsland Trades and Labour Council
John Cleary, former State Councillor, Southern States Branch, Electrical Trades Union
Joan Doyle, Victorian Branch Secretary, Postal and Telecommunications Division, Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union

What are the facts about Israel's attack on Gaza?

1. Over 400 people have already been killed and Israel is committed to continuing the mass murder. (If Gaza, with its population of 1.5 million, were Australia, population 21.5 million, that would be 5700 dead.) With Israeli elections due in two months, all Israeli leaders are competing over who is the toughest and who is ready to kill more in Gaza.

2. Most of those killed have been civilians. The figure of 60 civilians which has been given out is nonsense, based on the exclusion of all male victims from the dead. Over 1000 people have been injured, many of them seriously, with loss of limbs, eyes etc.

4. Despite letting in a little aid one day this week, Israel is maintaining the most severe blockade seen anywhere in the world for over 50 years, which starves Gaza of food, medical supplies, water, fuel and other essential resources.

5. United Nations commissioner-general, Karen AbuZayd, says the situation in the region is desperate: "There's no fuel, there's no power plant, there's no electricity working now."

6. Medical services in Gaza, already depleted by the Israeli siege over the last year, are close to collapse, with doctors and nurses only able to deal with the most serious cases, many injured left to die in hospital corridors, the morgues full and ambulances not working for lack of fuel and spare parts.

7. The UN, on which under the Israeli siege most people in Gaza depend for food, has stopped distributing food because its agencies have run out of fuel for vehicles. Nine out of ten Gazans live below the poverty line, with many families forced to eat grass to survive.

8. The infrastructure in many areas has been so destroyed that residents have no access to water or electricity. The UN says the Israeli blockade has resulted in Palestinians receiving running water only once every five to seven days

9. Israel is in breach of many Geneva Conventions and international laws amounting to war crimes, including wilful killing, extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity and collective punishment.

Israel is only able to act in this barbaric manner because of the support it gets from governments who habitually turn a blind eye to its war crimes.