Labor Organizing Across Israel’s Apartheid Line: An Interview with Israeli Labor Activist Yoav Tamir

Benjamin Balthaser

WAC-MAAN is a newly formed labor organization helping to organize workers regardless of nationality, focusing on a democratic, bottom-up approach.

I met Yoav Tamir at the Labor Notes con­fer­ence in Chica­go this past April. Young, lanky, and with a scruffy trace of a beard, he looked like any num­ber of activists at what is the most pro­gres­sive, unruly wing of labor move­ment in the U.S. I heard orga­niz­ers talk about lead­ing strikes in straw­ber­ry fields, even in U.S. pris­ons, yet what I learned about him lit­er­al­ly stopped me in my tracks: a Jew­ish Israeli, he orga­nized Pales­tin­ian work­ers on Jew­ish-only set­tle­ments in the occu­pied West Bank. I’d nev­er heard of such a thing.

Yoav is an orga­niz­er with the new Israeli labor union, Work­ers Advice Cen­ter, or WAC-MANN. WAC-MAAN was found­ed in the late 1990s as (as its name might sug­gest) a work­ers’ advice cen­ter, and began orga­niz­ing unions and nego­ti­at­ing con­tracts in 2010. A prod­uct of both deep­en­ing aus­ter­i­ty with­in Israel as well as the wave of upris­ings in the Arab world in 2011, WAC-MAAN orga­nizes both across the racial line and across the Green Line, doing what no oth­er labor orga­ni­za­tion in Israel or Palestine’s his­to­ry has done: cre­ate a mul­ti-eth­nic, bi-nation­al work­ers’ movement.

But to call WAC-MAAN sim­ply a labor union is not quite accu­rate. While they do nego­ti­ate con­tracts, they are also a social move­ment, orga­niz­ing in the inter­ests of the entire mul­ti-eth­nic work­ing class of the two nation­al cul­tures, Israeli and Palestinian.

WAC-MAAN orga­nizes the unem­ployed in East Jerusalem, helps work­ers find jobs, protests against lax safe­ty rules that threat­en the most­ly Arab con­struc­tion work­ers, and even helps sus­tain an olive-oil plant run by most­ly Arab Israeli women. We would have to go back to the 1930s or even 1880s in the U.S. to find a union with such a broad social mission.

Per­haps more remark­able is, I would argue, WAC-MAAN’s non-Zion­ist char­ac­ter. Unlike the His­tadrut, Israel’s main labor orga­ni­za­tion, WAC-MAAN orga­nizes with­out regard to nation­al­i­ty and makes a point to orga­nize Arab Israeli and Pales­tin­ian work­ers. The polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of this are clear to the orga­ni­za­tion. As Yoav explains, this demo­c­ra­t­ic, bot­tom-up approach is the means by which both a new demo­c­ra­t­ic cul­ture can be born west of the Jor­dan Riv­er, a soci­ety here that will be able to sus­tain peace,” in Yoav’s words. He sees WAC-MAAN as part of the wave of demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ments that formed the Arab Spring.

Of course, this is not with­out com­pli­ca­tions. WAC-MAAN is ambiva­lent about the Boy­cott, Divest, and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment — which is at the cen­ter of the U.S. Left­’s engage­ment with Israel and Pales­tine. And WAC-MAAN is not (yet) an entire­ly dues-fund­ed union, as much of their work is out­side of the half-dozen col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments they’ve reached.

But I was inspired by both the kind of union WAC-MAAN is, as well as its mate­ri­al­ist con­cep­tion of how to build a new kind of non-Zion­ist soci­ety with­in Israel and Pales­tine: from the bot­tom-up, with work­ing peo­ple com­ing togeth­er to form inde­pen­dent, mul­ti-eth­nic, bi-nation­al organizations.

Our inter­view last­ed almost two hours, and touched on every­thing from tech­ni­cal­i­ties of con­tract nego­ti­a­tions to the Syr­i­an civ­il war, from the BDS move­ment to the Israeli truck­ing indus­try. Assem­bled here is an excerpt. Note: I most­ly left Yaov’s Hebrew-inflect­ed Eng­lish unedited.

Could you give us a pic­ture of the Israeli labor move­ment and how WAC-MAAN fits (or does­n’t fit) with­in it? Par­tic­u­lar­ly how WAC-MAAN may depart from the cen­tral Israeli labor orga­ni­za­tion, the Histadrut. 

WAC-MAAN was estab­lished in the 90s by a group of polit­i­cal activists who saw the open­ing of the Israeli econ­o­my to the mar­ket — the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Israeli econ­o­my. Every side of the polit­i­cal map was on board with this. Even the His­tadrut was an active part of this trend. The peo­ple who were hit hard­est by this trend were the Arab cit­i­zens who tra­di­tion­al­ly worked in the now-shut­tered tex­tile indus­try. WAC-MAAN start­ed work­ing in the Arab sec­tor specif­i­cal­ly, help­ing to com­bat pover­ty there. You have to under­stand — the His­tadrut is a trade union, but it is not a trade union in the sense of the U.S. or Europe, built from the bot­tom-up as a work­ers’ move­ment. His­tadrut built Israel. His­tadrut exist­ed before Israel exist­ed. It was a mech­a­nism to con­quer and build Israel. It used to own busi­ness­es; it was the own­er; it was the boss. So WAC-MAAN is a whol­ly dif­fer­ent phe­nom­e­non, a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent idea. 

What is the rela­tion­ship between Arab cit­i­zens of Israel and Pales­tini­ans and the Histadrut?

A lot of our work is con­cen­trat­ed in East Jerusalem and the set­tle­ments, espe­cial­ly Mishor Adu­mim. It’s a very big set­tle­ment, there’s an indus­tri­al zone there. And we union­ized a group of Pales­tin­ian work­ers who work in a garage there. The offi­cial stand of His­tadrut when it comes to Pales­tin­ian work­ers is that it’s a polit­i­cal prob­lem. It’s not His­tadrut’s busi­ness. They won’t go and they won’t fight for Pales­tin­ian work­ers, who are not cit­i­zens, for their rights in the work­place. That’s where we come in. 

Also, I’ll tell you this. We have, espe­cial­ly in the set­tle­ments, a huge phe­nom­e­non of con­tract work­ers, and who gets hurts by this? Most­ly the Arab work­ers who have to work under a con­trac­tor. And His­tadrut actu­al­ly takes mon­ey from these work­ers — they have to pay fees to the Histadrut.

Would you say it’s fair to sug­gest that His­tadrut does­n’t rep­re­sent Arab work­ers, either in Israel or in Pales­tine? That there’s a racial fault line down the cen­ter of Israeli labor? 

Look, if you go to His­tadrut and you ask them if they orga­nize Arab work­ers, they tell you, of course, they have a lot of Arab mem­bers. WAC-MAAN is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent idea. We’re talk­ing about an idea of a trade union that orga­nizes Arabs, and Jews, and Pales­tini­ans, and Israelis, and every­one, just as work­ers. His­tadrut? They were not formed this idea at all. Today, they are not even orga­niz­ing work­ers; they don’t active­ly fight for the inter­ests of the work­ing class. That said, we don’t assume to fight against His­tadrut; we do not com­pete with His­tadrut. We orga­nize where His­tadrut doesn’t.

How did you per­son­al­ly get involved in WAC-MAAN?

I start­ed vol­un­teer­ing 5 years ago with WAC-MAAN in Tel Aviv, my last year in uni­ver­si­ty. It was when I real­ized I have to go out into the job mar­ket… I real­ized I was going to be a work­er. I have truck dri­vers’ license. And you real­ize that if you become a truck dri­ver in Israel then, excuse my lan­guage, you are fucked. It’s a bad job… speak­ing of His­tadrut, the haul­ing indus­try used to be very orga­nized, in His­tadrut. All this was pri­va­tized; all this was sold. And now most truck dri­vers are not union­ized, not rep­re­sent­ed, the work­ers are forced to work extra hours, the equip­ment is very bad; you have acci­dents. WAC-MAAN is try­ing to orga­nize the truck dri­vers now, we are try­ing to fight this now. 

Is this what you are work­ing on now?

Until recent­ly we had a very large cam­paign orga­niz­ing in the set­tle­ments. We got our union leader back, after two years he was fired. Recent­ly we got a court order to bring him back to work. This was the first time that we man­aged to get set­tlers to give any­thing to a Pales­tin­ian. And we got him back to work and we are going towards a col­lec­tive [bar­gain­ing] agree­ment in a set­tle­ment. It would be first of its kind.

Can you tell me more about what it’s like to work on a set­tle­ment? As a for­mer labor orga­niz­er, I have orga­nized in some dif­fi­cult shops, but I can­not imag­ine what it’s like to orga­nize on an Israeli settlement.

You have to under­stand that Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank can­not come and go as they please. And those who work in the set­tle­ments need to have a per­mit in order to get in. So it’s very easy to get rid of a work­er. You don’t even need to fire him. You just have to can­cel their per­mit. It’s very easy to do so if you’re a set­tler and you own a shop in the indus­tri­al zone, and you’re in touch with the army and the secu­ri­ty forces and the police. All you have to do is say he threat­ened me,” or he’s a ter­ror­ist” and it’s done. It’s fin­ished. And the work­er can­not even approach the employer.

The Pales­tin­ian unions are not allowed to work in the set­tle­ments. At all. This was some­thing I real­ized when I was in Chica­go at the Labor Notes con­fer­ence — I was sur­prised to see that peo­ple did not know this. They are not allowed to work there. His­tadrut does not want work to work in set­tle­ments. The Pales­tin­ian unions are not allowed to go into the set­tle­ments. So nobody orga­nizes in the set­tle­ments. So this is where we come in. So this is why we work there.

The Zarfaty Garage works with bus­es, with trucks, and with the army. So you have Pales­tin­ian work­ers fix­ing army vehi­cles. It’s a very big garage. And you have work­ers who have worked for 35 years, 20 years, 17 years, and they earn below min­i­mum wage, no pay slip, no social ben­e­fits of any kind. Although all of these are in the Israeli law. And these work­ers approached us, after they went to the His­tadrut, by the way, but His­tadrut turned them down. And they came to us. And we start­ed orga­niz­ing them based on a court deci­sion in 2008 that says that a work­er that works for an Israeli employ­er deserves the Israeli labor law. Does­n’t mat­ter if they’re Pales­tin­ian, has a per­mit, does­n’t have a per­mit. And we also said OK, this applies for orga­niz­ing laws as well. Which in Israel are very nice — you only have to have a third of the work­ers. And that’s it, it’s done. And accord­ing to the law, the employ­er is for­bid­den from even talk­ing to the employ­ee about orga­niz­ing dur­ing a drive.

That’s much bet­ter than the U.S.…

It is much bet­ter than the U.S. When I became famil­iar with labor laws in the U.S., I thought, my job is not so bad, really…

So we went in on this basis. We got a work­ers’ com­mit­tee up and going, and we went into nego­ti­a­tions and over the course of two years we man­aged to lift the work­ing con­di­tions in this garage. We got every­one up to the min­i­mum wage, which was anoth­er 1,000 shekels added to their pay­check, we got them social secu­ri­ty, pay slips, we got them pen­sions; there was a lot of mon­ey that went to the work­ers. That’s where it stopped. In the last Gaza War, the employ­ers fired our union leader, Hatem Abu Ziadeh. We went on strike. In a set­tle­ment, dur­ing the war. It went by the book — the thugs, the police, with me, and also Asaaf-Adiv, chair­man of WAC-MAAN, we were detained by the police as well. And the employ­er accused the union leader of sab­o­tag­ing a mil­i­tary vehi­cle in the garage. 

You’ve heard the sto­ries of what hap­pens in the West Bank — if the Israeli army wants some­one gone, they just take them. We went to the courts, the police, to the secu­ri­ty, to the army, and we defend­ed him. And what hap­pens is they only took his per­mit away. That’s it — which of course, was bad enough. Over two years we fought his case in court, and we got the court to rein­state him, again, the first deci­sion of its kind. And now he’s work­ing. And we worked very hard to get the police and the mil­i­tary to back off — to get them to admit there’s noth­ing on him, he’s clean; this is a labor issue. And they did back off. 

It sounds like orga­niz­ing in the set­tle­ments, you have the tra­di­tion­al prob­lems any orga­niz­er is going to have, but you have the prob­lem of work­ing under mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion. How does the dis­course of ter­ror” shape how you organize?

In the intifadah going on now, the mil­i­tary, in sev­er­al instances, want­ed to stop all Pales­tin­ian work­ers enter­ing the set­tle­ments. It was the set­tlers who opposed this, and fought to get them to come to work. The set­tle­ments run on the backs of Pales­tin­ian work­ers, who have to work there, because there’s no jobs in the West Bank. It’s closed down. There’s no econ­o­my — noth­ing moves. Set­tlers want them to come and work. They’re the ones who issue per­mits for them to do so. Of course, if a Pales­tin­ian starts fight­ing for some­thing, for any­thing, then he’s a ter­ror­ist, obvi­ous­ly. Because this was done as a labor dis­pute — and with Pales­tin­ian work­ers orga­niz­ing with an Israeli orga­ni­za­tion, in the sense that we are list­ed in Israel — that gave them a lot of pow­er. This was the first time a Pales­tin­ian was able to get the set­tlers, get the army, to retract a charge like this.

How do Pales­tin­ian work­ers respond to you as an Israeli organizer?

The work­ers know who we are. They know who we are because we start­ed work­ing in East Jerusalem, back in the year 2000, the sec­ond intifadah. We were in touch with a lot of Pales­tin­ian work­ers, we have a lot of con­tacts also in the West Bank. We speak Ara­bic. It’s very clear who we are; it’s very clear what we want. We’re talk­ing about work­ers whose income comes from the set­tle­ments. They see it in a very prag­mat­ic way. In the sense that OK, fine, they want, and we want, an inde­pen­dent Pales­tine, but they still need to bring home bread. And who­ev­er can help them do this is their part­ner. Obvi­ous­ly I’m not going to say that there’s no sus­pi­cion and there are no prob­lems, but that’s an over­all prob­lem, not just because WAC-MAAN is an Israeli organization.

We also work a lot in East Jerusalem. We also work a lot with the unem­ployed work­ers, to fight for their ben­e­fits, to find work. East Jerusalem was annexed, and the Pales­tini­ans who live there are not full cit­i­zens, they are res­i­dents, they have vot­ing rights in local elec­tions for city hall, but not in Israel, not for the gov­ern­ment. They are enti­tled to ben­e­fits, but for many rea­sons it’s very hard for Pales­tini­ans to get the ben­e­fits in East Jerusalem, and pover­ty is a big problem.

WAC-MAAN sounds like very dif­fer­ent kind of union than we are used to in the U.S., usu­al­ly only focused around con­tract negotiations.

We see pover­ty as some­thing a trade union has to address. We know we can­not solve it by our­selves, but we have to address it. Specif­i­cal­ly when it comes to some­where like Israel and Pales­tine, where it plays a huge part of the con­flict. In East Jerusalem, also a word about this, pover­ty is a way to fur­ther push out Pales­tini­ans from Jerusalem, and to make their lives mis­er­able. This is true for East Jerusalem, it’s true for the West Bank, it’s true for Arab work­ers in Israel as well.

We do a lot of uncon­ven­tion­al work for a trade union. We also have a sis­ter orga­ni­za­tion Sindyana of Galilee, this is a fac­to­ry that pro­duces olive oil from two plants. It’s all women, and it’s most­ly Arab. And they now work with Whole Foods in the Unit­ed States. This project goes to strength­en the Arab econ­o­my in Israel, and to fight poverty. 

If I can be so bold to say, you sound like more of a syn­di­cal­ist, social­ist orga­ni­za­tion than a tra­di­tion­al labor union.

We see our­selves as part of the work­ers’ move­ment in a very broad sense, not just as a trade union. We have orga­niz­ers who help women find work, find good work places. Peo­ple who want to sup­port some­thing, peo­ple, an idea, they can find a lot to do with us.

There was a very enthu­si­as­tic arti­cle about WAC-MAAN on the New Union­ism blog. Quot­ing from the blog post, WAC-MAAN com­bines social strug­gle with strug­gle for peace and against dis­crim­i­na­tion.” We dis­cussed some of the ways WAC-MAAN fights against dis­crim­i­na­tion in Israel and Pales­tine. Do you see your­self also as a peace orga­ni­za­tion? Do you see your­self as part of the peace move­ment? How do you see your­self in the con­text of this larg­er con­flict that tends to dom­i­nate the way an Amer­i­can audi­ence would see every­thing that hap­pens in Israel and Palestine?

We see our­selves as a trade union that is part of the Mid­dle-East. As part of the Arab world as well, as much as it’s part of Israel and part of the West­ern world. I’ll go back to your ques­tion about how I got into work­ing for WAC-MAAN, and I’ll tell you that I did this when the Arab Spring broke out. You see for exam­ple, in Egypt, you see the inde­pen­dent trade unions that popped up dur­ing, and even before, the rev­o­lu­tion. Even before, you saw in 2008, the work­ers of El-Mahal­la El-Kubra com­ing out, and for the first time rip­ping a pic­ture of Hos­ni Mubarak, call­ing for rev­o­lu­tion — wild strikes going on. This is what start­ed the rev­o­lu­tion and the Arab spring… we see our­selves as part of this, as part of a demand by the Arab peo­ple every­where, not just in Pales­tine — in Egypt, in Tunisia, and in Syr­ia specif­i­cal­ly, for free­dom, for Eish, Hur­rieh, Addaleh Ijti­ma’ieh (life, free­dom, social jus­tice). And also for peace, in the same sense the Syr­i­ans are call­ing for peace, which means get­ting rid of Bashar Al-Assad and stop­ping the slaugh­ter there. We see our­selves as part of this. In that sense we are a peace movement.

Now, I real­ize that when we talk about the peace move­ment we are not talk­ing about nego­ti­a­tions between Israel and the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty. We don’t see this going any­where. We see Israel and the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty as the old regimes that are falling down around us. Israel wants to go into some sort of nego­ti­at­ed agree­ment with Sau­di Ara­bia behind them. How would go and have a peace treaty with Sau­di Ara­bia right now? It’s not a very con­crete ground to do any­thing. The same that has hap­pened in Egypt, the ques­tion now is whether or not the Pales­tini­ans are able to orga­nize and form a social move­ment. It won’t be the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty; it won’t be Fatah; it won’t be Hamas. Like all the she­bab, all the youth, who went out in Tahrir, who went out in Syr­ia, will demand the end of the occu­pa­tion. Peo­ple asked me recent­ly at the Labor Notes con­fer­ence in Chica­go, where do I see the one-state or two-state solu­tion? This is some­thing you will be able to solve once you have such a move­ment. This is where we stand as a peace movement.

Would you say you are build­ing a new form of cross-racial, bina­tion­al civ­il soci­ety, out of which a new demo­c­ra­t­ic polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion could come?

Exact­ly. We want to have a trade union in Israel that will have part­ners in the West Bank that will be able to bring us to a solu­tion. The thing is, every Pales­tin­ian move­ment, will have to have its coun­ter­part in Israel.

Do you see WAC-MAAN as reori­ent­ing the con­ver­sa­tion away from mil­i­tary con­flict, a ter­rain on which the Right wins, and back to the ques­tion of democ­ra­cy and civ­il society?

Def­i­nite­ly. As a trade union, you push the point of democ­ra­cy. You want democ­ra­cy as well. It’s the old­est idea. You can’t occu­py anoth­er peo­ple and be demo­c­ra­t­ic. You can’t. This means that Left in Israel is going to fight this bat­tle. It’s going to have to fight this, not against Pales­tini­ans, it’s going to have to fight it against its own fas­cists, in Israel. The only way they will be able to do this, is if they will have Pales­tin­ian coun­ter­parts. It’s not only the Pales­tini­ans who need Israelis, it’s Israelis who need Pales­tini­ans for this. You need to do this with all the demo­c­ra­t­ic forces, with the trade unions, with polit­i­cal par­ties. The prob­lem is that at the moment, you don’t have such a move­ment, not in Israel, not in Palestine.

On the Pales­tin­ian side, along the years, Israel has bro­ken down all the demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, but with dif­fer­ent process, this has hap­pened in the Arab world as well. It’s not only Israel and Pales­tine, around us, it’s every­where. The demo­c­ra­t­ic revolt hap­pened in such a way that shook the whole world, and it’s not over yet. Of course, we’re still small, and it might seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive to any­one think­ing about the Pales­tin­ian and Israeli con­flict, but we believe this demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ment is the only thing that should happen. 

Does WAC-MAAN have a posi­tion on the BDS movement?

BDS could be a very good tool to put pres­sure on Israel. But to put pres­sure on Israel to do what, now? There’s no idea about what’s going to be after­wards. We have to build a soci­ety here that will be able to sus­tain peace, that will be able to sus­tain a demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try. If you don’t believe Arabs deserve or are able of hav­ing democ­ra­cy, then you have a prob­lem. If you do, they have to sup­port every­one who is try­ing to build democ­ra­cy on the ground, not just from the outside.

Of course, we like to say we kicked Soda-Stream out. By the way, the indus­tri­al zone we are talk­ing about, that was Soda-Stream, that’s where the Soda-Stream used to be. We just now fin­ished a law­suit against them, to get a group work­ers there mon­ey — they were fired in a very ter­ri­ble way. The posi­tion of WAC-MAAN is that BDS could be a good tool, but not by itself. It needs a coun­ter­part in Israel and Pales­tine, and we feel there isn’t one yet.

Now some­thing BDS has done that I’m in favor of, it has put the set­tle­ments on the spot. The set­tle­ments are now, for some com­pa­nies, not a place they want to be in. That’s true. And I’m for that com­plete­ly. The Pales­tin­ian work­ers are for it too. They will get per­mits in Israel and for them it is no prob­lem. Still, I think there are oth­er things we could do. Our con­cen­tra­tion is more on orga­niz­ing, on build­ing a demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ment from the ground up. We call on peo­ple to sup­port Pales­tin­ian work­ers who are orga­niz­ing on the ground, for a demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ment… We do not want our orga­ni­za­tion to be boycotted. 

Some in the BDS move­ment might argue there’s a par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter to the Israeli state that is wed­ded mate­ri­al­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly to set­tler-colo­nial­ism. And until it can solve the colo­nial ques­tion, it can­not solve the democ­ra­cy or even the eco­nom­ic ques­tion. And that because set­tler-colo­nial­ism is writ­ten into the DNA of Israel, espe­cial­ly since the vast expan­sion of the set­tle­ments in the last 30 years — lit­er­al­ly writ­ten into the land­scape — no inter­nal change is pos­si­ble. Exter­nal pres­sure must be applied. 

And then I’ll say, nobody ever thought Hos­ni Mubarak was going to fall. Nobody ever — he was going to stay for­ev­er. That’s what peo­ple said. It’s true; it’s not only up to Israel. And I agree com­plete­ly that no oth­er ques­tion will be solved before we solve the ques­tion of the Occu­pa­tion. But you can­not say this state of affairs won’t change. You see the cracks now. In 2011 you had a very big social move­ment in Tel Aviv — part of the Arab Spring, part of the Occu­py move­ment. The first one of its kind in Israel.

Peo­ple say in Israel that this has caused this rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the right wing. Since then the right wing became very para­noid, and very afraid, and start­ed tar­get­ing the Israeli left-wing, more so than ever before. When I raised this point in Chica­go at the Labor Notes con­fer­ence, I was accused of defend­ing the left when they don’t need defend­ing because they don’t do any­thing against the Occu­pa­tion. That’s not the point. The point is that things do change in Israel. It’s very true that the Israeli left tries to dis­tance itself from the Pales­tini­ans. You see it in the labor move­ment, in Me’retz, in the Zion­ist Camp, Hert­zog, and so on. It’s of no use — they still get targeted.

Ever so slight­ly lit­tle by lit­tle there’s a crack here in Israel. We see a crack here. We need to broad­en that crack. We need the left wing to real­ize that they need to find their Pales­tin­ian and Arab part­ners, because they, the left, are not part­ners with the right-wing. It has­n’t hap­pen yet. But it’s start­ing to hap­pen. You can’t say things aren’t chang­ing. This will change — I can’t say for cer­tain in what direc­tion, but I work­ing for a very par­tic­u­lar direction. 

How would some­one from the U.S. sup­port Pales­tin­ian orga­niz­ing from the U.S.?

Of course, we are talk­ing about fund rais­ing, there are a lot legal expens­es when it comes to col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. Of course, we need help with that. Also rais­ing the issue of Pales­tin­ian work­ers who work in the set­tle­ments with no rights at all, the pover­ty in East Jerusalem, the pover­ty in Israel, the Arab pop­u­la­tion in Israel. We have 60% of women who don’t work at all. These are things are not addressed at all. 

Ben­jamin Balthas­er is asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of mul­ti-eth­nic U.S. lit­er­a­ture at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty, South Bend. His book, Anti-Impe­ri­al­ist Mod­ernism: Race and Transna­tion­al Rad­i­cal Cul­ture, was pub­lished from Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Press in Decem­ber, 2015. His crit­i­cal and cre­ative writ­ing has also appeared in Amer­i­can Quar­ter­ly, The Mass­a­chu­setts Review Crit­i­cism and else­where. He is an active mem­ber of Jew­ish Voice for Peace-Chicago.
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