Standing with anti-cuts protests

April 12, 2011

The following statement in support of protesters opposing budget cuts and occupying the Washington state Capitol building in Olympia was drafted by Adam Sanchez and Wael Elasady and circulated at the Peace Works 2011 conference organized by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. Over 100 conference participants signed the statement.

WE THE undersigned, participants in the Peace Works 2011 conference, stand in solidarity with the workers of Washington state in their struggle to defend their rights and living standards.

We extend our full support both to those sleeping inside the Vapitol building in Olympia and to the thousands who have demonstrated throughout the week. The attacks on public-sector unions and the cuts to social services we face today are part of a long war on the poor and working people of this country. For too long, this war has been one-sided. Our side is now fighting back. The struggle that has spread from Wisconsin, through the Midwest, and now to Washington state, has the potential to reshape the labor movement and the priorities of our nation.

Participants of the Peace Works 2011 Conference met this weekend to discuss and build the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to dismantle Israeli apartheid. This movement began in 2005, when a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations--including the entire Palestinian labor movement--called on people of conscience all over the world to apply economic pressure on Israel, similar to the pressure that was successful in helping to end South African apartheid.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as of March, "some 44 states and the District of Columbia are projecting budget shortfalls totaling $112 billion for fiscal year 2012." The state of Washington alone is facing a budget shortfall of $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, from 2009 to 2018, the United States is projected to give Israel--the largest recipient of U.S. aid--$30 billion in military aid. The cost to Washington taxpayers is over $730 million. These funds could be used to:

provide 8,885 households per year with affordable housing grants, or;
-- provide 12,147 job seekers per year with green jobs training, or;
-- provide 21,636 children per year with early reading education, or;
-- provide 592,612 people per year with primary health care.

This aid is instead used to maintain Israel's illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Israel misuses U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law to kill and injure Palestinian civilians, destroy Palestinian infrastructure, blockade the Gaza Strip, and build illegal settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for the U.S.-Israeli war and occupation of Palestine and the other wars the U.S. is engaged in across the globe. Politicians claim that we are facing a budget crisis, but this is a lie. We are facing a priorities crisis. Priorities that lead to millions wasted on war and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, while millions across our country and around the world struggle to meet their basic needs.

Today, we stand together for justice and democracy. Our struggle here cannot be won without solidarity with the workers and oppressed peoples of the world. Their fight is our fight.

From Cairo, to Ramallah, to Madison, to Olympia: An injury to one is an injury to all!

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