Unions and Israel

To Buzz Hargrove (President of Canadian Auto Workers) July 19, 2006


Israel has killed nearly 300 Lebanese civilians and displaced half a million. It has been given cart blanche by the international community – including Harper’s government – to kill as many people as it likes.

The corporate media has sold people on the lie that the crisis originated with the capture of a single soldier by Hamas militants based in Gaza. As always, Israeli expansionism is ignored and it is depicted as acting in self defence..Israeli strikes killed scores of civilians in Gaza in the weeks prior to the capture of the Israeli soldier. The day before his capture Israel kidnapped two civilians from Gaza. Worse, since 2000 Israel has implemented a murderous siege on Gaza that has tripled malnutrition among children according to conservative sources such as the UN and the World bank. It is important to note that Israel’s economic strangulation precedes both the election of Hamas and the so called “withdrawal” from the Gaza.

It is worth remembering that Israel funded Hamas during its early days to undermine the PLO. Israeli policy has consistently placed expansionism above security. Contrary to much fantasy that has not changed in recent years.

Please reconsider your stand on CUPE’s call for economic sanctions against Israel. The labour movement should be taking action.

Joe Emersberger Local 1498



Dear Joe,

Thanks for your interest. I am attaching a copy of the letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper which was endorsed by the CAW National Executive Board.

July 18, 2006

Media Release For Immediate CAW National Pack Distribution

CAW’s Hargrove Calls on Prime Minister to Take Leadership Role in Middle East

Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove has issued a statement on the crisis in the Middle East and has called on Prime Minister Harper to take a leadership role in trying to bring the parties to the table to find a resolution to the conflicts.

Hargrove’s letter follows:

“Dear Prime Minister,

The crisis in the Middle East cannot be allowed to escalate and I believe Canada can take a leadership role in finding a diplomatic resolution.

The potential of provoking a much wider conflict, plummeting the entire region into chaos, is a real danger. Up to 200 people in Gaza and Lebanon have been killed and thousands more may die because of the destruction by Israeli bombings of power plants, homes and hospitals. Hamas and Hezbollah must assume responsibility for this latest crisis, but this does not give Israel the license to kill innocent citizens and destroy the infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon. The continuing killing of Israeli soldiers and over 25 innocent citizens alike cannot be ignored by the world community. We are extremely concerned about the recent killing of 7 Canadians in the bombing of Lebanon.

Certainly Israel has the right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens by extremist forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Countries like Lebanon, Syria and Iran that harbour extremist forces must expect that there will be consequences to their complicity in the attacks on Israel.

However, Israel’s military response has been brutal and disproportionate to the provocation by Hezbollah and Hamas. The killing of innocent civilians and destruction of the infrastructure destabilizes the region and impedes advancing the goals of democracy and peace for Palestinian, Israeli and Lebanese people.

The CAW calls for:

the immediate return, unharmed, of captured Israeli soldiers. an end to the shelling of Israeli cities by Hamas militants. an end to the shelling of Israeli cities by the Hezbollah militants.

-an end to Israeli bombing of Lebanon and Gaza and all military operations including the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and Lebanon. -the release of the Palestinian ministers and parliamentarians arrested by the Israelis -the immediate reinstatement of international aid to the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Abbas. -expedite the evacuation of all Canadians who are caught in the war zone in Lebanon.

Canada must take a leadership role in bringing the parties to the table to find a resolution to this crisis, which has cost too many innocent lives.

In order for Canada to take a credible leadership role, the federal government must end its unsavoury attempts to mirror George Bush’s policies during this crisis and instead, reflect the strongly held Canadian values of fairness and justice – and to uphold our obligations to international law.

We propose the Canadian government withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and further propose they be reassigned to a peacekeeping role in the Middle East.”


REPLY TO CAW – July 21, 2006


I never thought I would ever be so disappointed with the CAW. The letter to Harper is terrible. It makes some decent suggestions – some not so decent – but mainly it’s terrible for what it didn’t say; and for its denial of a simple fact: Israel provoked this latest crisis. Hamas and Hizbullah are certainly not blameless, but Israel is the primary culprit. This conflict puts the world in danger. The CAW has failed to respond appropriately.

Why did the CAW not acknowledge a Palestinian (and Lebanese) right to self defence? How many bombings and civilian casualties must they endure before the CAW would acknowledge their right to strike back at Israel’s military?

Why did it the CAW not call for an end to Israel’s economic strangulation of Gaza? That goes far beyond the international aid embargo which, thankfully, the CAW called on Canada to no longer participate in. You should be aware that since 2000 Israeli imposed sanctions have tripled child malnutrition in Gaza. If Palestinians could inflict this damage on Israeli children would Israelis not have the right to strike at the military that enforces the sanctions?

Why did the CAW not call for the release of the two civilians from Gaza that were kidnapped by Israeli forces the day before the Israeli soldier’s capture?

Why did the CAW have nothing to say about the 1000 Palestinians kidnapped and held under “administrative detention” by Israel? Why did the CAW not call for their release? These people have never been charged with a crime! At what point does the CAW acknowledge a Palestinian right to strike at the military that carries out these kidnappings?

Why did the CAW not call for and end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank – or for it to stop building settlements?

None of these questions are rhetorical. Please answer them and.note that I will be making any correspondence public. These are not private matters. We should be debating them openly.


Joe Emersberger local 1498

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