NEW YORK (Aug. 5)
In its first official statement on the war in Lebanon, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations today declared its unequivocal support for the Israeli invasion.
The resolution was adopted unanimously by the organization’s Executive Council at the end of a three day summer meeting in which Council members heard a report by AFL-CIO officials who returned recently from a visit to Israel and Lebanon.
“The Executive Council considers the Israeli invasion of Lebanon entirely justified on security grounds,” the statement said. “The seizure of vast caches of PLO weapons and ammunition in southern Lebanon is proof of a PLO military buildup which posed a direct threat to Israeli security. To protect its security, Israel was justified not only in altering its stated objective of removing the immediate threat but in attacking its source — the command structure of the PLO itself.”
The statement expressed deep regret over the loss of civilian lives in the conflict. But in response to a question at a press conference held at the Council meeting’s conclusion, AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland said that “in the absence of any action by Israel in moving into Lebanon, there was wholesale slaughter by the PLO and Syria in Lebanon — slaughter that dwarfs anybody’s estimate of civilian casualties since this event began.”
The statement left the position of the AFL-CIO on the war in Lebanon unambiguous. “In the conflict between Israel, on the one hand, and the PLO and Syria, on the other, the AFL-CIO is not neutral,” it said. “We support Israel. The world should demand that the PLO and Syria leave Lebanon now and allow the Lebanese to proceed with the task of reconstruction and the creation of an independent central government.”
Maintaining that the PLO is not only “dedicated to the destruction of Israel” but is also “a terrorist organization,” the resolution urged the U.S. government “to continue withholding recognition from the PLO and to refrain from any actions which would encourage the PLO to believe that it can snatch a political victory from military defeat.”