Letter of Support for Palestine

We, the GTFF Executive Board, are grief-stricken and horrified by the violence and loss of life in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and unequivocally condemn the slaughter of innocent civilians. We recognize that our members, our bargaining unit, our students, and our UO colleagues may be deeply impacted by the unfolding atrocities of war and rising tensions here in the US. 

While these events have reignited deep traumas for Jewish peoples globally, we also recognize that indigenous Palestinian peoples have been under apartheid and occupation for over 75 years, long before Hamas’s creation in the 1980s, and have suffered expulsion, displacement, execution, and human rights abuses over these many decades. Furthermore, we acknowledge that the blockade on Gaza, mounted 16 years ago by an increasingly authoritarian Israeli State, has been bolstered by billions of dollars in military and economic defense funding from the United States [1] [2] [3]

The Israeli government’s response to the Hamas attack is clear: military and government leaders have made a formal declaration of war and have called for a “complete siege” of Gaza [4]. They have intensified an “already dire humanitarian situation” and imperiled millions of civilians in the region, including Palestinian children who make up nearly half of the total Palestinian population—the average age in Gaza is 18—and refugees who constitute roughly 80% of the population in Gaza [5] [6] [7]. The most recent escalations of violence make it clear that we are witnessing the final stage in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, all while the U.S. government prepares to send billions of dollars more in defense funding to Israel [8] **.

Time and again, Palestinian civilians have organized and peacefully protested the occupation of their land and human rights abuses by the IDF and yet have been met with imprisonment and the same bullets and bombs Israel is unleashing today, all which has repeatedly been ignored by mainstream Western media [9] [10]. That the violence has reached this magnitude, as it did in India, Algeria, Haiti and so many other colonized societies, forces us to ask: Why haven’t these struggles been central to working class movements globally, such that violence of this scale could have been prevented? 

We believe these unfolding atrocities are inextricably tied to a broader working-class struggle and to the unchecked spread of global capitalism, which has turned nation-states toward neoliberal economic, political, and social strategies in order to compete globally. In our own lifetimes, we have watched a return to fascist ideologies around the world. As a result, the international working class has been in retreat, losing ground in workplace struggles, unionization, and membership levels, and all but forfeiting organized labor’s ability—and, perhaps more importantly, willingness—to confront capitalism in its generality outside the ever narrowing legal protections for laborers to fight collectively. This is also true for members of the American working class whose own settler nation-state, the United States, was founded on genocide and enslavement and continues to position itself as the central imperial backer of Israel—a country “hurtling toward fascism”—in order to retain U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, both politically and economically [11] [12]. 

Imperialism and neoliberalism form two prongs of the global ruling class’s strategy in which transnational capitalists are able to compete more effectively against one another, which produces the material basis for the divisions between the Global North and South while sharpening class conflict and exploitation within both zones. 

Within Israel, we thus believe that the weakening of the working class—through privatization, mass debt, rising costs of living, and high inflation, all of which discourage the collective action and organizing from which working-class consciousness develops—has served to bolster Zionist sentiment and settler violence against Palestinians, especially over the past three decades. These same tactics against the working class have been employed within Palestine as well, exacerbating the economic, social, and ecological devastation of occupation. We recognize these malignant neoliberal tactics in the U.S. and in our own battles for labor rights, too.

We make this statement not to alienate any of our members or undermine the tremendous suffering at this time, but to affirm that as an organization engaged in the fight for our working-class members and community at large, we believe in the liberation of all oppressed peoples everywhere, including the abolition of the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine and an end to U.S. complicity in human rights atrocities. 

Finally, we are firmly committed to standing up and fighting back against any acts or words of  Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism, or xenophobia that may metastasize on our campuses and in our communities as a reverberation of developing events—knowing that these prejudices and expressions of hate and ignorance have deep historical roots that still pervade today—and we invite our learning community to stand in union with us in our call for a ceasefire in Gaza and genuine hopes for a liberated Palestine, a united global working class, freedom, resilience, and peace. 

[1] The Conversation: Gaza has been blockaded for 16 years – here’s what a ‘complete siege’ and invasion could mean for vital supplies ^

[2] PBS News Hour ^

[3] Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ^

[4] Israeli defence minister orders ‘complete siege’ on Gaza ^

[5] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ^

[6] UNICEF Children in the State of Palestine ^

[7] United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ^

[8] Reuters: Biden considering $100 bln funding request that includes Israel, Ukraine aid-sources ^

[9] ​​Palestine’s Hidden History of Nonviolence ^

[10] AP News: Palestinians Face Mounting Barriers to Peaceful Protest ^

[11] Middle East Monitor: Fascism is ‘already there’ in Israel, says Jewish professor of the Holocaust ^

[12] Haaretz: Opinion | Israeli Neo-Fascism Threatens Israelis and Palestinians Alike ^

** Humanitarian aid from the US to Gaza has just been announced as of the final writing of this letter. ^

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