UE General Executive Board Condemns the Killing of Palestinian Protesters and Attack on First Amendment Rights

June 11, 2018

The UE General Executive Board, meeting in Pittsburgh from June 5-8, 2018, adopted the following statement condemning the killing of Palestinian protesters and attacks on the First Amendment rights of Americans to engage in peaceful protest of Israel's military policies.

As predicted, the Trump administration’s provocative relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem gave the far right-wing Israeli government the green light to escalate military repression of Palestinians.  Palestinians have attempted to carry out non-violent protests against both the embassy move and the continuing blockade of Gaza during the last several weeks.  Israeli soldiers have been directed to use rifles to kill and maim Palestinians who are protesting being forced to live in what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison, where 1.8 million Palestinians are crowded into a tiny enclave under continuous military and economic blockade by the Israeli government.  So far over 110 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded, including children, medical personnel, and journalists. Not a single Israeli soldier has been killed and there is only one unconfirmed report of a soldier wounded by “shrapnel.”

We renew our union’s consistent call for a peace agreement negotiated on the basis of equality, democracy, and human rights for the Palestinian and Israeli people, including Palestinian self determination and the right of return for refugees.  Such a negotiated peace agreement is simply not possible under a barrage of bullets, drones, and tear gas.

We also note that in response to the repression they face from the Israeli government, many Palestinians have requested support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel, a call supported by delegates to the last two UE conventions. Now a bill is being pushed in the U.S. Senate, S720, which would penalize Americans who participate in boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, if those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations. As stated by the ACLU in response to this legislation, “Political boycotts are fully protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court made that clear when it recognized, in a landmark 1982 decision called NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware, that the Constitution protected a 1960s boycott of white-owned businesses in Mississippi.”

As a union which has suffered grave government and business attacks for exercising our First Amendment rights, we denounce these efforts and support efforts to defeat this legislation.

We continue to call for peace for the peoples of Palestine and Israel and an end to the repressive apartheid policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.