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May 27, 1988 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-05-27

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Continued from Page 24

Lebanon) has evoked must be
turned against the vicious
terrorism that has been the
special hallmark of the con-
flict in the Middle East and
that has been openly espous-
ed as an appropriate political
tactic by the PLO and its sup-
porters?'
So when the AFL-CIO ex-
ecutive council issued a state-
ment last February that in-
cluded disapproval of Israel's
handling of violence in Gaza
and the West Bank, it made
headlines. The statement was
issued during the AFL-CIO's
annual winter meeting in Bal
Harbour, Fla., marking the
first time the 14.3 million-
member labor federation
publicly criticized Israel.
Addressing the recent
unrest in the territories, the
statement said, "In their ef-
fort to maintain order, the
Israeli Defense Forces have on
occasion resorted to un-
necessary force, and those in-
cidents have been widely and
vividly reported in the media,
to the detriment of Israel's
image.
"No doubt such incidents
can be attributed to the inex-
perience of the Israeli army in
riot control and other police
functions, and to the frustra-
tions of Israeli soldiers as
they confront young Palesti-
nians hurling stones and
petrol bombs. These factors
may explain, but they cannot
condone, the use of excessive
force against civilians," the
statement reads.
These remarks appeared in
many papers throughout the
country, usually accompanied
by headlines like "AFL-CIO
Chastises Israel."
In fact, the bulk of the
three-page statement is ex-
tremely positive about Israel.
It specifically rejects any com-
parison between Israel and
South Africa and notes that
"Israel's Arab citizens enjoy
the very democratic rights
they are denied in the Arab
states."
It states that the only way
to achieve Middle East peace
is through negotiations bet-
ween Israel and "responsible
Palestinian leaders," adding
that "the real tragedy of the
Palestinians . . . is that they
have failed to develop leaders
willing and able to negotiate
with Israel, owing largely to
the PLO's intimidation ' of
moderate Palestinian leaders
and to the continuing Arab
self-declared 'state of war'
with Israel."
A number of Jewish groups,
including the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith, welcomed the state-
ment. Selma Goode of the
Detroit chapter of the Jewish

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Labor Committee said the
statement reflects "the conti-
nuing support of the labor
movement for Israel. And this
has never waivered."
Goode said some within the
JLC even believed the AFL-
CIO's remarks were "too flat"
and could have been more
critical.

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audatory comments
about the AFL-CIO
may be predictable
from the JLC, with which the
labor federation is closely
aligned. Yet even staunch foes
of the trade union movement
would be hardpressed to find
fault with its position on
other issues of concern to the
Jewish community.
Perhaps nowhere is this
more evident than in labor's
participation in the Soviet
Jewry movement.
A cursory glance at the
Trade Union Council for
Soviet Jewry — a project of
the JLC — reveals an im-
pressive list of names of top
union leaders.
Jack Joyce, president of the
International Union of
Bricklayers and Allied Craft-
smen and a vice president of
the AFL-CIO, serves as presi-
dent of the Council for Soviet
Jewry. Kirkland serves as
honorary chairman and
Thomas Donahue, AFL-CIO
secretary-treasurer, is
honorary vice chairman.
The 18-month-old council
recently launched an "Adopt
a Refusenik" campaign in
which Soviet Jews, classified
by trade, are paired with
trade unionists in the United
States. Union members also
are urged to write Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev
about the plight of their
adoptees and proclaim their
refuseniks honorary union
members.
Joel Freedman, Joyce's
assistant, said no figures are
yet available on the number
of refuseniks adopted. He said
the program has run into dif-
ficulty of a positive sort —
many refuseniks whom
unions were to adopt have
been released.
Six months ago, the AFL-
CIO organized a campaign to
guarantee labor participation
in the Washington Rally for
Soviet Jewry. In a letter mail-
ed to the Metropolitan
Washington Council of the
AFL-CIO, Kirkland -urged
union participation "as an af-
firmation of the American
labor. movement's strong com-
mitment to human rights,
freedom of immigration for
Soviet Jews, freedom of wor-
ship, and freedom of associa-
tion in the Soviet Union."
Support came en masse.
More than 1,000 trade

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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