In New York, the World Jewish Congress (WJC), in association with the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), has hosted a series of gatherings that brought together Ofer Eini, chairman of the Histadrut (Israel's Labor Federation), and American union leaders in order to reaffirm Israel's strong and long-standing relationship with the US labor movement and to discuss the possibility of advancing workers' rights in the Middle East that could emerge from the recent wave of anti-government protests across the region.
Eini's visit underlines the close relationship between the Histadrut and the American Labor movement and comes at a time when civil society groups in other parts of the world are working to delegitimize Israel through boycotts and divestment campaigns. "We are proud to spearhead this effort together with the JLC. Israel is the only free and democratic state that protects the rights of its workers in the Middle East. Helping affirm the strong relationship between the Histadrut and US labor and civil society groups while combating the growing assault against Israel via boycotts, divestment and sanctions in other parts of the world is a top priority for the WJC and a vital interest to the Jewish people", said WJC President Ronald Lauder (pictured above with Eini and WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker).
During meetings, Eini underscored the progressive measures that the Histadrut had taken to position Israel as one of the fastest growing Western economies in the world, while protecting the rights of its workers. "The anti-government protests we are seeing across the Middle East bring hope to those who wish to advance peace in the region through economic cooperation, whose foundation needs to be embedded in the protection of workers' rights," said the Histadrut leader. Eini cited his cooperation and assistance with the Palestinian Labor Movement as one of the bright spots in Israeli-Palestinian relations that proved that this kind of cooperation on a larger scale could be a success in the region.
Eini's meetings with labor and community leaders in New York and Washington DC during his three-day visit included a session with Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and will be capped off with a luncheon hosted by the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Pictured on the left are (from left to right): Ofer Eini, Histadrut chairman; Kobi Triptou, chief of staff to Ofer Eini; Michael Schneider, WJC secretary-general; Dan Diker, WJC secretary general designate; Martin Schwartz, JLC executive director; Stuart Applebaum, JLC president; Betty Ehrenberg, WJC-US executive director; Robert Goot, WJC vice-president.