Resist the Walls of Apartheid with Murals of International Solidarity
Join the LaBOR aRT & MuRAL PRoJECT in Palestine/Israel
While Bush, Sharon, and Abu Mazen were toasting peace in Aqaba, US-made Israeli tanks rolled into Palestinian villages and bulldozers continued to demolish Palestinian homes and offices. Israeli snipers continue to pick off Palestinian youth. The relentless construction of “security” highways, housing developments, and military outposts — all designed to further dismember the West Bank and render it economically unviable — has continued unabated.
Sharon’s “apartheid wall,” that separates Palestinian villagers from their agricultural fields — and creates a legal pretext for the confiscation of their land — continues to snake southward. Israeli plans for the construction of maquiladora-type sweatshops between the wall and the ’67 borders remain in place. Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are still prevented from going to their jobs in Israel by closures, curfews, checkpoints, and direct military siege. Official unemployment in the occupied territories remains at over 50%.
The Cost of the Occupation Inside Israel
The Israeli government is implementing a neo-liberal austerity plan that cuts social benefits while allocating greater funds for the occupation. In response, public workers mobilized in May for a general strike against these austerity measures — and conducted the largest demonstration against social cutbacks in their history. This fight-back, along with the anti-war sentiments of working-class youth forced to fight in the territories, may soon weaken the hold of the Israeli state on the hearts and minds of workers. That Israel’s rulers fear such a shift in sentiment is made evident by a recent escalation in their harassment of peace activists.
Israeli employers are attempting to prevent the development of working class unity by crude policies of divide and rule. Near the bottom of the economic ladder are the Palestinian and other Arab workers who live inside Israel, and the “foreign” workers whom Israeli employers are recruiting to replace them. While discriminating against Israeli Arabs in hiring, employers have brought in over 200,000 workers from Romania, Thailand, China, and other impoverished parts of the globe. These workers slave for sweatshop wages and hours, undermining the standard of living for all.
Made in the USA
It has become increasingly clear that the imperial adventures of Bush & Co. in the Middle East have little to do with promoting democracy and economic justice. The U.S. occupation of Iraq and the U.S. subsidy of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands are being revealed as key components of the Bush-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz plan to reshape the map of the Middle East to suit U.S. corporate interests.
It is up to all of us to help develop an alternative working class vision for peace and justice in the region. As part of that process, we invite you to join the Labor Art and Mural Project in a solidarity exchange and fact-finding labor delegation to Palestine/Israel.
Visions of Solidarity Between U.S., Palestinian and Israeli workers
From July 25 – August 21, Mike Alewitz, LaMP Artistic Director, will travel to Palestine/Israel and create three murals. The first mural will be painted at the Beit Jibrin Cultural Center–Handala in a refugee camp in occupied Bethlehem. Activists here have initiated outstanding international cultural exchanges for the Palestinian youth they serve.
The second mural site will be near the Worker’s Advice Center (WAC) in Nazareth. The WAC recently organized 500 Arab workers in a successful challenge to discriminatory hiring practices in the Israeli construction industry.
The trip will culminate in the creation of a third mural that will adorn the wall of a new Rachel Corrie Peace Center. The center is to be built by international volunteers, Palestinian construction workers, and Israeli peace activists on the site of a demolished Palestinian house in East Jerusalem.
At each mural site, Mike will also present slide shows to artists and workers about his U.S. labor murals and discuss the growing North American labor opposition to Bush’s war plans.
In order to complete these projects, we need to raise approximately $6000 for travel costs, accommodations and materials. We appeal to you, your local, district, or national union organization to help us assemble these funds. A donation of any size will be appreciated. Unions or groups that contribute $250 or more will have their contribution acknowledged on one of the murals.
Join Us on the Delegation to Palestine/Israel!
In conjunction with the creation of these works, LaMP invites you to join a delegation of unionists, artists and activists to share in this exchange of solidarity from August 10–22.
Participants will join a solidarity camp for international activists in East Jerusalem and participate in the construction of the Rachel Corrie Peace Center. Delegates will reside at the camp, have meals provided and participate in a series of political tours that will reveal the Israeli government’s plans for a “matrix of control” over any future Palestinian state.
Participants are also invited to a series of meetings with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, the Democratic Workers Rights Center, the Workers Advice Center, Kav LaOved, the Alternative Information Center, and the writers of Between the Lines. Topics will include the history of the Arab labor movement and the challenges to organizing workers in the current climate of repression. (Costs will be approximately $650 pp. plus airfare)
The mural painting and activities of the labor delegation will be documented by the independent filmmaker Sean Geary. Through our varied activities, the delegation will make an important contribution to the education of U.S. trade unionists about workers’ struggles in the Middle East. Help us to say —
The Road to Peace Must Be Paved by International Labor Solidarity!
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Chris Gauvreau, Director, LaBOR aRT & MuRAL PRoJECT
q I/ My organization would like to sponsor the project
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LaBOR aRT & MuRAL PRoJECT c/o Department of Art Central Connecticut State University 1615 Stanley Street New Britain, Connecticut 06050
Phone: 860.832.2359 ________________________________________
Department of Art Central Connecticut State University 1615 Stanley Street New Britain, Connecticut 06050
Office: 860.832.2359/ Mobile: 860.518.4046