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Uaw Counters Arab Charges

Arab members of the United Automobile Workers Union, AFL-CIO, who recently protested the union’s policy of purchasing Israel Bonds, have been told by a top union official that they “ought to expend their energies helping their compatriots get rid of the feudal and totalitarian overlords who are ruling those lands with an iron hand.” According to a report in The Jewish News of Detroit, Emil Mazey, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, issued this statement in the Dec, issue of the union’s newspaper. Solidarity. His statement was addressed to those UAW members of Arab descent who were on a picket line two weeks ago when the B’nai B’rith honored union president Leonard Woodcock.

The Arab workers protested the union’s purchase of Bonds because they claimed the union never bothered to report this to the union membership and because the union was, in effect, supporting a militarist-colonialist state that was oppressing and discriminating against Arab workers within Israel. Mazey countered both charges with an impressive array of facts. The Jewish News reported. Referring to charges of discrimination in Israel. Mazey detailed the role of Histadrut in organizing and bargaining on behalf of Arab workers including those in East Jerusalem and on the West Bank, noted that the union accepts “Arab workers on an equal membership basis,” and that wherever Histadrut is the bargaining agent “the average family income of Arabs in Israel is practically identical with that of Jews.”

Mazey defended the purchase of Israel Bonds “because Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a free and democratic labor movement.” He asserted that the UAW would support the working people of any Arab country in a struggle for the right to elect their own government and union leaders, and for the right to strike. Furthermore, he said, the bond purchases were reported to the UAW membership every year in the union’s regular financial reports.

“The money from these bonds is not used by Israel for any military purposes, directly or indirectly,” but for such purposes as construction of schools, hospitals, agricultural projects, roads harbors and public housing. “Moreover,” he continued, “more than one-half of the proceeds of Israeli bonds purchased in the U.S. is used to buy goods from the U.S. including many products made by UAW members or members of other U.S. unions.” Mazey stated that it was the right of the Arab UAW members to picket. “But a worker in any of the Arab countries who would do likewise would soon find himself in jail,” he said.

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