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New England Jewish Labor Committee

The New England Jewish Labor Committee is the local branch of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), a national organization headquartered in New York. The NEJLC and its parent organization work to build support for Israel and Zionism within the US labor movement. The NEJLC's mission statement on their website states: "We support a secure and democratic Israel and maintain fraternal ties with the labor movement in Israel."

History of the Jewish Labor Committee

Nationally, the Jewish Labor Committee has a long history of attacking and opposing pro-Palestinian movements in the US, as well as anti-racist movements broadly. In the 1950s, under the slogan "Jewish Labor Fights Communism," the JCL worked in tandem with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in support the US government's (often highly antisemitic) campaign of persecution of Jewish Americans, who were targeted by the FBI and "House of Un-American Activities during the McCarthy era for their affiliations or suspected affiliations with Communism. Specifically, the JCL worked to undermine advocacy for Jewish Americans Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were prosecuted and ultimately executed by the US government. (See for example: This 1950 New York Times article)

Following the McCarthy era, the JCL engaged in similar attacks against members of the Black Freedom struggle, including members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in 1967 and Black community members advocating for community control of the schools in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn in 1968. The JCL also worked with the Anti-Defamation league (ADL) to oppose affirmative action policies aimed at creating jobs for Black Americans. (See for example: "Briefing: The Jewish Labor Committee and Apartheid Israel"). In 2007, the Jewish Labor Committee undertook an intensive lobbying effort to push leaders of the US labor movement to oppose the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel, gaining signatures on a statement of opposition to BDS from the presidents of the AFT, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME, among others.

The Jewish Labor Committee in New England

The New England Jewish Labor Committee has supported numerous high-profile labor actions in the Boston area. Recent examples include: The Harvard Grad Union Strikes in 2019 and 2021, the Stop and Shop Workers Strike in 2019, National Grid Workers / United Steel Workers lockout of National Grid in 2019, The Battery Wharf Hotel Workers strike in 2019, the Verizon Workers Strike in 2016, and the Harvard Dining Workers strike in 2016.

NEJCL has been able to leverage their relationship with many of these and other Boston Area labor organizations, which the JCL has supported, to encourage union leaders and members to oppose Palestine solidarity efforts in the Boston Area. In 2008, for example, NEJLC leveraged their relationship with UNITE-HERE leadership to pressure the local meeting space Encuentro 5 to withdraw at last moment from an agreement to host a conference on Zionism organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP). E5 had previously agreed for NECDP to use the space for this conference, but conceded to intensive pressure from NEJLC / UNITE-HERE leadership, after NEJLC insisted that NECDP was a "hate group." As another example, in 2004, NEJLC mobilized local labor leadership to oppose a resolution that would have divested Somerville from Israel Bonds and from companies profiting from Israeli apartheid. As Penny Schwartz reported at the time, "labor leaders, including carpenters, pipe fitters and iron workers representing the Jewish Labor Committee ... turned out in force, in strong opposition to the resolution."

The New England Jewish Labor Committee also promotes support for Israel within the labor movement by coordinating expenses-paid propaganda trips to Israel for New England labor leaders. In partnership with the JCRC of Greater Boston, the New England Jewish Labor Committee organized a 2019 "Study Tour" (propaganda junket) to Israel for "Boston's labor leadership," through which, according to the JCRC of Greater Boston, participants "gained a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges facing the region," and "returned inspired and eager to share their new perspectives with their communities and to support Boston Partners for Peace." Indeed, the JCRC-supported normalization effort "Boston Partners for Peace" is endorsed by the leaders of multiple Boston-area labor organizations, including the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, SEIU 1199, and IUPAT DC 35, likely the result of the participation of these local labor leaders in this JCRC/NEJLC-coordinated Israel junket. (See also: entry on Boston Partners for Peace.)

Similarly, in early 2022, the NY-based pro-Israel LGBTQ organization "A Wider Bridge" sent emails to tens if not hundreds of Massachusetts LGBTQ labor union members, inviting these individuals to "a special virtual mission to Israel for labor and union leaders." The emails from A Wider Bridge stated, "Our Virtual Mission to Israel will bring together influential LGBTQ & allied labor leaders to provide a balanced and deep look at Israel, its LGBTQ community, the role of organized labor in Israel, and Promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Israeli Workplace." The emails stated that the leader of the national Jewish Labor Committee, Stuart Applebaum, would be "the chair of the mission."

The New England Jewish Labor Committee is a member organization of JCRC of Greater Boston.

11 Beacon St Suite 722, Boston, MA 02108

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