We Support the Fight for Democracy in Israel
Statement from US Union Leaders:
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and President of the Jewish Labor Committee, and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and president of the Jewish Labor Committee, made the following statement today:
“We strongly back the general strike called by the Israeli trade union federation Histadrut and Israeli universities in defense of democracy in Israel. We stand ready to support our trade union allies in Israel—and all those who are fighting for democracy there—in any way we can, to ensure an independent judiciary and human and civil rights for all.
“It’s heartening that the Histadrut, an institution that has sustained the Israeli people and the Israeli economy since the country’s founding, made the decision it did. We commend Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David for his statements and his action. All trade unionists know that it is nothing but an illusion that unions can cooperate with an autocratic government while retaining their independent power. This hasn’t happened anywhere in the world.
“Similarly, education and learning can thrive only in a free environment. Israel boasts some of the leading institutions of higher education in the world, but without democracy, these universities will wither. We applaud the leadership shown by the university presidents whose aim is to ensure that the pursuit of knowledge will be shielded by the pursuit of democracy.
“The leaders of the protests against the judicial coup have kept the promise of democracy alive for 12-plus weeks. The stamina and determination of those hailing from civil society, along with those individuals who have broken their normal routines to put all their energy into this struggle, have been something to behold. Their commitment and their leadership are inspirations not only for the Israeli people, but for everyone around the world who cares about—and cherishes—democracy.
“For both of us, this struggle in Israel is also very personal. We have stood by Israel, and in Israel, during times of war and with hopes for peace. Now, with Israel in a war for democracy, we are locking arms with the people of Israel once again.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.